Is your financial advice business making the most of its website and other free marketing opportunities? Philip Calvert shines a practical light on simple things which can bring about dramatic results
We’ve come a long way…
In November 2003 I stood in front of a large audience of IFAs and suggested that something called ‘Social Media’ would be commonplace technology before they knew it. I remember one leading IFA came up to me afterwards and said:
“Phil, Social Media has no place in any self-respecting financial planning practice, and I won’t be getting on board your bandwagon.”
And he wasn’t the only one who felt that way. It’s amazing to think now, that back then in November 2003, LinkedIn had only been live for six months, yet today it feels as though we’ve always had the business networking platform.
Fifteen years later, in February 2018, I ran an internet marketing workshop for IFAs, where I met two in the audience who told me that they ‘still’ didn’t have a website. But they said they were there to learn. You see, IFAs’ relationship with websites, Social Media and the internet is a mixed one.
- Yes, there are still a few who don’t (yet) have a website.
- Most IFAs are on LinkedIn, but freely admit to not knowing exactly why.
- Hardly any IFAs have a formal, written down Social Media strategy.
- The number of IFAs with personal Facebook accounts suddenly and dramatically increased over the last twentyfour months.
- A small number of IFAs are proactively looking for ways to create online service propositions.
- IFAs get a huge amount of value networking with each other in online forums.
- Very few IFAs are converting their website visitors into quality enquiries.
That’s the current state of the IFA nation in the online world, but its worth putting a lens on one aspect – lead generation.
Are you making the most of your website?
For a few years, I’ve been monitoring how IFAs use their websites. For a great many, ‘having a website’ was just a job on the things-to-do list, and when finally launched they sat back and proudly declared themselves as having entered the world of eCommerce.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Simply having a website does not in itself, necessarily bring in new clients. There needs to be an underlying strategy that a) finds your ideal clients, b) drives them to your website and c) converts them into enquiries.
Most IFAs I have spoken to don’t have that strategy in place, though they still feel that their website has some part to play in attracting new clients and those who have been referred to them.
In our private Facebook group for IFAs, one of the topics that comes up time and time again is lead generation, with typical questions such as:
How do you generate leads? What do you think about Unbiased or VouchedFor for lead generation? and what about appointment-making firms for lead generation? And so on. Everyone has their own view and the results IFAs get from these firms vary enormously.
Yet, there are leads right under most IFAs’ noses which are being missed.
I often ask IFAs at my workshops if they can give me some basic stats for their website over the previous month, such as:
- How many visitors did you get last month?
- What were the most popular pages on your site?
- How long did they stay on your site?
- What was the page on your site from where most people left?
- How many pages did they visit?
- What search terms were used in Google that lead them to your site?
- What is your bounce rate?
Back to basics
“Bounce rate!?” they ask. Firstly, the questions above are the most basic that every IFA needs to know in relation to their website. And even if you are an IFA in a larger firm where you have no control over the website design, you need to ask to see the numbers, because the performance of the website is likely to be influencing the number of leads you are being given.
At the very least you need to know these numbers every month, and ideally weekly. I check mine daily.There’s a ton of other information that is also useful to know, but those listed above are critical if you are starting to take your website more seriously.
What’s your “bounce rate”?
The ‘bounce rate’ is pretty scary for most IFAs. It’s the percentage of site visitors who arrived – and then left without looking at a second page. For many IFA firms, it is the answer to number 4 above. Yes, your home page is very often the page from where most people leave!
If your bounce rate is 35% or under, then you are in the right place. And it means that if you had (say) one thousand visitors over the month, three hundred and fifty visited only the home page.
But very often IFAs are stunned to discover that their own bounce rate is in excess of 50%. I’ve seen many at 60%+ and some as high as 85%. If you don’t have a website at all, then you will be blissfully ignorant as to how many people might have been interested in your services…
The fact that so many IFAs don’t know their website numbers suggests something else, and that is how seriously the profession takes the internet as a lead generation tool (or a vehicle to add value to existing clients or professional connections).
This is the modern world
I still meet many IFAs who tell me that ‘their clients aren’t on Facebook’ or that their clients ‘aren’t on LinkedIn’ or that ‘they don’t listen to podcasts’ etc.
Really? Have you ever actually asked them if they are on Facebook? “No” is usually the answer.
And then there are simple things like ‘Out of Office’ emails. We send a daily email newsletter to several thousand IFAs and come holidays and half terms in come the ‘Out of Office’ emails. Yet for every hundred we receive, we’re lucky to see three or four that proactively encourage people to visit the company website in their absence.
Yes, one or two have their website address in their email signature, but hardly any say something along the lines of:
“Sorry we’re out of the office this week, but in the meantime please visit our website FAQ section where hopefully your question can be answered. Please also take a look at our blog for our latest insights on XYZ…” etc.
It’s so easy to do, but hardly any IFAs make the effort to fully integrate their website into their service proposition in this way.
In short, I worry that financial advice firms see their website as little more than a ‘vanity’ project that may or may not prove useful.
So why do so many people bounce off your website? After all, today’s financial adviser websites look quite impressive, and are a lot further advanced than just a few years ago. They are professionally put together, and even many of the ‘DIY’ website tools such as Wix can result in a good-looking result if you are on a budget.
Professional and good looking?
Unfortunately, ‘professional’ and ‘good looking’ are rarely the prerequisite to converting website visitors into high quality enquiries. We try to cram so much information onto our websites, that all we end up doing is confusing our site visitors.
And confusion is definitely NOT what someone considering working with a financial planner really wants. It is confusion that is causing people to leave your site.
To make this point, at our last workshop we counted up the number of calls to action or clickable links that were on the home pages of five different IFAs’ websites. The average turned out to be a staggering twenty-six clickable links per website home page!
Many internet marketing experts will argue that for the most part, your website should aim to do one of two things (rarely both):
- Add value to existing customers, or
- Get leads and sales
Clearly if you have twenty-six clickable links on your home page, the likelihood of you converting a lead drops through the floor. Lead generation is important to IFAs; we know that because the subject comes up in our Facebook group regularly and often.
But when we take the time to look at our own website stats, what’s staring us in the face is that people needing financial advice have found your website online and are visiting it. They might have found it because of your use of Social Media, or because they found you in a Google search or perhaps because they were referred to it by one of your existing clients.
The problem is, because we’re not yet treating our website as a valuable and integrated asset of our business, we’re missing leads that are right under our noses.
And what needs to happen next is that we convert the ones we really want.
The good news is that today it’s possible to make changes to websites that have an immediate impact – and without it costing you time and money.
There are proven techniques you can employ which all but guarantee to attract and convert more of the clients you really want. And did you know that in tests, it’s often as simple as making tiny changes. For example, in one test the addition of just TWO WORDS increased the number of conversions by up to 28%. In other tests, changing three words in the title of a page increased enquiries by 54.2% In others, moving the position of an image on a page increased enquiries by 67%. In another test, it was possible to increase enquiries on a web page simply by changing the font!
Yes, there are several different ways to generate leads for a financial advice practice, but in fact, a great many leads are right under your nose. You just need to know your numbers and understand how modern website marketing works.
About Philip Calvert
Philip is an international speaker and consultant, working with financial advisers worldwide – helping them to generate leads and sales through LinkedIn, Social Media and Internet Marketing. Join Philip’s private group for financial advisers at https://www.facebook.com/groups/AdviserLifeTalk and for information on our next internet marketing workshop contact firstname.lastname@example.org