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Why every IFA firm needs a mobile website

Earlier this week we launched our new mobile website.

This was an important event for us, as mobile devices are increasingly becoming the browser of choice for accessing the Internet.

Depending on which stats you look at, between 7% and 15% of all Internet traffic is originating from mobile devices. This share of the market is growing rapidly, as Internet users prefer to browse for content on their mobile phones.

Year to date, a little over 20% of our new clients have come to us as a result of our website and activity online, including our use of Social Media. Our website forms the hub of this activity, with regularly updated blog content stimulating debate and encouraging repeat visitors.

Because our website visitors increasingly choose to visit our website using a smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, etc), we needed to ensure that this was a good experience. If you have ever tried to browse a desktop website in a mobile phone browser, you will know how frustrating this can be. Simply trying to click on the correct link requires a degree of manual dexterity very few possess.

Making the decision to ‘go mobile’ with your website requires an important decision.

You can either develop an application (‘app’) for each brand of smartphone or create a mobile website that is compatible across the full spectrum of smartphone operating systems.

Apps are probably seen as the trendier option. Once developed, they are typically downloaded by the smartphone user from their ‘app store’. They can either be downloaded free of charge, or a nominal fee can be charged to the user for the download.

There are two main problems with going down the ‘app’ route.

Firstly, you need to develop a different app for each main smartphone operating system. This means developing one app for Apple, another for BlackBerry and another for Android. Even going to this expense fails to cover the entire smartphone market.

The second, and potentially biggest problem with developing a mobile app, is that it requires users to download and activate the app on a proactive basis.

You may encourage people to download the app and use it once, but unless there is a compelling reason to visit again on a regular basis, the app and its icon is likely to sit unused on their screen until they get round to deleting it to take space for the next big thing.

Developing a mobile edition of your existing website therefore makes a lot of sense.

One mobile website will work across every smartphone device. Users can still add an icon to their smartphone, to get direct access to the website for repeat visits. Ordinary website traffic from a smartphone browser is automatically detected and directed to the mobile edition of your website, for a better browsing experience.

There are some other compelling reasons why developing a mobile website makes a lot of sense for IFAs.

Having a mobile edition of your website helps with search engine optimisation. Google (and others) recognise that the website is specifically designed for mobile devices, so prioritise it in local search results. This means that anyone searching for an IFA or Financial Planner locally will see our mobile website returned as a top result.

One of our favourite features for our new mobile website is the SMS marketing capability.

By sending the word informed as a text message to 84840, users automatically receive a text message back from the system, with details of their nearest Informed Choice Financial Planner.

This text message reply contains the phone number and email address of the Financial Planner, along with a link to their profile on the mobile website.

This functionality uses the GPS module in the smartphone, which reports the general location of the smartphone user when they send the text message, along with an online mapping system to locate the closest IFA in geographical terms.

At the end of each day, we get an email report listing the details of the prospective customers who have used this system.

To date, this system has been used with great success by estate agents and property developers, to provide customers with the details of their nearest available properties. We saw this in use and identified an opportunity to apply it within the IFA market.

Mobile websites can also be combined with QR codes.

QR (quick response) codes are a bit like barcodes for smartphones. This QR code (http://www.brilliantwithadvice.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Picture1-300x300.gif), for example, when scanned by a free smartphone app, takes users directly to our mobile website.

We have plans to add a QR code to our business cards in the future, so people can add our contact details directly to their mobile phones, including a link to the profile of the IFA on our mobile website.

Having a bespoke mobile website and combining it with these innovative marketing tools is rapidly becoming a necessity for professional firms.

Missing out on 7-15% (and growing) of available Internet traffic will prove to be very expensive, particularly when these prospective customers are likely to be affluent, action-oriented smartphone users.

You can visit our new mobile website by pointing your smartphone browser to m.icl-ifa.co.uk. Alternatively, text the word informed to 84840 to try out the system and find your nearest Informed Choice Financial Planner.

Our thanks go to the team at Intelligent Mobile for developing the new mobile website and our website developer Gareth Thompson at [code:potato] for the original design.

 

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Author: Martin Bamford
Posted: Friday, December 09, 2011 | 10:11:51 AM


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