Why You Should Invest in Your Financial Website

Project managing and investing in a new website build can be a big ask for a financial organization. Even if you have dedicated marketing staff, it can be difficult to persuade internal stakeholders that a new site is necessary. Whenever you broach the topic of a new site, you may receive pushback comments like: “What’s wrong with the old one?”

 

“OKAY” is not the label you want to attach to your website. It should be your organization’s demand-generation machine, producing a healthy flow of inbound leads for sales teams to qualify and follow up on.

 

Keep reading to learn the four key areas of a typical financial services website, and why they are often ripe for investment and improvement.

 

#1. Mobile-Friendly or Responsive Design

 

It’s no secret that numbers of smartphone user have been steadily rising. In 2017, the number of smartphone users is set to reach 222.9 million well over two-thirds of the total population. So, if your company is still using a site template that is not mobile-friendly nor responsive, there is no question that you will be losing potential customers and existing customers who drop onto your site via their mobile device.

 

There are two options to solve this problem. The first is to have your web designer create a separate mobile-friendly website at m.yourdomain.com. The second, generally preferred option, is to use a “responsive” template and layout.

“Responsive” simply means your website’s pages will auto-size to whatever screen dimensions the device they are being viewed on. Your site will look great on all kinds of mobiles and tablets without doing any extra work customizing your site specifically for mobile.

 

You don’t want to lose prospects simply because they can’t access a full version of your site on their mobile device, and, with responsive design, you don’t need to.

 

#2. Modern Navigation

 

Your current website may follow the “old-school” layout of a nav bar across the top pointing off to the main sections of your site, possibly with subpages linked underneath. This type of layout works. Users can find the information they are looking for in a few clicks. You may want to make your navigation more dramatic, however, and take extra steps to minimize the number of clicks and “wrong turns” the user may make to find what they are looking for.

 

Consider, for example, dividing your home page up visually – with three main blocks or graphics across the home page. The entire “tile” or “slide,” if you are using a carousel, links off to that section of the site.

Once there, you can use calls-to-action (CTAs) to direct people to where YOU want them to go. For example, your goal might be to have visitors fill in a lead generation form, subscribe to your blog, or get a quote.

If you are using a responsive site, users can keep scrolling down and “unfolding” more visually-pleasing, relevant information as they go. There doesn’t have to be a fixed cut off to the bottom of the site, as with older designs.

 

A search bar at the top right-hand corner of your site is a great idea. Note that this area is also the perfect place to add a CTA too. A good CTA might be: “Call today for a free consultation 1-800-YOUR-PHONE.”

 

Try to look at your site as though you are a new visitor. Being honest with yourself, how easy is it to reach the information you need?

Even better, invite someone to test the site. Set him or her a task and then watch how they approach it. Do they find the information they need? If the answer is “no,” it’s time to speak to a user experience (UX) expert.

#3. Links to Social Media

 

When you make a new connection, do you find yourself flicking down their LinkedIn or Instagram feeds to get a twenty-second snapshot of who they are? Your clients and potential clients do the same when they are evaluating your brand. They are trying to gauge if your brand resonates with them. They want to know if you have similar values to them, and of course, if you are trustworthy and legitimate.

 

If your social profile links are hard to find – or if you haven’t included all of them – put them in a more prominent position on your homepage and throughout your site. You may feel that social links are a distraction because they take your traffic and give it to distracting sites, such as Facebook. Every additional “like” or “favorite”, however, adds to your credibility via social proof. If your business is linked with someone on a social network, you are then able to engage with them and generate valuable interaction and feedback.

Also, you can mitigate the risk of losing a potential client due to them navigating away from your page, by putting what is called a “wrapper” at the top.

 

The wrapper is a banner with your branding that hides the address bar of the browser window. When it is clicked, it diverts the user back to the page on your site where they previously left off. Social media companies like Bebee have found this to be an effective way to stop users exiting the site sooner than they would have if they hadn’t been distracted by opening a link in a new window.

 

Your goal is to keep users on your website as long as possible. The more engaged your audience, the longer they will stay, and the longer you have to convert them to a lead.

 

 

#4. Customer-Focused Content

 

A mistake some financial organizations make with their websites is not creating enough customer-focused content. Creating “buyer personas” is a useful way to categorize types of queries. Then, create content to match your personas or “ideal buyers.”

 

For example, “Refinance Ruth” may be looking for information relating to refinancing her home. “Equity Release Eddie” may be looking to take out equity in his home through a release plan. Ensuring you have high-quality, easy-to-access content on your site that addresses each type of user, and answers their questions with great content, is key to securing trust and credibility with your prospective customers.

 

If a visitor doesn’t get a sense that you have invested in the look, the feel, or the content of your website, they will click back to Google’s search results and head to your competitor.

Financial businesses are often accused of being out of touch with modern times. By investing and updating your website, you will not only be keeping your demand-generation machine in efficient, working order, but you’ll also be demonstrating your integrity, adaptability, and readiness for the future.

Boost Your Financial Website’s Traffic and Quality with SEO

You may be wondering if you need Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for a financial website. The answer is that any website can benefit from SEO.

Optimizing your site to make it more discoverable by search engines and people who use them will save you time and money. It brings targeted visitors directly to your doorstep. Instead of selling to the masses, you will get more visitors who are actively looking for your services. There’s no need for the hard sell when you make it easy enough for the right people to find you.

But you need more than SEO. While SEO brings visitors to your website, you then need a great-looking, usable, and useful site to convert them into customers.

More About Search Engine Optimization

SEO is no longer about cramming your website with as many keywords and keyphrases as you can fit on the screen. This is a good thing. The changes to SEO and how search engines operate mean that the focus is firmly on creating positive, valuable experiences for web users. Optimizing your site for search engines means creating content that your ideal audience would like to see and delivering it in a way that helps this existing audience find you.

If you focus on quality content, rather than looking for ways to trick the system, you will be rewarded with better rankings.

SEO is More Than Keywords and Page Titles

Trust and reputation are of major importance in the financial industry. You need to convince your visitors that they will be safe if they do business with your firm and that you know and care about their needs.

Many of your visitors will come from referrals. They may have no knowledge of how well you are doing according to Google. Like everyone else who visits your website, from any source, ultimately they will be deciding whether to do business with you based on the quality, usefulness, and usability of your site, all of which are considered when you embark upon SEO.

Image Matters

In short, you need your website to look the part. The content of your site is critical and everyone knows the saying about how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in those first seconds of seeing your website, your visitors will make decisions about the trustworthiness of your business and how they feel about doing business with you.

Think about the qualities you want people to take from your business and make sure that your site is saying the same thing. Your website should display your branding clearly and consistently. It needs to look professional and considered.

For a financial website, you might want a design that appears solid, grounded, and dependable. Alternatively, you might look for a design that is modern and forward-looking.

Yes, the information you provide via web content is important, but so is making an impression. Don’t cut corners with your web design or your visitors may not stay on your site long enough to read more than a couple of your well-crafted sentences.

Note also that Google has staff to provide the human touch when it comes to assessing websites for quality. Make sure you look your best when Google comes to town.

Think Fast

We’ve established that your visitors will make an evaluation of your page within seconds. This applies even if your page takes more than a few seconds to load. According to KissMetrics, 4 out of 10 web users will abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Take 3 seconds to let that statistic sink in.

If your site doesn’t load quickly, you could be losing almost half of your hard-earned traffic. There are lots of cold sweat-inducing statistics like this on the web. Optimizing your pages so that they load more quickly is a big deal.

You can achieve fast page loading speeds by paying for quality, dedicated hosting, but that won’t necessarily save you if your site is poorly designed. One way to make your pages load more quickly is to make the file sizes of your images as small as possible. It can take some skill to do this without sacrificing the quality of your images, but it’s worth doing to provide the best experience possible for your visitors, who are increasingly using mobile devices to perform searches.

If your site isn’t loading within a couple of seconds, it might be worth seeking help to check your code and optimize your images. A professional will be able to help you achieve fast page loading without sacrificing the quality of your visuals.

The speed of your site affects how usable it is. Thus, it also affects your ranking on Google.

Get Mobile

Ever tried surfing the web on a mobile device? At times, this can be the definition of frustrating. This is less and less frequently the case, however, as more businesses catch on to the fact that people like to use the internet while on the move.

As mobile technology improves, and becomes cheaper, more people are taking to the net while way from home or the office. At the end of 2016, mobile usage of the internet surpassed desktop usage. Making sure that your site works on mobile devices is essential if you want to compete in almost any industry.

Google’s algorithms favor sites that are mobile ready.

Provide Proper Navigation

Imagine a bricks-and-mortar financial institution with pillars and steps and banners announcing great deals for new customers. Now imagine that inside the building are dozens of corridors and hundreds of doors, none of which are labeled. What would be the result?

Proper navigation helps your users find what they are looking for. If people don’t know where to look for what they need, they will click away.

There are various navigational structures for websites. Navigation needs some planning to make sure that all the parts of your site are clearly identified and within easy reach.

Just as people need to be able to find their way around your website, so do Google’s spiders. If there are dead ends, broken links, or pages that are hard to find on your website, Google may take longer to index them or they may not be indexed at all. Provide coherent navigation and a thoughtful navigational structure so you don’t lose visitors when they arrive on your website.

High-Quality Content

To attract potential customers, creating and sharing high-quality content should be a major part of your marketing plan.

People often ask whether they should be creating content for people or for machines, i.e., Google. The answer is that you can do both. If your content satisfies Google’s requirements for a Google-friendly site, you’ll be satisfying your potential customers as well as Google’s spiders and algorithms.

To learn more about how SEO can attract more visitors and provide a better experience for them when they arrive, get in touch with AltaStreet by calling our office at (216) 894-5193 or fill in our contact form today.

#SEO #SearchEngineOptimization #website #FinancialWebsite #graphicdesign #IncreaseTraffic #content #marketing #altastreet #MobileFriendly #google

How to Build Authority and Trust with Your Financial Website

In the financial industry, building trust is incredibly important. People want their money to be safe. After the global financial crisis, financial scandals, and economic uncertainty, financial clients want reassurance about the advice they receive and what will happen to their money.

Establishing trust doesn’t happen overnight. Having authoritative content on your website helps. Posting targeted, high-quality content tells the world that you know what you are talking about. It will keep helping you develop relationships with your customers – and potential customers – as long as it is online. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week – good content never sleeps.

To connect with customers, your business needs to be more than an impressive logo and tag line. Those things will help, but your business also needs a personality. When it comes down to it, even with business to business interactions, people are doing business with people.

In addition to this, having a website that is considered authoritative and trustworthy will improve how well it ranks with search engines. A good search engine ranking means that more of the right people will find you.

Interested?

Here are six strategies for using content to build your financial website’s authority and trust.

1. Teach and Educate Your Visitors

If you teach someone how to do something or what something means, it demonstrates your expertise. It’s also a neighborly thing to do and might give you a warm feeling inside.

In addition, you’ll be creating very useful content that will attract new visitors that are looking for the same information. Who is your ideal customer most likely to do business with – a financial firm that anticipates people’s needs and provides guides and solutions to their problems, or the business that only provides their business hours?

Helpful, informational content generates repeat visits from people who want more of your know-how and may ultimately subscribe or call you for your services.

Think about what your ideal customers want and need to know. Provide that information using the words and phrases that they would use during a search.

2. Take a Deep Dive

There are many subjects to write about in the financial industry. If you try to write about them all, you’ll be competing with all financial websites on the web. Search engines will classify you as being a general finance firm. And you might also wear yourself out.

By focusing on one or more specialties, you can stand out as an expert among other firms in the same industry. By writing on fewer subjects, search engines will see that your content is not only focused but increasingly comprehensive. Customers will appreciate this too. You will be the go-to source for information on your chosen areas of specialty.

3. Stay up to Date

The financial industry is constantly evolving to meet the demands of a new generation of clients. If you can demonstrate that your financial business is up to date with changes in the industry, people will be more likely to feel comfortable doing business with you.

Even if you’re not at the cutting edge of the financial industry, demonstrate that you know where the edge is, how the changing financial landscape might affect your customers, and where your business fits in.

4. Use Understandable Language

Some financial websites confuse authority with sounding authoritative. Many industries try to keep people ‘out of the loop’ by using industry shorthand and jargon. If you want to connect with customers, however, you need to talk in a language that they will understand.

Using impenetrable financial language is a sure way to make your potential customers feel uncomfortable. Explain everything to your visitors, encourage them to provide feedback, and answer their questions in full whenever you have the opportunity. Share knowledge and be transparent to develop trusting relationships with customers and potential customers.

5. Engage with Customers on Social Media

People do business with companies that they like and trust. Then they tell their friends, family, and colleagues about their experiences. Publishing and/or promoting your content on social media is a fantastic way to spread the word about your brand.

Many customers make purchasing decisions after looking at recommendations from other users. Achieving ‘likes’ and shares via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms relevant to your financial website can help you build trust online.

Being active on social media gives you a great opportunity to become involved in a dialogue. Demonstrate that communication with your firm is two-way. Respond promptly to comments and feedback. Ask questions where relevant, and always be professional.

Your engagement on social media enhances the experience for your existing customers and shows potential customers the high standards and individual attention that they can expect from you.

6. Generate Inbound Links

If you want to build your trust and authority online, generating links to your website should be a core part of your strategy.

Google and other search engines see inbound links as a sign of authority. If other people are linking to your site, that suggests that your site contains worthwhile content.

Note, however, that it’s better to have an inbound link from one heavy-hitting website than multiple links from poor quality websites. The perceived quality of the site that links to you rubs off on your site.

There are many ways to generate quality inbound links. You could start by:

  • linking to good quality blogs that deal with similar subject areas to yours – not only does linking to external content demonstrate that your business stays up to date with the movements of the financial industry, but it also encourages other bloggers to link back to you in return.
  • curating content – by creating something like a comprehensive resource list, other bloggers will be attracted to this valuable resource. Rather than create their own resource lists, they are likely to link to your content to provide value for their visitors.
  • creating consistent content – one of the best ways to earn inbound links is to maintain a blog worth linking to. That means creating focused, quality content. Be consistent and you’ll see the rewards in numerous ways.

Building authority and trust is more crucial than ever if you have a financial website. It takes time to build authority and trust, so start now. You, and your customers, will be glad that you did.

Any Questions?

Contact Dan Stark: dan@altastreet.com

Find out why over 1,000 companies in the financial vertical have chosen us as their go to provider for Custom Website Design and Development.

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#financialwebsitedesign #buildauthority #buildtrust #searchengineranking #contentisking #boostrevenue #websitedevelopment #websitedesign

The importance of a Logo and Branding and how it affects a company’s image

The Importance of a Logo and Branding

We often hear about the importance of logos and branding. What is the difference between the two and how can they affect your company’s image?

Your branding is the combination of graphics, colors, fonts, and images that help people identify your company, and identify with your company. It can extend to letterheads, internal forms, outdoor signage, uniforms, and more.

Your logo is the chief visual component of your branding. It’s the face of your company. It quickly becomes the single most recognizable thing about your company. Because it is scalable and anchors your branding, it acts as shorthand for your business throughout your advertising and promotional material.

It’s not enough to make your logo ubiquitous, however. You also need to make it good.

What Makes a Great Logo?

The best logos share several key elements. Yours should be:

  • Appropriate to your business
  • Memorable
  • Uncomplicated (in form)
  • Original

Why is your logo so important? Your logo represents your business.

Would you turn up to an interview, chair a crucial business meeting, or give an important presentation to clients without making some effort to be presentable? Now consider that your logo needs to be ready to do all of these things and more, 24 hours a day.

Branding – The Bigger Picture

You have a fantastic logo? Great! Many businesses sit back on the couch and grab the remote at that point. Don’t make that mistake.

If you have a well-balanced, evocative, memorable logo, but all the elements around it are amateurish and sloppy, what is the overall effect?

All graphical and typographical elements should look good alongside your logo. Your look needs to be consistent so that the messages you give to your customers and potential customers are cohesive.

The Effect of Your Logo and Branding

One of the reasons that businesses invest heavily in their logos and branding is because they have an instant psychological effect on customers and potential customers.

Consider that black logos suggests luxury and are popular with designer clothing and fragrance brands. Unsurprisingly, predominantly pink branding tends to be feminine, popular with brands from Barbie to Victoria’s Secret. Red and yellow in combination are known to make people want to eat, which is why so many fast food restaurants use these colors in their branding. Don’t believe us? Ask Google.

Your fonts convey messages too, both in your logo and throughout your marketing material. Solid, bold lettering, for example, suggests the solidity, authority, and strength of a business. This might work well for a legal firm, but is perhaps not so appropriate for a manufacturer of children’s fashion jewelry.

Add imagery appropriate to your values and your business and your branding can become even more powerful.

As well as instantly affecting the emotions of your audience, branding also works over time. As you build brand awareness, your look becomes familiar. This is good news. Do most people want to do business with a complete stranger or someone they are familiar with?

How to ensure that your logo and branding are the best they can be?

1. Think about your key values.

Your business may be diverse, forward-thinking, cutting-edge, caring, family-owned, and environmentally-friendly. Trying to say all of that through your branding, however, is likely to lead to over-complication. Your logo and branding need to be focused. If not, you risk confusing your potential customers by giving them too many messages at once.

Consider the top three things that you want people to know about your business.

Now eliminate two of them.

2. Create and Use Brand Guidelines

Your logo and branding need to consistent across platforms, whether print or online. Inconsistency makes your business look amateurish.

By creating a brand guideline document, you can make sure that any designer – whether freelance or in-house – will understand how to recreate your logo and your brand’s style.

Include information about your logo, including preferred size and placement. Also include the font or fonts that your company uses. If you use more that one font, explain when to use each one. Also add the types of graphics, imagery, and photos that fit your brand.

Your brand guideline doesn’t need to look polished if you only intend to use it internally. It needs to be clear, to contain examples, and to be accessible by any designer you work with.

3. Employ Professionals

Content is King according to many, but let’s not forget about presentation.

Amateur branding instantly and inherently makes your company seem amateurish. Professional designers know how to evoke emotions in viewers through colors, use of white space, placement of images, and much, much more. Graphic artists have the skills to elevate homemade logos to a professional level. Even if a designer gives your Microsoft Paint logo an extra 10% of credibility, that 10% can make the difference between amateur and professional, between sale and no sale. A professional touch can be just enough to make a new customer trust you over your competition.

With good quality branding, you are investing in your business. Your potential customers will either see that and appreciate it, or they won’t notice your branding much at all, which is far better than having them discouraged by common, unsettling problems with logo, layout, and typography.

4. Tweak and Update your Branding Over Time

Modern tastes and trends change, so your logo might need updating from time to time.

As logos evolve, they normally become simpler. Starbucks, Shell, and Nike, for example, have all taken the step of removing their names from their branding. Consider, too, Nike’s tick, or McDonald’s Golden Arches. This scaling back reflects not only modern tastes but also that these businesses have achieved a coveted level of brand awareness where the name of the company is no longer required for the company to be recognized.

This removal of the brand name won’t apply to most small businesses, but the move to simplify logos and to be increasingly recognizable is worth remembering.

If you still think that customers don’t care that much about your branding, think again. When PepsiCo rebranded Tropicana in 2009, loyal customers demanded that they return to the original packaging. And when Gap changed its iconic logo with its tall white letters on a blue square, Gap customers complained so ferociously that the company changed it back within a week, despite the millions of dollars it cost to do so.

Finally, it is worth considering that the main problem with PepsiCo and Gap’s rebranding was not poor design but, arguably, that they dramatically changed the branding without changing their products. Branding and imagery are important, but they complement a business. Also, the public is quick to see through a company that attempts to use its logo and branding to say something that isn’t true.

Like a firm handshake or a confident smile, your logo and branding make powerful impressions. They can convince customers to do business with you. Then it’s over to you to make sure that your business lives up to its promises.

The right branding can help your business achieve the recognition, authority, and success that it deserves. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you with your branding and how great branding can boost your business.

Contact Dan Stark: dan@altastreet.com to hear about AltaStreet’s process in designing the over 500 Logos we have created to date for the Financial Vertical.

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Why Quality Content is Important to Financial Advisors in 2017

By now, most business owners understand that blogging is vital if you want to attract customers. Via blogging, you also create opportunities to engage with people, both new and existing customers. In addition, there are significant opportunities to have your content shared. This will increase your brand awareness. Done right, it could help establish you as a thought leader, too.

It’s not enough to blog to achieve any and all of these outcomes, however. You not only need to blog regularly but you also need to blog well.

If we consider how Google examines pages, and we should, every piece of content you create should help to establish your expertise, your authority, and/or your trustworthiness. Google ranks Page Quality by considering how much time, effort, expertise, and skill went into making the content, so don’t hold back.

Creating quality content means creating content that your potential customers want. Therefore, your first step should be to find out what your target audience wants to know and how they want it.

Here are some content ideas and types to think about as we move through 2017.

YouTube

This video sharing platform has more than one billion users. That’s a lot of potential customers. Video is an increasingly popular form. It allows businesses to be personable, which makes it is ideal for building relationships with clients.

You might try using video to introduce your business. Perhaps give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at your day, or answer frequent financial questions in one or more videos. Keep your videos short and to the point, and they can be high-quality products. Their popularity makes them great aids to SEO and they make it easier for you to connect with clients.

Live Streaming

Like video blogging (or vlogging), live streaming offers you the opportunity to engage directly with clients, only in real-time. Facebook Live and Periscope are still relatively new on the scene, so they may present a good opportunity to be among the first financial advisers to use the technology to reach an audience. This could set your company apart from the crowd, positioning your business as innovative, forward-thinking, and in-touch with what customers’ demand.

Animated Videos

These videos are a great way to engage with your audience. They can be fun – something that might not normally be associated with financial advice, but nonetheless welcome, as long as you maintain your authority. They are also good for presenting complex information in an accessible and digestible format.

As ever, your video should be brief. Keeping it to the point will make it more shareable and you won’t risk challenging the attention span of potential clients.

Infographics

Like an animated video, a quality infographic can present useful information very effectively. They are attractive, communicate messages quickly, and are immensely shareable.

Podcasting

If you want to increase the visibility of your brand, podcasting is a popular medium. Since a podcast is a solely audio medium, allow your personality to come through and keep energy levels up to maintain the interest of listeners.

You don’t have to do all these things, but incorporating a few of them will help you reach more customers and provide them with value. Don’t fill your site with these elements just because you’ve heard that they are popular. Every piece of content you create should have a purpose and it’s not finished until you’ve nailed it.

Whatever content types you prioritize, focus on your customer and their experience. Make your content unique and specific. And take the time to explore your subjects thoroughly. While you need to keep one eye on your search rankings, try to create content that will give your visitors a valuable user experience.

Using these types of content will help you to make your content more engaging. A website is not a digital billboard. You want your customers to interact with you. If you are a financial advisor, this is especially true. Encouraging interaction will give you the opportunity to provide added value that your visitors are not receiving elsewhere.

A checklist for assessing the quality of your content

When what your customer wants matches the purpose of your content and its type, you have the core ingredients for quality content.

Use the following checklist, which is based on Google’s quality assessment priorities, every time you create content for your financial services website in 2017.

  • Does the information presented appear to be trustworthy? Why? Why not?
  • Does the content appear to have been created by an expert or is it shallow?
  • Does this content already appear elsewhere on the site, even with slight keyword variations? If so, can you differentiate it further?
  • Would you feel comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Are there spelling, stylistic or factual errors? Eradicating these whenever you spot them is a good way to boost your site’s quality overall.
  • Does the content address customers’ needs or is it geared more towards search engine rankings?
  • Does the content contain original information, research, or analysis?
  • Does your page provide good value when compared to other pages suggested by search engines?
  • Does the content present both sides of any discussion or argument?
  • Is this the sort of content that you’d bookmark, share, or recommend?
  • Could the content stand up to being printed in a magazine, encyclopedia or book?

The old saying that content is King still rings true. In today’s marketplace, however, it’s worth extending this sentiment.

If you want your financial business to thrive, remind yourself that “Quality content is King.”

Use the ideas in this article to ensure that your content is as good as it can be. Your time and effort will be rewarded with more engaged customers, more conversions, and more business success.

______________________________________________________________________

Dan Stark is the Managing Partner/Director of Business Development at AltaStreet Financial Websites & Marketing. AltaStreet has created over 1,000 Custom Websites since 1998. AltaStreet is known for their High Level of Custom Design, Development and Automation Technology for the Financial Vertical.

Get in touch with Dan by email: dan@altastreet.com

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The Top 3 Reasons Why Having a Mobile Friendly Website Matters in 2017 to Financial Companies

Are you reading this on a mobile device? If not, you might be in the minority.

The internet allows people to access businesses and information in seconds. Advances in mobile technology mean that they can do so while on the move. Understandably, this is what busy people want.

In regards to shopping trends, shoppers using mobile devices overtook shoppers using PCs and laptops in mid-2013!

The financial sector is not renowned for being trendy. If you have a financial company, however, note that technology is changing because your customers are. If your customers’ needs change and you do nothing to satisfy them, they’ll go elsewhere.

According to Deloitte University Press: “Financial Services companies have only scratched the surface in using mobile technologies to connect and strengthen relationships with customers.”

If clients are going to be using your services via mobile devices, they want to be assured of the same levels of security they would get using a PC. This is particularly important in the financial industry. Fortunately, making your site mobile ready isn’t just about how it looks, but how it works.

The first step in using mobile technologies to satisfy your customers – and to attract new ones – is to make your financial website mobile ready. Don’t waste time developing an app for mobile users. They are hit and miss, and can be expensive. Getting your website mobile ready is the quickest and most robust solution to meeting your customers’ current needs.

Here are the top 3 reasons why you should get your financial website mobile ready today:

Customers Want to Use Mobile Devices to Connect to Financial Companies

For many internet users, their first experience of using the internet will be via a mobile device. By 2019, it is estimated that 2 billion people will use mobile banking to track their income and outgoings, transfer money, trade stocks, budgeting, and much more.

Consumers’ desire to access the internet via mobile is not a prediction. Mobile use has already overtaken the use of PC’s to connect to the internet in various circumstances. Financial companies in the know are attempting to satisfy the growing demand.

Google Loves Mobile

Google favors sites that are mobile ready. Growing numbers of search users want to access sites via mobile devices, so Google prioritizes mobile-ready websites in search results.

According to Google, consumers turn to their search engine at any time of the day, no matter where they are, using mobile devices. People want to know things instantly: where to go, what to do, what to buy. Smartphones are the most convenient way of getting this information while on the move. People always have their phones with them.

After releasing its first mobile algorithm in April 2015, Google now say that more searches in the US come from mobile devices than from laptops or desktop computers. This trend is growing around the world.

Mobile Ready Sites Provide the Best User Experience

Creating a mobile-ready site is the best way to achieve the three staples of an effective website.

  • it provides information that its users seek;
  • it allows visitors to find what they want easily;
  • it is aesthetically pleasing.

For an insight into how frustrating it can be to access a traditional website via a smartphone, we simply recommend that you try it!

Ensuring that your site is mobile ready, however, means more than creating a site that works on smartphones. Responsive design means that your site will work on all kinds of operating systems, browsers, and devices.

What this means is that your visitors – your potential customers and repeat customers – can access and use your site however they choose.

If you want your users to subscribe to your mailing list, take advantage of offers, and sign up, you need to make it as easy as possible. Even on a tiny screen, users want a seamless navigation experience. Everything should still be easily-accessible, requiring as few clicks as possible. If you want these people as customers, you need to make sure that they can read text on your site and fill out forms.

You don’t want to exclude swathes of people who are interested in your business but cannot sign up because your site is incompatible with their particular device or platform. Responsive design makes your site so flexible that no matter how someone views your content, it looks good and remains navigable.

Responsive design suggests a responsive business

Your customers will be demanding faster and better engagement in 2017. You can deliver this by adapting your site so that it is mobile ready. Enjoy more traffic from Google, better customer engagement, and higher retention of clients.

Your customers are increasingly using mobile to connect with services like yours. They want more information, they want it faster than ever, and they want to be able to act on it quickly. If the technology to satisfy them exists – and it does – we don’t think it’s too much to ask!

Hurry and Get Started TODAY! Click the link to find out more about how AltaStreet helps Financial Companies and get a jump on 2017. You owe it to yourself and/or your business to stop struggling and enjoy financial bliss!

AltaStreet has been building custom, mobile friendly websites for years. Contact us to find out more: Send Dan Stark (AltaStreet Partner) an email: dan@altastreet.com to set up a free consultation.

Check out our Website here: altastreet.staging.wpengine.com

#Technology #Mobile #Design

5 Reasons Why Your Financial Advisor Website is Outdated

5 Reasons Why Your Financial Advisor Website is Outdated

Back in the early 2000s, your financial advisor website gave you a competitive edge. Today, it could drive your customers away. That is if your website is outdated. Apparently, according to the Stanford University Guidelines for Web Credibility, 75% of consumers judge your business based on your website.

For any successful business today, their website is often the first point of contact with customers. You only have a moment to impress your audience. A user decides within 2.6 seconds whether to view or leave your site, according to a study by the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The internet’s real estate has changed dramatically over the years. Even so, you might think your website is still fit for your audience. You’re a financial advisor, right? Not a fashion designer or the owner of a boutique. The performance of your website, however, is not only based on appearances.

Here are five reasons why your financial advisor website is outdated.

 

Awful UX (User Experience) Design

A high bounce rate – visitors reaching your site and then immediately clicking away – is an indication that your website lacks usability. A cluttered and confusing design will push all but the most desperate customers away!

It’s an incredible achievement to have visitors navigate the whole of the world wide web and find your page. Let them find what they want with a clear layout and navigation panel. This encourages visitors to explore your website and to come back again.

 

Too Much Information

It is true that customers use the Internet to find the information they need. Businesses, however, need to choose valuable content. Visitors to your site will scan it rapidly to see if they can learn what they need to know. If not – or if you make this difficult to ascertain – they’ll leave just as fast.

Be wary of uploading too many beautiful but meaningless images. Avoid enormous blocks of text.

Bullets and short sentences aid navigation and comprehension, so use them when possible.

 

No Clear Call-to-Action (CTA)

A modern website has a clear call-to-action that encourages visitors to do something, for example: ‘Buy now!’ or ‘Subscribe to the newsletter.’

An outdated site fails to get visitors to spread the word, sign up to a subscriber list, or take some other action that benefits both them and the business. These financial websites will not attract higher numbers of visitors, convert leads, or delight their existing customers.

An up-to-date website is interactive. A call-to-action can be used very effectively to support the company’s business goals. Rather than being intrusive, a good call-to-action gives visitors who like what you do a clear way to engage with you.

 

Not Mobile-Optimized

According to Salesforce’s Mobile Behavior Report, 67% of consumers believe that mobile-optimized sites run faster.

In addition to this, if your website content can not be viewed on smaller screens, you could lose a lot of customers. More and more people are using their portable devices to access the internet, for entertainment and business.

Your website should load quickly on any and all devices to stay competitive. For this reason, you might want to consider HTML rather than so much Flash that you could measure page loading times an egg-timer.

 

You’re Not on Top of Search Engine Results

Your financial advisor website is outdated if it does not show up on top of search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines have changed their algorithms many times over the years. If your website content is stuffed with keywords, it is 101% outdated. The Hummingbird update favors original, high-quality content. It is high time you updated your website accordingly.

 

If you’re running a financial business, having a strong online presence is not an option, it’s a must-have. Keeping your site up-to-date with the latest web design trends is not nerdy, it’s a crucial step towards business success.

Your website is an effective tool in raising brand awareness, converting leads, and making customers happy.

And here’s another example of a call-to-action: Get your financial advisor website updated now.

An OpenLetter to Wix (a free website builder) – Custom Websites Vs. Template Websites

Dear Wix,

I’ve been impressed by the beauty of your site. You have an enviable array of stylish templates. I can see that they are made by expert designers. Some of them are out of this world.

You even offer Artificial Design Intelligence, which is an exciting new development, though I can’t help getting stuck on the first words: ‘Artificial Design.’

For many people, a template site is going to be just what they need to get started. If they have a hobby or a journey that they want to share with friends and family, then a template site is a great way to go. But if they want to do business, offering something in exchange for people’s time and money, they really should do more for their customers and for themselves.

While business owners are tweaking their templates, who is running their businesses? If you’re a professional photographer, you wouldn’t hire someone to take photos for you while you edit your website. Surely, you’d hire someone to edit your website while you take photos.

Whether site owners are seeking meaning or seeking money, they will achieve their goal by spending their time creating quality content or looking after their customers, not by losing hours to DIY web design.

And I know that I’m not alone in seeing the strings behind websites that were constructed from templates. These sites have been around long enough, now, that the same styles come up again and again.

“Insert image A into placeholder B.” It’s the IKEA of web design: attractive on the surface, affordable for many, fulfilling a relevant demand. But the results are still imitations of higher quality products.

Visitors to sites based on low-cost templates might be justified in asking themselves:

‘How much does this organization value what it is offering?’

It is possible to make a website from a template and have your site online within 15 minutes. Investing in a dedicated web design team might mean that it is days or even weeks before your site is uploaded to the web (although once it’s there it will be a solid presence).

It is also theoretically possible to make dinosaurs in a lab and then let them loose in a theme park, where they pick off your customers one by one. I agree with Jeff Goldblum’s sentiment, however, that just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean that you should.

These days, many websites are slick and attractive, but they are also instantly forgettable. If you’re running a website for your business, your first impression also needs to be a lasting one.

Graphic designers spend years studying their trade. They know that projects are as different from each other as their clients are. Clients have characters. So do their businesses. I think that their websites should be individual too.

Anyone needing a website for their business should think about the benefits of unique design over designer templates.

  • Customers get a website that is designed not only for their industry but for their business.
  • A web designer will construct and code the site so that it is search engine friendly. If a site is to rank high for relevant keywords – and what business doesn’t want that? – this is a major consideration.
  • A web designer can adapt a website over time. If a business grows, a designer can increase the scope of a site. Templates, however, are relatively limited in their functionality. Changing a template or adding functionality to an existing template can cause significant problems.
  • Web design services can also include website maintenance, which saves site owners time. If a client wants more control, they can work with the designer to get the content management system that is perfect for their needs, not a generic, one-size-fits-all CMS.

An excellent web design firm can create or source tailored, high-quality images, rather than widely-available stock photography.

The internet used to be an exciting place in terms of design. My team and I have been working with websites since the late 90s, so we’ve seen trends come and go. We know what works and what doesn’t. We know that thoughtful, intelligent, custom design, allows businesses to connect with their customers in an authentic way.

Through consultation, a custom website design firm will get all the information needed to achieve a look that is just right for the client; a look that fits their branding and values. Custom designers can even provide marketing and branding advice, since the launch of a new website might be the perfect time to sharpen up branding and mission statements.

When people go with a custom-designed site, they get more than web pages. They benefit from the expertise of specialist designers and managers who take on the project and give it life. Designers will not only talk with clients about colors and fonts and images, but they will want to know about them and their businesses, what they value most, and their visions for the future.

The uninitiated may not appreciate the level of artistry involved in creating a custom website, nor how much fun the process is. It is profoundly rewarding work that results in the creation of something unique, with integrity and personality.

Congratulations on what you do. You are making the internet accessible to whole groups of people that would not otherwise have a platform to share their creations.

Although I agree with the idea that it doesn’t take long to create a beautiful-looking website using pre-made templates, I would respectfully argue that we need custom design now more than ever.

The internet is constantly expanding and evolving. There is plenty of room for both of our business models. From our corner of the internet, we’ll keep pushing to make each design thoughtful, individual, relevant, and ideal for our clients.

AltaStreet has built over 900 Custom Websites for the Financial Vertical. Click this link to see our Portfolio

Dan Stark is the Director of Business Development and a Partner at AltaStreet Financial Websites and Marketing.  He is known as a Financial & Corporate Website expert. Before he became a Marketing Expert he was in the world of Finance for over a decade. He has developed a proprietary Discovery Process which helps him understand his clients unique needs. His websites ultimately boost Credibility in the Marketplace. The ROI is staggering.

  To talk to Dan, simply shoot him an email to: dan@altastreet.com

This Is Who Dan Helps:

✔ Financial Advisors

✔ Real Estate, Insurance & Finance Companies

✔ Hedge Fund Managers

✔ Broker Dealers

✔ RIA’s

✔ Banks & Credit Unions

✔ Corporate Businesses

✔ Law Firms

AltaStreet’s Custom Websites exude credibility. They help their clients gain more customers, have more visibility and boost revenues. They also have proprietary solutions that make compliance a breeze.

Check out our Website here: altastreet.staging.wpengine.com

Technology, Mobile, Design

 To talk to Dan, simply shoot him an email to: dan@altastreet.com

AltaStreet Financial Websites and Marketing Chosen by the Nation’s Largest Independent Broker/Dealer* and Leader in the Retail Financial Advice Market

LPL Financial, the nation’s largest independent broker/dealer* and leader in the retail financial advice market, has selected AltaStreet Financial Websites and Marketing for inclusion in LPL Financial’s Vendor Affinity Program.

The Vendor Affinity Program was designed to help its more than 14,000 advisors reduce the complexity and costs of running their businesses. The program consists of a centralized repository of vendors that have agreed to provide their products and services to LPL advisors at discounted prices. AltaStreet offers LPL advisors creation of custom websites across a range of budgets.

AltaStreet is a leading provider of advisor-centric technology solutions including custom website design, custom back end development and automation technology for financial services companies.

“At AltaStreet, we approach work with our clients through a lens of true discovery in an effort to uncover stumbling blocks and obstacles our clients face when using the Internet to market their business, generate leads, acquire clients and add revenue to the bottom line,” said Dan Stark, director of Business Development at AltaStreet. “The technology solutions we offer can significantly cut costs and boost revenues and ultimately help clients thrive in the digital world.”

“We recognize that technology is a major contributor to creating increased efficiency and driving greater productivity in our clients’ businesses,” said Victor Fetter, LPL Financial managing director and chief information officer. “Being able to connect LPL clients with leading technology solution providers adds a new dimension to the level of service and support we can provide to clients to help them manage and grow their businesses.”

AltaStreet was founded in 1998 by CEO Robert Sheinbein, a former financial advisor who created technology automation to serve his own office. As an advisor managing a family’s multi-billion dollar portfolio, Sheinbein could see the tremendous value the automation provided. With a unique perspective to be able to deliver technology solutions that solve advisors’ unique needs, he parlayed his experience into building complex back-end systems for a variety of companies and began AltaStreet. His financial services industry experience separates AltaStreet from other businesses in the website design and development space, as the company blends Sheinbein’s perspective with that of experts in business, marketing, sales, branding, websites and technology to create a premier company providing custom website design, custom website development, and web marketing services to the financial services industry.

AltaStreet is an industry leader in the custom website design space, specializing in design, development, SEO, branding and logo design. The company’s programming skills can support a range of needs, including social networking tools, shopping carts and payment gateways, with the proprietary tools for supporting compliance needs.

About AltaStreet:

AltaStreet Financial Websites and Marketing was founded in 1998. AltaStreet is a leading provider in custom website design, custom development and automation technology for financial services companies. They often function as an outsourced CMO for the companies they help. AltaStreet’s solutions provide a very high return on investment for their clients. In the space they operate in, where their clients need credibility, image matters. What does your website say about you?

For more information about AltaStreet, please visit http://altastreet.flywheelsites.com

About LPL Financial:

LPL Financial, a wholly owned subsidiary of LPL Financial Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:LPLA), is a leader in the retail financial advice market and served approximately $486 billion in advisory and brokerage assets, as of May 31, 2016. LPL is one of the fastest growing RIA custodians and is the nations largest independent broker-dealer (*based on total revenues, Financial Planning magazine June 1996-2016). The Company provides proprietary technology, comprehensive clearing and compliance services, practice management programs and training, and independent research to more than 14,000 independent financial advisors and over 700 banks and credit unions, enabling them to help their clients turn life’s aspirations into financial realities. Advisors associated with LPL also serviced an estimated 45,000 retirement plans with an estimated $121 billion in retirement plan assets, as of March 31, 2016. LPL also supports approximately 4,200 financial advisors licensed and affiliated with insurance companies with customized clearing, advisory platforms, and technology solutions. LPL Financial and its affiliates have more than 3,400 employees with primary offices in Boston, Charlotte, and San Diego.

For more information, please visit http://www.lpl.com

Securities and Advisory Services offered through LPL Financial. A registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.

Compliance Made Easy – The AltaStreet Compliance Manager

One of the tools that sets AltaStreet apart from other web design companies, and makes us a favorite of broker/dealers, is our website compliance manager.  The AltaStreet Compliance Manager empowers an advisor to make all the changes they need to their website, and allows the broker-dealer to keep up with compliance.  Here are a few features:

  • A single location to review all AltaStreet client websites
  • Simple compliance approval process (outlined below)
  • Compliance review form highlights any changes to the updated page, simplifying the review of long pages
  • Unlimited number of users for each compliance department, at no extra cost
  • PDF snapshots are taken of each page for every approved revision
  • PDF snapshots are archived and searchable by date
  • Configurable email notifications can be sent to a single email address or the entire compliance staff
  • Weekly reminders of any pending changes
  • PDF snapshots are attached to each change notification

How it Works

The AltaStreet Compliance Manager is integrated into the website content management workflow, allowing it to keep updates to the website from being published until the content has been reviewed and approved by the appropriate compliance department.

Here’s how it works:

compliance-manager

The system is based on 2 decisions, one by the content editor and one by the compliance officer.  When a change is made to the website (update an existing page, add a new article, etc…) the content editor has three choices:

  1. Save changes as a draft.  These changes aren’t published to the site and are only available to a content editor.
  2. Send changes to compliance for approval.
  3. Save changes and publish the page.  This is helpful for fixing typos or formatting issues that don’t require compliance review.

If option #2 is chosen, and changes are sent to compliance, an email is immediately sent to the compliance department.  The compliance officer can then log into the Compliance Manager and view a list of pages awaiting their review.  As the officer reviews a page, they have three options:

  1. Approve the changes.  The page will be published to the website immediately.
  2. Reject the changes.  The compliance officer will provide feedback as to why this page is rejected, and the feedback will be emailed to the advisor.
  3. Approve the changes upon revision.  The compliance officer will provide feedback as to what needs to be changed, and the page will be published immediately on the next update.

We’ve worked hard to make this system as streamlined and simple as possible for everyone involved.  And we are always open to constructive criticism and suggestions to improve.  Give us a call or send us an email at support@altastreet.com.