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Phil Bray: The seven deadly sins of adviser websites

Bray-PhilYour website is your shop window and needs to support your marketing strategy

An effective website should support every element of an adviser’s marketing strategy. From helping referrals understand more about your business, to being found on Google by people looking for an adviser, your website is your shop window.

Essentially it has three jobs:

  • To encourage the right type of potential client to get in touch;
  • To signpost visitors who are not in the adviser’s target market elsewhere;
  • To start pre-selling the firm and the benefits of financial advice.

But despite the overall quality improving, too many adviser websites still look like they were built in 1998. Here are the most common mistakes:

1. Failing to add social proof

The availability of information online means consumers are now more discerning than ever. It is no longer good enough to say you add value. You need to demonstrate it.

Phil Bray: How to improve your adviser blogs

That means including comprehensive social proof (the thoughts and words of others) on your website, supported by information about the individual who supplied it, such as their name and location. Too many adviser sites only have a tired looking page of anonymous testimonials, which few visitors will pay any attention to.

Social proof can take many forms: attributable testimonials, ratings from directories, the results of client surveys, case studies and client videos. It is worth making the effort; it will set your site apart.

2. Hiding your accreditations

Firms who have chartered or certified accreditations will have worked hard to achieve them. Yet so many hide them in their website’s footer alongside their regulatory statement and privacy policy.

These are important accreditations. They should be displayed prominently and linked to a page explaining why they set you apart and how they benefit clients.

3. Hiding your people

Our research shows that the team sections of adviser websites are often among the most popular pages. So, it is a mystery why some sites include no information whatsoever about their people. Perhaps worse are those sites that just include the advisers or planners and ignore the support team.

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We recommend including a team section with pages for every member. It helps potential clients get to know your team and it is a handy way of working in some key phrases that might help your website attract more organic traffic.

4. Placement of social media links

Our view on this is perhaps a little controversial. We rarely recommend that social media links are placed towards the top of the homepage. Our research shows they are infrequently used. If they are, there is a good chance your visitor will browse your Facebook page and subsequently get distracted by their notifications, forgetting all about your website in the process.

We recommend including social media links in your website’s footer. If that is where your chartered and certified accreditations sit, you might want to review your priorities.

5. Products, not people

Most people who visit your website will have a need for professional advice. They want to know if you are the right person to solve their financial problems and help them achieve their aspirations.

They do not want to know what term assurance is, or the difference between an Isa and a Lisa.

Damian Davies: How failing to prove ongoing advice could cost you fees

Detailed product information does not help achieve the three objectives outlined earlier.

However, talking about the type of people you work with, the problems you help them solve and the aspirations they achieve due to your advice does.

6. Rarely updating the site

The best websites are those which are updated with content on a regular basis. All too often advisers start with the best of intentions, adding a few articles when the site goes live. Life then takes over and blog sections can go months or even years without being touched.

Adding content to your website regularly gives visitors a reason to return, demonstrates your knowledge, and Google will love you for it. But very little looks worse online than a neglected blog. If you cannot commit to it, do not start it.

7. Poorly chosen images

Many of us see images before we do text. It is therefore vital to choose images carefully. Too many sites include cliched stock photography and poor-quality images of their team. I have never understood why an adviser might invest time and money in a new website, then make so little effort with the images they add to it. There is no excuse. Good quality stock photography is not that hard to find.

Phil Bray is director of The Yardstick Agency

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