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We are now well into the time when a firm’s website is the single most cost effective marketing and client service tool available. For that reason, advisors and money managers are starting to take their sites more seriously than ever before. As the largest developer of custom money manager and advisor websites in the US, InvestCloud, through its Light[Port] design group has built and managed over 500 sites in the last decade. In the last couple of years we have observed a change in advisor attitudes that we think is significant.
Money managers and advisors are beginning to understand the significance of what we call “strategic” web design. It is a subject that has very important implications for web projects. Basic web design is essentially focused things like textual content, images, site layout and navigation, etc. Strategic web design by contrast is focused more on the broader utility of media use and portal connections. It is an approach that understands that dynamic content like blogging, video, and aggregated data-driven client reporting are the leverage points for a site’s success. It also appreciates that resourcing this higher level of utility must be a focused and reasonably funded effort.
Being strategic in this way is very important. Some of the most powerful things the web can do are only effective if they are well maintained. Take blogging as an example, an interesting well maintained blog is very valuable to directly attracting traffic to your site, and indirectly for raising rankings in search engines. A “strategic” approach to blogging is to think through the staging processes required to simplify a firm’s ability to extract interesting commentary from their principals and portfolio managers. Without solving this sourcing problem, adding a blog to the firms website would be a useless exercise.
Another way to apply this more strategic approach relates to developing and editing the core content for a firm’s site. A more strategic process could include interviewing, recording and transcribing, the thoughts and perspectives of the firm’s principals. Not only can this offer useful and more personal content for the site, it can also help to form consensus among the firm’s senior executives about the value of properly resourcing the website.
By using this approach you will be able to help move these principals and portfolio managers away from the old idea that the website is simply an online, clickable, brochure. You will help them to see the site as integral to their day-to-day business development efforts. It will help them take more seriously the fact that prospective clients will visit your site first, and many times more often than they will have a live engagement with one of the members of your firm.
In short, being strategic about your site means not only building an aesthetically engaging, well-designed site, but developing the buy-in inside your firm to insure that it is fully leveraged by all of your stakeholders.
Currently a principal with InvestCloud’s design group, Jonathan Bentley was formerly founder and CEO of Light[Port] prior to its acquisition by InvestCloud in early 2013. Bentley has nearly 35 years industry experience having been a successful broker and a fee-based advisor before founding Light[Port] in 1997. Over the last 15 years he has overseen the completion of over 1000 web projects including several hundred larger marketing and client reporting portals. For more information visit www.investcloud.com
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