Financial Advisor Websites: Ten Ways to Differentiate Your Firm Online
In the digital world, you have only seconds to capture the interest of a website visitor. Is your financial advisor website going to effectively differentiate you from the rest of the pack?
Unfortunately, for the vast majority of financial advisor and planner websites out there, the answer is no. The problem is exacerbated since many of these websites look very similar, which is no surprise given the popularity of template-based services.
Fortunately, no matter what type of website you have now, there are ways to effectively differentiate your firm. This article outlines ten different easy and cost-effective strategies.
#1: Describe your services in terms of benefits, not features
The old style of financial advisor website follows a somewhat standard roadmap:
Who you are, where you are, what you do and what specific services you provide.
This structure might have worked in the past, but today, just rattling off features (comprehensive financial planning, customized portfolio management, etc.) is not going to make someone want to contact your firm.
What works? Explaining the benefits. So instead of describing the services you provide, focus on explaining the impact it will make. How will it improve a prospective client’s life?
If you offer Comprehensive Financial Planning – sure, it technically will provide the client with a financial plan covering investments, insurance, retirement planning and other topics. But, what does it really provide? If done right, planning can allow your client to live the life of their dreams. It helps people prioritize what they really want to do in their life and create a roadmap that can get them there.
Or take the service of Portfolio Management. Yes, your firm provides investment recommendations, stress testing, rebalancing, ongoing monitoring, etc. But again, let’s get to the big picture benefits. Instead of your client worrying about the stock market, having your portfolio management service can allow them to enjoy life and feel secure about their future, no matter what the market or economy is doing.
By keeping the focus on benefits, you engage people emotionally. At the same time, your firm appears approachable, since you are speaking their language, not yours.
#2. Make it easy to sample your services
Hiring a financial advisor is not a casual decision, or one that you can easily undo if you’re not happy with your decision. Put yourself in your potential client’s shoes—wouldn’t it be best if there were ways to essentially ‘try before you buy’? Advisors have been doing that for years with free seminars. Here’s some ways to do that in the digital world as well:
- Offer a free eBook or Special Report so they can get a sense of your expertise and get some advice on a single topic
- Provide free webinars where you go in depth on one topic
- Offer free phone consultations with your firm
One key here: just like with seminars, you cannot apply any sales pressure. You need to add value up front with no expectation of anything in return. If you actively try to sell, that will send prospects running. Instead, tell people that you want to find clients that are the best fit so there’s no pressure. The more explicit you are with your policies, the better. Then be sure to keep to that promise!
#3. Explain your fees in detail on your website
Like it or not, many consumers don’t trust financial services providers. One big issue is that many people don’t even understand how their advisor is compensated.
This is a problem in this industry, but it is also an opportunity. It is a significant trust builder if you are willing to fully explain your fee structure on your website, for all to see. Compared to the majority of other firms that don’t mention fees on their website at all, it makes you look very low risk and trustworthy.
#4. Use a consumer-friendly fee structure
This in itself can be a great differentiator. Clear, easy to understand fees make you an attractive advisor, period. The more layers of fees involved, the more complicated or scary it appears to do business with you.
For example, if you can provide investment management and comprehensive financial planning for one all-inclusive fee, that is easy to write about. No negative surprises. Call when you need help without fear of getting a surprise bill.
However, if you charge hourly for some services on top of your asset-based fees, that leaves a prospect wondering how much they will really be paying.
Further, if you’re willing to re-examine your fees and adjust them, this is a significant opportunity to position yourself effectively against those firms who are not willing to do it (yet).
#5. Detail how you keep in touch with clients
Another big concern of most investors is communication. A recent study by the Spectrem Group found that the top reason people left their advisor was insufficient communication. Per Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. “Investors want to maintain a consistent line of communication with their advisor, and want to know they are being made aware of changes in the stock market or other business areas. If those needs are not met, investors will find someone who will meet their needs.”
So here’s another opportunity to differentiate: if you are a proactive communicator, add a section to your website detailing exactly how you keep in touch with your clients:
- How often will you call or email them?
- How often will meet with them?
- Are you willing to meet more often upon request?
- How quickly will phone calls and emails be returned?
- When you’re on vacation, is there someone who will be available to deal with any questions?
The more specific you can be, the more predictable and lower-risk choice you will become, especially compared with most advisors who don’t include communication policies on their websites.
If your firm doesn’t have a written communication policy, here’s an opportunity to put one in place and use it to your advantage.
#6. Create case studies about who you help and how
Case studies, or client stories, are a great way to differentiate your firm. With these case studies, you can engage the reader in a story on how a client benefited from your help. In the process, the prospect gets an idea of what it’s like to work with your firm.
There’s a lot of people out there who really want to work with an advisor, but are nervous about the process. There’s a big fear of the unknown out there. These case studies can help by detailing the “before” and “during” parts of the story so people know what they are in for, and realize its not so scary to reveal all the details of their financial lives to you. This way, prospects know what to expect from you.
Case studies are a very powerful addition to financial advisor websites. Learn more about them here.
#7. Write blog articles on the topics you specialize in
Most RIAs look somewhat alike to outsiders. One very easy way to differentiate yourself and your firm is simply to write about what you know best. Do you help a lot of people going through divorce? Write advice articles about that.
Short on ideas? Think back to clients who you have helped.
- What changed for them?
- Was there advice early on that could have saved them a lot of grief?
- What “myth” did most of them believe that you had to debunk?
These blog articles are great for visitors who may be wondering what type of advice and services you offer. Be sure to put a little time into making sure you’ve got the right keywords in there so the right people can find you.
#8. Create an eBook on one of your firm’s specialties
eBooks (short for ‘electronic books’) provide an affordable and effective way to differentiate your firm. Easier and cheaper than writing and publishing a full-fledged book, eBooks that are professionally written and designed can still provide you with significant credibility. For best results, pick a topic that addresses the pain points of the target market that you would like to work with.
The eBook can then be used as a free giveaway on your website, providing an effective way to capture a prospect’s email and details. In the process, they also give the prospect a taste of what it’s like to work with your firm, while establishing credibility and trust.
Because so few advisors are using eBooks, it is still a great way to differentiate your firm. You can learn more about them here.
#9. Create an explainer video about your firm
When it comes to differentiation, video is a superstar. Having a video on your website helps keep visitors on your website longer. In fact, studies show that simply including a video on your home page or landing page can increase conversion rates by a whopping 80%.
But video is even more valuable to financial advisors since you are selling such a complex service. Your video can tell the story of what your firm can do for them, which is very effective way to convey benefits.
Because most consumers “shop” around on advisor websites, if you’ve got a video, there’s a good chance that your firm will be more memorable. A website that has a great video that communicates how your firm is different is a powerful lead generator and conversion tool. In addition to using it on your website, it’s a great tool for social media and email follow up as well.
Since producing a custom video does require an investment, be sure to shop around when buying this service. You’ll get the best result by working with a financial content firm that has specific knowledge of your industry and investor psychology. But do it right and you’ll have a multi-tasking tool that can serve you well into the future.
#10. Make sure you’ve got calls-to-action on your website
The last tip seems obvious, but usually isn’t. The goal of a website is to generate leads, and to generate leads, you need people to give you their name and email address. If you don’t ask, you aren’t likely to get much response.
So, your website should be asking for action at all times. In inbound marketing terms, this is called “calls to action”. You should have calls to action on most every screen on your website. This way, you make it easy for clients to do business with you.
You will want to offer something of value to help persuade prospects to share their contact information with you. This can be:
- A free giveaway like an eBook
- Other freebies like a special report or checklist
- An offer of a free “financial checkup”
- An offer of a free portfolio second opinion
But a word of warning: people naturally fear being hounded by your firm once they share their email or phone number. You’ll have more success generating leads if you specifically outline what will happen before and after they submit their contact information. For example, tell them that after providing their email address, they may get an occasional email, but they can always opt out. Tell them their email address will not be shared or sell. And unless your policy is otherwise, tell them that you won’t call them unless they ask you to.
Financial Advisor Website Differentiators: Putting It All Together
There you have it….ten ways to differentiate your firm in the digital world.
Remember, most financial advisor websites look remarkably similar. If you don’t do anything to change that, you are fated to blend in with the rest. Buy by implementing some of these financial advisor marketing ideas now, you can begin to transform your website into a lead generation tool that works for you.
Of course, in the real world, budget constraints can be limiting. Fortunately, you’ll find firms like Wavelength out there that can help you improve your website and content on any budget. Then as you start to see the results of your efforts, you’ll be comfortable allocating more money to make your website work even better in the future.
Jeanne Klimowski is the founder of Wavelength Financial Content Inc. Wavelength provides content development and ghostwriting for financial advisors and financial wellness programs for retirement advisors and employers. Contact us to learn more about how to get your financial advisor website working better for you.