Should You Manage Your Own Website?

A website is among the most valuable marketing tools an agent or advisor has at their disposal. As the “digital face” of your brand, this is typically where consumers will come to form their first impression of your business and the value you can provide. Because most people will only spend a couple of minutes browsing your pages before moving on, it’s vital that your site looks professional, is easy to navigate, and gives a clear overview of everything you offer. Anything less will likely be a bigger asset to your competition than to you.

There are three key ingredients that go into creating a well-designed website – time, effort, and money. The process usually starts when you take out the credit card to purchase a domain name and hosting services. Then come the hours you can spend and work that goes into crafting content, such as service overviews, your professional credentials, and general information about your business. Once that’s all covered, it’s time to put it all together and click publish. Simple enough, right? It is if you moonlight as a web designer, but most advisors are more focused on finances than they are coding and layout.

Sure, there are plenty of services available that provide cheap and easy ways to “get your website online in minutes.” As great as this sounds, these are often generic alternatives offering limited functionality and design options. The end result is usually a bland website that does little to set your site apart from others using these services. Today’s consumers value experience when visiting a website. First impressions are often based on the “wow factor” of your site. The actual content featured on your pages is secondary to the overall look and feel of the site.

Although drag-and-drop builders and templates have improved over the last couple of years, there are still a few things to consider before locking yourself into a long-term plan with one of these services. You want prospects to believe that you stand apart from other advisors, right? This starts with a website that promotes brand identity. In other words, if you don’t look any different than the competition, consumers won’t think you’re any different. Because many templates are built with specific businesses and industries in mind, chances are good that the advisor down the street is using the same one you just bought. And, because of service agreements, your site’s hosting, its content, and even its domain may be scuttled if you decide to go somewhere else. In short, even though you paid for your site and put effort into it, you do not truly own it. Many FMOs that provide marketing function this way as well.

Going back to the time factor, how many hours can you put each week toward your site? You have business to write, clients to meet with, prospects to engage, and a laundry list of administrative duties to keep up with. Most independent agents and advisors can’t afford to put things on hold to focus on maintenance and posting fresh content. And what happens if your site goes down? Can you stop everything in the middle of the day for a lengthy phone call with tech support?

Many independents have come to rely upon the services of a professional web developer. While this comes with added expenses, hiring a team to manage your online presence is often a worthwhile investment. This will not only provide you with a site that is customized to your brand and services, it will help keep things up-to-date and running smoothly. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about spending time building temporary landing pages when promoting a specific product or seminar.

For those working in the financial industry, it’s important to have a team that understands your business and services. Many web design firms cast a broad net and develop sites for a variety of different businesses. They might not have the insight needed to craft content tailor-made for your target market. For many, partnering with a quality FMO is the best solution, but again, this can come with locking an agent into service level agreements. This is why Legacy Financial Partners strives to provide top-tier digital and web services. Our creative team is able to create customized and fluent websites, that not only look and feel professional but include content made to engage prospects. And you own it. Beyond your website, our digital services include SEO, microsite design, social media, email campaigns, and more. Learn more about how we can help amplify your digital presence here.

 

10 Simple Steps to Generating Online Leads

In an ideal world, your agent website is enhanced for both passive and active marketing activities. If there is good, SEO-rich content, your target market will naturally engage with your web collateral. And if you’ve got great calls to action and active marketing processes, you can lead consumers to your web properties, which may inspire them to take further actions (such as submitting their information or calling you directly).

Below you will find ten simple steps to optimizing your website to generate good online leads.

Appeal to Your Target Market

A clean, well-designed website is the key to making a good first impression to online consumers. Generally speaking, your site should be user-friendly, responsive, easy to navigate, and support multiple devices. It’s also important that your contact information and social media links are easy to find. Now consider what your specific target market would find appealing and adjust the content and design of your site accordingly. You want prospects to visit your site and feel like they’ve found someone who understands—and can provide solutions for—their needs and concerns.

Identify & Use Pertinent Keywords

Make a list of keywords and search terms that relate to the products and services you provide. When a consumer in your target market is searching online for information, you want them to land on your site for the answer, right? Think about what those consumers might be searching for. Are they looking for ‘top annuity rates,’ ‘how does life insurance work’ or ‘financial advisors in my area?’ Identify those keywords and layer them into the content of your site. This will better index your site, making it more likely to appear near the top of the consumer’s search results.

Say NO to Templates

You’ve seen those ads that offer quick and easy business websites. Avoid these at all costs! You want your website to be unique and stand out from the competition. What you don’t want is for the consumer to see a generic website and leave with the impression that you aren’t invested enough in your own business (or clients) to sink any resources into a quality online presence. Furthermore, template sites offer limited functionality and do not allow for proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Contact us if you’re interested in a functional, custom-built website.

Create a Call to Action

The prospect is on your site, now what? Why should they pick up the phone or submit their information? Your Call to Action should give them that answer before they ask the question. An effective CTA is concise, visually-appealing, and tailored to your target market. You could offer anything from a white paper, video or complimentary appointment; just give the prospect as many reasons as possible to contact you. See our recent post on landing pages and calls to action.

Avoid Jargon

Work to minimize jargon, acronyms and complex terminology from your content. Write to the consumers, not over their heads. Jargon-heavy content can be intimidating or confusing to many consumers. If they struggle to grasp the meaning of your message, you’ve lost them. Additionally, buzzwords like “turnkey” and “cutting-edge” will likely find the prospect rolling their eyes as they exit your site. What you say, and how you say it, plays a huge role in whether or not the prospect contacts you.

Create a Blog

Fresh content drives traffic. All things being equal, the website with the freshest, most relevant content will index better. Well-written and informative blog posts can also do wonders for your credibility. Sending e-newsletters with a link to your blog is another good way to drive additional traffic to your site.

Implement Email Marketing

It’s unlikely that prospects will make visits to your website a part of their daily routine. This is why we recommend sending regularly scheduled email blasts. Keeping your prospects updated with your latest blog posts and relevant news can be a good way to convert them into clients. If you have questions about how an e-newsletter campaign can benefit your business, or if you’d like us to design one for you, call us today.

Leverage Social Media

Spreading your message across all mediums is key to generating measurable results. The average prospect has to be touched 6-9 times before they buy. Many of those prospects spend roughly one-third of their time online actively engaged in one or more social media platforms. Use your social media channels to boost your online presence, interact with consumers and build a loyal following.  Additionally, sharing links to your blog, website, landing pages, etc. will boost web traffic and search engine ranking, which ultimately leads to more conversions.

Test & Track

Your website has a call to action, but how effective is it? You can’t just put it up there, walk away and expect results. Keep track of how well (or poorly) your CTA is performing and make changes as needed. Switch out different gives and see what generates the highest conversion. If you’re curious about what offers and gives typically yield the highest response rates, call us for a complimentary report.

Partner with an FMO

Work with an FMO that understands how digital marketing works and can help implement your plan. This can be the difference between having an online business card and an online marketing engine. Contact us now if you want to take your business to the next level.

 

Marketing Corner – February 5th, 2016

25 Marketing Stats Every Financial Advisor Needs To Know

Financial advisors often state that marketing and prospecting are the main challenges they face in their practice. This is certainly understandable; marketing is a rapidly evolving process and reaching consumers can be difficult. However, it is possible to position yourself for success in our digitally-driven world. The important thing to remember is that there is not one process that will give you the edge, but rather a collection of approaches that work in concert with each other. That said, here are 25 important marketing stats you need to know.

Email

Organizations using email to nurture leads result in 50% sales-ready prospects.
Forrester Research via Hubspot

These nurtured leads see a 20% increase in sales opportunities when compared to non-nurtured prospects.
Hubspot

Personalized messages are more effective than non-personalized messages. According to an Experian study, personalized messages received 29% higher open rates and 41% more unique clicks.
Experian

According to Campaign Monitor, personalized subject lines saw a 26% increase in open rates.
Campaign Monitor

Email is more effective for client acquisition than social media. McKinsey found that it was almost 40 times more effective than Twitter and Facebook combined.
McKinsey

 

Main Takeaway: Advisors should be utilizing email as a marketing tool and as a way to nurture leads passing through their marketing funnel. The more personalized you are, the better your open and click-through rates will be.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is nearly seven times more effective than email, mobile, social media, internet display, and paid search—combined. This is according the Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report 2015.
DMA via PremierIMS

Over forty percent of people that receive direct mail items read or scan them.
DMA Statistical Fact Book via eleventy marketing group

A survey conducted by DMA found that seventy-nine percent of consumers would act on direct mail immediately versus 45% who said they would act on email immediately.
DMA via The Drum

A neurological study conducted by Temple University, and sponsored by the Postal Service Inspector General’s Office, found that:

  • While digital ads draw attention quicker, direct mail has more review time
  • Direct mail is more easily remembered than digital ads
  • Direct mail elicits more of an “emotional reaction” than digital ads

DM News

 

Main Takeaway: Even in a digital driven marketplace, direct mail is still a very effective marketing platform.

Mobile

70% of mobile searches result in website action with an hour
IAcquire

A little over 80% of consumers surveyed stated they would delete a mobile email if it didn’t render properly.
Blue Hornet

65% of all email is opened on a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet.
Venture Beat

Almost half of consumers will abandon a website if it renders poorly on a mobile device.
The Social Media Hat

40% of mobile searches are focused on local services
Think With Google

 

Main Takeaway: Consumers increasingly use their mobile devices to access the internet and interact with pieces of marketing. Your website and your emails should be designed for the mobile experience.

Video

Consumers spend an extra two minutes on websites with video, versus sites that don’t
Merchant Marketing Group

More than half of all mobile traffic is online video
Merchant Marketing Group

Video on landing pages leads to an increase in conversion, in one test case as much as 86% conversion.
EyeView

Main Takeaway: Video can be a powerful way to enhance your website and marketing materials.

Website

A one second delay in loading time can reduce conversions by 7%
Kissmetrics

A loading time of more than three seconds causes 40% of shoppers to abandon the website.
Kissmetrics

Not really a stat, but very important. In April of 2015, Google began using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in search results. This means if your website does not smoothly translate to mobile, it may not rank higher in search results when a consumer searches from a mobile device.

Main Takeaway: Make sure your website loads quickly and incorporates responsive design.

Social Media

Social media is now an important research tool for investors. According to a report from LinkedIn and Cogent Research, 5 million investors with assets $100,000 or more use social media to investigate their financial decisions.

LinkedIn/Cogent ResearchSocial Media’s Growing In­fluence Among High Net Worth Investors”

Most high-net-worth investors use social media (over 90%).

LinkedIn/Cogent Research

Social Media’s Growing Infl­uence Among High Net Worth Investors”

Over 60% of advisors who used LinkedIn for prospecting acquired new clients.
LinkedIn and FTI Consulting

According to a recent American Century Investments report, about 43% financial professionals identify a positive ROI to their social media use.
American Century Investments

The same ACI report found that LinkedIn helped advisors surveyed by:

  • Enhancing profile with clients (48%)
  • Enhancing business knowledge (28%)
  • Improving on referrals (28%)
  • Sharing insights with clients/prospects (24%)American Century Investments 

A recent Putnam survey of over 800 advisors, found that 79% had found new clients via various social media.
Putnam Investments

Main takeaway: Social media, especially LinkedIn, can be extremely useful to connect with new clients. These clients include high-net-worth individuals and others many advisors would identify as their target market.

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