I’m from Atlanta but moved to Boston over 2 years ago.
(No, I’m still not used to the winters that seem to stretch out to take up 8 months out of the year — or a lot of other things about New England. I hate the Patriots and chants of “free Tom Brady” will forever haunt me in my sleep.)
While it was a big move, it was pretty easy thanks to the fact that I work virtually. I didn’t change much except my address. In fact, the biggest challenge has been with the bank I use for business.
There are no Wells Fargo bank branches in New England. Nada. Zip. Nothing. At first, this was no big deal. My business was smaller and I could deposit checks I received through the mobile app.
But as time passed, I started hitting the 30-day mobile deposit limit Wells Fargo imposed on account holders.
Still no big deal, I thought. I made a habit of bringing checks with me when I traveled out of state or went back to Atlanta and deposited them at random Wells Fargo ATMs around the country.
(I know, I know. Super efficient and safe system, right?)
Eventually, I asked a branch manager if they could just raise my mobile deposit limit. They told me they couldn’t do that in their location, and that I should try calling the main customer service number.
I did. I explained the whole situation and said I’d love to keep my account but I was literally unable to cash a growing pile of checks because of the mobile deposit limit and could they please raise that so I can put money in my account?
The answer was no. No one could (or would) raise the limit. Instead, they offered to send me a “bank by mail” kit so I could mail in my checks for deposit.
Even though that felt even more antiquated than hauling around checks with me in hopes of finding a Wells Fargo ATM in a random airport terminal, I requested the kit.
It’s already hugely inconvenient to try to bank with an institution that has no ATMs or branches in your entire geographical region. But it seems like Wells Fargo wants to get rid of me as a customer, judging by the bank-by-mail kit I received.
It included instructions on writing about a paragraph of additional information on each check, writing out a deposit slip for every check I had, sticking them in individual envelopes that I had to put stamps on myself.
It may seem really silly to get so furious that you walk into a rival bank the same day to open a new business checking account just because, otherwise, I’d have to spend some time writing out deposit slips and paying for my own stamps.
But that’s the moral of this story — and what you should consider when it comes to your own funnels, systems, and processes for potential (and existing clients).
You’re Not Getting Clients If You Make Them Jump Through Hoops First
It’s just not going to happen. If you make people jump through hoops to get through your marketing funnel or customer journey, they’ll back right out and go somewhere else.
And that means you’re not getting clients.
Let’s start by understanding the basics of a fundamental marketing funnel:
- Top of Funnel: This is where people become aware. They learn about you or what you do, and the solution you provide. In the awareness stage of the funnel, you need to capture attention. Pull in visitors and make them aware of a problem or pain point. Once you earn someone’s attention, you can engage with them.
- Middle of Funnel, Part I: When someone engages with you, they’re slowly moving to the middle of the funnel. Engaging might mean leaving a comment on your site, following you on social, or sharing your content. They’re now aware of their problem and can consider solutions that will solve that or otherwise alleviate a pain point. Your content can educate them as they evaluate options — and start to persuade them that your solution is the best choice for them.
- Middle of Funnel, Part II: They can move deeper into this middle section of the funnel by signing up for a free offer of some sort (like downloading your lead magnet), which provides you access to their email address. At this point, you can nurture this new lead by slowly building a deeper relationship over time and through a more connected medium (i.e., direct to their inbox).
- Bottom of Funnel: This is where you can convert someone from a lead to a prospect, or a prospect to a client. You’ll want to absolutely convince them to make the leap and become a client. Up until this point, you give and give and give — and now, it’s time to make an ask (like asking someone to schedule a time to chat with you to for a prospect meeting).
If it’s difficult to move through this process, most people won’t spend the time or effort to figure it out on their own and fight their way to your doorstep. It’s not because prospects are lazy or stupid — it’s because there are so many options they need to sort through, and consumers are efficient.
They’re going to flow through the funnel that allows them to flow with ease.
I hope all of this sounds obvious. But it may not be as I’ve seen multiple firms make a number of simple but detrimental mistakes that prevent them from bringing in prospects and getting clients.
Here are a few things to consider or watch out for when putting together marketing campaigns and mapping out customer journeys to ensure you’re not making it hard for someone to become a client.
Be Clear About Who You Are and What You Do
I’ve seen more than one financial advisor’s website where their name did not appear once on the entire site. This makes it hard for potential clients to understand who you are — or if there’s someone there on the other end of the screen.
Make it obvious who you are and what you do. That means, in some form or fashion and at some point on your website, communicating:
- Your name
- What makes you qualified
- Some of your background or experience
- Who you work with
- What you do or what services you provide (bonus points if you work in why you focus on these areas)
There are countless different ways you can do this — and you can do it in a subtle way. In fact, your About page probably shouldn’t read like a resume. But it does need to convey the information above in a way that’s clear (even if you’re being clever).
Make It Simple for People to Find You Online
Want to know one of my biggest pet peeves? It’s when I go to a firm’s website, and I don’t know how to find them anywhere else online. There are no links directing me to social media accounts and no obvious place to send an email.
The opposite happens, too, and this might be even worse — it’s so annoying to stumble upon a super-interesting social media account, but have no link back to a main website or blog to learn more information.
When you set up your website, make sure to include links to any social media accounts where you also want to connect with people. You should have a clear opt-in for an email list, too, if you want to communicate with people that way.
Put these links and forms in obvious places where they’re easy to find. Some suggestions:
- In site headers and/or footers
- On the contact page
- In a sidebar
And fill out your social media profiles! Include a URL back to your main website (or a well-crafted landing page).
Make Your Contact Information Obvious
Not only do you need to make it easy to find you, you need to make it easy to contact you too. I believe every site needs a link that says “Contact” in the main navigation menu that leads visitors to, you guessed it, a Contact page.
I like providing my email on my site alongside a contact form. People can choose what they want to use.
But note this does increase the amount of spam emails you’ll likely get in your inbox, thanks to bots that troll the web and scrape email addresses formatted for easy sending.
I always point to Eric Roberge of Beyond Your Hammock and Sophia Bera of Gen Y Planning for examples of great and accessible contact pages. The page itself is easy to find and the information is clearly spelled out for visitors.
Give Them Enough Information to Evaluate Your Offer
People go through a decision-making process before they make purchases or commit to engagements. We gather information and seek to answer questions before ultimately choosing what to buy or who to work with.
But visitors to your site, leads, and prospects can’t do that if you’re not clear and straightforward. Saying you “do financial planning for individuals and families” is about as ambiguous as it gets.
Instead, try including (or avoiding) the following in your website copy:
- Talk about the outcome of working with you. What do people receive as a result of hiring you? This could be something tangible, like a better investment portfolio that cuts costs and therefore lets clients keep more of their hard-earned money. Or it could be intangible, like
- Describe your financial planning process. What does “financial planning” even mean, anyway? What does it entail? What does it look like from month to month or year to year? Answer these questions somewhere on your site so prospects can understand what working with you actually means.
- Don’t use jargon. Avoid industry lingo and professional jargon when you can. If you feel it’s important to explain what a phrase or term means (like defining “fiduciary” and why it’s important, for example), that’s a great blog post topic — but not necessarily appropriate for half of your homepage.
- Be specific. Vaguely saying you create financial plans for people doesn’t really communicate much. Explain what you do — specifically! — and who you do it for.
If you don’t provide all this information in a clear, easy-to-understand way, visitors will bounce and seek out solutions that are simpler to read and digest.
Humans don’t like uncertainty or ambiguity. Remember that it’s always better to be clear rather than clever if you’re unsure which way to go.
Don’t Forget About Mobile!
Holy smokes do people love to have their smartphones in front of their faces at all times. It drives me nuts, but I know it’s a fact — which is why my website is optimized for mobile.
Check out what your site looks like when you view it on your phone. Does it load quickly and is it easy to navigate through? Are links easy to click on? Is your text sized appropriately? How about other elements of the site?
If not, I recommend hiring a professional to help you with your website. Visitors will try to use their smartphones to check out your site, and if it’s difficult to view on mobile they’ll likely keep moving.
Get your site custom-built on a platform like WordPress, and go with a pro who understands the importance of building something responsive.
(If you need a recommendation, Zach Swinehart does great work — and he did this website. Reach out and let him know I sent you!)
How to Catch Other Snags or Holes in Your Funnel That Make It Hard for Your Prospects
These are just a few things to consider in terms of how a visitor may flow through your marketing funnel and convert into a lead and then a prospect, and then again into a client.
There are countless places where someone could hit a snag that causes them to head elsewhere or spots in the funnel where people are slipping out instead of moving through.
To find those, map out a few potential customer journeys. In other words, consider a few scenarios in which a visitor may come to your site and interact with the content.
- Someone sees a connection on Twitter retweet one of your posts.
- They click on the link and land on your most recent blog post.
- They read the content and it really resonates with them!
Now what? Is it easy for them to…
- Read more?
- Contact you?
- Learn more about you?
- Stay in touch?
You can walk through a few of these scenarios to find weak spots and holes, where you may lose engaged visitors and miss out on getting clients.
Finally, consider having someone “test” your website as a whole for usability. Have someone who, ideally, resembles your ideal client, sit down and pull up your website. Ask them to interact with the site as they normally would — but you’ll want to watch what they do or don’t do (or click), and ask them to “think out loud” while they navigate the site.
This will clue you in to things that don’t make sense, don’t work, or cause confusion for a consumer. You can then make updates and improvements based on feedback from this test.
Keep Clients Coming In: Eliminate Difficulty
The bottom line is that you want to make it easy for people you want to work with to get what they need from you. The more obstacles you place in their path or the more hoops you make them jump through, the less likely they’ll continue on to the next stage in your funnel.
Look for friction in the online experience you offer — and then work to eliminate it.