Many industries have moved their promotions online to take advantage of inbound marketing opportunities, yet financial advisors are slow to follow, often due to compliance regulations. Regrettably, advisors underutilize online strategies, including custom websites, to grow their firms.
What kind of website should financial advisors use? Custom or template? Definitely not template! This is mistake #2 in my series focusing on mistakes advisors make in their marketing. I believe advisors should avoid template websites.
A template website combined with “Mistake # 1: No Target Market,” makes for a very poor first impression. The type of website I’m referring to is the kind that everyone is accustomed to seeing with a flash banner, canned content, and standard color and design choices.
As you can probably tell, I do not like template websites. I’m a big believer in using personality and quality design when planning a website. Here are ten reasons why I do not like template websites:
1. One size fits all – a template site is designed to be quick and easy for the advisor to get up and running in their practice. This type of website is designed to “sell” advisors on ease and simplicity by offering canned articles, videos, calculators, and newsletters. This type of site is not designed for selling investment management services and does not do a good job of engaging with prospective clients.
2. No ambiance – a template site will not incorporate your firm personality, values, and unique value proposition. The template designer has never sat down with you to discuss your goals, strategic advantage, target market, and call to action. It’s a convenient option that is quickly passed off to your compliance department for approval.
3. Poor branding – I don’t believe in using clip art or template graphics because they give off a bad vibe and don’t instill confidence. Many of these template sites are built with place holders for logos and don’t have custom fonts available to distinguish the brand.
4. No search engine optimization (SEO) – many developers promise SEO but don’t deliver. Without optimization, your target clients will never find you on the Internet. Your site will stagnate with the only visitors being your clients.
5. Confusing code – because these sites are intended for use by the lowest common denominator, to be used by anyone and everyone, they have a plethora of bad code and poorly formed html on the back end that lessens the ability of the search engines to figure out what your site is all about.
6. High long-term cost – in the financial services industry, advisors continue to pay monthly for their template sites, for many years, with costs adding up to thousands of dollars. Oftentimes, advisors get up and running with their first website and then due to inertia forget to plan for a custom site resulting in high costs and a poor impression for any potential clients who visit the site.
7. Image rights – I’ve seen problems with sites not having rights to use images in their designs, which has resulted in lawsuits and major hassles. With a custom site done by a professional developer, all images are legally acquired and won’t land the advisor in hot water months or years later.
8. Duplicate Content – because of all the canned content, the search engines don’t look favorably on template sites. Think of this way: if thousands of sites exist with the same exact information, what’s the benefit to the visitor?
9. Use of flash – many of these sites use flash in the website banner area or even worse they may have a “splash” page requiring visitors to consent to enter the site based on their geographic location.
10. Problems with technology – many template sites are just plain old and lack current technology that can allow advisors to integrate newer and more productive marketing strategies right into their websites.
At one time I had three clients that all had the same exact template design with happy people gazing at each other. The only distinctive feature was the practice name (in standard font) at the top of the banner. Thankfully they were in three different parts of the country so they weren’t competing with each other.
Don’t get me wrong; I think a template site can be a good choice if you want to get a site together quickly and efficiently. But they should be considered a short-term solution until you plan to build a custom site down the road.
Here are the other mistakes in this series: