In part two of his series about internet marketing, David Elms , chief executive of IFA Promotion , points out inrermediaries don't need to develop ‘all-singing all-dancing' sites to have an internet presence.
The internet presents a great marketing opportunity for the IFA community and those IFAs yet to catch on could well lose out in the long-term. The good news is that you don’t need to be a computer whizzkid to create a web presence for your company.
There are hundreds of firms that can help create a website for you at the cost of a few hundred pounds – in fact twice a year we supply our members with a free directory of suppliers they could approach.
Where your input is important is with the content of your website. Too many IFAs believe that there is no point having a website unless it is fully interactive and even transactional, so that products can be bought and sold online. Others maintain the main point of a website is to reinforce customer loyalty, by demonstrating their expertise or enabling clients to access their portfolios online.
First-time visitors to an IFA’s website simply want to find out a bit more about the company and to be able to decide quickly if its services suit their needs. Therefore you need to sum up on your homepage why you are the right IFA for the type of customer you wish to attract.
It’s the perfect place to highlight your qualifications and the business areas that you specialise in. There are some people who prefer to talk to a female financial adviser and vice-versa; if your firm has advisers of both genders, you should mention it on your website.
Don’t give anyone an excuse to look elsewhere. When people take the time to click on to your website, it’s vital that they have reasons, at first glance, to go with you and not someone else.
One of the best ways to differentiate your company is to make the most of the independent brand. We have invested considerable time and resources over the past 15 years establishing a brand that is clearly registered in the psyche of adults – the blue roundel.
Our research shows more than half of all adult now recognise the blue pound sign logo as the brand of the independent financial adviser. It therefore makes perfect sense to display this logo clearly on your website - it cannot be stressed enough that IFAs cannot afford to assume people know they are independent. As only IFAs are allowed to use the blue roundel, displaying it clearly on your homepage will give you the best chance of being recognised instantly. This is especially important in light of depolarisation and the change in status of some advisers.
Creating an impressive website is an important step but the key to online marketing success is to ensure people can find your firm in the first place. Good quality leads come as a result of targeting the right people with the right service.
Independent evaluation by financial services strategy consultants Mercer Oliver Wyman showed IFAP generated up to £47m in commission income for IFAs last year – up 52% on 2003. Consumers and businesses used IFAP over 446,000 times last year to get details of local IFAs. Nearly half (44%) of the online searches for IFAs went on to visit a member IFA and bought an average of 1.7 products each.
With the success of our Find an IFA online search for member IFAs in mind, we developed our online marketing package in the summer of 2004, which enhances a member’s online entry. The online marketing package has already been taken up by over 1,500 of our members, whose entries on www.unbiased.co.uk, www.impartial.co.uk and the 50+ white-label versions IFAP currently runs on partner websites are now twice as likely to be seen by consumers and businesses.
Surfing the internet allows people to skip quickly from one company to another. You need to be able to attract attention and then hold it for long enough to impress a potential customer with the benefits of your company. People will take the time to contact your firm, but only if you clearly give them enough positive reasons to do so.IFAonline
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