How an Effective Consultant Websites Turns Visitors into Clients
For most advisors and consultants, it’s rare to get a new client from their website. And if they do, it is likely because the person was already referred to them, and they simply checked out the website along the way. So because it’s rare to get a client from a website that must mean a website is pointless then… right? Websites are a tool and if you don’t use a tool correctly for a job then it won’t produce satisfactory results.
In today’s digital world, websites can be utilized to form a trusted connection with strangers and turn them into qualified leads which then makes it much easier to turn these leads into clients. In fact, the traditional techniques of turning a stranger into a client can and should be done online. In today’s world, the culture has adapted and people now interact and approach the online world in the same way they do the real world. Social media has fundamentally changed the way people view and interact with the online world. If your website is unprofessional and un-relatable people will relate this to you being unprofessional and un-relatable. People these days are much less likely to see the distinction between the method in which they interact with you (online, in person, etc) and instead judge any interaction with you as a personal touch point for which they then choose whether they should or should not pursue you based on that impression.
The sad reality is that most consultant websites simply are not designed in an effective manner to bring in new business, and are often missing key elements. In fact, the majority of websites are designed like a business card. 10 years ago this would have been just fine, but in today’s culture it would be like a client approaching you to get to know you and all you do is give them your card and tell them to call you at a more convenient time. People want to know you and they want to do so without the fear of being pushed or manipulated into something they are not comfortable with at that moment. This is why a website MUST be used to establish WHO YOU ARE and WHY THEY SHOULD TRUST YOU.
Fortunately, though, these are all problems that can be fixed with the right understanding about what a website could be. In today’s article, we look at some of the best consultant websites and how they’re designed to bring in clients.
How to Make a Good First Impression Online
According to the research on first impressions, most people will form an initial conclusion about the credibility of a website in 0.5 -1 second. After that intital first gut impression, it only takes another 2.6 seconds on average for a visitor’s eyes to focus on the visual elements of the website.
Given this dynamic, the reality is that the homepage of a website and its visual appeal is absolutely essential to attract and retain a visitor who might become a prospective client. For those websites that pass the initial visual test of trustworthiness, the next question is whether that good impression can be sustained by providing the necessary information the visitor is seeking out.
Here are four key things that people need to know and resonate with in order to turn a stranger into a qualified lead:
1) Who are you as a consultant?
Does the website highlight who you are, and why someone should trust you and want to work with you? Notably, because we are so visual, the first key for someone that is a financial consultant and wants to establish trust online is simply to have a good photo of themselves on the website!
The website Good Financial Cents is an excellent example of this principle. Immediately once the page loads you get a good feel for what this business is about. Combined with the photos and the design this website makes you want to explore more and you begin to feel trust right away.
If your advisory firm is you (i.e., a one-person firm), ideally your picture should be right there on the homepage for prospective clients to connect with. If the agency is broader, a section about “Our Team” should highlight all the people in the firm, including both bios that tell their story, and pictures to make a visual connection. Nothing captures attention like a good story.
Ideally, a section about the advisor will include not only pictures of the advisor, but a video where they talk a little about themselves, and why they do what they do. This provides an opportunity for the prospective client to not only see the advisor to form an impression, but to hear how the advisor talks and communicates, and ensure that the communication style is compatible.
2) What do you do as a consultant (beyond just “give advice”)?
If a prospective client is trying to decide whether to do business with you, the next question is understanding what you (or the firm) actually does to help its clients. What services are offered? Can they be explained in a way that makes them compelling?
Notably, most people who are evaluating your website are probably not evaluating just your website; they’re looking at others as well. So simply explaining that you offer financial planning and investment management services isn’t enough. That’s true of everyone. A good description of what you do should go deeper, in a way that describes the services you will provide upfront and over time, to help truly differentiate.
3) Who do you provide a service for?
Once a prospective client understands who you are and what you do, the next question is who you do it for. From the perspective of the visitor, the question is “does this person/firm have the expertise to help people like me?”
Take this website for instance:
Immediately Dana identifies what she does (i.e. helps creatives with the business aspects) and beyond this, she plants an idea in your mind that immediately captures your attention. The designer also did a great job at always giving the visitor a peek at something more so you are always scrolling through to glean all you can.
It is also essential to recognize that no advisor or firm can help “everyone”, and no consumer will trust a firm that claims it can work with anyone/everyone. Which means ultimately, a visitor to your website wants to know who you are best at working with, to determine whether they’re a match. Does your firm really articulate who your ideal client is and in a way that if a visitor is your ideal client they will say “wow, this advisor is perfect for someone like me!”
For example, Eric Roberge of Beyond Your Hammock specializes in entrepreneurial, upwardly mobile young professionals looking to make a career change, who will resonate with this message from his homepage:
Notably, it’s equally clear to convey on your website who your services are not for. So if there are certain types of clients you don’t work with, or minimums that you require, save everyone some time and be clear about them on your website up front!
4) What do your services cost?
In the internet age, transparency is essential, and there’s no more basic aspect of transparency than communicating the cost of a product or service (assuming you have set costs for different types of services). Providers that hide their costs are presumed to have something to hide, and no consumer wants to begin the process of engaging with a firm only to find out after the fact that it’s a service they can’t afford anyway.
This distinction is notable because, in practice, advisory or consultant firms are notoriously bad about disclosing their costs on their websites. Which means most firms are undermining the trust-building process with a potential client before ever having a chance to meet with the prospect in the first place! Now since I am a consultant myself I know how difficult this can be if your price is dependent on the scope of the project. One way to be transparent and to pre-qualify leads is to give the ballpark price range of the majority of your projects.
The bottom line: having the pricing or typical price for your services clearly stated on your website is essential for building trust in the digital age! It also saves your firm a lot of time because it prequalifies your leads. This can be a scary thing to practice because we all want the chance to show them how much value we can provide before you get to the price. However, this mindset assumes a person can only judge your worth and value in-person and it forgets we live and operate in a world where you are judged just as strongly from your presence online. If you cant convince them there then the leads you are getting are purely from very strong and trusted referrals and these people likely skipped the research phases and went right to you. You will get these people no matter what, but if you want to really grow your business you have to make sure you are properly engaging those that are not convinced enough to contact you directly. Everyone gets referrals if you do a great job, but what you want is to capture the people that have not been referred or those who have been referred, but they require more research and information to make a decision.
The reality is that it’s is crucial to invest in your firm’s virtual presence. In order to do this effectively, you must craft a process to engage potential prospects, provide value, and ultimately build trust just as you would in the physical world. A consultant never meets or starts a conversation without having a strategy and process in place so why do so many agencies and firms have no strategy or process in place for when people first “meet” them online?
So what do you think? How is your consultant website designed? Have you been getting prospects and clients through your website? If not, is that because digital marketing doesn’t work, or because your site lacks strategy and depth?
If you resonate with this article and are looking for someone to help you accomplish your goals through an intentional process that results in a strategically crafted web presence then gives us a call. If you just want a pretty website, check out wix or squarespace in order to save a lot of time and money.
At Take 5 Design we do things differently. We don’t build websites. We build solutions.