Gaining new business is an important part of most financial advisors' business plans, according to Shannon Sloan, director of new business development at Rich Media in Toronto.

"Unless [an advisor] is happy with their client base, and those clients are of the age that they can be maintained all the way to the advisor's own retirement, the focus must be on lead generation," Sloan says.

For advisors hoping to generate leads by spreading awareness about their business, Sloan says, a website is critical.  

Loic Jeanjean, vice president of growth at Advisor Websites in Vancouver, adds that advisors simply can't risk having a stagnant website — or worse, not having one at all.

And just in case you think you're off the hook because you update your social media accounts frequently, Jeanjean adds: "A Facebook profile is not a website."

Here are three key elements of an effective advisor website:

1. Mobile-friendly web pages
Gone are the days when it was safe to assume that only young people were hooked on their smartphones. Most people of all ages now have a smartphone or tablet, in addition to their desktop or laptop computer.

Advisors without a mobile-friendly website risk turning prospects away. "There is the potential that somebody will only ‘meet you' via their mobile device," Sloan says.

Websites that aren't mobile-responsive also diminish their searchability on Google, Jeanjean says.

In April 2015, Google expanded its use of "mobile friendliness" as a ranking signal for mobile searches worldwide. Websites that are not mobile-friendly will have lower scores.   

"Nobody realistically goes to Page 2 of Google," Jeanjean says. "If you disappear from Page 1, you [essentially] disappear from the Internet."

To find out how mobile-friendly your website is, try Google's mobile-friendly test (https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly), which scores the degree to which a website is viewable on a smartphone.

2. Accessibility
While many PC-based web users are moving to mobile, there is also an influx of clients who are elderly or approaching retirement age.

Many aging clients experience visual challenges, so it's important to remove any barriers that prevent access to your content, Sloan says.

One way to provide better accessibility is by making sure your text colour contrasts sharply with the background image or colour. Sloan suggests having your web designer run one of several online colour contrast checkers if there are any doubts.

Also important, Sloan adds, is ensuring your designer has formatted the text in such a way that a screen reader — software that translates text with a speech synthesizer or braille display — can easily convey content to visually impaired visitors.

3. Automation and integration
Advisors can accelerate their business by integrating sales and marketing tools with their website, Jeanjean says. Client relationship management (CRM) programs, such as Salesforce and Maximizer, can be integrated with your website to help reduce human error.

Salesforce, for example, can be updated automatically whenever a visitor completes a form on your website, Jeanjean adds.
For advisors on social media, Jeanjean recommends programs such as Hootsuite, which can push website blog content automatically to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

This is the first part in a two-part series on best practices for advisor websites. Next: Developing the right content.

 

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