A few tips for improving your financial services website
Following up on my last post, How Inbound Marketing and Web Design go hand in hand, I thought it would be a good idea to look into the websites of financial advisors around the country and there’s considerable room for improvement in both content and design. For this reason, I have put together a few tips for improving your financial services website, taking into account both design and content.
To help business owners, I’ve put together a few tips for improving their sites, making them more engaging and work harder for them to generate leads and customers.
On the websites, I came across I took a look around to check the following points. The overall design, calls-to-action (CTA’s) and landing pages (or lack thereof), blogs, social media, and any other regularly posted content. There was a distinct lack of inbound strategy, let alone any sort of strategy, and many of the businesses I came across had rather dated looking websites.
I delved deeper into site performance using Hubspot’s website grader in order to look at site performance, responsiveness, and SEO optimisation. As I said before, gone are the days of just designing a site and handing over to a marketer to promote it and create content. There needs to be an integrated strategy for making a website design function well and enhance the content that’s uploaded.
So let’s get into some tips for improving the site of your financial service business…
Lack of calls-to-action and landing pages
When so many independent financial advisors embark on their solo careers knowing that the success or failure of their business will come down to raising their profile throughout their network, it’s alarming how few utilise effective calls to action and landing pages to generate leads. It’s an inbound marketing fundamental but few people do it. It’s a great way to start a conversation with website visitors and will allow you to contact them again in the future.
Tip: Click here to read more on inbound strategy for the financial services industry.
Aurea Financial Planning has 3 CTA’s on their home page, but without any way to allow visitors to register their email address, they fail to capitalise on people clicking on them and collecting their contact information, therefore losing the opportunity to build a lead base. If they regularly post content and insights to educate visitors, and put together things such as ebooks or white papers, they’d be able to boost traffic and capture information about their visitors.
Of course, you can’t develop a good inbound strategy without…
Content creation and blogging are so important for generating traffic and leads. Still, less than 15% of financial advisors are blogging, those that are we found, are not blogging effectively.
A lot of business owners think blogging is a pointless exercise, a waste of their valuable time or they just think their posts would be boring. This is simply not true and needs debunking.
They know their industry, what their clients are after and are passionate about delivering results for clients and themselves. Think of it this way, if you’re good at what you do and you’re passionate about your work, why wouldn’t you want to talk about it?
Tip: Don’t treat your blog as a way for promotion, treat it as a way of offering visitors useful, educational information that they’ll come back again for more.
Of course, I use blogging as an important example, but they’re far more things that can go under the umbrella term ‘content’:
- Cheat Sheets
- Email Subscriptions
- SlideShare Presentations
Blogging and producing content bring visitors to your site. Search engines prioritise sites that produce content and share that content around the web, so let’s look at an example.
Paradigm Norton is a financial firm based in Bristol and they regularly produce educational and promotional content that serves to offer something for visitors in any stage of the buyer’s journey. They produce content ranging from financial advice, analysis of the Chancellor’s latest budget and the plummeting Chinese Market’s. They’re not telling you to buy their services, but validating themselves as an authority figure on anything financial.
Visitors could be looking around for a financial advisor or just researching whether or not they have the need for one, so even if they’re not at a purchasing stage, they can still find informative content that puts Paradigm Norton on their radar. The fact that they also have video and are one of the few sites I came across that make good use of visual content is a bonus, and leads me onto…
Branding and tone
The quality of your website reflects upon the quality of your business. From the moment someone visits your site they’re evaluating you and you want to ensure everything they see communicates the same message.
Tip: A good site that blends ease of use with good content and visual appeal will position your business above those with dated, poor websites.
A business that could benefit from addressing their dated website is Heron House Financial Management Ltd. They should see the website for the potential asset that it is, something that could be working for them 24/7. However, the poor choice, placement, and scale of images, combined with the dated design exhibited by their website definitely work against them.
Another key thing I want to address regarding financial services sites is that they generally have a lot of text. That’s fine, but when so much content is text-based, copywriting and tone of voice have a large role to play in the holistic view of a financial company. On the internet, you have really less than 5 seconds to try and catch a viewers attention. Catchy headlines and images throughout the text are a great way to draw people in. People tend to scan more on the web and read less so bear this in mind when formatting text for the web.
Give your copy the attention it warrants and makes sure it is as engaging and informative as it can be without being long-winded. Break it up using appropriate subheadings and punctuate the text with key points or pull quotes. It will certainly help to increase engagement and avoid the dreaded ‘DON’T READ ME’ label that we attach to huge bodies of text.
Tip: The tone of your copywriting is a vital element. A friendly and authoritative tone shows professionalism and builds trust.
The Layout of text is something I’ve talked about before, and I seem to keep talking about. It just seems like such a basic thing to get right, when you want to do everything within your power to encourage visitors to stay on your site and move around.
Skerrits Chartered Financial Planners have a website with a lot of copy but a combination of small type and the issue of white text on a black background make it an unpleasant viewing experience at best, incredibly strenuous to view at worst. White on black can work but you should use it sparingly. Having all the main content of the site like this causes legibility problems and makes the reader have to work harder. Not a good message to send out when you want your site to generate and convert leads.
Responsiveness is not an option
Making a site responsive has been considered good practice for a while now. But with the exponential growth of mobile browsing, it’s now a necessity. According to the ExactTarget 2014 Mobile Behaviour Report; 27% of consumers will leave a site if it is not optimised for mobile, and 67% of people are of the opinion that Mobile-optimised sites run faster.
Still, think you don’t need to get on board with responsive design?
It’s not just web design but responsive email too. Email opens on smartphones and tablets have increased 80% between January and June 2015. That’s a phenomenal increase and if you can’t create an email newsletter that works as well on someone’s phone as on their desktop, you’re making it harder and harder to gain customers. Your search ranking on Google will also be higher if your site is responsive.
John Lamb, an independent firm of Chartered Financial Planners, have a responsive site. Aesthetic issues aside, the responsiveness works fairly well. The navigation bar could be displayed better and it could be optimised further, but the website grader gave it a 30 out of 30 for responsiveness.
With the numerous ways of making a website nowadays, even if you’re using a ready-made website theme, it’s easy to find one that works across all devices. There really isn’t an excuse for not having one now.
There really such an opportunity for financial services businesses to grow their company utilising web design and content marketing strategy, and yet there are surprisingly few that seize the chance. These examples help to illustrate how things can be done well and how to spot room for improvement. Inbound is all about promoting good content organically and it can’t really do that without a website that works well and is properly optimised.
The thing about web design is that when it’s done well, visitors barely notice it. If it’s done badly, they really notice it.