With something as personal as finance, trust is required from the first moment an investor considers your services. Like a doctor or lawyer, an investor must feel you are knowledgeable and professional, yet approachable. If they’re going to be working with you for the long-term (and potentially through multiple generations) they have to like, trust and believe in you.

There are four traits clients value most in an adviser — integrity, competency, accessibility and amiability, according to Forbes. It’s important to immediately portray these qualities through your digital marketing to encourage prospects and referrals to contact and work with you. If you feel you aren’t generating enough online leads, you may be making one of these five mistakes.

Craig Faulkner, chief executive of FMG Suite, shares tips on winning clients’ trust.

Problem #1: Your Headshot is MIA
People are visual creatures, and it’s only natural that they want to know what someone looks like before contacting them. Articles with images get 94% more views, and 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact a business when an image shows up in local search results. In an age of online scams where 98% of people distrust the internet, photos are essential for helping you appear more legitimate — a real person as opposed to a mysterious online persona.

Solution: Feature your headshot on your website homepage, team page, or both. You should also include images of you, your team, or your office in your local business listings and social media profiles.

One of our clients, Preisz Financial, an independent wealth management firm in Portland, Oregon, establishes a personal and friendly feel by featuring team and office photos on their homepage and team page.

Problem #2: Your Website is Outdated
Multiple studies show there’s a high correlation between consumer trust and a business’s online presence. 70% of people would not do business with a company if their website has an outdated or unappealing design, and 80% of people judge the credibility of a company by its website design. Consumers immediately distrust an outdated website (or lack thereof) and assume the business is either unsuccessful or a scam.

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Adviser Share: Best Client Icebreakers
Planners share their best tips for kick-starting the conversation with prospective clients.

Solution: Update your website content and imagery on a regular basis. Ideally, you should be adding new content once a month. If you blog, do so regularly or, if you can’t, remove the date stamp. If you don’t have the time to keep your website fresh, consider subscribing to a platform that automatically adds content to your website.

Our client Deb Sims, an independent adviser in San Diego, California, keeps her website up-to-date and dynamic with blog posts, event listings, and a regularly updated content library. In her blog, you’ll see announcements about awards she’s received, timely financial information on the recent election, a financial IQ quiz, and more.

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“80% of people judge the credibility of a company by its website design.”

Problem #3: You Aren’t Easy to Find Online
Even for personal services like financial planning, investors still rely on the internet to form an opinion or decision. Since 97% of consumers go online to research services locally before making a purchasing decision, your online presence is just as important — if not more so — as your office’s physical location.

Having a website is a step in the right direction when it comes to SEO, but you need to be visible on other sites to appear on the first page of Google — especially since less than 10% of online users advance to the second page of a search.

Solution: The best way to increase your Google ranking and improve your searchability is to be present on other platforms. Create social media pages for you and your business, especially a LinkedIn profile and Facebook Business page. Guest blogging on other sites can also help drive more traffic to your website.

Kelly Welker, an independent adviser in San Antonio, Texas, and a client, is active on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Her LinkedIn presence is so dynamic that JP Morgan developed an infographic about her social media success.

Problem #4: Your Business Information is Inaccurate or Inconsistent
A lot of advisers don’t realize that their business may be listed in dozens of different directories and websites online. If you’re one of the 49% of small businesses that have never updated their listing online, your listings may feature inaccurate information, such as wrong phone numbers or addresses. Having wrong listings is no small mistake. Businesses lose $10.3 billion annually, and 73% of consumers lost trust in brands due to outdated online listings.

Solution: It’s nearly impossible to find every online directory and update and manage each one manually. Your best option is to use a business listings service that helps you automatically manage your business listings across dozens of sites. With your business listings accurate and complete with website links and images, your site will see an SEO boost and more people will find you online.

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"73% of consumers lost trust in brands due to outdated online listings."

Trudy Langston, an independent adviser and tax consultant in Milwaukie, Oregon, is not only active on social media but she also has defined business listings. Simply by launching a website and managing her Yelp page, she acquired 50 new tax clients within a few months.

Problem #5: You Don’t Provide Options
Your ultimate goal is to receive a phone call from a prospect who wants to work with you. But that is also a high-stakes move for a person to make. Someone may be interested in learning more about you and what you do, but if you only offer the option for a financial review, they won’t give you their information.

Solution: Your website should include low-stakes communication methods as an alternative to a first appointment. The most obvious solution is to have a newsletter sign-up. People are much more likely to give you their email address in exchange for financial information than provide you their phone number for a sales pitch. Once they’ve received a few of your newsletters, you can email them to see if they’d like to learn more about what you can offer them.

Our client, Jeremy Stanley, an independent adviser in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, allows website visitors to sign up for financial tips via email. He’s also published two books that he offers for free to his blog readers. These are two great ways to generate more leads.

Take Action
Taking the time to address these problems and create a more visible and engaging online presence will encourage more prospects to take the next step and reach out to you. Beyond these tips, push the envelope and continuously search for new opportunities to expand your marketing communications and online presence. Your book of business will thank you for it.

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