Is There Anyone Else Out There?
Are you one of the many advisors who have grasped the 21st Century with gusto and setup your own Web site? Congratulations then. A web site can be a great method to communicate with your clients about everything from the value of their accounts to the latest little league baseball team standings. And your state-of-the-art technology will let them know that you’re as good as the online guys but with the added personal touch.
What about prospecting for new clients? With 150 million adult Americans out there in cyberspace could you be missing out on one of the most unique marketing tools to hit our industry since the push-button telephone? But your Web site is no different than your seminars. If no one knows about it, no one will visit. Therefore, you need to come with ways to promote it.
Send an Announcement
Let everyone on your prospect and client lists know that you have a Web site. Do a bulk mailing with a specially designed, multicolor postcard to help get their attention.
Here’s probably the simplest way to get the word out about your Web site and it shouldn’t cost you a penny. Most e-mail programs will let you type in a message that will be added to the bottom of every e-mail you send so you won’t have to type it out each time. You should be able to find it under “options” within the program. Use this to include a hyperlink to your Web site.
Link to Others
Web users often visit sites via links from other sites. Whom do you know who has a Web site and reaches the target audience that you want but for different reasons? Many attorneys, accountants, trust companies, P&C agents, and Realtors have Web sites. These professionals are looking for new clients too and might welcome the opportunity to exchange links with you.
Arrange to link with as many sites as you can and possibly include a “Helpful Links” page on your site. But use your imagination and don’t just go where all the other advisors in town go. How about your alma mater, the charity where you volunteer, or the contractor whose retirement plan you manage? Give them a call or send an e-mail to explain your idea.
Your community probably has a web site and they will often offer free links to local businesses or provide a whole ad page for a reasonable charge. Do a search on the name of your city or town and see the web sites you can link with.
Give Them Something
To gather names of prospects, let visitors to your site sign up for a free electronic version of your newsletter (or offer that option on other sites). Make it shorter than the one you normally mail out, but update it every one or two weeks. Serialize some of your articles so readers have a reason to return. For example, one week you might have a piece on long-term care costs, then the next on how LTCI works, and finally write on what to look for in a LTCI policy. You could promote this with a direct mailing to all seniors in your area or in an ad in the local paper.
Your site has to give the viewers something they normally can’t find anywhere else or at least presented in a unique way. People want and need “how tos.” They’re not going to stick around to read the same old story (although valid) about diversification and dollar-cost-averaging that they can see in hundreds of other sites. Think about the benefits to the reader when you post a new article. If you help them get something that they want, you’ll be seen as an expert and get what you want.
Let new subscribers enter a monthly contest for a drawing of an autographed copy of your book or maybe a gift certificate to a client’s restaurant. Over time readers will get to know you better and see you as an ethical advisor.
Remind your guests to bookmark your Web site. Tell them that you post updates weekly and more often if necessary. Put this reminder on all of your pages.
Search Engine Optimization
Most Internet users do searches. They plug in a keyword and up pops hundreds or thousands of sites to visit. Wouldn’t it be great if your site appeared first whenever someone typed in “investments” or “insurance?” Well, don’t expect that to happen. But there are some ways that you can increase the likelihood that your site will be listed when certain words or phrases are used.
The simplest method is to hire someone to do this for you. Just do a web search on “search engine positioning” and you’ll find dozens of companies offering this service. But even after you hire a specialist and pay fees to get your site listed (Yahoo charges $299/year) you still might be at the bottom of the heap. There are, however, some ways you can do the same thing for free. All you have to do is go to the search engine and register your site.
For a more complete list of search engines, including some that charge, click here: http://www.useit.com/about/searchreferrals.html.
But why should you even care whether or not someone who lives across the country even visits your site? Maybe that visitor has a friend or family member who lives in your town and needs financial help. Or perhaps he or she is in charge of getting guest speakers for a convention and needs an “out-of-town expert.” You just never know who might stop by.
Never Miss an Opportunity
Put your Web address on your:
- Business cards
- Direct mailers
- Seminar invitations
If you get on the radio or TV, be sure to mention it. Include your Web site information in everything you do, and you’ll be rewarded with more hits.
Besides your clients, there are thousands out there in cyberspace who are interested in what you have to say. But to get the most from your Web site you first have to get people to visit it. The next challenge is to convert those first-time visitors into loyal clients by building long-term relationships.