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Seven reasons why IFAs no longer need a Website

Out of every hundred or so IFAs that I meet, I’m surprised to discover that about ten still don’t have a website.  That’s a big step forward from just two years ago when figures suggested that 25% of IFAs didn’t have a site. 

On my Internet marketing and social media workshops I’d castigate them sternly and suggest that they step smartly into the online world before it’s too late.  They would offer one of four reasons why they don’t have a website:

1)       “I haven’t got round to it yet”

2)       “My clients are in their fifties, sixties, seventies and older – so I don’t need a website”

3)       “I’ve got all the clients I need – so I don’t need a website”

4)       “To be honest, I’m a bit of a technology dinosaur”

When I speak at conferences in other industries, they always find it extraordinary that many in the UK financial advice community don’t deem the Internet important enough that they should invest time and money in having a website.  In fairness, you can understand why professionals in any regulated industry might struggle with the ‘Social’ side of the Internet, but at a time when Banking and Financial Services in general is still perceived to be the least trusted in the world (1), the Internet / Social Media is ironically an important way forward in reemphasising the importance of the ‘human touch’ in building the visibility and credibility of the industry. 

In short, Social Media is what the Internet is all about – interaction, sharing great content, building trust and fostering human engagement.  Static, brochure-like websites do precious little to foster human engagement.

But you have to ask why would an IFA need an online presence at all, when the overwhelming majority of their websites are indeed little more than an online glossy brochure?  Why would you want to read a brochure online any more than read it on a piece of shiny paper?

And that’s the problem – far too many IFAs see their website (if they have one) as the be all and end all of their Internet presence.  If they’re not yet offering an online advice service or tools, calculators and ways to interact with clients, then by definition their website is a brochure.  And with the Internet now being a massive resource of data on personal finance, then their website will inevitably become less and less likely to show up well in search results.

But let’s be fair - perhaps the website naysayers were actually waiting for something better to come along than just a static website.  And it has – it’s called LinkedIn.

At a recent workshop for IFAs, we explored the reasons why IFAs no longer need a website.  Here are just seven of them:


1. People buy People

LinkedIn is all about people; it is specifically built to highlight your expertise, credibility, professionalism, authenticity and reputation – all the characteristics that consumers presumably look for when searching for a reliable financial adviser. 

And when searching, we as consumers have become much much smarter about how we use the Internet to choose service providers on a whole range of factors that now go way beyond whether you appeared at the top of a list in a Google search.

A properly completed LinkedIn profile page will always give a potential client much more information about an adviser than their website ever will.  It lists your expertise and an audit trail of how you came to be where you are today.

Your profile lists your interests, your causes, your testimonials and your skills as endorsed and confirmed by your contacts – in other words, infinitely more information about you and your credibility than your website will ever show.

 

2. Visibility in Search Engines

It’s a fact that if you put time and effort into your LinkedIn profile, it will appear very high in Google search results for your name.  More often than not, your LinkedIn profile will appear within the first five results on Google – plus there is now increasing evidence to show that your LinkedIn profile will appear in Google results for specific keywords.  Keywords within a customised LinkedIn URL will also often appear high in search results on Bing and Yahoo.

Very often, IFAs will find that their LinkedIn profile will appear higher in Google results than their own website.  Having studied IFAs’ websites for many years, consumers who are looking for an IFA will very often find out a lot more about a given adviser from their LinkedIn profile – and after all, your LinkedIn profile can now include images, videos, presentations, PDFs and more.  And yes, you can upload screen shots of cashflow charts direct to your profile page.  In short, your LinkedIn profile has infinitely more appeal, visibility and relevance to the Internet-savvy consumer than your website.

 

3. Who’s viewed your profile?

How many IFAs look at their website statistics on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis?  Hardly any.  And even those who do look at their website statistics, don’t actually know the name and contact details of the people who have looked at their site.  So you’ve put all this effort into attracting people to your website, but you still don’t know who has visited it.  Yes, the number of visits is useful up to a point, but their names, contact details and occupation are much more useful.

On both the free and premium accounts on LinkedIn, you can see a list of who took the trouble to look at you.  I’d suggest this is extremely valuable information.  What’s more, no-one ever looks at your LinkedIn profile by accident – they always do it on purpose.  In other words, they have a reason for looking at your profile, and when you engage with them correctly, there’s a good chance that they would like to learn even more about you and your services.

 

4. Courtesy wins every time

So what do you do when someone takes the trouble to look at your LinkedIn profile?  I’ve seen figures suggesting that around 95%+ of LinkedIn users do absolutely nothing!  That’s criminal.

What do you suppose would happen if you were actually able to interact and engage with people who visit your website?  The chances are many of them would engage with you in conversation.  Yes, some would say they were “just browsing”, but an equal number would probably like a question or two answered.

Unfortunately, you don’t know the names of the people who look at your website, so it’s not going to happen.  But with LinkedIn, you not only know who has looked at your profile, but you can immediately start a dialogue.  You don’t need to go into sales mode, but a simple “Thanks for looking at my profile today – did anything catch your eye?” works wonders.  Several IFAs have told me that they have acquired new clients simply by using this courteous approach.  Some have told me that they acquired new clients the very first time they thanked someone for looking at their profile.

 

5. Build your followers and interact with them

In the old days, one of the reasons for having a website was to attract as many people as possible to sign up for your email newsletter.  Existing clients would receive your newsletter, plus it would be a vehicle to build the perception of your expertise, professionalism and credibility, and so attract new clients.

With LinkedIn, pretty well everything you do is posted on the home page and keeps people reminded of you.  They will find your profile for a number of different reasons – be it through a search result, through a status update or link that you have posted, through a comment you make in a group, when you update your profile, when you engage with content on LinkedIn and many other reasons.  Everything you do or engage with gets seen on the home page of LinkedIn.  Compare that with your website and ask yourself how many people see updates you make to it – and in real-time?

In other words, when people see that you are active on LinkedIn, they are kept up to date on who you are, what you’re about, what you are doing and saying and the content that you find valuable.  It goes without saying that your LinkedIn strategy should make a point of engaging with content that you know your clients will find useful and interesting.

 

6. Finding new clients

One of the drawbacks of a website is that you have to wait for people (potential clients and professional connections) to a) find you and b) come to visit you.  On LinkedIn you can go straight to them!

LinkedIn is now a massive mine of data about people – and the chances are, many of your clients and target clients will also be on LinkedIn.  Many of them join groups on LinkedIn, so for example if you are looking for accountants as clients or perhaps as professional connections, use the search tool to find groups for accountants and over 3,000 results appear.  When you see interesting content being posted, engage (like, share or comment) with it and add your own expert thought and opinion (without going into sales mode).  Over time, people will get to know you, trust you and connect directly with you.

In short, go to where your clients, prospects and professional connections are.  Don’t wait for them to come to you.

 

7. Company Pages

A much underused and unappreciated feature on LinkedIn is the Company Page facility.  Here you can highlight your products and services, add regular updates and snippets of news about your business, post video and other media of interest.

Again, your Company Page can be aimed at anyone from existing clients, potential clients and professional connections.  The sort of information you post on your Company page could be anything that you would normally include on your website, but here people can engage with your content (like it, share it or comment on it).  And when someone engages with content on your Company Page, that interaction is shown on the main LinkedIn home page, and so attracts other people to be curious about your page.  LinkedIn also gives you valuable statistics and insights into who is looking at your Company Page.

An added bonus that comes with your Company presence on LinkedIn, is the ability to have an additional page which LinkedIn calls a Showcase Page.  Here you can focus on just one specific aspect of your service – for example cashflow modelling, life planning or perhaps even use it to promote local seminars or workshops that you are running.

And because your Company Page can be so engaging, LinkedIn has a button for people to press so that they can follow your updates directly from the LinkedIn home page.  And if, after reading this you still have a website, you can even place the Follow button on your main website, so that people can follow your Company Page direct from there.

 

Conclusion

I’m not suggesting for a moment that websites are dead and buried and a waste of time for IFAs and financial planners.  But while your website remains a static promotional page, there is at least one other place online that you should be active – and the key word is ‘active’. 

Either way, the time has come for IFAs to stop seeing their website as the be all and end all of their Internet presence.  With sites like LinkedIn, IFAs have a wealth of amazing tools they can use to raise their profile, attract new clients, add value to existing clients and build relationships with professional connections.

Oh, and it’s free.

 

By Philip Calvert

 

Want to discover more and learn how to attract new clients through LinkedIn?

We've just announced our brand new workshop for IFAs and fianncial planners.  A full day of proven tips, techniques and strategies to help you raise your profile, attract new clients, add value to existing clients and build relationships with professional connections.  

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Author: Philip Calvert
Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 | 4:43:29 PM


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Comments

10 March 2014 | 2:01:45 PM  Philip Calvert wrote:
Since writing this, LinkedIn has introduced another feature which make the benefits of posting on it's platform difficult to ignore...

This worth a read:

http://www.ifalife.com/articles.asp?AID=1652
19 February 2014 | 3:42:31 PM  Richard Leeson wrote:
Could not agree more Phil, dynamic and active web development is crucial for client retention and acquisition.
19 February 2014 | 12:49:29 PM  Sam Turner wrote:
Agree with Martin: the % of web users who have an account on any given social network is still pretty small, so by doing the above you're cutting your market down straight away. Like anything else (websites included) social is part of a successful marketing mix: it is not successful marketing in and of itself.
18 February 2014 | 2:39:06 PM  Martin Bamford wrote:
A good IFA website, with dynamic and regularly updated content, is merely a starting point. Without it, social has no foundation.

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