Ask yourself: When was the last time your company updated its website?

If you haven’t done so in the last twelve to eighteen months, it could have a negative impact on your firm’s bottom line now and in the future.

The Digital Opportunity

According to Accenture’s 2017 Financial Providers: Transformation Models for the Evolving Consumer study, consumers of financial products and services are more willing than ever to trade personal information if they know they’ll get a more customized online experience in return — or if doing so makes it easier to conduct business. This is true for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) prospects and clients.

If you’re not taking full advantage of the emerging consumer willingness to share information about themselves, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to generate leads, close sales and deepen client relationships on your website. 

Specifically, Accenture’s study reports:

  • Most people are willing to conduct financial business online, even if it requires giving up personal information.
    • 78 percent for investment advisors
    • 74 percent for insurance companies
    • 71 percent for banks
  • Consumers are open to trading personal information with financial firms if they receive customized benefits, information or recommendations in return.
    • 67 percent for investment advisors and insurance companies
    • 57 percent for banks

Couple this with data indicating up to 80 percent of B2B and B2C consumers conduct online research about the companies they’re thinking about doing business with, and you can see why it’s smart to invest in a modern, responsive website.

Did you know: According to The Future of the Financial Services Industry: Customer is Priority study released by CMO online, financial services companies are MORE likely to rank data-driven digital marketing as a top-three priority than companies in other industries (including retail)? The same study reveals that marketers at these firms are focusing on and investing in targeting, personalization and customer journey management. 

If your firm isn’t keeping up with this trend, it could be left in the dust.

What makes a website “modern”?

Most experts agree that a modern website optimized to generate leads and close business should include the following:

  • Mobile first: Today’s financial consumers (both B2B and B2C) are more likely to research and interact with financial firms online using a smartphone than any type of other device. They expect — and demand — an easy-to-navigate and read small screen experience.
  • SEO friendly: If you want your firm to be found online, the content on your site and its organizational structure should be optimized based on the latest search trends and standards. This includes being able to respond to verbal queries, which are becoming more common as people turn to Siri, Alexa and other virtual helpers for information.
  • Branded for digital: People have short online attention spans. If your site’s branded design or messaging doesn’t engage them in seconds, they’ll move on and check out your competitors.
  • Artificial intelligence: This concept means different things in different organizations. However, you’re losing ground to competitors if you don’t take steps now to gather data and information about your website visitors and leverage it to deliver personalized experiences.
  • Easy to connect: If a prospect or client visits your site, make it simple for them to contact a representative by phone, chat, in-person or however they prefer. A difficult-to-locate contact button — or forcing visitors to fill out a form — simply won’t cut it.
  • The right platform: Develop a site using technology that allows for enhanced personalization, customized experiences, change and growth over time.

Did you know: According to the 2017 Demand Generation Benchmarks Report commissioned by Hearsay Systems, the average financial services cost-per-lead of $272 is among the highest of any industry? The top factor contributing to this high cost are websites that don’t deliver an optimal consumer experience or encourage visitors to become leads. An investment in a modern website pays for itself by lowering the expense of converting prospects into clients.

Getting started on a new website

The first step in developing a new website is deciding on the scope of the project. Ideally, you should consider a complete rebuild. Old platforms weren’t developed to support artificial intelligence or generate personalized content and experiences. Evolutions in these areas will happen at a faster pace in the years to come. Building a solid foundation to support them NOW is critical for future success.

If your firm doesn’t have the budget or resources to take on a complete website overhaul, don’t give up. Many companies find success developing microsites optimized to deliver personalized experiences to pay off individual marketing initiatives. They make it easy for prospects to connect with a firm when responding to specific digital advertising, content marketing or social media campaigns.

One added benefit of this approach: It provides a cost-effective, real-world forum to learn which messages and experiences appeal to your prospect and client base, drive leads and close sales. These learnings can be applied to a more comprehensive web project in the future.

Developing a new website, whether a complete overhaul or a microsite, can seem daunting. It involves delivering an ideal mobile experience, optimizing for search, developing an effective digital brand, implementing artificial intelligence, finding ways to make it easy to connect with your firm and selecting a platform. This takes broad knowledge and experience, something most firms don’t have in-house.

That’s why you should connect with an expert in developing smart, responsive and results-oriented websites for financial firms. Contact Ruthanne Dreisbach at Carpenter Group to start the conversation. She’ll take time to understand your needs and pull together the right resources to have an informed discussion about how to cost-effectively move your firm’s website into the modern age.

What are you waiting for? Isn’t it time to update your firm’s website so it’s ready for tomorrow and beyond?