Your website tells a story
Like it or not, your website is a destination that serious referrals will visit to gain more insight into who you are, what you do and why they should consider you to manage their assets. Early on in their evaluation process, most referrals are trying to assess if you can help them reach an investment goal, plan for retirement or eliminate a risk.
If your website looks like it was launched during the dot-com era or is clearly dated (i.e., year at bottom reflects 2015 or lower, all text no images and zero social media integration), there’s a good chance you will miss an opportunity to engage your audience any further. Your website tells a story about who you are and can shape the perception of your business for better or worse.
You probably wouldn’t hire someone if they showed up to an interview with wrinkled, mismatched clothes and no resume, would you? The same principal can be applied to your website, as simply purchasing an out-of-the-box template or trying to design/maintain one yourself is more than likely going to produce a boring, unimaginative user experience. Your visitors should be greeted, ushered and presented with information that is applicable, relevant and compelling.
I don’t use my website for lead generation
Although you may not be interested in harvesting leads from the internet, understanding how a referral fits into your pipeline will help you formulate a meaningful engagement model on the web. Since a referral has already been sold your value proposition by an advocate of your business (aka…drank the cool-aid), your job is to validate, substantiate and reinforce what they’ve been told. Demonstrating knowledge leadership and depth of resources on your website will help to further “influence” a referrals decision on whether to make contact; i.e., follow-up via email or telephone.
Okay, so how do I setup my website to nurture referrals?
Tip 1 – Segmentation
Segmenting content on your website for core audiences you serve or want to serve is critical to nurturing referrals on the web, as today’s prospect seeks specialists, not generalists. If you present your offering to anyone with a pulse, there’s a high probability the actual clients you want to work for will overlook you and opt for a niche advisor.
It’s imperative that you focus on creating a website experience that correlates to your visitors’ intent. This requires that you think like your ideal clients and consider the types of financial challenges, goals, and dilemmas they struggle with. Additionally, If you’ve nurtured your COI’s and client advocates correctly, referrals flowing into your website should be somewhat pre-qualified.
Tip 2 – Targeted Content
Your task is to create compelling, intelligent and targeted content that demonstrates your capabilities, philosophy and approach in helping clients achieve their financial goals. Below are website call-out examples that represent a prospects intent. Using this formula will help referrals connect with your value proposition on the basis of what you can do for them — not what you have to offer.
Website Homepage Call-Out Examples
- Tired of DIY investing? = Portfolio Management
- Need to know your retirement number? = Retirement Planning
- Ready to sell your business? = Succession Planning
- High net worth tax planning? = Wealth Preservation
- Planning Your Legacy? = Estate Planning
Each of the call-outs above would correspond to a sub-page on your website or landing page, and feature a user experience that speaks to the needs of the audiences you are targeting. This requires more than just a simple explanation of your investment philosophy and differentiators, rather its imperative that you position whitepapers, webinars, and videos that help to influence perceptions while building confidence in your capabilities (aka “your story”).
Tip 3 – Story telling
Videos – Studies indicate that prospects who consume videos on websites of companies they are evaluating feel as if they’ve already gotten to know the business before speaking with a representative from the sales department. The takeaway is — using a series of well-produced videos can help you break the ice with referrals, enabling you to shape your narrative and frame your value proposition before you even talk to a live voice.
Blog – Your blog provides an optimal communications tool as you can communicate with your respective audiences daily. Unlike your website, your blog enables you to go into depth on topics that are meaningful to referrals. Great blogs include charts, process wheels, diagrams, infographics and other forms of media, all of which increase engagement and virility of your content (i.e., share with colleagues, friends, and family).
Tip 4 – Profiling
Marketing automation software programs have become quiet sophisticated, easy to use and very effective for businesses of all stripes. Platforms like Hubspot, Pardot, and Marketo provide real-time data analysis that enable you to identify visitors, content being consumed (i.e.,; downloaded) and overall engagement of all your web assets.
Understanding the behavior of your prospective audience allows you to respond, adjust and innovate new ways to communicate and influence. Below are key features most marketing automation software programs include (which enable you to nurture referrals on your website);
Analytics – On-page real-time data tracking analysis, enables you to identify what is working and what is not. If you notice your audience isn’t clicking on a particular call-to-action but loves your weekly newsletter, it might be time to re-position your newsletter on your homepage.
CRM – A common feature with most automation programs, as forms get filled out on your website, contact info is automatically uploaded to a crm database for future campaigns. You’ll want to use this database to send out monthly Newsletters, Holiday eCards, and Financial Planning Tool-kits.
Email Auto-Responders – Providing a real-time response to people who fill out forms on your website creates a confirmation that what was just submitted didn’t get lost into deep space. This valuable touch-point reminds prospects that you will be contacting them at a later date/time.
Progressive Profiling – Repeat website visitors often download White Papers, view Webinars/Videos and fill out Contact Forms on your website. Rather than ask the same questions and collect duplicate data, progressive profiling enables you to eliminate redundant questions and collect new data from the same prospective clients.
Your website plays an important role in your marketing arsenal and ignoring this resource or allowing it to remain idle or dated, projects poorly on your brand and depth of knowledge.
That said, it is never to late to get started. If building a full blown website is equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest —I suggest you start simple and launch a blog, nothing else. A blog is basically a website and can cultivate, engage and convert referrals equally well if developed and maintained correctly.
However, if you already have a digital marketing mix of sorts, then optimizing your website may be in order. Consider integrating any of the tips from the above and remember to analyze and benchmark activity before and after in order to accurately assess results.
Tags: financial advisor marketing, marketing for financial advisors, referral marketing, financial advisor advertising, websites for financial advisors