If you don’t have a website that is generating leads for you, the REAL cost to your firm may be much higher than you think.
If you’re a financial advisor today, unless you’re regularly hosting events, most of your prospective clients will probably never talk to you or meet you. Instead, if someone hears about your firm, they will evaluate you based on one thing: your website. Then they will decide whether to contact you or not.
If your website does not convincingly engage them, these prospects will pass your firm by. In other words, you will lose potential sales opportunities. And you probably won’t even be aware when it’s happening.
You may be one of the fortunate RIAs thriving without an updated website, but these are few and far between. Most advisors suffer from this silent killer, since most report their websites are not generating leads for them.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution. You need a high quality web presence and a great blog that generates leads for your firm.
How many leads did your website produce last year?
If you don’t know, this probably means that people are probably looking at your website and deciding your firm is not worth contacting.
Even if your clients refer family and friends, if you don’t pass the “google” test, you’ll likely never hear from them.
Ten or twenty years ago, a website was not so important. You could get away with something very basic online. Things have changed. In today’s world, most people prefer to do all of their buying research online. So your digital image IS your business. If it’s not good, it will impact your firm’s growth.
How’s your financial advisor website? Does your current website:
- Make it immediately clear what value you can bring to an investor?
- Make your firm look trustworthy, credible and low-risk?
- Help a visitor understand why he or she should work with your firm?
- Encourage a call-to-action, like offering a free ebook, so they can get to know your firm without pressure?
Every week, I look at advisor websites that are very average. It’s clear to me that these websites don’t do justice to the firms they represent. And many look alike.
Even if I come across a snazzy looking website, if the messaging isn’t working, that doesn’t matter. A beautiful website in itself will not create leads for you. It has to hit the mark on messaging and have specific features that will engage people.
Fortunately, building an effective financial advisor website is not a mystery. There’s a formula that works very well.
Is It Really That Easy?
Fortunately, with just a modest investment, you can create change. You can go from zero leads to getting a steady stream of leads, it just takes a bit of patience. Here’s how it worked for one RIA. Earlier this year, one of our clients, a well established RIA, wanted a new website. They had apparently never received a lead from their website, which was created by a local website development firm. We worked with them to identify their target clients, their strengths and the messages that would help differentiate them best online. We worked closely with them and created a new custom website for the firm along with an ebook. Then we began blogging for them a few times per month. Our blogs got them featured on several high exposure websites including CNBC.com, Nasdaq.com, Yahoo! Finance and others.
Six months later, the website is now generating leads:
- People are downloading their free ebook, then receiving automatic follow up emails
- The firm is receiving emails to book a free portfolio review
- The firm has had several in-person appointments
- Most importantly, they have signed up new clients who found them purely through the website.
Yes, they had to invest in website development, copywriting and blog writing, which took both money and time. But now they are realizing a return on this investment. Together we have created a lead generating machine for their firm.
What’s the Catch?
It is not an easy, or instant, fix. It usually takes three to six months (or sometimes longer, depending upon local competition and your internet history) for you to establish a significant ranking in google. And the development of the website copy is a significant project. Many firms will have you write the copy, and they will just edit it. In our experience, this doesn’t work as well. You will do best using experienced copywriters to help position your firm with their objective view. It’s a great exercise that will help in your sales efforts, but it does take your involvement.
And a quality financial advisor website does require an up front investment, then usually some ongoing monthly investment for blog articles, unless you or someone on your team is capable of keeping that up. But all are concrete tasks. And, since you’re likely to hire outside help, everything about it is very measurable, so it’s easy to track. You can see the amount of traffic you’re generating and the number of website visits and leads generated. With all the great data resources out there (most of which are free), you can make adjustments and then see if you get more traffic or less.
Your Website is an Investment, Not an Expense
It may be tempting to get a low-cost template based website or get an inexperienced team to help develop your website. However, if you do, you must realize the cost you will realize in the form of lost sales opportunities. (Please see my earlier article for more on this.)
So instead of looking to save on your website, you should instead seek value and results. Just like with any marketing outlay, you’ll want to look at return on investment as a more appropriate metric.
What about Just Buying Leads Instead?
There has been an increase of firms out there selling leads to advisors. This can work for some advisors, but not surprisingly, the ones it works for are the ones with the great websites!
Moreover, if you are going to invest in a great website and blogging, you can usually generate your own leads. Plus, the leads that come from your website, assuming the effort was done correctly, will be those who are attracted to your message. A purchased lead, for example, may be a recently retired couple looking for estate planning and better income strategies. If you are someone who specializes in helping business owners with financial planning and tax strategies, it may not be a fit anyway. The beauty of internet marketing is a properly designed financial advisor website will attract your ideal clients, not just anyone seeking financial help.
And once the website is paid for, there’s no additional cost for leads.
Where to Start?
If you need a new website, be wary of the template-based website trap. In this situation, the template drives the design. Instead, it’s best to invest in a custom website, where the design of the website is driven by your firm’s message. In fact, the custom website’s sole purpose is to differentiate you and attract your ideal clients. It should not be designed to fit everyone or you risk ending up with a website that looks like everyone else’s.
Also, be aware that website design and messaging has to be specific for the service you are selling. In this case, you are selling financial advice, arguably one of the most complex sales out there. Your website needs to build trust and minimize perceived risks. You will do best with help from a team that understands the nature of the industry and investor psychology.
What is critical is your involvement. At Wavelength, we know how to help you position your firm so you stand out. However, we always get the best results when the client is involved. The website should express your firm’s unique personality and why you do what you do. Your feedback and ideas are invaluable in the process.
The Time is Right
Right now most advisors still have old, non-productive websites. This presents a unique opportunity for forward thinking advisors. By acting sooner, rather than later, it is much easier to differentiate your firm out there. It’s a great time to be a digital-smart financial advisor.
Jeanne Klimowski is the founder of Wavelength Financial Content Inc. Wavelength provides content and website development for financial advisors. Contact us today for a complimentary Financial Advisor Website Checkup, so you can get some concrete ideas on the best steps to take to get your website working for you.