"What websites in your industry do you envy?"
That is a question we ask new website design clients. The answer, is usually hard to produce. We work with professional financial service firms such as insurance agencies, financial planners and real estate firms, as well as well know fitness affiliates and even professional athletes. One would think that these 'top tier' industries and professions would be filled with some of the most impressive web presences out there. The reality is, it is quite the opposite. Almost all of our clients gain a huge competitive advantage over their local competitors simply by redesigning their website, and building it correctly.
Specifically speaking about professional financial service firms - awareness that there is a problem (with their digital presence) is an awakening event! Most of these firms boast about the support systems that they have in place for their top producers/sales people. They train them, provide them with tools and cutting edge technology, they give them support teams, incentivize them in bigger ways, and allow them to have input into the strategic plans for the organization. This makes sense. An organization needs to feed their top producers in order for them to thrive and remain motivated. The reality is, most agencies are actually neglecting their top potential producer – their agency website.
Before I get angry emails from top producers, let me first state this – there is no agency that can continue to organically grow today that relies on either a digital or human sales and marketing strategy separately. In order to survive today, a blend of both online and offline tactics have to be deployed. What good is a perfectly executed digital campaign if there aren’t superstar producers there to close the deal? Now, with that said, there is plenty of data to support my earlier claim that an agency website can be an agency’s best source of leads. Research shows that buyers are typically 90% of the way through the sales cycle before ever contacting a sales rep. So, if you have a tremendous sales team in place, why would you neglect your probable best lead source?
Your website can no longer be an outdated brochure with static information. Moreover, it also has to be relevant to today’s buyers. Notice I didn’t say 2013 or even 2015’s buyers, I said today. Your prospects demand responsive design, easy access to content and the ability to move through the process at their own pace. So how do you stop neglecting your website and start giving it some much needed TLC? Here are 13 tips on how your website can be your best salesperson.
Website Design Tips
1. Remember Who It’s About
Chances are, you and your staff are the people who visit your site most frequently. This is a good thing. You all should be out there regularly looking at new posts, premium offers, etc. With this comes a typical problem – you will get sick of your site design long before any other visitors. If you have done a relatively recent update to your site, then don’t worry about investing in a new design simply because you don’t like it. You are probably the only one that cares; however make sure you look at it from the end-user perspective.
We live in a scrolling culture (mobile), so your site needs to be responsive to viewers on the go. A nice responsive site design will look great on any device, and will not detract from the user experience. If you have a mobile version of your site which is different than the desktop version then it’s time for an upgrade.
3. “About Us”
For most of our professional service clients, this is the second or third most viewed page on their entire site, behind the homepage and blog. People want to do business with people, and your prospects are looking to see who the agency is made up of. Make sure you have a dynamic about us section that promotes the personal brands of your key staff.
4. Pick Up the Poop!
That will make sense if you read this.
Comb through your site to ensure that all of the information is up-to-date and relevant. Fix broken links, update staff bios, review your carrier list, etc.
5. Contact Info
Display this prominently. Put your phone number and social media icons on your homepage. Make it easy for someone to get contact your agency and individual employees.
Stick with a clean font package and don’t overdo it with color and styling. Simplicity can go a long way. You want the visuals to enhance the message, not distract from it.
7. Lose the Stock Photos
As one of our clients put it, "why are people always smiling around a conference table? People don't smile like that at meetings!". :)
8. Landing Pages
Every targeted landing page is an opportunity to not only provide value via your site, but is also a great way to build your database. Ensure that you have premium content offers behind landing pages that are aimed at different buying stages.
9. Social Sharing
Make it easy for people to connect to your current social media accounts, but also make it attractive for them to share valuable pieces of content.
Every blog post is an opportunity to provide thought leadership, increase the number of indexed pages, and offer up an opportunity for a visitor to learn more about you. My biggest piece of advice here – have a call-to-action at the end of every post you do. Most companies write a post (good or bad) and then leave the reader hanging. Give them something to do next.
11. Stop Differentiating
Differentiation is absolutely necessary in your industry, but most firms take it a bit too far. If a visitor to your site can’t understand your core business in less than six seconds, then they are going to leave your site. It is great to have a strong value proposition, but don’t get too cute with it. If someone is looking for insurance or risk management help, then your site needs to clearly articulate that you can indeed help.
12. Competitor Review
You should, at a minimum, do a yearly review of your competitors’ sites to see what they are doing. More frequently is highly recommended. We use several programs and good old research to benchmark ourselves against our competitors on a monthly basis.
13. Stop Them In Their Tracks
Your site needs to be visually appealing and contain a compelling message. If someone is looking for a provider of insurance, they will most likely do a Google search and start scrolling through a few different search results. What can your search results and site do to stop someone at that moment, and entice them to dig deeper?
If you would like a detailed report on your website and marketing, packed with metrics and helpful tips to improve your site, then click here to request a Website Grader.