Almost every advisory firm has a website and if they don’t, then they need a new financial website. But how effective are they?
Some are great, ticking all the key boxes and performing well. Others are less impressive, often looking unloved and presenting the business in a poor light.
We are regularly asked by potential clients whether they need a new financial website. Indeed, it’s often the opening line when they contact us. There are times when the answer is obvious; the only viable option is a new website. On other occasions, the right decision is less clear.
The decision to develop a new website isn’t one to be taken lightly. It’s a significant cost (although divided over the lifespan of the average website, around four to five years, it becomes more palatable) and there’s the time commitment too.
So, this week we wanted to explore six signs that indicate you might need a new website.
1. When it’s cheaper than the alternative
It’s important to periodically review your website. We recommend an evidenced-based approach. Using Google Analytics data, along with data you collect locally, will help you to understand what’s working and what could be improved.
Making changes or building a new site without analysing current visitor behaviour is dangerous and should be avoided. Without the detailed analysis, how do you know you aren’t changing something that’s working? You wouldn’t dream of recommending changes to a client’s existing investment portfolio without analysing it; the same should apply to your website.
At the end of the review, you will have a list of changes and new additions you want to make to the design, user experience and content. Costings for these can be sought and compared to that of a new website.
Experience tells us that the cost of a new website can often be lower than that of making significant changes to the existing site. There’s another reason why a new site might be preferable…
2. When the compromises are too great
No matter how much you change an existing site, the existing infrastructure means there will always be compromises.
It’s a little like trying to fit a model portfolio you usually use on your preferred platform into an existing client’s pension. Not every fund you want to use will be available and compromises are inevitable.
If the cost of changing your existing site is close to that of developing a new one, and you will have to make design and UX compromises, you might simply decide to cut your losses and start over.
3. When you’re getting traffic, but engagement levels are low
Many people focus too heavily on traffic levels at the expense of engagement.
As a general guide, the longer someone stays on your site and the greater the number of pages they view, the more engaged they are. A low bounce rate can also indicate high engagement. However, we need to be careful here as there can be pages/types of visitor where a high bounce rate is expected and can be excused.
Engagement levels should also be monitored by conversions. That’s usually the number of enquiries you’ve received.
Low engagement levels can be due to many factors. Only some of those are ‘on page’ i.e. down to your website. Therefore, if your engagement levels are low, you need to spend time researching the underlying causes. If you conclude it’s a problem on the site, go back to points two and three before making the decision.
4. When your current site isn’t mobile friendly
Our research shows that most of the traffic to adviser and planner’s websites comes from desktop devices. However, the proportion visiting on mobile and tablet devices is still significant. Google Analytics will tell you the split for your site. It’ll probably also show that engagement levels from users on mobile and tablet are below those using a desktop.
Ensuring your site is optimised for mobile and tablet devices will help increase engagement levels. It will also potentially improve your organic search traffic levels since Google uses mobile optimisation as a ranking factor.
Again, we need to head back to points two and three to understand whether you need a new website.
5. When you’ve outgrown it
The resources eaten up by the authorisation process and moving clients over to the new firm often mean insufficient time is spent on the website when the business is launched.
Over time, your business might head off in unexpected directions. You might become more certain of your proposition and target markets. New members will join the team. Whatever the reason, many firms quickly outgrow their website.
6. When you can’t make simple edits
There are times when the changes to a website should be made by a trained developer. In fact, there are occasions when it takes us longer to put right something an adviser tried and failed to do than the change would’ve taken in the first place!
Nevertheless, it’s important that you can make basic changes to the site. Adding a new blog and simple text changes should all be things done in-house. You don’t need us for that (although if you want us to do it we are here for you!).
If you can’t make simple changes to the site yourself, either because you don’t have access to the back end or don’t know where to start, it’s probably time to take a fresh look at things. Training can help, but that won’t overcome a lack of access.
In the words of Oasis; definitely maybe.
In many ways, it’s like a client asking you if they need a new pension. The answer might be yes. It might be no. The bigger question is, ‘what are they are trying to achieve?’. The same question should be asked of your website.
What’s its purpose?
Once we know and understand that, we’ll be in a far better position to think strategically and, as part of that process, tell you whether you need a new website.