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.