4 Key Homepage Elements to Attract Clients to Your Financial Firm

Websites are the gold rush of the 21st century.

By the end of the year, 2016 proved that digital storefronts are not only essential to business, but that they are eclipsing the value of brick and mortar shops altogether. Thanks to cutting-edge chat bots and the rise of virtual reality, websites are increasingly becoming more of an experience rather than a mere destination.

Websites also look more attractive than ever, and when coupled with interactivity, these digital domains are capable of turning an incredible profit. The same principle holds true for financial advisors, many of whom have witnessed the opportunities a strong digital domain can provide.

As the new year unfolds, what trends can we anticipate in the world of websites?

4 Must-Have Homepage Elements for Your Website

Making sure the homepage of your financial advisor website grabs the attention of potential clients and retains their interest can greatly impact your firm’s success online. If website updates are on your plan for the next year, you’ll want keep these things in mind.

Use Real Photos, Not iStock

It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it.” This adage holds true especially for website homepages. We live in an increasingly visual world where sentences are summed up with infographics and videos are reduced to GIFs. More than even the craftiest content, your homepage’s lead image will inspire an indelible emotion in your viewers.

There was a time when stock photos were in vogue, helping give websites a professional and detached appeal. Those days are over. As viewers get more savvy in the digital sphere, they can easily spot models and phony photographs a mile away.

Instead, bespoke pictures give an air of legitimacy that a stock photo can’t match. If you work in a metropolitan area and want to feature a photo of the skyline on your homepage, use the view from your office. If you work in a rural area and have a community clientele, use that to your advantage and feature pictures of local vistas and Mom and Pop shops.

Keep it real with your pictures, especially on the home page.

Go Bold with Homepage Layouts

Website customization is more important than ever. While templates will always retain their value, a tailored website is engineered to inspire.

As the marketplace grows inevitably grows more cluttered and competitive, truly original websites will rise to the top. There’s a reason why visionary web designers are the VIPs of the digital world. If Van Gogh were alive today, even he would be dabbling in websites.

Customization starts with the layout and carries through even to the typeface. The days of size 12, Times New Roman font on the home page are being replaced by dynamic and loud, large text. It’s like a billboard on your homepage.

Then again, the pomp and circumstance of photos and typeface rely on another key component…

Write Creative and Consistent Content

Content isn’t just a king. It’s a dictator that demands a seemingly infinite supply of material. Frankly, the phrase “content is king” can create a panic of inundating the market with copycat articles and white papers simply to check the “output” box.

For financial advisors not particularly interested in becoming the next Buzzfeed, breathe easy. Feeding the content beast is more about quality than quantity. While you and your clients will undoubtedly benefit from curating your own blog, start with honing the messaging on your homepage.

Above all, prospective clients want to learn about your experience, your values and your leadership.  Each of these areas can be addressed right out of the gate. Put that big and bold typeface to work with a catchy slogan, then follow it up with a pithy paragraph or two about your history and your mission statement.

This is the foundation of your content messaging. By incorporating Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and a consistent approach to your blog, you’ll notice a marked increase in traffic and conversions.

For an extra boost with your website content, Advisor Launchpad can help create customized copy to deliver your message to clients.

Incorporate Videos on Your Homepage

Every minute, over 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. It’s clear we have an insatiable appetite for content, and this trend is hugely valuable for advisors.

The financial industry is a business of relationships. When choosing their advisors, clients invest in people, not just firms. That’s why a personalized video on your homepage can be the best way to “meet” prospective clients.

While the written word is one-dimensional, videos capture your total essence. When faced with the choice of reading or watching, most people will choose the latter. Videos from third-parties about particular services are important, but the introductory video is selling you. Unleash your personality and give viewers a chance to imagine you as their advisor.

As we discussed with stock photos, authenticity is everything, especially in the financial world where trust is so integral to success.

Optimize Your Website to Attract & Retain Clients

Your home page is the most important part of your website. It should be able to stand alone in the eyes of clients as the primary showcase of your firm. The rest of your site, from the services section to your biographies, is just icing on the cake.

As you look to 2017, remember that websites are becoming more of an experience, not just a digital storefront. By building creative layouts and valuing authenticity in your photos, videos and content, your website will have its most dynamic year yet.

About Advisor Launchpad

We provide a comprehensive website solution for your financial advisor firm. If you’re interested in rebuilding your website for the new year, we’d be happy to help. Contact us to design an online presence that impresses your clients today!

How to Explain the DOL Fiduciary Rule on Your Website

What’s 1,023 pages in length and guaranteed to change the advisory industry forever? The Department of Labor’s new Fiduciary Ruling. With 2017 just around the corner, the rule is fast approaching implementation.

Don’t be intimidated!

While we certainly won’t suggest you read the entire DOL legislation, we are confident the impending DOL Fiduciary Rule creates an opportunity for advisors to get ahead of the competition.

The financial business has always been about relationships, and the new rule simply turns things up a notch.

3 Helpful Tips for Explaining the DOL Fiduciary Rule

Here are 3 quick tips to take advantage of the new DOL Fiduciary Rule and position your company for greatness in the new year.

1) Be Transparent & Maintain Trust

Keep your clients in the loop.

They already look at you and your firm with trust, and as you adapt to the new legislation from the Department of Labor, let your clients know what’s in store for them. The ideal way to accomplish this is by incorporating your role as a fiduciary in the content on your financial advisor website.

Keep it simple and to the point.

A concise paragraph that summarizes your client-centric focus is a great way to reinforce your role as their advisor. Think of it like renewing marriage vows. You’re telling your clients that the high personal standards you’ve always held are as strong as ever, and that you’re doubling down on your commitment to their most valued goals.

2) Draw the Line & Stand Out from the Competition

We don’t advocate character assassinations of your peers (and neither does your broker dealer!), but it’s the ideal time to delineate the differences between your firm and the competition. In a business that thrives on uniqueness, you can further separate yourself by specifying the standard that other advisors uphold, the suitability standard.

Though that lower level of care will no longer be tenable come springtime, you can capitalize on the interim months to establish your own firm as a fiduciary long before it was popular to do so.

Let prospective clients hear the truth: while your competition seeks a profit, you strive to help your clients achieve their goals.

You can be opaque, yet powerful in your assessment. One example might read, “Firms that operate under the “suitability standard” provide services that generally meet your needs, while also trying to fulfill their own. It’s an inherent conflict of interest.

3) Spell It Out: Feature Your Role as a Fiduciary

While you can certainly feature your role as a fiduciary on the home page, we would suggest incorporating that verbiage under your About Us/Company page.

For prospective buyers undergoing a thorough examination of your website, the truly interested and savvy clients will appreciate reading about your role as a fiduciary.

First, tell them what it is: “The strictest duty of care as recognized by the US legal system.”

Then, show them how you uphold it, the process to which your firm adheres, and the strategies you can create to help investors succeed.

Embrace Your Fiduciary Status

At the end of the day, the new DOL regulations are not to be feared. Like any other industry evolution, they can be intimidating and threatening to a well-established way of life.

As you embrace your status as a fiduciary, know that it presents an opportunity to distinguish yourself from the competition and a way to enhance your brand.

How Advisor Launchpad Can Help

If you need help with your content, or want some fresh ideas for explaining the DOL Fiduciary Rule on your website, we’d be happy to assist.

3 Secrets to Making Your Financial Advisor Blog Stand Out

Don’t let “blog” be another four-letter word.

In the age of social media, blogging has seemingly become this hyper-competitive industry that fights over readership and alienates the audience in the process.

For financial advisors, it doesn’t need to be that way.

While other industries and companies take the scattershot approach to blogging, you’ll reap the rewards of a more precise process with every blog post.

Creating a captivating and informative blog page on your financial advisor website can serve as an extension of your company, providing value for your readers.

Here are 3 tips on how to make a great financial advisor blog:

1. “Content is King” When Creating Your Blog Posts

This phrase is currently making the rounds as the “most redundant sentence” of 2016, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true. Without question, content remains the most important component of your financial advisor blog.

While the benefits of blogging are important (viewership, reaching prospective clients, etc.), remember its primary function: to educate, inform, and excite your audience.

You want people to walk away from your article with new information and a refreshed perspective.

So, how do you pique the interest of your readers and stimulate their engagement?

The Value of Episodic Content: Break Up Topics and Narrow the Focus

If you’ve ever binge-watched a Netflix show, then you already understand this principle. Whether it’s a thrilling TV series or a nerve-wracking sporting event, people love suspense.

Studies indicate that it’s in our nature to be attracted to uncertainty and to stay engaged until we reach a resolution.

Applying this perspective to blogging can be immensely useful. While content is the king, its presentation and delivery is second in command.

For example, consider two possible financial blog post ideas:

  • In writing a single blog about “Preparing for Retirement,” you tackle everything from college funding and savings accounts, to your 401(k), estate planning and more.
  • Or, you write a three-part series about the same subject and dedicate one post to each major area of planning.

The second option not only delivers the same information, but it does so in a more palatable way. Readers have time to digest the first block of information and apply it to their practice.

There’s a reason premiere restaurants have a meticulously designed culinary experience. They want you to enjoy each course before moving onto the next.

With your financial advisor blog, allow your readers to savor every bite of information you provide, then end the conversation before they’re overwhelmed.

This will earn you a loyal reader who anticipates the next installment in your series.

2. Know Your Audience and Hone Your Content

The digital marketplace can often seem like the wild west, offering little to no guidance, feedback or direction.

As a financial advisor, however, you have an advantage.

You know who your most important clients are, what your most valuable services have been, and how often you’re growing your total assets under management.

When it comes to your website and the blogs you offer, however, nothing will replace the power of statistics.

First and foremost, it’s essential to hone in on your target audience with every post. Know who you’re trying reach and what change you’re trying to affect in their financial lives.

Secondly, you can review the success of each blog post with the help of Google Analytics.

Advisor Launchpad specializes in providing top-tier Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to boost your web presence, and using Google Analytics will tell you three important things:

  • How much traffic your site generates
  • Who your key visitors are (and when they’re coming from)
  • What pages of the site are getting the most traction

The takeaways from these findings are key to your digital marketing strategy.

If the numbers are good, and people are consuming your content, then you’re on the right track. If you’re underwhelmed by the statistics, then you simply have to readjust your process.

Play to Your Strengths When Creating Content for Your Target Audience

When helping financial advisors hone their content and messaging, we often find that the advisor’s own words are the best.

Nobody can capture the essence of your firm and your philosophy like you and your team.

One advisor spoke about his approach to investing with cooking analogies – ingredients, preparation and more. That verbiage may not work for everyone, but it was true to his personality and unique to the essence of the firm.

We encourage advisors to play to their strengths and write blogs from their own veteran perspective with the words and phrasing they’re most comfortable using.

3. Use Social Media to Share Your Blog Posts

Content is the king, and the more you feed the beast, the longer you protect its reign.

Featuring your blogs on social media will help establish you and your firm as thought leaders in the industry.

Also, while nothing will replace the value of fresh and vibrant content, your favorite blogs from the previous year will always be in play. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you can recycle and repurpose your old posts in a plethora of ways.

Social media engagement has the added benefit of growing your following and showing audiences the depth of your involvement in the industry.

Start Focusing on These 3 Secrets for Your Financial Advisor Blog

Whether on the phone or in person, you spend countless hours nurturing your client relationships. No matter how busy you get, remember that your blog is an extension of your website and your firm.

It’s the digital platform that showcases your thought leadership and provides insight into your expertise that your clients might not otherwise get to see.

Embrace the challenge, write frequently (and in your own voice!), then let your blogs circulate through your favorite social media channels.

If you need a boost in building your digital marketing strategy while maintaining financial advisor compliance, Advisor Launchpad is here to help. Reach out today for more information!

How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Financial Advisor

What’s in a name? Ever since Shakespeare asked the question, we’ve been seeking the answer.

When it comes to your online presence, choosing your domain name is particularly important. For prospective clients, it’s the gateway to your website.

3 Tips for Choosing a Strong Domain Name

When you hand people your business card, you want your website URL to be concise and compelling. After all, they’ll be the ones typing it into their browser to visit your digital storefront.

Make your domain name sharp. It’s like that scene in The Social Network where Mark Zuckerberg is encouraged to change The Facebook to, “Just Facebook. It’s cleaner.” Details matter for domain names.

Here are 3 tips for choosing a domain name.

1. Know Your Niche

Earlier this year, we wrote about the value of owning your niche. Truly influential financial advisors corner the marketplace in their respective networks, and that process starts with choosing a domain name.

Do you specialize in insurance services, retirement strategies, or wealth management?

Consider ending your domain name with the defining feature of your company:

e.g. www.WilliamsInsurance.com

The full title may be Williams Insurance & Investment Services, Inc., but for your domain name, always aim for the most direct version. If you have a comprehensive menu of services, however, don’t worry about limiting your company to a single title. Keep it broad:

e.g. www.CollinsFinancial.com

2. Be Your Brand

However big or small, embrace the size of your firm.

When we craft original content for clients, outfits with a single advisor occasionally fear being viewed as a one-man shop. Pluralities like “our team” may be off limits, but we encourage these firms to capitalize on the appeal of their size. Boutique offices have plenty of advantages, and when choosing a domain, individual advisor names can work very well.

Plus, if you’re in a small town where everyone knows each other, promote your likability with a domain name to match:

e.g. www.CherylStrongFinancial.com

Conversely, if you have urban offices and a large firm, expand your domain. You could even incorporate the city in the title:

e.g. www.AtlantaWealthAdvisors.com

Wherever you fall on the financial spectrum, play to your strengths and choose the domain that best represents you and your firm.

3. Be Concise

Domains are less about being clever and more about being concise. That’s partially why Amazon and Apple do such great online business.

While we can debate the pros and cons of domain names for days, the ultimate goal is simple. We want clients to visit your website and get on your roster.

The only question is: how easily can we facilitate that process?

3 Extra Tips for Brainstorming a Domain Name

Here are a few rules to keep in mind as you brainstorm a new domain name:

  • Demand a Dotcom: Don’t mess around with .net, .biz, .us or anything but .com. Unless you’re a truly massive company, avoid .org as well. The “.com” extension works around the globe and is by far the most popular option for modern domain names.
  • Networking Friendly: Think of your domain name as your digital handshake. Does it look good on the back of your business card? Does the URL fit properly? Consider its appeal in the real world before registering the domain.
  • Finish Strong: If you’re unsure of your choices, you’ll never go wrong with a few power words and a portmanteau (two words combined). Matched alongside your city, your personal name, or your company title, consider ending the domain with “wealth management,” “financial,” or “advisors.”

Finally, know that the growing power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) extends even to your domain name. At the end of the day, your domain name is a string of keywords telling search engines like Google how to feature your site.

Choose the right domain name, and lay the foundation for the rest of your website’s long-term success.

Conclusion

While we want you to get the best domain for your business, don’t torture yourself in the process. This shouldn’t be as strenuous as naming a child, and realistically, having a solid digital presence is much more valuable than perfecting your URL.

Once you narrow down your list of domain names, you can easily register them with a hosting provider like GoDaddy or SiteGround.

Mass Emails - Are They Viable for a Financial Advisor?

Time is money, and mass emails help you save both.

Email blasts, when done correctly, attract prospects while affirming your current client base.

By following the 3 C’s of Mass Email Marketing, you can maximize your efficiency by offering valuable Content to Customized groups on a Consistent basis.

1) Content

How do I bring value to my audience?” 

Go beyond sales pitches and dig deep.
Your audience is looking to be empowered. Oblige them. 2016 started with plenty of uncertainty, so no matter who you’re talking to, we’re all playing in the same economic sandbox. Capitalize on that commonality.

Self-focused writing is the ultimate trap of mass emails. Make it about the readers. Picture your audience sitting across from you. Look them in the eye. What do you see and what do they need?

That’s your starting place.

Mass emails can be a literal wake-up call. Sent during the 9-5 workday, they have the potential to brighten your audience’s day. A laugh or a new idea can turn a lead into a loyal customer.

2) Customization

Be specific. Know your niche.

Emailing clusters of potential clients is like a dinner party, whereas mass emails are like hosting an event. You get your name in front of a crowd, and if it’s a fun night, they’ll think of you in high regard.

But it has to be a good party. You have to remember details about your guests, like what she got last Christmas or his hole-in-one back in ‘97. They need to leave feeling better than when they arrived.

Mass emails aren’t an excuse for lack of precision. We’re not carpet bombing; we’re launching a GPS-guided missile. Be specific. Customize your content by region, net-worth, age group and more. Know your niche.

If you have a list of email addresses for prospects, go for it! Just make sure you’ve customized each group and their corresponding content.

3) Consistency

Restraint is a key element of any digital marketing strategy. Know when to strike and when to stay silent. Mass emails have the potential to fatigue your audience just as quickly as they can grow it. The Unsubscribe button looms large on any email.

That being said, an effective email outreach program creates audience demand. Each new message will leave them anticipating the next. Stay in motion by giving them what they want without overstaying your welcome.

Mass emails are also a great way to keep up with your current customers. Newsletters in particular can provide relevant content to keep your clients informed, confident and impressed that you are always thinking on their behalf.

While you focus on your email strategy, let Advisor Launchpad take care of your website.