🤫 Secrets of High Converting Advice Firm Websites
After years of helping professional services firms with their digital marketing…
I’ve actively researched and reviewed 100s of financial advice firm websites.
Over time you see the same mistakes being made over, and over again.
The majority of advice firm websites look something like a business card stuck onto the internet.
They’re NOT optimised for conversion.
On a good day, they’d be lucky to convert 1% – 2% of Visitors to Leads.
Compare that to a conversion optimised site:
5% – 7%+.
With 1,000 monthly visitors, the difference quickly stacks up:
- 1,000 monthly visitors * 1.5% = 15 leads
- 1,000 monthly visitors * 6% = 60 leads
In this article we’ll dive into what makes a high performing website design for financial advice firms.
There’ll be plenty of examples and actionable takeaways, so grab a coffee and notebook, and let’s get started:
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Inside the mindset of your website visitors
- Developing your Ideal Client Journey
- Principle #1: Design for Usability
- Principle #2: Design for Conversion
- Principle #3: Client Focussed
- Principle #4: The Human Touch
- Principle #5: Content is Fuel
- Principle #6: Build Trust
- Principle #7: Integrated
Inside the mindset of your website visitors
First things first, we need to understand the mindset of someone visiting your website.
Chances are, they’ve hit up Google in search of either:
- The answer to a question
- The solution to a problem
- The steps to achieving a goal
In doing so, your prospects are trying to figure out how to get from where they are now to where they want to be:
(While you as a financial professional will quantify their before and after states in ‘net position’, ‘strategies in place’, ‘legal structures used’, etc. Your prospects will mostly be driven by gut-level emotions linked to goals, dreams, and perceived challenges).
And not all prospects will be at the same stage of the journey.
There’s a problem-solution-provider awareness level continuum to consider:
- Unaware: they don’t know they have a problem
- Problem Aware: they know there’s a problem but don’t know a solution exists
- Solution Aware: they’re aware of potential solutions but don’t know you’re a provider that offers the solution
- Provider Aware: they’re aware of you as a solution provider
- Most Aware: they’re actively considering your solution / proposal / firm
The way you speak to people at each of these levels of awareness should change:
You wouldn’t start telling someone why your firm is the most qualified to help them set up a SMSF, if they don’t know they have a problem with their super.
(If you want more detailed training on this, check out my self-study video course, Content Marketing for Financial Advice).
👉 Typical questions in user’s minds
While it’s worth thinking carefully about your Ideal Clients and the specific challenges they are facing, there are some common ways most users will be thinking as they hit your website and consider working with your firm.
Here are some common questions:
- Who are these people?
- Do they understand me?
- Can they help me get where I need to go?
- Have they helped other people like me?
- Ok, so how does it work?
- Should I believe in this process?
- Alright I’m down, what should I do next?
These are generic questions yes, but if you think about the mental pathway you go down when it’s time to make a decision about working with a firm, it’s likely you follow a similar set of questions – consciously or unconsciously.
So keep these questions in mind as you’re designing your website (or having it designed for you).
Now if you’d like a more structured approach, a useful framework to help plan is your Ideal Client Journey.
Developing your Ideal Client Journey
The Ideal Client Journey is how you romance prospects who don’t know who you are, to becoming raving fans of your firm.
It’s customisable, however I’ve found this 7-stage structure to be optimal:
Need a refresher on the ‘Ideal Client Journey’? Read this article:
Ok now when it comes to conversion, most marketers are looking at lead generation.
However, there are conversion points throughout the Ideal Client Journey.
So you can use this framework to understand how your website is going to support the conversion goals at each stage of the journey:
- Unaware: Is it clear who you are, what you do, and who you serve?
- Engage: how will you engage with new visitors? (note: 99% of conversions happen after more than 1 visit)
- Subscribe: how will you offer subscription options for visitors who want to learn more but aren’t ready for a sales conversation? (lead magnets, newsletters, podcasts, video, etc.)
- Evaluate: How will you make it easy for prospects to evaluate your service offering? (detailed case studies, well optimised sales pages, webinars, etc.)
- Purchase: How will you convert interested prospects into paid clients? (your first meeting, fact find, service offering presentation, etc.)
- Onboard: How will you delight new clients as you onboard them? (implementation of advice, follow-up deliverables, upsell into ongoing advice, etc.)
- Retain: How will you retain clients year on year? (continuing to deliver value, ensuring client happiness, encouraging reviews and referrals, etc.)
Your website is the central hub which pulls everything together.
So make sure you sit down and map out all of the strategies you want to use to move users through your Ideal Client Journey.
This will become the basis for your website requirements.
Ok so now I want to take you through my 7 key principles of a high converting website.
Get these right and you’ll have a website converting at the 5% – 7%+ mark:
Principle #1: Design for Usability
There are some basic usability factors that every website needs to abide by:
- Large font
- Perfect on mobile
- Loads fast
- Strong subheadlines
- Optimised images & video
It’s surprising to me how many website design firms release websites that are utterly hard to read and use.
There’s a ton of research showing that the faster a site loads, the higher the conversion rate:
- Walmart found that for every 1 second improvement in page load time, conversions increased by 2%
- COOK increased conversions by 7% by reducing page load time by 0.85 seconds
- Mobify found that each 100ms improvement in their homepage’s load time resulted in a 1.11% increase in conversion
And although I don’t have stats on conversion by site usability (font size, ease of reading, page structure, etc.), you can bet that user friendly websites convert better.
Here’s a tip:
The Government has some of the most user-friendly websites on the Internet. You better believe they’ve hired the best UX experts to design their pages. Have a look at this ATO page, for a great example of font size, headlines, bullets, links and more.
As for an example or two, which of these do you think converts better?
So make sure that you optimise for usability to set the right foundations from the outset.
Principle #2: Design for Conversion
I want to introduce you to the 10-foot test.
This will change the way you look at designing your website.
Here’s the rule:
Bring up the page you’ve designed, then standup and walk 10 feet back. Now from here, it should be crystal clear the thing that the user should do.
Here’s where things like:
- Colour usage
- Button design
- Form design
- And other design prompts
Should all be used to direct the user to perform the main conversion action of the page – the Call to Action (CTA).
In general, every page on your website should:
- Have one main Call to Action (CTA)
- Be designed and written with this in mind
(Note: the main exception to this rule is your homepage, which is more like an entire page of Call to Actions, directing users to the right pages on your website).
Designing for conversion is direct responses 101 – always ask the user to take action.
It could be:
- Read a related post
- Follow your Facebook page
- Request access to a lead magnet
- Signup for a webinar
- Book a 15-minute Q&A call
Which action to ask for depends on where that web page lives in your Ideal Client Journey.
So let’s test your instincts for conversion.
Which page will do better?
Yes, the second example uses bright contrasting colour and clear Call to Actions (CTAs) to direct the user to take the action we want – in this case to book a call to speak with an adviser.
Principle #3: Client Focussed
If you’ve been following my content for a while, you might know that I trained and worked for years as a direct response copywriter.
And two of the first things I learned as a new copywriter stuck with me:
- And the power of ‘you’
Since we’re bombarded with far more information that we can consume, our subconscious mind operates by filtering out information it deems irrelevant.
We can only consciously handle 6-8 pieces of information at a time, that means thousands of bits of data get ignored.
The mind filters out information based on our belief systems, values and past experience.
In other words, your prospects read everything through the filter of ‘What’s In It For Me?’ (WIIFM).
Think of it like a filtering system to ignore anything that doesn’t interest them, or doesn’t help them solve their challenges or move them closer to their goals.
That’s why focusing your marketing on your firm and how great your team is, is a fast way to a low conversion rate.
This brings us to the next rule, the power of ‘you’.
One of the most powerful words in marketing:
When your content features ‘you’ a lot, it means you’re correctly focusing on the life, goals and needs of your client.
And guess what, that’s the only thing they care about.
Sure they can care about you and your credentials (at the right time), but it’s only to the degree that they trust that you can help them get where they want to go.
So with every piece of marketing material you create, be it an Ad, Email, Article, Case Study, Webinar or anything else – make sure it is focused exclusively on your client.
Write it, then imagine you are in your client’s shoes, and put it through the ‘What’s In It For Me’ test.
That goes for the:
- Call to Actions
- Button copy
Every piece of copy should be client focussed, and how the service / strategy / tool will benefit them and their lives.
Here’s a couple of good examples:
(Notice in both of these examples, they’re using content to generate leads – the toolkit and quiz are both Lead Magnets).
Now compare these to the typical advice firm site:
If you were a prospect, which would you find more interesting?
Principle #4: The Human Touch
When it comes to financial advice, trust is everything.
And to build trust, your clients need to get to know you.
Ultimately they’re buying into you – as much as they buy into your financial plan or strategies.
So it’s advisable that you feature yourself prominently on your website, so that potential clients quickly get to know you.
Here’s a great example:
And even better, a short introductory video is an excellent way of sharing who you are, what you do, and why you do it:
Now I want to touch on stock images.
Most marketers would say they’re an abomination and should never be used.
Well I think there’s a right way and a wrong way to use them.
Here’s the wrong way – generic business photos:
And here’s how you can do better:
Both sets of images are stock, but the latter is more genuine and aspirational.
Since financial advice is all about planning for an ideal future, use the images that convey the feeling your Ideal Clients want.
Are they millennials who are dreaming of buying their first home? Are they retirees who are finally wanting to enjoy their time? Are they adventurers who want the thrill of exploration?
Whoever your Ideal Clients are, the imagery you select is an opportunity to connect with them on the deepest level – their emotions.
Principle #5: Content is Fuel
If your website is the car, and your Ideal Client Journey is the pathway, content is the fuel.
Content helps us make low-risk offers to move prospects through each stage of the Client Journey:
We move prospects down the sales funnel with ever-more sales focused offers:
- When a prospect is Unaware: we offer them to read a high level problem / solution focussed article via a Facebook or LinkedIn ad.
- When a prospect is Engaging: we offer them to read a solution or strategy focussed piece of content.
- When a prospect is ready to Subscribe: we offer them a way to get more via a newsletter subscription, Lead Magnet, webinar or podcast.
- While a prospect is Evaluating: we nurture the relationship with consistent email and content marketing.
- When a prospect is about to Purchase: we offer sales focused content; brochures, services documents, case studies, etc.
- When you’re Onboarding a new client: you deliver your statement of services, ongoing updates, and check-ins.
- When you’re working to Retain clients: you’re continuing to deliver value through continued email and content marketing, supporting your service delivery.
So in this way, you want to:
- Feature your best content in easy to find places. Your homepage, links in sidebars, exit-intent pop-ups.
- Feature Lead Magnets in prominent places. Your homepage, sidebar, at the end of articles.
- Incorporate related posts or suggested next reads at the end of pages and article.
- Nurture new leads with your best content over the first month they subscribe.
In short, you want to consciously direct prospects down your sales funnel, by making the right-timed offers with your content.
Principle #6: Build Trust
As we covered above, trust is everything for financial advice.
As such, when it comes to web design, trust building elements should be employed in full force.
I write an entire blog on this topic (34 Powerful Trust Building Content Tools for Financial Advice Firms), but here are a few of my favourites:
Client reviews and testimonials
PR & media exposure
High quality content
Awards and social proof
Principle #7: Integrated
Finally, your website has to be integrated to facilitate an automated Ideal Client Journey.
Any time that you force a prospect to wait unnecessarily, you give them opportunity to get distracted, lose focus, and lower momentum to doing business with you.
From a marketing & sales perspective, that means having a CRM or marketing automation platform connected.
This allows you to set up automated marketing:
- Adding new prospects to your email newsletter list
- Automatically delivering lead magnets to their inbox instantly
- Following up new leads with automated marketing emails
Then you might want to allow prospects to book an initial time in your calendar that suits them.
In this case you’ll need a scheduling app, such as Calendly.
Make the most of this app by integrating with your website and CRM:
- ‘Book a Meeting’ links from your website to your online booking tool.
- Online booking tool integrates with your CRM to move prospects to a ‘Booked Initial Call’ stage of your sales pipeline.
- CRM or online booking tool handles confirmation emails to your clients with time, date and how to connect to the meeting.
If you want to automate your fact find process, there’s another tool to add into the mix:
- You can embed tools such as Typeform, Google Forms or Jotform.
- Or use a specialised tool that’s integrated with your client delivery platform.
- Ideally these integrate with your CRM so that when prospects complete these steps you’re notified and the prospect is moved to the appropriate stage in your sales pipeline.
And so on – continuing right through your sales and onboarding processes!
In today’s day and age, there’s so many easy to use, low cost tools that can automate much of your marketing, sales and onboarding processes, that it’s a crime not to use them to streamline your business.
Ok so those are my 7 principles for high converting website design.
I hope you’ll make use of them if you’re thinking of re-developing your website.
And if you’d like to work with a team fluent in this approach to build your next website, I’d like to invite you to book a free discovery call below: