Your boutique asset management and mutual fund website should be the locus of all your sales and marketing efforts. It’s the place where clients and prospects go for information about your firm, strategy and timely perspectives on the investment markets.
But if your website is burdened by outdated design, stale content, or a user-unfriendly experience, it will discourage engagement and create a bad impression of your firm.
How can you tell whether your website is helping or hindering your efforts? A good way to start is to evaluate its effectiveness by candidly answering 12 key diagnostic questions.
1. Is your website part of your overall sales and marketing strategy?
Many asset managers and mutual fund companies build their websites to check off a box. They find a template, add their logo and colors, cut and paste basic information from other places and just update it with the quarterly commentaries and data. It’s a brochure on the internet for all to see. Today’s asset management and mutual fund websites are built with client engagement in mind and are well integrated with your overall sales and marketing strategy. What types of information do your clients and prospects want? How can these audiences better communicate with you? How can your sales and marketing teams use the engagement analytics to stimulate demand? These are the questions to consider when thinking about your existing website and how else it can help you grow your business.
2. Does your website make a compelling first impression?
The impression you make within the first few seconds of meeting someone will determine what they think of you regardless of what happens afterward. The same thing applies to your website. If your home page layout and navigation aren’t clean, intuitive, and modern-looking, most visitors will quickly leave and never return.
In year’s past, you could hire an intern, a relative, a family friend, programmer, or art school graduate to design your website. Today’s websites need to be professionally designed and developed, offer navigation that’s simple and intuitive, and fully integrate timely content and design elements to create a compelling user experience.
Simply speaking, you want to look the part of a serious asset manager that can compete with other boutiques and larger players.
3. Does your content pass the “So what” test?
Whether it’s on your home page or your featured commentaries, all website content needs to convey a core story of who you are, what makes your firm different, what kinds of investment expertise you bring to the table, and, most of all, why investors, advisors or consultants should take you seriously.
You can tell whether your content is doing its job by putting it to the “So what?” test. Ask someone you trust with good marketing instincts to candidly record their “reaction” to the content on your website. Anything that elicits a “So what?” should be tagged for revision.
Developing new messaging content should not be done in a vacuum. Your CEO, CIO, portfolio managers, analysts, sales managers, and other key stakeholders should collaborate with the content development team to get the raw material needed to tell your story effectively.
4. Are you giving users reasons to come back?
Most investors will only read your website’s “sales” content once, if at all. If you want them to return, you need to constantly provide new thought leadership ideas, whether it’s written investment commentaries, whitepapers, blog posts, videos, webinars and podcasts.
No matter what kind of content you create, and your content strategy, it should convey original and relevant thinking from your firm’s key investment thought leaders. And don’t call this essential website section a blog. Blogs cheapen your expertise. Instead, use Insights, Perspectives or a branded name to get the attention your content deserves.
5. Are you leveraging the credibility of news coverage?
If you earn news coverage, be sure to build an In the News section on your website. This page will archive your television appearances, speaking opportunities, print news coverage and press releases. To enhance your credibility, add the logos of each news publication for each post.
For the Insights and In the News pages, be sure to build those pages in a blog format instead of standard pages. A blog allows you to organize your timely content chronologically, nicely formatted and using tags or categories, and it eliminates the need to keep finding space for your old content.
6. Is your website “mobile friendly?”
Today, 30% or more of visitors to your website are using smartphones or tablets. Are you offering an optimal mobile user experience? Find out by viewing your website on your own mobile phone. Do you need to zoom in or out to read text? Do you need to scroll horizontally or vertically to view a whole page or access navigation? If you do, think about how frustrating this must be for clients and potential clients.
Responsive design elements must be programmed into your website that automatically adjust its appearance for optimal viewing and functionality for the device that’s accessing it.
7. Can investors easily find your website using Google search?
You also want investors, advisors and consultants to find your website on their own, preferably at the top of the first page of Google search results. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) strategies can help.
SEO keywords or phrases you believe people will use to find your website should be liberally incorporated in page titles, content, and under the hood in metatags designed for connecting with the search engines. Use the keyword you believe investors are using. Then double check with software such as Semrush.
But you want to make sure that these words and phrases are unique. For example, using “large cap” as an SEO phrase won’t do much for you. Why? Thousands of other firms offer these products and are unlikely to be dislodged from the top to make room for you. But more specialized, less-common phrases specific to you, like “boutique large cap growth fund manager” might be more effective in moving your asset manager closer to the top of searches using that phrase.
8. Do you make it easy for investors to contact you?
A “Contact us” page that can be accessed by a link in your website’s navigation is a must. The page should include a form that allows a prospect to let your sales team know they would like to schedule a meeting. Remember to integrate the form with your CRM or at least an email notification so the lead doesn’t fall through the cracks. Even better, your website should use a scheduling tool such as Calendly that allows the prospect to schedule a meeting when your salesperson has availability in just a few clicks. Splurge for the paid version so it hides the tool’s branding.
9. Are you using digital strategies to attract new leads and promote engagement?
It’s important to avoid an “if we build our site, prospects will come” mentality. If you want people to come back, you need to share your content via email marketing and social media strategies to let people know there’s new timely content available. Add links so investors can easily subscribe and connect to your digital communications channels. Sharing content through email, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube can keep your website – and your brand – in front of clients and prospects. Don’t link to the platforms if you aren’t committed to sharing content there, however. Subscribers will be disappointed.
10. Are website analytics delivering the information you need?
Free analytical tools like Google Analytics can tell you how many people visit your website and which pages they visit most. Marketing automation, a souped-up email marketing platform, tracks all client and prospect interactions with your website, email campaigns and social media posts. This will help you understand who is engaging the most and what they’re consuming. You can then share this information with your sales and marketing teams so they can focus on the warmest relationships.
11. Is your website fast, safe and backed up?
Does your website take more than a few seconds for pages to load? If so, you may be losing visitors. And Google may penalize you so your website won’t be found during searches. Look into what’s slowing it down. You may work with a slow host, have added bulky, non-compressed images, or have dozens of other technological obstacles. Connect your website with Google Console or Semrush to help identify and correct these issues. Or try our free website review tool. Just enter your website address and you will learn how your website rates, what’s slowing it down, and how to fix it. Also, try it with your top competitor and see how your website compares.
Trust is important in the financial industry. Ensure your website has an SSL certificate so Google and investors have confidence it’s trusted and secure. Also, back it up at least daily so you don’t suddenly realize your website disappeared.
12. Are you updating your website with performance data, automatically?
If not, consider adding the set it and forget it strategy. Adding performance, top holdings, risk metrics and distributions can be risky. It’s too easy to post typos or have delays. Instead, work with your programmer to build a nice looking and engaging investment strategy or fund profile, pull the data from your back-office provider and, poof, it ends up where you want it for your investors to see.
Congratulations to you if you answered most of the questions with “yes.” If not, then it may be time to consider strengthening your website as part of your overall sales and marketing strategy, so you can attract and engage more investors, advisors and consultants. Depending on the state of your existing asset management or mutual fund website, you may be able to simply make some upgrades or develop a new website. Either way, your website enhancements will show your clients and prospects that you are committed to engaging with them.
What other questions should asset managers be asking themselves? Let us know.
Dan Sondhelm is CEO of Sondhelm Partners, a firm that helps asset managers, mutual funds, ETFs, wealth managers and fintech companies grow through marketing, public relations and sales programs. To schedule a call with Dan Sondhelm or read his latest Insight articles, visit www.sondhelmpartners.com.