How Financial Firms Can Create a Customer-First Website Experience

Anyone who has spent time conversing with strangers at a party or networking event knows that it’s necessary to carefully play social volleyball in the asking and answering of questions.

Ask too many questions and you come off as prying. Ask too few and you’re perceived as disinterested or unapproachable. Talk about yourself too much and your likely to be tuned out. It’s a delicate dance.

While many people love to talk about themselves, it is the ability to know when to stop talking about yourself and start asking questions of others that is a valuable skill to master.

What’s even more important is to know the right questions to ask and then genuinely listen to the answers.

For financial firms, while there’s a time and place for leading with legacy, showcasing years in the business, boasting about share prices, or the amount of assets under management, your website must be structured to engage and speak to customers and prospects in a proverbial conversation that focuses on their needs.

Ditch the Self-Centered Approach

It’s your website…but be mindful that it’s not all about you. When it comes to building a user-friendly customer-first experience designed to retain customers and attract leads, we recommend that you…

A financial firm with a marketing strategy focused primarily on lead-generation must treat their website less like a monument pointing inward at their own importance — and more like an open door of service and value that exists to welcome, listen, solve challenges, and (bottom line) improve the lives of customers.

If you present your website in a genuine customer-centric approach, every component of your website must support that mission, whether it’s described in actual content or displayed through functional actions.

Small Details = Big Impact

Every touch point of your website impacts a user’s experience and ultimate decision to buy into your financial service offering — from navigation and graphics, to the amount of content and tone of language, to the extras that help differentiate your offering and tip the scales of a user’s decision in your firm’s favor (e.g. 24-hour trade support, low account minimums, etc.)

Key aspects of a website that support a customer-centric approach include:

  • Device responsiveness Can your customer access information and their account on a smartphone or tablet?
  • Security and compliance Is your website secure with SSL and in GDPR compliance to protect customers’ personal data?
  • Intuitive navigation Can your customer find key information in as few clicks as possible or are there “rabbit holes”?
  • Clear information chronology Does the order of informational rows and layout of content have a clear narrative order?
  • Supporting graphics Does your website showcase an intelligent use of graphics to emphasize and support key messages?
  • Amount of content Does your website overwhelm customers with lots of texts or large blocks of information?
  • Type of language Is the type and tone of language in your website crafted to speak to your targets or buyer personas?
  • Clear calls to action (CTAs) Does your website have strategically placed calls to action for optimal lead generation?
  • Acknowledge and engage Is each CTA accompanied by a confirmation page that defines what happens next, sets expectations, and provides further opportunity for deeper engagement? How about the personalized automatic follow-up email?
  • Highlight additional value Does your website call out the added “extras” that customers enjoy which differentiate your financial services from competitors?

Every detail and placement can affect the outcome of the visitor’s experience: from the obvious page layout, to the strategic use of fonts, to micro-interactions on page, or even the psychological nuance of color use.

When planning a new website or auditing an existing website for improvements, these are the details a marketing team must consider when shaping an optimal user experience.

Shift Your Navigational Mindset

Navigational structure affects traffic, conversions, and (of course) how website visitors interact on your website. Studies indicate that attention and retention are highest for a user when viewing items that appear at the beginning and at the end of a navigation menu. In psychology, this is called the Serial Position Effect.

As part of a customer-centric approach, the trend we see and use in many of our website design projects for financial firms is placing the “About Us” link near the end of the menu, not as the first item in the menu, which is a legacy practice in website design.

Here is an example:

While this may go against an expected chronology, by leading with your key services in a navigation menu, the placement itself is subtext that not only underscores that a customer’s needs are priority – but that works with the psychology of attention.

Use Self-Identifying Language

The type and tone of language in your website must be crafted to speak to your target audience or buyer personas. This is key advice for the financial services and trading industry as the ability to communicate simply about complex financial services in a compliant fashion is a special art in and of itself.

For example, a brokerage firm may internally refer to a non-institutional customer who trades their personal account as a “retail trader”. As this is an industry term, our years or financial industry experience have indicated that this type of trader would never actually refer to themselves as a retail trader, but rather they would describe themselves as an individual trader.

Therefore, it’s important for financial services firms to use the terms that customers can instantly recognize and self-identify with — as opposed to esoteric internal jargon.

For a financial firm’s marketing team to better craft and hone language for a website, we recommend first defining key buyer personas. Knowing the specifics of a target audience will help determine the specific language to use.

Personalize the Experience

The customer-first approach must shine through in all touch points, including the messaging that prospects and customers receive after they complete an action such as a form fill to request a consultation or download a piece of research.

After a form is submitted, it’s essential to provide a confirmation page that sets expectations or allows for the piece of content to be downloaded. However, the experience should not end there. The customer-first experience must continue even after the user leaves your website.

Automate a personalized follow-up email to thank the user by name and offer additional actions designed to pull their interest deeper into your sales flywheel. Through automation, genuine sales nurturing takes place with minimal effort. (There are several marketing tools that enable automated emails to trigger based on a user’s action – our favorite is HubSpot.)

Taking the personalized experience off the website and into the inbox can help keep your financial firm at top of mind and get the user closer to the point of decision in opening an account or buying an additional service.

Additionally, this personalized follow-up (while automated) will cognitively reinforce your firm’s incredible attention to customer service through their website-to-inbox experience – a MUST for any financial firm seeking to gain a marketing edge.

Any financial firm with a marketing strategy focused on lead generation must adopt a holistic customer-first approach that is supported through all aspects of a website, including functionality, navigation, content, language, and personalization.

If you’d like to discuss how to improve your customer-first marketing or website approach, contact us.

 

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