Recent research revealed that more than half of UK businesses with fewer than 50 employees do not have a website. Of these, 58% believe that they don’t need one (Source: Serif). This is surprising at a time when £1 in every £10 is spent online (Source: Office of National Statistics) and when 78% of internet users conduct product research on the internet (Source: Hubspot).
Yet even financial firms that do have a website underestimate its value. While most companies see their website as having a role in their business, many still only use it to only a limited degree. In a recent LinkedIn survey 38% of companies said they saw their website to create an online presence. Many companies still see the purpose of their website as an online aspect of their company profile rather than as a potential source of new leads and business.
Done right, a financial advisory firm’s website can actively attract your target audience and ultimately convert them into leads, clients and then repeat business, whether it is B2B or B2C. So why are so many financial firms not seeing these kinds of results?
Why business website design isn’t working – and what you can do differently
Why cut off when you can connect?
Here’s why website design is a dying aspect in so many financial services businesses – because it is frequently static and lifeless, with little new content added. This overlooks so many opportunities – and threats – out there in the online marketplace. Just some of these are:
- Recent updates to the search engines mean that it is essential to frequently add high quality content to your website if you want it to create more business and more leads. Add more content more often and you will actively encourage the search engines to catalogue the pages in your website, all helping to drive up your search engine ranking and bring more traffic to your website.
- Research has proven that businesses that blog at least 20 times per month gain nearly 4 times more leads than those that don’t blog (Source: Hubspot).
- If you link your website up with social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you can publish the same content to them – increasing your profile and the opportunity to reach even more potential customers. Even if you don’t think your target audience is using social media networks, this approach still gives you an opportunity to be found in search engine results because the search engines use social media content as ‘live’ content, whereas website content is indexed and stored.
Why sell before they’re ready to buy?
Here’s another reason why financial advisory websites are failing a lot of businesses: they are designed only around the firm’s own selling cycle. Why does this matter so much? Because your website and your connected content need to meet your visitors at their particular stage of the buying cycle. If your website only has brochure-type content, you’ll see people leaving your site, very unlikely to return ever again. Here’s how to change that:
- Consider having different types of content on your website such as ‘awareness’ content to offer your industry advice to people who are just browsing. This offer of expert insight into a particular business problem will encourage web visitors to download the content and allow you to capture their contact details.
- Look at following up with ‘consideration’ content for people who have returned to your website a second or third-time. At this stage they are clearly starting to take an interest in what you have to offer. Giving them more specific details about your product and service begins to build their confidence in you. The consideration content actively builds on their confidence, for example, with case studies to prove to them that you have delivered your product or service many times as a way to convert them into a customer or to warm them up ahead of someone from your sales team giving them a call.
Why have a brochure website when you could have a sales site?
Having the right kind of content on your website is extremely valuable to your business. But so is nurturing your visitors into becoming clients. This means creating a cycle of content that builds on the original content your web visitors can download from your website. Nurturing potential clients is great for businesses with nurtured leads having a 23% shorter sales cycle – and a 9% higher average deal size.
You can achieve this by:
- Moving web visitors down the sales funnel: An example of this process is – your web visitor downloads some awareness content such as a white paper from your site. You then send them targeted and automated emails to move them towards considering your product or service. Next, you follow this with decision content specifically designed to nurture them towards making a decision about using your product or service. It’s all about having a clear content strategy to move web visitors from the first stage of looking around your website right through to the final stage of buying into your business.
- Automate to create clients: An important part of this approach is to use a marketing automation tool through which you can create a number of different sets of automated emails, all targeted to each individual content that can be downloaded form your website. This ultimately gives you an online adviser to help warm up leads for your in-house team.
- Why guess your leads when you can grade them?: So you’ve got your website attracting, nurturing and converting new leads. What’s next?
- Seeing your new leads as they arrive: Inbound marketing technology allows you to view details for each and every individual website visitor that has downloaded content from your site, including the pages they have looked at and when, what documents they’ve downloaded, their contact details and their Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.
- Grading your leads for better sales: Using inbound marketing technology in conjunction with your website allows you to grade or rate the quality of each new lead you receive. So the more a person visits your site, downloads and looks at pages, the higher they’re grade. This offers your sales team valuable information. They can now contact the web visitors with a high grade in the knowledge they are a hot lead and can have a very targeted conversation with them because they know exactly what each visitor is most interested in.
Here’s how to start bringing your website to life
A financial services website used on its own is effectively pretty dead in terms of what it can achieve for your business. But a financial services website used as part of a wider inbound marketing strategy can create serious results. So where do you start the process?
Measure what’s working right now
Begin by checking how well your website is performing right now. Learn exactly how well optimised your website is, whether it is search engine friendly, if your blog is effective and how linked up it is to social media. You can find all that out by using a handy website grader tool.
Calculate how it could work harder for you
Next, look at how much you want your website to achieve for you, in terms of leads and sales. It’s easy to do that using a website traffic calculator: http://www.tomorrow-people.com/return-on-investment-calculator/ . This will give you a valuable insight into how to turn your website from just an online presence into your internet-based sales machine.
How do you currently turn your website into a lead generating machine? Please share your thoughts and comments.
Guest Post: Sookie Shuen is the community manager at Tomorrow People, a leading UK inbound marketing consultancy who provides free advice and updates through a five step inbound marketing methodology. You can read more of Sookie’s content on inbound marketing by subscribing to the Zoober Inbound Marketing blog.You can also find her on Google+ and Twitter