18th October, 2023 - Webinar replay
10 ways that guarantee your website is different and stands out from the crowd
Phil Bray 00:01
Good morning, everybody, welcome to a sunny, bright Nottingham, I hope you’re well. Welcome to today’s webinar: 10 Ways to Guarantee Your Website Is Different and Stands Out From The Crowd. Now, one of the things you’ll have noticed, if you’ve been on our webinars before, is that Dan is missing in action today, he’s off poorly. So, if you have any reason to email Dan over the next couple of days, just drop him a line and say I hope you’re feeling better, because he’s a poorly bunny is Dan today. Instead we have Abi, Abi joins us on these webinars on a regular basis and she is going to do the housekeeping before we get into today’s content. So over to you, Abi.
Abi Robinson 00:45
Lovely, thanks Phil. Morning, everyone. Yeah, I’m not Dan, clearly, I will try and do my best with the glamorous assistant role today. So, as you’ll know, as Dan tells you every month, these sessions work really well with lots of engagement. So if you’ve got any questions, and hopefully you’ll have lots, then please put them in the chat, put them in the Q&A. Phil will be using them to strategically have slurps of tea. So if you don’t want him to die of dehydration this morning, then remeber the more questions, the better. I’ll be picking those up at various points and there’ll be plenty of time to answer them. No question is silly, somebody else will be thinking it, please do put it in the chat or the Q&A and if for whatever reason you can’t hear us, you can’t see us, if there are any tech issues at all, then just give us a shout and we’ll do what we can to sort it out. Back to you Phil.
Phil Bray 01:31
Thanks Abi. I’m already on my fifth cup of tea today. So, always an excuse to have some more, can never have enough tea, can you in your life? Right. So, let’s dive straight in this content shall we? What are we going to talk about today? In the next hour, we’re going to talk about why your website is important. Why bother with all of this? Why not just tick a little box and why bother? There’s a danger I might get on my soapbox at that point. And then some words of warning that we’re going to talk about in terms of website design, a few of the things that we’ve seen over the past, how long have we been going now? Nearly seven years at Yardstick, that aren’t quite right. Therefore, we’re going to do few words of warning and then we’re going to get into the meat of the presentation, where I’m going to talk about the 10 ways guaranteed to make your website stand out from the crowd. Now, if I was in sales mode right now, I would point out the trophies behind me that Yardstick clients have won for their websites. We’ve developed websites, which have won Best Website of the Year at the Professional Adviser Awards, three out of the last four years, the year that one of our clients didn’t win it, we had four in the top ten, but I’m not here to sell, so I won’t talk about that. But what I will talk about is the need for, like Abi says, a bit of engagement from you guys on the call, do ask questions, do give us feedback, share your experiences and we’ll talk about some websites as we go through so just have a pen handy, and a notepad so that you can note down the names of the companies that we talk about. Abi, if we can put those names of those websites in the follow-up, that would be good because obviously, you can then go and have a look at some of the things that we talk about today in action. But where I wanted to start was to go back to fundamentals a little bit and start thinking about why bother? Why do we need a website in the first place? And why does our website need to be effective, as opposed to just a little tick in a box? The reason is very simple, at least in terms of generating new enquiries into a business. A prospect is somebody who is thinking of taking financial advice, thinking of working with a financial planner, and thinking that you are the expert that they need in their lives. Every prospect takes several steps on their journey to your door. At Yardstick we call that the enquiry equation. And the enquiry equation is very simple, awareness plus online search, plus due diligence equals the enquiry. So awareness is where somebody first becomes aware of you, the source, that might be a referral or recommendation from an existing client, it might be Unbiased.co.uk, it might be something simple like they’ve driven past your office. Then people will do an online search, and remember, they might have become aware of more than one adviser or planner, and therefore they’re doing the online search to do some due diligence to decide who they get in touch with. That online search and the due diligence generally includes a visit to your website. So here’s some examples of that enquiry equation in action. I’m recommended to an adviser, I do a Google search, because I have been recommended to a couple of advisers and I want to know whether to contact firm A or firm B. So I’ve got the recommendations, I do a Google search, and then I hit the firms’ websites. That then leads to me thinking, no, that firm is not for me, or yes, I’m going to make an enquiry. Awareness might come from a LinkedIn post, some of the stuff that Abi’s fantastic social team do here, at Yardstick, someone’s written a LinkedIn post, it’s engaged with somebody, they’ve clicked a link through to a website, they’ve taken a call to action. Really simple, someone’s driven past your office. So we got a monthly marketing meeting with a client of ours later, and they’ve got a high street premises. It’s a beautiful-looking building, they get people driving past day in, day out, and when the time is right for them to take advice, they’ve seen that firm on the high street, they may have seen other stuff that they’ve done, and they then get in touch. So in that case, the enquiry equation is a drive past the office, a Google search, they may have then gone to a LinkedIn profile, and then made an enquiry. You can see on each of these three examples that the website is in the middle of it, it’s so important. People are visiting your website on that digital journey to your door, and that means your website is so important, it’s your shop window. It’s where suspects, people who haven’t made contact yet, make judgments about you, whether you are the right adviser or planner for them. People are judging you, when they’re on your website and you have no right of reply, you can’t suddenly pop up and say “no, you’ve drawn the wrong conclusion from what we’ve got on the website”, you literally have no right of reply, it’s a one-way street. Therefore, your website really is important and really has to work hard. As I say, it’s your shop window, it’s where suspects make judgments about you, and it’s where they take a turn left or right. Do they get in touch with you? Or do they do they head off and get in touch with somebody else? So, that is why your website is so important. Abi, have I seen a question come in?
Abi Robinson 07:44
Yeah. Somebody has asked “For currently employed advisers who are considering a move to self-employment over the next few years, how far in advance of their launch should a website or a digital marketing process begin?” That’s a good question, isn’t it?
Phil Bray 08:00
That’s a good question. That’s a really good question. I think what I’d say is it’s slightly wider than that. So, I would say you should immediately be trying to build an online presence demonstrating your expertise, who you work with, why people choose you, and also building an audience of loyal followers that you can start marketing to when the time comes to set up your own business. Now, what you can do right now might be dictated by your current employer. So we’ve seen some advisers who are employed but their employer allows them to have a micro-blog site online, effectively, an individual person’s website where content gets added to it and they push people to it via a newsletter. If you talk to me offline, I’m happy to provide some examples of that. We’ve seen some employers who are not comfortable with that, but are comfortable with the adviser building their presence on a social media platform. The choice there is you hang out on the social media platform where your target audience hangs out. Whether that’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, wherever, you hang around and build an audience and a profile where the people that you want to talk to are hanging out. So I think in summary, it depends on what your current employer will allow, and the ideal time is to start building an audience and demonstrating your expertise to them now. I really hope that helps and I’m happy to answer any follow up questions either here or drop me an email afterwards. Abi, if you could just chuck my email address in the chat that’d be good. So, that’s why we need to bother, that’s why our website is so important. Everybody stayed online while we were doing those two/three slides, so, clearly, I’m hoping, everybody agrees. Right, before we go into the 10 things that will make your website stand out, some words of warning. Now these are based on us launching and developing over 200 websites. The first thing I would say is that being effective, is more important than being different. So we quite often get advisers and planners coming to us and saying “I want my website to be different” that’s fine, that’s great. They always, always, always only focus on design, and there’s a bunch of other stuff, as we’ll see in a bit, that makes a website different and makes a website stand out. But they always only focus on design and to make a website different from a design perspective, you can absolutely do, but there are some things where actually it’s different, but it impacts the user experience. Take cars, for example, there’s a reason why, generally speaking, a car has a wheel in each corner, it’s because it’s effective. They don’t have three wheels. So, we can be different, but we always absolutely need to remember the aim of the website. If you can get to a point where your website stands out, and it’s still effective and you’re in the middle of that Venn diagram, Great. I guess what I’m really saying is, don’t be different for different’s sake, if it means the website is less likely to achieve its aims, and that’s why being different can be dangerous. Next, “I like”. “I like” are two incredibly dangerous words when it comes to any form of marketing. Because what’s far more important is “I think our clients will like”, “I think our target audience will like”. It isn’t about you, or us. It’s entirely about your target audience. So, “I like” are two incredibly dangerous words in marketing, in website design, in writing content, just really try to avoid them and really try to look at everything you do through the eyes of your client or your potential client. As we said earlier, it is where we’re going to start, but it takes a lot more than just great design to make websites stand out from the crowd. So a few words of warning there. Effective always trumps different, different can be dangerous, “I like” are certainly two dangerous words, and finally although we’re going to start there, because we can move on to nine other things as well, it takes more than just great design to make your website stand out. I hope that makes sense. Right, let’s start talking about 10 things that will make your website stand out. So first thing, whilst I’ve said it takes more than this, and it does, and we’ve got nine other things, let’s start with design, because that’s where most people start when they think about how to make a website different, most people think about design. For me, a website is so important, and a website right now should have a shelf life of five to seven years really quite easily. So the return on investment is absolutely there, it’s not in doubt. A bespoke website design, helps to create interest, helps to create engagement, it definitely does help a website to stand out from the crowd, but it also means that you can showcase all of these other things we’re going to talk about. Whereas, if you use a template design, there’s a fair chance a lot of what we’re going to talk about today, you cannot work into that template. So a bespoke design allows you to showcase all this other stuff, create interest, create engagement, but don’t be different for the sake of it. For example, let’s say you were building a website to target octogenarian widows, so an older demographic, you wouldn’t be different in that sector if you used a burger menu, you know those three lines that you see at the top used for navigation, you would absolutely be different, but would it be effective? And would a more traditional navigation be effective? You would be different on your website if you didn’t put pictures of your team on there, but is it going to be as effective? Absolutely not. So, don’t be different for the sake of it and remember, if you take one thing away from this webinar today, that to make your website stand out, it takes more than just design. And we’ve got a couple of Yardstick designers on this website and I absolutely love the work they do. But the reason I love the work they do is because the design that they do the bespoke design they do for every single website takes into account all the other things that we’re going to talk about today as well. That’s what I’ve got to say on the design. Next, how else do we make websites stand out? Empathy. Empathy is so important. Last Thursday, I did a review of a financial adviser’s website, and every section on the homepage, literally every section on the homepage started with “we or I”, it was all about the firm, and almost nothing about the client, or the person visiting. So what we’ve got to remember is why somebody is coming to your website. So suspects, and as a reminder, a suspect is somebody who has got a financial problem, financial aspiration, they think you can help but they haven’t made contact with you. If somebody is on your website, because they have that financial problem or challenge and you think you can help, what’s better to show them? Are we better off showing them that you understand, that they’re in the right place, and show them you’re an expert at working with them? Or are you better off showing them you have a page about pensions, protections, investments, savings, auto-anomalies? It’s just dull, really is dull and doesn’t make you stand out. So one of the ways to stand out is by empathizing with the reason people are on your website, show them that you understand them, show them they’re in the right place, and show you’re an expert in working with people like them, that will be so much more powerful than explaining that you deal with pensions, savings, and investments etc. So after this call, go and look at your website and see how much it empathizes. There’s a few ways of doing that, you can talk about the types of people you work with, so people see themselves reflecting back, you can replay some of life’s big challenges that you help people overcome on the homepage and on other pages. There’s a bunch of ways to do it, but it’s so important that you empathize with the reason people are on your site. Number three, I think we’ve got some Yardstick content writers on this call as well, I think we’ve got Adam and Elena on here and whilst people focus on the design and images, we also need to give equal focus to the words on the website. Your content needs to be easy to read both in the way that it’s written, and the way it is displayed. It needs to be engaging. It absolutely needs to capture your tone of voice and of course, it needs to communicate your key messages. So your key messages might revolve around people not products, the benefits of planning, the benefits of retiring successfully, all sorts of things, but your content needs to be and do all those things. You then need to have a think about who should write the content, whether it should be you, whether it should be somebody in your team, or whether it should be a professional copywriter. Now, I’m biased, we have complete skin in this game and I always think it should be a professional copywriter who is under the same roof as the designer because when you get the copywriter and the designer working so closely together, you end up with perfect prose displayed beautifully. Whereas rarely is it the case, it does happen and there are exceptions, but it’s rarely the case where an adviser or planner has someone in their team who is used to writing really engaging what is effectively sales copy. It does happen, but it’s unusual so have a think about how well your content is written, how well it engages people how well it is displayed. Does it capture your tone of voice? Does it capture key messages, and whether it needs looking at again. Abi, is there anything that has come through the chat or the Q&A that we need to deal with?
Abi Robinson 20:15
Oh, I think you read somebody’s mind there something literally just pinged in straightaway. Somebody’s asked, “Have you got any experience of using AI tools to write copy?” I’m going to leave that one firmly with you.
Phil Bray 20:28
We 100% have experience of using AI to write copy, I wouldn’t suggest it’s necessarily the best experience in the world. So my two tools that I would use for AI copy would be Bard and ChatGPT. And I like them both but prefer Bard to ChatGPT, that’s partly because ChatGPT doesn’t seem to access as many sources as Google does for pretty obvious reasons, Bard is from Google, to link those dots. Bard is useful for research. I find it incredibly useful for research because it aggregates information from lots of sources. You absolutely need to double-check your sources though, you have to ask Bard, or ChatGPT to source any facts they give you and then go and check them because I’ve seen some really dangerous examples of Bard saying X, Y, Z is true, and it’s not. So I find Bard useful for research, I find Bard useful for filling in some blanks for me in an article, and double checking that I think I’ve got everything right. I don’t find it useful at all for writing copy. For me, right now, and who knows it might change, but for right now, it comes out with really bland, middle-of-the-road, neutral sales copy, that will not engage or capture someone’s individual tone of voice. There you go, I’ve done enough ranting about Bard and ChatGPT. It is useful, but I absolutely don’t think it replaces anywhere near a good-quality content writer who can capture your tone of voice. Abi, anything else in the Q&A?
Abi Robinson 22:37
Yes, and we know your answer to this one but “Should your personality slash culture show on the website? Even though we’re offering a professional service?”
Phil Bray 22:46
Let me think about that for a second. Yes, absolutely It should. Absolutely it should. Yes, you need to keep it professional at all times but we need your personality to absolutely shine through on websites, social posts, etc. Because you need to create that connection with people. When I was an adviser, and you’ll all have examples, those of you are client-facing on this call, when I was an adviser, I have examples of where your clients would tell you really intimate things about their lives, often before they would tell their spouse. I remember a case where I had a client tell me he had just been diagnosed with cancer and he told me that before he told his wife or his family, because he wanted to check that he could say to them, they were going to be okay, if the worst happened. So, you’re going to create that connection and you’re going to work with your adviser or planner for months and years to come and that connection starts online. So yes, I would get personal, I would get really personal. The first website to go and have a look at after this call, is the Smith and Wardle website, or the website for The Aspire Partnership in Bristol. There is some lovely photography on both of those sites, really lovely photography and then there’s some personal pictures as well where the team is showing off through imagery, what they enjoy doing in their spare time. So yeah, I would get really personal, I hope that answers the question. Right, am I good to carry on Abi?
Abi Robinson 24:32
Yeah, just a quick reminder, a couple of people have said in the chat that they’ve got to shoot off. They’re enjoying it, Phil, it’s not because you’ve done anything wrong, they’ve just got other places to be, but just asking if a recording of the webinar will be sent out and yeah, absolutely, later on this afternoon, I will send a follow-up email with the links that Phil’s mentioned with the recording of the webinar, so don’t worry if you’ve got to shoot off and don’t worry if you miss anything that’ll be in your inbox later today.
Phil Bray 24:57
Mortally wounded. Right. Let’s move on to number four. So, we talked about getting personal and that’s a great segue into this. Real people. It’s absolutely essential that your website showcases two groups of real people. I’d call these heroes and I would call these guides. So, heroes are your clients, these are the people who get benefits from working with you. There are a number of ways you can showcase these, if you go and look at something like the Red Circle website with Darren Cook, you’ll see we created a little postcard graphic with nice quotes from his clients and pictures that his clients had sent in and gave us proof to use. You go and look at the Smith and Wardle website, go and look at the Aspire website, and you will see videos of clients, real clients talking about the benefits of working with the firm. I do occasionally get a bit of pushback, often from larger firms interestingly, where they say “my clients won’t go on video”, I guarantee you 100% if you ask the right clients in the right way, your clients will be happy to do videos or enough of your clients will be happy, for you to build a decent portfolio of videos on the website. The barriers to client videos are entirely in adviser’s or planner’s, heads. The second group of people we should showcase on the website, are guides – that is you and your team, and we’ll talk about how we do that in a bit. But real people on your website, heroes – your clients, guides – you and your team, incredibly important that we showcase these people from the homepage and throughout the website. Number five: client videos. We touched on that a second ago and Abi has put some examples of sites where we created client videos in there. Client videos are a great way to showcase your heroes. They help you demonstrate genuine expertise because as we’ve said on previous webinars, showing beats telling. Showing the value of what you do beats telling people about the value of what you do. Client videos are just a fantastic way of showcasing the value of working with you and getting somebody else to talk about your genuine expertise and how you have changed their life. A lovely example is the Henwood Court website, they’ve got some fantastic client videos that we did for them. One of them, I can’t remember which one, actually talks about how Nick’s advice at Henwood Court, has helped change his life. It’s a great quote, it’s lovely. They also help you tick one of the other boxes, the second box we talked about, about empathizing with the visitor because again, you’re replaying to a suspect, the fact that you understand why they’re there, it builds trust and rapport. For me, of all the types of social proof, whether it’s client surveys, online meetings and reviews, awards, PR, it is the most personal, because you will immediately be creating a connection between the client and the person watching the video. We’ve got some stats as we work through this, it also is a great way of making your website different. So, research we did that looked at all the websites of the firms in the 2022 New Model Adviser Top 100 survey, and we should have the 2023 results out pretty shortly, only 31%, So three out of ten firms, and these are generally bigger firms, not always, but generally, have got client videos on their website. So if you get client videos on your website, distribute them around the site. That’s a great way of creating a point of difference between your website and somebody else’s. Is there anything in the chat? I can see something popping up Abi, do we need to deal with that?
Abi Robinson 29:11
I was just replying, but I will just say it out loud, saves me a job a couple of things. So Kerry had just asked if the videos on your website should have subtitles, and I was just popping a line in there to showcase our video library because why not? Because yes, we would absolutely recommend, I hope you agree Phil, that subtitles and transcripts have a massive impact, not just from an SEO perspective, but from an accessibility perspective too. It allows for people who prefer watching or reading your videos, whether that be a webinar or a client video. So yes, we would recommend that but then a question for you, Phil, is “Should a website’s primary function be highlighting services offered or promoting call to action?”
Phil Bray 29:57
I don’t think it shouldn’t necessarily promote services offered, I think it should promote the type of people you work with. So, services might be financial planning, mortgage advice, investment planning, that sort of stuff. But actually, somebody is on your website because they have a specific problem. So, this takes me back to the empathy point, rather than being me, me, me, talking about the services offered, talk about them and their problems, and how you can help solve them; by definition, when you talk about how you can help solve them, you are going to talk about some of the services that you offer. So I don’t think I’d start with services, I’d start with what the person’s issues are, that’s terribly forward isn’t it, doesn’t matter. But the reason they’re there, and then weave into your answer, the services that you offer. In terms of calls to action, you should absolutely have calls to action on your website; I agree with that 100%, because you need or want people who are the right fit to take those calls to action. We’ve become a bit more aggressive, maybe that’s the wrong word, more proactive on calls to action recently. We’ve started putting a few more pop-ups on adviser websites, to promote webinars, guides and that sort of stuff. But for me, calls to action, yes, services, no, but answer the reason they’re there, deal with their issue and what they’re there for. I hope that makes sense. Right. So we talked on number four about real people, heroes, we’re now going to talk about guides. Now, your guides are you and your team and it’s really important that we do widen this out. I won’t name and shame, but we’ve all seen adviser and planner websites, where they have only the advisers on there, and not the rest of the team. That creates all sorts of issues, both internally and also with clients and prospects. Prospects, people who are thinking of working with you, want to understand who they’ll be working with, and start to get to know them and start to create that connection. So for me, unless somebody doesn’t want to be on there for a good reason, you should include everyone in your team on that website, from your chair, down to MD, if you’re a bigger firm, down to the management team, the planners, the support staff, the dog; I’m quite a big fan of putting office dogs on websites. So, include everybody in your team on the website. That’s the team section, and then give every team member their own sub-page. So for example, an Abi Robinson page, or Dan Campbell page, where we can really get personal. Going back to one of the questions earlier, really great imagery is so important. You can get a professional photographer in, taking really good quality shots, an iPhone up against a wall is just not going to cut it. So, great imagery. Talk about what your team member does on a Monday to Friday, are they doing workouts? What’s their role? And don’t be dry, talk about what motivates them, their biggest wins, what gets them out of bed in the morning, why they come into work, why they choose to work for you; then talk about what to do on the weekend, again, creating that connection with a few spotlight questions. You often see these profiles in the Sunday papers with a few spotlight questions highlighting specific things about people’s lives, likes and dislikes, that sort of stuff. With those you can talk about their values, culture, motivations, etc. and again, this is a great way of making sites different. Our research shows that about three quarters of websites have a team page, but only half of those have individual pages for each of the team members. Forgive me, again, it’s another great way of differentiating and showcasing your guides; and remember, your guides are people who take your heroes, your clients, from A to B. You can almost create from this presentation, the perfect website that differentiates you from somebody else by doing all these steps. Abi, is there something in the q&a?
Abi Robinson 34:47
Yeah, so in terms of the team pages, “If we are a small firm should we include the other professionals who help and support us to show critical mass?”
Phil Bray 34:59
So, I think you do it, but I don’t necessarily think you do it to show critical mass because as a potential client, what actually is important to me? Is the size of a firm important to me? Would I maybe get put off by a big firm? Or is the fact that you can help me and you have the expertise to solve my problems more important? I think it’s the latter but I do think that some prospects might need a bit more reassurance if they think a firm is relatively small. So, yes, let’s say you’re a sole planner with a paraplanner and an administrator, three people in the team plus the office dog. Yes, you’d showcase those in the way I’ve just spoken about with a team page and then child-pages or sub-pages for each. But yes, if you then used a paraplanning firm, – Hello Michelle, hope you’re okay, you’ve put your link in the chat – if you use a compliance consultancy, a network, you’re using EBI as your portfolio provider, then yes, I think there’s probably an argument for doing that. But if you’re going to do it, don’t just slap the logos of providers on there, explain why they’re important, explain why they are part of a team. If you go and look at Delauney Wealth’s website, that’s a good example, their trophy is down the bottom there when they won best website this year, at the Professional Adviser Awards, Lloyd is a sole practitioner, but has lots of other people helping his business and we showcase those people on the website as well so that was another really nice way of doing it. A bit of a rambling answer, the short answer is yes. Abi, any more questions?
Abi Robinson 37:03
They’re coming in thick and fast now. So, you might be coming to this, I suspect you will be but “Would you advise showing your typical fees on the website?”
Phil Bray 37:13
Give me five minutes and we’ll do that one then if that’s okay?
Abi Robinson 37:15
Right, that’s that one then. “What are your thoughts on using a Q&A chat bot on your website? Is this needed?”
Phil Bray 37:23
I think that goes back to the call to action question earlier. There’s three ways of doing this, the first one is you do nothing, the second one is you put something like enquiry bot on the website, which is not chat, but it’s a guided form essentially, where people can answer questions and then ultimately, it’s give us your name and contact details and we’ll get in touch. So that’s a guided form, the next level up is real-time chat, real time chat functions. A couple of things there, you need to make sure someone can monitor it on a regular basis, or remember to turn it off when you can’t monitor it. Either way, the enquiry bot or the chat needs to automatically trigger, more people will use it if it automatically triggers rather than having to trigger it themselves. The number of people who will complete an enquiry bot or live chat is absolutely correlated to the number of people who visit your website. So the more people who visit your website, the higher the percentage or proportion of people who will complete it. I think this sort of stuff is going to have an increasingly bigger place. I needed to sort something out with our CRM provider on Monday evening out of hours and I quite surprised myself because I thought ‘I wonder if they have a live chat-bot or live chat’, it’s the first time I’ve ever thought that because normally I’d steer well away from them and try and pick up the phone, it’s my preference; it was quite an interesting moment to say, “I wonder if they’ve got a live chat”. Unfortunately they did but I couldn’t make it work. So, yes, I think you could consider those things., they’re low cost, so you can try them but, within the context of what I’ve said. Any more from any more Abi on the Q&A?
Abi Robinson 39:27
Easy one. “If your office has three dogs, should you have a page for each?” It’s got to be a yes, surely?
Phil Bray 39:32
Yeah, why not?
Abi Robinson 39:35
And then in terms of team pages again, what info would you include on them? I know you’ve covered a few bits, but they’ve just said role and experience. Anything else?
Phil Bray 39:44
Yeah, absolutely, we can we can go so much deeper than that and we can get so much more personal than just role and experience. All the websites that Abi has been putting in the chat have got examples of great team pages, but I would be talking about what’s their role in the business, who do they support? Talk about their wins at work, what motivates them, just get really, really personal. Contact details are important, pretty high up on the page, because someone might just want to get on that page and find the contact details for Darren, or Lloyd, or Michelle. We need contact details, and then get really personal, what they do outside of work, create that connection, and use good imagery as well. But the best way of answering that question is to say go and look at some of the team pages that we’ve created. Am I okay to move on Abi? Cool. Right, stock images. Really, really try and avoid stock images. I am very much like a reformed smoker on this, you will find websites that Yardstick have produced in the past, where we’ve used some stock images and you probably will in the future because we might have got a bit of pushback from the client or something like that. Stock images, if you’re going to use them, have got to be really carefully chosen because they’re often cliche. You know, that happy couple walking along the beach, I saw one yesterday of a couple dancing on the beach and another couple dancing in a kitchen. I don’t know what it is about 60 year-olds dancing in stock images but it does seem to be quite popular. So, they’re often cliched, they’re very difficult to get right, you can end up overthinking these things, and they are very, very unlikely to create a point of difference and that’s largely because it appears there are only so many stock models in the world, and a lot of them are on images on Shutterstock, Unsplash and places like that, so you often see the same images across different sites. So what I’d much prefer is that we use carefully selected images and the first bunch of images that I would recommend, are firm-specific images; images that are specific to your business. I think there are three types here, the first type is you and your team, individual shots of people in the business, not 90 degrees facing the camera, we can do better than that, but nicely posed individual shots. Then we have groups of people. You might have your management team, you might have the advisers and planners, you might have paraplanners, the admin staff, you might have everyone together, but groups of people together, it’s one of my favorite pictures to have. If you look at the Aspire website, look at the Why Choose Us page, it’s a candid shot, they’re all smiling, it’s lovely, really lovely. Look at Henwood Court, at the top of their website there’s a really nice image as well. So, we’ve covered individual shots and groups of people. One tip, if you’re taking pictures of groups of people, anybody you’re not sure about or you think might leave, stick them on the end, because they’re easier to photoshop out if they ever leave. So, groups of people, individuals, and office scenes. So again, on the Smith & Wardle website, go look at the About Us page, you can see a lovely picture of John having a bit of a laugh with one of the other team members, and that was taken because the photographer wandered around after the individual photoshoot and took some really nice candid pictures of people working. It was brilliant, really lovely images. And then images of internal meetings or client meetings, try not to pose them but just get a photographer to come to the office for a day or half a day, once they’ve done the team shots, group shots and the individual shots, get them to wander around and also get them to take pictures of points of interest. You are in your office every day, those points of interest won’t necessarily become apparent to you but awards on the wall, certificates on the wall, the office building. You can put a picture of the office building on your contact page so people know where to go if they are coming to your office. I was in a meeting the other day with a planner and they had some Carl Richard sketches on the wall, take a picture of those; talking of Carl Richards go and have a look at the Chatfield Private Client Website. Again, another point of difference, we animated one of Carl’s sketches and put them on the website above the homepage; I really, really liked that idea. So in terms of firm specific images, your team, office scenes and points of interest work and it is perfectly possible to build a website which, apart from the blog section because it’s difficult not to use stock images on blogs, has no stock images on the site whatsoever. I think that is achievable, and is something that is desirable as well. Other types of imagery, I’m big fan of putting geographically specific photos on there. So let’s say for example, you wanted to work with clients within a five-mile radius of Nottingham city center, which is where I am right now, to demonstrate that and route yourself in the local area, and create a connection with local people, you might have pictures of Trent Bridge, the Brian Clough statue, The Major Oak, it’s not within five miles but, and the Goose Fair for example, all geographically specific photos. Then there are some left field options and you can get creative, the Carl Richard sketch being a good example. We did a website for a firm called Roberts and Baxter, if you put that in the chat as well, Abi, if that’s okay, we did a discovery meeting with Roberts and Baxter, who are up in Huddersfield, I think and they had some beautiful artwork, it was originally painted on glass, it was beautiful and there’s some examples of that on their website as well. We went to the artist, we got permission to use the images and we’ve done that a couple of times with other firms. So think about some left-field options, illustrations work really well, some of the Carl’s sketches are great, really, really good, actually, all Carl’s sketches are great and we could use those on the site. So, carefully chosen images to support your image as a team will make things different. Abi, anything we need to deal with right now?
Abi Robinson 47:03
Just a question about stock images: “What about stock imagery to represent target demographic? For example, older people. Are images of people sailing or sitting at a table in front of paperwork a thing of the past?”
Phil Bray 47:17
No, I don’t think they’re a thing of the past, but I think they should be. I think it’s really difficult to get a stock image to resonate with a group of people. So my dad is 73, one of my heroes, Bruce Springsteen, is 73; you could not get two different 73 year olds. My dad bless him needs a hip operation, Bruce Springsteen is up on stage rocking it in front of 100,000 people. It’s a bit of a diverse example, but how do you find a stock image that resonates necessarily with both of those audiences, despite them being male and 73? For me, it’s really, really difficult on stock imagery and I challenge our designers and challenge other people to try and come away as far as we can from stock images. I think it’s hard on blogs, but I think it’s possible on websites. Anything else Abi before we move on?
Abi Robinson 48:16
No, you can crack on.
Phil Bray 48:18
Good. Right, number nine: ratings and reviews. So, as I’ve said quite a few times, testimonial pages on websites are entirely pointless. All the stats we see, all our research shows that only 1% – 2% of all your website visitors will ever go and look at a testimonials page. There’s a few reasons for that, but let’s just accept it. Instead, we need to gather social proof and scatter it around your website so that people see it wherever they go. We’re not putting the social proof on one page and expecting people to visit it, we’re scattering the social proof around so people see it wherever they go. Just look at social media, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Twitter is now putting ads in places they weren’t putting ads previously and it’s really difficult to tell it’s an ad, it’s got a tiny little #ad on it, very, very tricky. They’re also putting ads when you scroll down a specific person’s timeline, they’re putting ads in there as well. So what we need to do social-proof-wise on the website is take a leaf out of the social media big boys’ book and scatter your social proof around your website. In terms of online ratings and reviews, Google and VouchedFor are our preferences, we would always recommend 100% of firms have Google reviews, and 99% of firms have VouchedFor reviews as well. I’m happy to explain why if someone wants to put that question in the chat. We now need to embed them properly. So, add them to the most popular pages and use widget code where possible. VouchedFor will produce and give you a widget code that you can embed in your site for firm reviews and individual adviser reviews, and you can also in WordPress websites, add in the widget code for Google reviews. Then, obviously, include your VouchedFor reviews in the form of widget code on your team member pages. And again, stats show why this makes firms different. 76% of firms have Google reviews, slightly misleading stat, because most of that 76% have got five or fewer reviews; So, while 76% of firms have Google reviews, most don’t have very many. 53% of firms have got VouchedFor reviews, 20% have Glassdoor reviews. Most, don’t have many reviews, and don’t display them correctly on the website. So if you do the ratings and review piece properly, you will differentiate yourself. Abi, anything in the Q&A?
Abi Robinson 51:14
No we’re all good.
Phil Bray 51:15
We’re all good are we? Right, number 10: Fees. I said I’d come to this. So, disclosing fees online, I think there are three reasons that you should consider it, and I put it no more strongly than that because there are pros and cons for online fee disclosure. There are three reasons to consider online fee disclosure, the first is transparency and trust. All financial advisers and planners want to be seen as trustworthy and transparent. We’ve talked about the difference between telling and showing, well putting your fees online absolutely shows that you are transparent. It’s a brilliant way of showing that you’re transparent, it means there are fewer surprises for prospects and it also potentially helps to select out some enquirers who are a bit fee-conscious. You can make the opposite argument that actually those people, once they understood the fees, and you had a conversation with them face-to-face would be okay, but, it is a way of standing out as well. So the research we’ve done shows that a quarter, well, 23% of firm websites mention fees, that’s up from 17% in 2018, but only about 1 in 10 actually disclose the fees online. And there is a way of doing this right; we’ve got an online fee disclosure scorecard, Abi, if we can put a link for that in the follow-up notes, that’d be great. So, only about 1 in 10 firms actually disclosed pounds, shillings, and pence fees that someone will pay, and half of those do it the wrong way. They simply slap a PDF of the client agreement on there and expect their website visitors to scroll through a PDF of the client agreement and they’re just never going to do that. So, fee disclosure will set you apart and most people who do it are not doing it properly. So pay your money, take your choice, and decide whether that one’s for you or not. So, that’s it! We’ve got a couple of questions which we’ll deal with in a second but there are 10 ways, which will make your website stand out and be different. As I said at the start, great design is so important, but it’s only going to get you so far. You also need to add in real people, your heroes and your guides, social proof, online ratings and reviews, videos, client survey results, which we’ve not talked about today, perfect prose, have a chat with Adam and Elena who are on here, fantastic photography, really good quality photography of the people in your business, your clients, and then an environmental shoot of the office and everything around, and maybe, if you decide to do it, there are pros and cons, but your fees. So we’ll do a couple of questions in a minute, I can see them coming in, I just want to talk about the next webinar that we’re doing first. So, we’ve never done this before, but it’s a topic that we are talking more and more about and getting more and more vocal about: how to boost growth and cut costs by improving your conversion rates. It’s really important that marketing isn’t only seen in the context of creating new enquiries. We’ve spoken to a couple of firms in the past week, one firm is converting about 48% of all enquiries, the other one is converting about 6% of all enquiries. The one that is converting 48% has lower marketing costs and are operationally more efficient. So that’s one of the reasons why we’re going talk about conversion rates, the other is almost nobody else is talking about it. So we’re gonna talk about conversion rates at our next webinar. Abi, if you could just drop the link in there for people to sign up, if you want to stay in touch with me, there’s the Yardstick website and my LinkedIn details, etc. there. I think there might be one or two questions to deal with Abi.
Abi Robinson 55:23
Yeah, we’ll do the couple on fees pages, and then we just need to drop back to number nine for one of them. But in terms of fees, someone has asked “Are we not compelled to display fees because of the interpretation of consumer duty?”
Phil Bray 55:37
I have seen nothing to say that you are compelled to display fees. If there’s something in consumer duty that says you are compelled to display, assuming you are a UK based adviser, I’ve seen nothing in consumer duty to say that you’re compelled to disclose fees. If there is, then I can think of a bunch of compliance departments that have missed it because they’ve checked websites of ours since consumer duty came in. So no, I don’t think there is, but I’m happy to be told otherwise, if there’s somebody with greater expertise on the call.
Abi Robinson 56:13
Lovely, very broadly, “What would the cost be for creating a website from scratch and the typical timescale?” I know Josh is on the call, and he will be shuddering I imagine.
Phil Bray 56:24
About two weeks and a couple of quid. No, joking. It entirely depends on a whole number of variables, the scope of the website, the amount of social proof we need to produce, the number of people on the website, the responsiveness of the client, there’s just a whole bunch of things that need to be taken into consideration, it is very firm specific. What I would say, is whoever asked that question, if you reach out directly to me, this is not a plea for a sales call, but if you reach out directly to me, I’ll be able to give you a much better idea of how to do that and how long it might take.
Abi Robinson 57:10
Great, and then the last one, if you can just drop back to reason number nine, just as you said, “Any questions?”, and I said “No” and we moved on, somebody popped in to say, “Do you have a good example of this?”
Phil Bray 57:23
Oh, yeah. Go and look at the Smith and Wardle website, I keep talking about that but all the ones we’ve talked about so far, this stuff will be on there. From memory, Smith and Wardle and Delauney Wealth have got VouchedFor reviews on there, certainly Henwood Court has got the Google review widget embedded in there, so, they’ll be on the other sites that we’ve talked about. So yeah, go and have a look at those. Are we good?
Abi Robinson 57:54
We are, with a minute to spare, if anybody’s got any final burning thoughts.
Phil Bray 57:58
I do see one from James, some review sites require annual validation of each review, which frustrates advisers. Have you recommended the ones that don’t require this? Yes, James, as far as I’m aware. I’ve seen some compliance providers say to their clients, or the firms that they work with, that testimonials need to be checked once a year to make sure the client still happy to use it, but in terms of VouchedFor and Google, which are the two review sites that we would recommend, Google 100% of the time, VouchedFor 99% of the time, there is nothing there that means you have to go back to your clients each year and say please confirm that you’re happy for this review to remain live which hopefully puts your mind at ease James. Right, anymore for anymore? If there are any more questions, I’m happy to stick around and answer them, otherwise, There are my contact details if you want to get in touch. The Counsel House bells in Nottingham are ringing, it’s 11 o’clock. We’ve finished smack on time, which is unusual for us, so if everybody’s happy, we shall leave you to it. Enjoy the rest of your day. Cheers, everybody. Bye Bye.
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