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PART 5 OF 5

This is the final post on advisor (financial) websites makeover tips series.

In this post we’ll outline the challenges and solutions for our advisor website makeover series: Mobile Readiness and Creativity.

Fee free to click back to previous articles as well.

MOBILE READINESS

CHALLENGE:

It’s expected that mobile viewing of your advisor website will surpass desktop viewing within a few years. If your website is meant to impress on a desktop or laptop, it ought to achieve the same results on a mobile phone or tablet. We’ve written about Responsive vs. Adaptive Mobile Designs previously.

SOLUTION:

Google Analytics confirms that in February 2014, mobile browsing surpassed the 30% mark. Some are predicting this to surpass 50% by the end of 2015. Why does this matter to your financial firm? I don’t have specific stats for independent financial firms but I’m confident less than 25% would have fully mobile-ready websites. We’ve been building “responsive” websites for 3 years now (we realistically should probably have started 4 or 5 years ago). You can read more about responsive website design here. Responsive design makes it really easy to view your website on any mobile device. You’ll need to find expert help; there are lots of intricacies. These intricacies include simple things like designing with the understanding that there are no “hover” or “mouseover” capabilities on phones and tablets to the more complex like device compatibility, lead engagement, lead conversion, graphic design and content re-flow.

When searching for a website CMS (content management system) platform, a CMS template, an approved financial web design platform or a custom website design firm, consider asking the following questions before engaging them.

  • Will my site be responsive, viewable on all mobile devices?
  • Will there be any compromises to my website design using a responsive approach? i.e. Large Content sliders don’t always translate well in Responsive designs.
  • Do I have to select a “best fit” design or can you build based on my assets (content) and purpose (role of website in your marketing)?
  • Is my website design and/or template flexible enough to grow with me or will I have to re-invest in a new design in a few years?
  • Can I seamlessly add and manage plugins?
  • Is your CMS proprietary or open source (free and well supported)?
  • How much training and/or expertise is required for me to make changes or modifications to my site? Are these skills transferrable to other CMSs?
  • To what extent do I have control to modify my website? SEO enhancement, navigational design, and custom page design – does every page have to look the same?

CREATIVITY

CHALLENGE:

Advisor websites are an incredible tool to build your brand and grow your business. It’s a huge opportunity to be creative and stand out yet I mostly see safe and common approaches to website design, development and deployment. I also see the same stock imagery used over and over again. Creativity is not just a website vendor problem, this is an industry wide problem (PS: stop blaming compliance). We’re starting to see financial firms escape the mundane and stand out but we’re a long way from competing with leading mainstream marketing engines like Apple and Nike. Not that being marketing pioneers should be a goal for this industry. I should add that I’ve seen some incredible retail financial sites that are indeed leading edge – just not for traditional financial services firms.

SOLUTION:

Cookie-cutter advisor websites are popular because they are inexpensive – and compliance approved. The drawback however is that they often look the same. All financial advisor website template vendors have limited choices. Some of them allow custom designs but the price skyrockets to accommodate this and there can be significant limitations in design with their proprietary content management systems. The best of them offer little creativity. I always find choosing a template then fitting your marketing into them often doesn’t end of being the best it could be. Financial firms and advisors too often compromise their website design, role and marketing to save money.

A few thoughts to help you with creativity.

  • Research sites that your ideal audience would love. Can you imitate?
  • Do NOT assume “creative” is always better. For instance, a creative navigation while interesting may also be less intuitive for users and cause people to leave your site. You need to find the right balance of creative, simple and intuitive.
  • Organize your content assets, papers, articles, videos, infographics. What do you have and how will they be best represented (marketed) on your website?
  • What types of content and distribution mediums will best engage your audience? Would a weekly podcast engage more people or would a printed newsletter be more accepted?
  • Use a color palette that inspires people but doesn’t overwhelm them. You want more white space with elegant color contrast to draw the users eye.
  • Try to use language on your site that speaks to your audience. For instance, WHAT WE DO may resonate better than OUR SERVICES. The answer to WHAT WE DO may be, “We Manage Wealth”. A better approach may be, “We Grow & Protect Your Retirement Base”.
  • It’s not easy finding imagery that is affordable yet unique. Stock photos often look like just that, stock. There are several solutions here, 1) hire a professional photographer and take your own shots, and 2) look for an image theme that builds on intriguing photos versus the standard stock imagery. We have a client who focuses on keeping things simple so we chose imagery with not much going on; a chair in the middle of the room for instance. Instead of a 55-year-old couple on a yacht, how about an interesting angle on just the helm.
  • As far as upping the creativity of your marketing, stick to less-is-more. And don’t overdo it. Be as creative as you can sustain mentally and financially.

CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoyed this 5 Part Advisor Website Makeover Tips Series. We’ve received good feedback and questions as a result. If you have any comments, I’d love to hear them.

If you take an honest look at your financial website from the perspective on an ideal prospect that doesn’t know you, how would you rate your website’s success?