6 practical tips to immediately improve your website

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The news that 50% of IFAs don’t actively market their business, relying on word of mouth to attract new clients, has motivated me to put pen to paper (or at least fingers to keys) and write my first blog for Sense Network.

Anyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for marketing, especially websites, electronic communications and social media.

It’s websites that I want to focus on in my first blog.

First things first, why have a website?

There are generally two reasons:

  • To act as an ‘online brochure’, which allows people who have been referred by existing clients to ‘check you out’ and validate whether they have found the right person
  • It enables prospective clients, who have found your website through another source, for example through Unbiased or Vouchedfor,  via social media or using a search engine to confirm you might be the right adviser for them and that they should proceed with an initial enquiry

Even if you are amongst the 50% of advisers relying on word of mouth to generate new enquiries, an effective website is still vital.

The vast majority of IFA firms already have a website. Only you know whether or not you are satisfied with the performance of yours, but in my experience many can be improved.

Here are my six tips which could help.

Tip #1: Define ‘effective’

The ultimate goal for most firms is a new enquiry. An effective website will increase the number of recommendations and website visitors who ultimately get in touch.

The trick is to turn visitors into enquiries and the starting point is Google Analytics; a free tool to monitor the performance of your website.

Google Analytics allows you to monitor a huge range of statistics, but I’d recommend you start by looking at:

  • The number of visitors your site gets
  • The most popular pages
  • How long people stay on your website and how many pages they visit

You should also review how many new enquiries you have had recently and if possible identify the source.

This information will give you a feel for how your site is performing and you can use it to set goals for the effectiveness of your website in the months to come.

Tip #2: Make calls to action easy to take

The first goal is to turn a website visitor into an enquiry.

This means the visitor taking a call to action and getting in touch, generally in one of three ways:

  1. Picking up the phone
  2. Sending an email
  3. Completing an online enquiry form

Your website needs to make it easy for the visitor to take the bait and get in touch. Too many websites hide telephone numbers, email addresses and contact forms on obscure pages buried deep inside the website.

Calls to action should be prominent, in my opinion at the top right hand corner of every page.

Tip #3: Reduce anxiety, build credibility

Even if they have been recommended by an existing client, the website visitor might still be nervous about getting in touch.

Your website needs to reduce anxiety and build credibility, ideas to do this include:

  • Testimonials The best testimonials include the client’s name, but even if this isn’t possible the power of testimonials shouldn’t be underestimated. They can easily be collected via TCF surveys and including a simple tick box requesting permission from the client to use the testimonial can save time
  • Basic information Make sure your telephone number, email address, regulatory wording, postal address etc is included on your site; you would be amazed at the number of IFAs who don’t include this basic information
  • FCA register Include a link to your page on the FCA register, this allows prospective clients to confirm your regulatory status and helps to reduce anxiety
  • Chartered / Certified advisers These accreditations set you apart from your peers and should be included on your website. If you use the appropriate logo make sure you have permission and you follow the relevant brand guidelines
  • Case studies A testimonial becomes even more powerful if it is turned into a case study. Prospects like to know you have experience in dealing with people similar to themselves, a case study is an ideal way to demonstrate this
  • Press mentions If you have been quoted in the press, whether locally or nationally, include these on your website. Nothing demonstrates expertise or builds your profile like good press coverage
  • Adviser ratings If clients have reviewed your service, for example via Google or Vouchedfor, include these ratings on your website

Tip #4: Build your database

If you publish a regular newsletter use your website to help build your database.

Not every visitor to your website will get in touch immediately. If your site allows them to sign up to  your newsletter, you can then stay in touch, adding value and demonstrating expertise through your newsletter.

When they are ready to seek advice, who will they turn to first? That’s right, you, the person who stayed in touch with them

Tip #5: Personalise your website

I’m always amazed by the number of IFA websites which are completely impersonal.

Potential clients want to know about you and your team; the most effective websites are highly personalised, including

  • Pictures of you and your staff, not your passport photo or holiday snaps, invest in a morning with a professional photographer, it isn’t as expensive as you think
  • Include short biographies of the advisers outlining their history, expertise and qualifications
  • Include testimonials alongside the adviser information
  • Don’t forget your support staff, pictures of them and information about their role is vital to building credibility and reducing anxiety

Tip #6: Make updating your site simple

Using a skilled web designer is important to ensure your site is effective, but there’s nothing more frustrating than being unable to make the simplest changes yourself, such as adding testimonials.

Ideally your website should be created using content management system such as WordPress, which allows you to update the site. It isn’t as complicated as you might think and frankly is no harder to use than most IFA back office systems!

It doesn’t have to be difficult

Creating a really effective website doesn’t have to be difficult. Once you get started you will find it is far easier than you ever imagined.

There is no shortage of financial services website specialists, Jon Pittham (Clients First), Mark Barry (Adviser Portals), and Gareth Thompson (Code Potato) to name just three I know well.

Of course I’m also happy to share my successes and mistakes (I’ve made plenty!) if you would like a chat feel free to get in touch.

Those all-important calls to action:

Telephone – 0844 576 8737

Email – phillip.bray@sense-network.co.uk

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