A good financial advisor website is not just important—it’s critical. Unless your firm is in a unique situation where you get a lot of foot traffic, your website is the most visible representation of your company.
However, for the many small financial advisory firms out there, of course, there are limits to the amount you can spend on your website. But I have good news: You don’t need to throw out your entire website and start fresh. There are small, inexpensive changes you can make that can yield strong dividends.
Step #1: Add a “Why We’re Different” page
One key to an effective website is to take the work out of it for a prospect. Just put yourself in a potential client’s shoes: you know you need to hire a financial advisor, so you’re looking around. Everyone looks pretty much the same. How can you tell what the differences are?
Make it easy: Tell them. A “Why We’re Different” page does exactly that. Seems self-serving? Hardly…you’re saving prospects valuable time. Just be sure to stick to the facts. Tell the prospects what difference your services will make in their lives and specifically how you can help them.
Just keep it focused on them, not on you. So think “we’ll help you feel organized and in control of your financial future” instead of “we’ll provide full-service financial planning”. See the difference?
A well-designed “Why We’re Different” page will draw the people who would find your services most valuable, while prospects who are looking for something else won’t waste their time (or yours).
Most importantly, you’ll seem easy to work with, since so many financial advisor websites make it hard for website visitors to find what they want to know. If you show from the start that you’re easy to communicate with, you’ve already made a positive impression before they’ve even contacted you.
Step #2: Change your headline
You only have a few seconds, literally, to make an impression on a website visitor. Impress them, and they’ll stay around and keep reading. Lose them, and they are off to find more enticing options, likely never to return.
That means you need something front and center on your home page to grab their attention and to differentiate you from other financial advisors.
So go back and work on your headline. Make sure it truly expresses your strengths and how your firm is unique. And just like with the previous page, focus on benefits, not on anything technical. (See my previous article about financial advisor website headlines for more advice on doing it right.)
Step #3: Simplify your website navigation
Most of us spend a lot of time on the internet. When you find what you are looking for without getting lost in a series of unhelpful links, you feel good. But what happens if you’re looking for something and you can’t find it? Frustration sets in. Or annoyance. Whichever it is, it’s the last thing you want visitors looking at your website to feel. So it’s critical to make the most important information easy to find.
Here, it doesn’t pay to be a pioneer. Use standard navigation language that is clear and straightforward.
- Describe the services your firm provides: “What We Do” or “Our Services”
- Describe who you serve: “Who We Help” or “Our Clients”
- Describe your firm’s history, team, and expertise: “About Us” or “Who We Are”
You can vary a bit from these terms, as long as it’s crystal clear, but don’t get cute. It’s not worth the risk of losing visitors.
Also it’s vital to leave your navigation at the top of the website, where most of us expect it. If you put the navigation somewhere else, people usually get frustrated and leave.
Step #4: Remove or freeze the rotating banner/carousel
We see a lot of rotating banners, also known as carousels, on financial advisor websites. While these might seem interesting and dynamic, research mostly shows all they do is dilute your message and distract website visitors.
Don’t believe me? Google what research and user experience experts say about using carousels or rotating banners. For the most part, it shows they hurt more than they help. In the article, Do Rotating Sliders Help or Hurt Your Website? [Research Roundup], user experience experts weigh in. Most have found that users ignore most or all of the banner, often mistaking it for advertising.
“In all the testing I have done, homepage carousels are completely ineffective… In test after test the first thing the visitor did when coming to a page with a large carousel is scroll right past it and start looking for triggers that will move them forward with their task.”
-Craig Kistler, Founder of conversion rate optimization firm Strategy & Design Co.
What should you do? Either freeze the carousel on the best image and your headline on it or remove it and opt for a plain, static home page. This is not usually an expensive fix and can help eliminate something that you thought would be eye-catching, but in reality, might be hurting your website.
Step #5: Make the Text Larger
This last one might seem minor, but it’s a big deal. One common website user complaint is that a website text is too small to easily read. If your visitor has to make a physical effort to read your text, you’ve just put an obstacle between you and that prospective client.
This obstacle may be enough to frustrate them into leaving your site and not coming back.
Putting It All Together
Your business website should be helping your firm attract new prospects and convert leads and referrals to clients. If it’s not doing those two things, it doesn’t matter how impressive it looks visually or how much creativity went into it.
To do what it has to do, your website needs to be clear and easy for the users. It must give them what they need, in a format they know how to navigate and don’t have to struggle to understand. Even though your site may be about your company and what it does, never forget that it’s really about your customers and what they need.
Jeanne Klimowski is the founder of Wavelength Financial Content Inc. Wavelength provides original and white-label content that helps financial advisors attract attention and differentiate their businesses online.