Not that long ago, developing and maintaining a financial or professional services company website was a relatively simple task. All it had to do was provide the information needed to get potential clients to do business with your firm. Visually, it shared a simple and professional representation of your company. It was often brochure-ware online and you could pretty much set it and forget it.

How things have changed! Today, your website must deliver your company’s key messages and brand images effectively across a wide array of devices to a broad variety of audiences. Companies — even business-to-business enterprises — must earn top rankings on Google and other search engines. Plus, a website is no longer a stand-alone entity. For most firms, it's the dynamic lynchpin that connects content marketing, social media, advertising and other strategies to drive contacts and sales.

Things are changing at such a rapid pace that it's likely your website could be out of date even if you developed or refreshed it within the last few years. Here are five things you need to consider to make sure your website is performing at its peak in today’s changing digital marketing environment.

1. Search engine optimization. At Carpenter Group, we hear it every day: Prospects looking to do business with financial and professional services companies don’t search for information online. The truth: They do. The information search behaviors that financial intermediaries, people working for institutional investment firms and high-end financial consumers exhibit in their everyday lives don't change when it comes to looking for information about finance. They seek it out online.

Financial consumers don't just look for “branded” information (example: “Fidelity investment options” versus “investment options”), they look for it across a category, which means the messaging on your website has to be better — and better recognized for its quality by search engines — than that offered by your competitors. Plus, it has to perform equally well on desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.

Another consideration: Your web pages have to be served up faster than other competitive pages, or visitors will jump to other sites, which will impact your search rankings.

If you haven't undertaken a thorough SEO audit of your website, it's probably time for one. Google and other search engines are changing the rules all the time. An audit will help you understand how your site is performing in search against your competitors and reveal opportunities to improve it in today’s dog-eat-dog digital marketing world.

2. Marketing integration. Have you thought about how your website connects into your broader marketing and advertising initiatives? It's our experience that companies that don't do this miss out in a big way. Why? If a promise made in an online advertising campaign isn't paid off perfectly on your website, a visitor is more likely to bounce rather than buy. If a story introduced in a social post doesn't coherently continue on your website, it's unlikely that a prospect will move along the sales journey.

To ensure you're optimizing your marketing initiatives, you must develop user journeys for all of them. This will help you understand how they interconnect and how users are introduced to and interact with the content and experience on your website. It helps avoid disconnects and provides a solid foundation for metrics reporting that can help you identify issues in your marketing process.

User journeys can be challenging to develop, especially for complex financial and professionals services marketing and sales cycles. An experienced agency can help.

3. Brand messaging and images. Have you taken a fresh look at your brand to ensure it’s optimized for the digital age? Most companies have not. It's critical that firms have sound-bite messages that stand out on smartphones and in social media. Logos must be clear and effective on mini and maxi screens. Brand colors must translate electronically, on paper and signage. Imagery has to tell stories in a wide range of circumstances.

A comprehensive brand audit and recommendation — with a special focus on digital effectiveness — could be one of the best marketing investments your company can make. Tip: Make sure you work with an agency experienced in developing brands that meet the unique needs of financial and professional services companies. Those that don't aren't able to capture the essence of these complex firms.

4. Content and social media marketing. Your firm could have a fine-tuned website, but if it's a static one, it's failing you. If you're not publishing fresh, engaging content and driving social media traffic to it on a regular basis, you’re not staying top-of-mind with prospects and clients or registering on search engines.

The solution: Develop a comprehensive editorial calendar that plans-out what types of content you push-out systematically via social. Make sure you publish it and promote it regularly. A good benchmark is weekly, but some firms benefit from pushing out new content daily or more. A professional experienced in content and social media marketing can advise you on how to cost-effectively optimize your strategies.

5. Analytics. Today it's all about the numbers. If you're not measuring every aspect of your digital marketing campaigns, you're missing out on a major oportunity. The power of digital is that everything can be benchmarked against goals in real time and adjustments can be made on the fly. If you're not fine-tuning your firm's marketing campaigns daily, you should be.

An experienced agency can work with you to develop a customized digital algorithm and reporting against it that will ensure your campaigns are constantly evolving, improving and outperforming the competition. 

Learn about Carpenter Groups’s perspective on digital marketing and the related services we offer.