Digital solutions and services are now a must have, so is an online presence. Your website is a place where you can showcase your business. It is your digital business card and more, because it has detailed information about you, such as your experience and qualifications, as well as the services you offer clients.
Before you begin
Have a clear idea of your target market and services you offer as these will influence your website content (the copy, design and imagery). Get as much detail as possible on your target market and know what unique services you offer this market.
Website must haves
Maggie Macfarlane, owner of digital marketing agency Moo Digital, says there are a few basics your website must have.
An appropriate domain name
You can use your name, but Macfarlane says a service-type word in your domain will help people find you. For example, if your domain is thandisizwe.co.za, people will find you when they do a google search on your name. However, thandisizweinsurancebrokers.co.za will help people find you when they search for insurance brokers, as well as name search.
This tells visitors who you and your team are and what you offer, and why you are unique. It is a place to advertise your experience and qualifications. This is the “human face” of your site, a place to talk about your passion for the profession and the benefits of professional financial advice.
These are the solutions you offer and partners you work with. “Be sure to include your area of expertise and if applicable geographical areas you operate in,” says Macfarlane. “Bring in your USPs (what makes you unique), so clients know what sets you apart from your competitors!”
“These are really important,” says Macfarlane. They are stamps of approval from existing clients and show new clients you deliver and add value. Ask your clients for a few lines of copy on how you added value to them and their families to include on your site, as well as permission to use their name with the testimonial.
This can be in the form of email addresses and contact numbers, or a contact form. Macfarlane prefers the details on the site as many clients become frustrated when they cannot find a number or email address. Contact forms can also open a site to spam if they don’t have a captcha or have not been developed correctly.
Regulatory and legal requirements
This will include your FSP number as well as a basic disclaimer removing your liability for any errors in your web content. You may also need to include a copyright disclaimer, cookies policy and if appropriate, conflict of interest policy and B-BBEEE accreditation.
You can add more to your website, such as blogs, newsletters and links to social media. But: “These must be updated regularly,” says Macfarlane. “If you blog a few times a year your website will start to look outdated and visitors will wonder if you are still in business.”
Setting up and maintaining your site
For appropriate financial advice you should use a professional financial adviser, for a quality website you should use a professional digital marketer or agency.
“Your website will have flaws when it is not in an expert’s hands,” says Macfarlane.
While it is “easy” to set up a site using tools such as Wordpress, websites are technical beasts and there is a lot that can go wrong. Macfarlane says even something as simple as placing images in a particular place or changing font can go wrong, resulting in a website that looks unprofessional.
“Experts can help you with everything from logos, domain names and hosting services to design, content and wordsmithing.”
Be willing to spend some money and view it as an investment in your business. Costs will include an agency fee, which you can negotiate, domain name fees (annual) and hosting fees (monthly).
Choosing a digital marketing agency
“Ask colleagues and your networks for any recommendations. Make sure the agency is experienced in websites and has worked with small businesses,” says Macfarlane.
She says you should treat your agency as an extension of your business. “The more they know and the more involved they are, the better service they can deliver.”
“And, look beyond price for an agency you are comfortable with.” Even if it is a small contract, set up SLAs so you know who should deliver what, when and what the costs are.
Maintain your site
“Your site is an asset, treat it like an asset and maintain it with regular updates.” Macfarlane says you should revisit your website at least once a quarter.
Marketing your website
Include your site address on business cards and email signatures, and use any blogs, newsletters and social media posts to mention and drive traffic to your site.
You can also drive traffic to your website by having an SEO strategy, which your agency can help you with (this will make you appear in searches more frequently). Macfarlane says you should also consider joining community groups, such as those on Facebook, where you can offer your services and give your website and contact details when others are looking for financial advice or have personal finance related questions.
Get serious about digital
Your website is an important aspect of your business in a digital world. With time and the right partner, it is an asset to your business.