Navigation (21% weight)
Thus far we’ve focused on the advisor’s experience because that’s the scope of the J.D. Power survey. But when they land on your site, many advisors have an advantage that the average visitor may not—the advisor may be following a direct link provided by a member of your sales team. Pity the guest who lands on the home page and attempts to wing it.
A site’s navigation can be a long-running battle where digital marketers are outmatched when it comes to what others (executive management, investment management, product management, compliance, etc.) insist on. While we’ve thankfully moved away from a site’s architecture needing to reflect an org chart, it’s been replaced with opaque reasoning or business initiatives that the hapless visitor doesn’t have a chance at divining.
From time to time I’ve heard marketers brag about time spent on site. Extended time on a page is almost always a good sign, truly representing engagement. But time on a site? Not always and maybe even rarely.
Few land on a B2B site, let alone an asset manager site, to while away their day. They come to complete a task, and ideally the digital team prioritizes that task completion—or experience, if you will.
Another red flag that your visitors are floundering: watch the traffic to your Contact page. That’s how leads are collected, I get it, but if you’re seeing a lot of traffic to the Contact page and not so many leads, that’s a sign that people had nowhere else to turn. It might have represented a momentary cry for help that they thought better of—and chose to take off instead.
The best time to improve on navigation is during a redesign, informed by lots of data from your web analytics, including path exploration and (from Universal Analytics) navigation summary.
To tide you over until then, continue to work on the connections you’re making on your site. Could you be doing more internal linking? Can you add related content boxes? What can you learn from your on-site search results about what people are continually looking for?
Obsess over how your site is showing in Google and Bing and whether it’s as you intend for keywords and brand-related searches, too.
Firms offer many different types of products (mutual funds, ETFs, separately managed accounts, closed-end funds, UCITs) all with similar names. Here’s a common occurrence: advisors search using just the firm name and “emerging markets,” for example, and the first link they see and click on is for the wrong product or share class. If you see that happening in your analytics, there are ways to head it off. Pay attention and you can take steps to minimize frustration.
Research information and content (24% weight)
I would never agree with any suggestion that the industry’s top sites fail on content. The content that’s produced is of the highest quality.
But the focus of this factor was on researching product offerings and information, using value-add materials and accessing client-specific information and material. In an interview Martin told Ignites that advisors can grow frustrated if information like fund size or returns are difficult to find. That’s interesting. Most fund company sites follow the same model in presenting performance, most in the benchmarking set have made the transition from a tabbed approach to a long scrolling page where the returns are quite visible. I would think advisors know they could search for the word “assets” on the page and find them.
But nobody, including advisors, wants to work any harder than they have to—especially when we know that a voice query to AI could ultimately be quicker, if not (as of this writing and could change tomorrow) fully reliable.
If an advisor is looking at fund performance on your site, I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s Plan B on their part. They likely have a primary source where they can see performance across all investments so maybe this visit begins with the advisor already frustrated at not having found something easily using their usual resource. How could you turn that mood around by doing a better, faster job of serving up what they need? And, your site likely has more data about your products—show it off!
Final thought: The thinking about password-protected advisor sites has gone full cycle, with many firms concluding that they would prefer to keep all content on the public side of a log-in. I was in that camp for years but increasingly think advisor sites have lots of value, if you can commit to the work required. In this case, if only by creating a cocoon for them, an advisor site has the potential to improve the advisor experience. And there’s the bonus of providing additional data analytics insights for you.
Design/visual appeal (24% of the model)
Again, no survey data is going to make me rethink my appreciation for the design happening on the top sites. But, especially on the performance pages, I think we need to be careful of doing too much if it’s at the expense of the advisor getting what they need and on their way. To me, design shouldn’t be what you notice. If they have to look away until the motion calms down or if they need to bat away popups, I can understand advisors’ frustration.
Kudos (and thank you) to you for making it to the end of this post. It likely shows how committed you are to differentiating your firm with a superior website. If you’re with one of the firms included in the study, I assume that you’re convening a taskforce to systematically address all of the above. My further assumption is that you will succeed. For marketers at smaller firms, that just heightens the incentive for you to focus, as well—the J.D. Power work suggests that you are at less of a competitive disadvantage than you may think.
Websites are what we do at LG Digital. If you’re looking for help with yours, send us an email.