Getting the message right: A review of the Astute Investing website
An awesome website is about more than looking good. It has to speak to the people you're trying to reach and, in some way, move them.
Last week Simon from Astute Investing asked me to review his website. He's allowed me to share the results here so we can all learn a few tips and traps.
Astute Investing are an independent (in the true sense of the word) financial planning practice in Adelaide that work on a purely fee for service basis.
Simon told me their ideal client is a business owner, retiree or professional with either a complex situation or a significant investment portfolio.
Their four core service areas are:
self managed super fund (SMSF) advice and administration
personal risk insurance advice
The assumed goal of the website is to help attract new clients and keep existing clients engaged.
After spending some time reviewing the site, there were 3 key things that kept surfacing in a few different ways.
1. Be crystal clear about your message
The name of the business, "Astute Investing", means that people may have a preconceived idea that Astute are purely investment advisers. This makes it even more important to be crystal clear about the message they communicate.
Simplify to a single core message on the home page
The home page contains a number of messages via the main image and slider:
advice is independent and personalised
the first meeting is free
advice can be provided in the financial planning, legal and tax areas
there are no hidden fees or commissions
ASX securities are a specialty
there are no commissions on life insurance (so lower premiums)
That's a lot of things for someone to take in and the result is that nothing really "sticks".
And to Joe Public, those messages probably seem pretty similar to most other advisers out there, even if the reality is they may be a bit different.
Remember, the general public doesn't necessarily understand the intricacies of the industry like you do, so unless, for example, the independent or no commissions message is spelled out very clearly, many may miss the benefits.
Think about who you are talking to and what they want and need to know and understand.
What problem are you solving?
What outcome are you helping achieve?
Pick one thing and use it as your headline.
And make it loud and proud.
Know your ideal client
Deeper in the site, there's mention that Astute serve medical professionals, financial professionals, mining services professionals, small business owners, and family businesses.
That's quite a mix!
However there seems to be a lot of testimonials from medical professionals, which stand out because of the "Dr" in front of the client names.
The mix of specialties might appear a bit confusing to people who are unsure if Astute is right for them.
It may be worth considering whether narrowing the definition of who the ideal Astute client is, may actually better serve them.
Also, being able to speak directly to the specific needs of a group in a particular profession or with similar goals or belief sets, can really help communicate a clear message.
2. Inject your personality
The site feels professional — both the visual design and the written content — albeit a couple of years old.
However professional doesn't mean you can't inject a bit of personality.
There are a few things that could help add a bit more human-ness to the site:
Write more conversationally
The copy on the site looks like it has been optimised for SEO, and it's getting good results on Google. However the side effect is that it reads a little less human compared with how an adviser would naturally speak.
If new clients aren't coming from Google (e.g. searching for "independent financial planner Adelaide" or "investment adviser Adelaide"), there may be a case for sacrificing the Google monster for better messaging and engagement.
Add some real photos
The only real photos are on the Our Team page. Adding some photos of the Astute office, the local area, the offices of clients and the clients themselves, rather than using the slightly melancholy blue-toned stock photos, could really make a visual impact to the site, and make it more personable.
There's an opportunity to engage website visitors with stories of what Astute has helped clients achieve.
Communicating the benefits of being an "independent" adviser through story, rather than factual, legislation-based copy, could be another way of doing this.
Tell your story
The Astute team are more than their qualifications and specialties. Don't forget the old, "people do business with people they know, like and trust". Think, "what else can be shared to help people get to know us a little better before they even pick up the phone?"
3. Refine the call to action
Thumbs up to Astute for including a call to action at the bottom of most of their pages. This is great for people that are ready to make personal contact.
I'd be inclined to give a little more information about the first appointment to help ease any fears people may have. Think about the questions and concerns prospective clients have in their minds, and answer them.
How long is it going to take?
Are they going to try to sell me something?
What happens in the appointment?
So perhaps it becomes something like this...
Of course, the message has to fit what actually happens in the first appointment, and needs to be written with the ideal client in mind.
Create a small first step
Some people may not be quite ready to book an appointment but still want to know a bit more.
One way of encouraging a small step (or small 'yes'), is to provide those interested with one of the Astute eBooks, in return for them providing their email address.
This is often referred to as a "lead magnet", but that's a pretty ugly spammy-sounding term.
It's about providing something of value when the prospective client raises their hand to say "I want to know more".
It doesn't mean you leap on the phone and immediately try to get them in for an appointment. Just let the relationship build naturally over time as you send them more information they’ll find useful, invite them to events, or ask them if they have any questions.
Just continue to deliver value, and help them get to know more about your what, why, how and who.
Some other ideas
Beyond the 3 main areas for improvement, there were a few other elements that are worth a mention.
Social media profiles and sharing
Astute have social media icons all over their site. There are social profile links in the header, and sharing icons on most pages.
However it looks like Astute don't post to social very often, so I'd be inclined to delete the icons so they don't become a distraction.
It's also pretty unlikely anyone will share a page on a website unless you are uber popular, so having sharing icons is unnecessary. It's probably better to just use them on blog posts, which are more likely to be shared.
Desktop, mobile and tablet use
The site is not "responsive", which means the layout doesn't adjust and optimise for usability on smaller devices. This makes the site a bit unfriendly to use on a smart phone.
Whether this is an issue or not will depend on what the statistics say.
If there are very few mobile visitors, then maybe it doesn't matter. However if the analytics are showing a lesser time on site or a higher bounce rate (viewing just a single page and then leaving) on mobile devices, then there may be a problem.
Tip: Ask your website developer to install Google Analytics (it's free) on your site to better understand how your site is being used.
Astute have done a great job of incorporating testimonials throughout their site, specifically in the sidebar on most pages. This is an effective way of including social proof, which helps people conclude, "hey they have helped X person, who seems a lot like me...they can probably help me too".
The testimonials could be even more effective if they specifically related to the content on the page. For example, on the SMSF page, they could include a client story about how using an SMSF helped them achieve their goals.
Another idea is to find the common themes in the testimonials, and use that to help craft a message. "Personalised" and "independent" comes up a few times, so that is something that may be useful to include in the core message (using those exact words). Speak your clients' language.
Appeal to the scanners
The site is fairly text heavy, so many people will scan rather than read word for word. Help them by breaking up the text into shorter paragraphs, and using lists and diagrams.
Also be careful of how the headings (which scanners are drawn too) can impact the message. Again, the key is to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal client.
How are they quickly going to interpret "we don't sell life insurance". Are they going to think, "oh, these guys are commission free", or are they going to think, "oh, these guys can't help me"?
This review was performed without the volume of information I normally collect before building a new website so there were definitely some assumptions made and things to trial and test. But hopefully it provides some feedback to help get Astute Investing looking at their website through their clients' eyes.