All too often financial planning businesses view their website as a 'set and forget' strategy. Investing heavily in technology is not necessarily the 'silver bullet' many perceive it to be, and a big spend on your website doesn't guarantee an endless stream of new visitors that quickly convert to prospective clients desperately queuing for your next available meeting time-slot. More importantly, what's happening when those precious visitors actually reach your site?
Cul-de-sacs and sink-holes
Two common mistakes encountered on websites are hyper-links to unrelated sites, and 'dead-end content'. Pages or content which fails to give your visitors a sense of where to go next or the actions that they should be taking are cul-de-sacs, roads which are literally dead-ends. Don't create situations where your visitors get to the end of a page on your site only to find themselves thinking, "Okay, so ..now what?" Provide options and always take the opportunity to guide your visitor across other areas of your site. Highlighted text, buttons, and images can all be hyper-linked and used to create 'calls to action'.
The screen-shot below highlights a number of examples, including:
- "Let's Talk" - invite your visitor to leave their details (which in turn kicks-off your fully-automated marketing campaign)
- "You may also be interested in..." - related topics that will keep your visitor on your site for longer, or better still, generate referrals
- "Retire?" - links to site calculators (more on that later)
- "spending", "click here", and "plan with confidence" - more information when its most important, whilst its being read!
- "Follow us" - don't ignore the opportunity to post links from social media back to your site
Have a closer look at this site here.
Undoing all your hard work
If you explored the Knowledge Centre, you will have noticed that the visitor is never re-directed to a website which isn't part of the business. Given your efforts to attract visitors your strategy should be focused on ensuring that you do everything you can to avoid links or referrals to sites over which you have no direct control. Sites which are typically considered 'safe', such as ASIC's MoneySmart or even your own Youtube channel should be avoided, as should links to research or other reference material*. Given your objective of attracting and retaining clients, one of your key success measures should be to position yourself, and the business, as an 'authority' on all matters financial. Is this likely to be the outcome if you refer your visitors to someone else?
Google's Youtube creates a different, although similar, type of headache. Within Youtube (again a medium you have limited control over) the viewer's attention is constantly being tested by the endless 'suggestions' which appear. Naturally it's not in your best interest to see that a competitor's video is presented in the 'Up next' channel, but recognise that it could simply be the 'cute little kitten that slaps the baby in the face' video that results in your prospective client getting distracted.
Treat your visitors like teenage children
When my teenage son opens the fridge (because he's hungry yet again), he quickly determines if he can spot anything 'edible' (ie. satisfies his current craving), and if it will be easy to prepare. If those criteria aren't met, he declares "there's nothing to eat!" - regardless of the fact that the fridge itself could be bursting with produce. Visitors to your website will exhibit similar behaviour: Does your site offer what their looking for? And can they find it easily?
With this in mind, ensure that visitors can:
- Understand what you do,
- Find where you're located,
- Establish if they can trust you, and
- Get some direction on what they should do next.
If you can manage the answers to these questions on a single page then your website should be a great success. However gaining trust and providing the right 'course of action' for every visitor isn't always going to be straight forward, and sometimes it will take time. Having great educational content that is engaging (ie. no cul-de-sacs) and keeps visitors on, and returning to your site (monthly newsletters linked to your website content is one example) is one strategy that will lead to establishing trust.
Want some more ideas? Try 21 Tips for Client Education and Engagement
* Note: Include and certainly give credit to any 3rd party research or reference material that you use, but avoid providing or including links that will readily take your visitors away from your website.