Investors are increasingly looking to educate themselves online. While they look to their advisor for expert guidance, they are turning to the Internet more than ever. 82% of individuals 61 years of age and older are spending time on the Internet and 50% of affluent investors age 50 and younger are doing more online financially (source: Spectrum Group 2008). Maybe its because they are considering moving their assets to another firm, maybe its due to the explosion of new financial products or maybe its just due their need to educate themselves to trust or validate what they are hearing. Either way, investors need a customized, full-service approach with tools that can assist them in evaluating their investment options on an ongoing basis. Investment firms must be ready for this change and realize that their online capabilities now are as critical as their team of advisors. This requires more than just a site with information on your firm’s capabilities and basic information. It means having a host of online tools and content that speaks to exactly what they are trying to research and also interacting with them where they are whether that is your site or other online financial communities and publications.
1) Know Your Customers
You can’t create something for your customers if you don’t know what they want. This means researching what information your customers are looking for, how they want to view that information online and where else they go to evaluate options. Understand the differences in your customers’ needs and where they are in their self-education. Are they simply wanting to get their feet wet or are they pretty well versed in an area, but are looking for a bit more detail?
2) Create dynamic advice enablers
Create tools that educate in a way that is interactive. Reading a white paper is still valuable, but then providing them a tool that allows them to compare options or to simulate a possible investment provides them more than simply words. Finally, these tools must to be consumable on tablet computers and smart phones.
3) Especially in financials, writing is tricky
Still, writing for the web means short, direct sound bites. Consider how news stories are written for a site – attention grabbing headlines that lead to an article. And, then that article has related articles or tools. Writing should also be in plain English, not financial jargon. And the more numbers, names and action verbs you can use, the better.
4) Create Unique URLs
Don’t just use your home page web address for everything. Use unique URLs that get your customer to the page or part of the site that they are looking for. A home page is just a front door and users get bored quickly. Unique URLs allow you to point them in the exact direction and also allow you an opportunity to track your success.
5) Be Where They Are
In order to truly get the most of out of your tools and content, share it. Get involved in social media that makes sense based upon the research, post content and links to your tools on sites and publications that your customers use. Educating the masses in places where your customers are can only work to your advantage.