Ideas for content and features to engage your audiences and support SEO.
Hibre Teklemariam is Vice President and Partner with SunStar Strategic. Since 2007, she's been working with financial services clients and helps them grow by effectively communicating key messages to clients and prospects in the news media. Today she's going to focus on the critical role that your website plays and share some actionable ideas for you to consider.
Let me begin by telling you a little bit about SunStar Strategic. SunStar provides strategic public relations and marketing communications programs to help you build, grow and maintain your business and your client base. We work primarily in the financial industry.
Why are we talking about creating content and rich websites? Isn't it obvious? The short answer is no it is not. You would be surprised how many asset managers and fund firms do not utilize their websites. It is one of the most unused, unutilized sales tools that firms have, and it is one of the most effective sales and marketing tools that you can use, and it is something that you can control.
Your website makes the first impression on you, and the analogy I like to use is, think of an interview. If someone comes in to interview with you and they walk into your office, you're going to look at how they are dressed, what they are seeing, what their attitude is, what their philosophy is, what their thinking is. Is this someone that you want to work with? Is this someone that you want to join your organization? That first impression that that person makes with you, that is what you will be left with. It is very difficult to change that impression. Your website plays the same role as when someone comes to visit and doesn't have the information needed or that is timely, then you can lose potential clients. Research shows that when people want to find out about you the first place they go to is your website.
This is where you can communicate who you are, how you are different from the competition, how you differentiate yourself, what is your philosophy, what you are about, what is your personality, what is your performance, what is your history. This is where everybody comes to learn about you. This is one of the most important tools that you can use to turn a cold investor to a warm investor. Everything you do drives people to your website. It is the foundation.
Let's talk about what drives people to your website -- content, rich content. It could be email marketing, it could be something your posting to your social media network, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. You should incorporate emails, social media, podcasts, videos, ads and everything that you have that is accessible to you to try to promote timely content and insights from you key personnel. As you do this, your search engine optimization goes up. When that happens, your web visits increases because you have driven potential investors to your website. This is where you can turn cold leads into qualified leads into high quality leads.
Let's talk about the news media for a minute in terms of content. You may be working with a PR firm or maybe you have someone internally that can help you get interviews, or sometimes you get called upon because you are super insightful, ultimately you get quoted in the news media. When you are quoted you are automatically searchable so your SEO improves. This is something also that you should post to your website in your news section. Commentaries are also a different way for you to be accessible to potential investors. You should always have quarterly commentaries and timely information on your website that's always posted and also pushed out through email marketing. You should constantly be updating commentaries, manager Q&A's, videos, podcasts, and more.
You should incorporate all of these things in everything that you do, and you post on your website or that you push out via email or you put on your social media platform, everything leads back to your website. Everything leads back to your website -- your website is very important and also you can use it to turn cold leads into warm leads.
I want to talk about inbound marketing. This is a trend in the industry and some of you may have heard about. As opposed to outbound marketing where you may post an ad and that ad goes out to masses of people, and you hope that somebody who's looking for something like what you're offering, sees that ad and maybe comes to your website, right? So it's a high volume activity with maybe low turnout. Inbound marketing does the opposite. It is lower volume, and it pulls people to your website. You're alluring and attracting potential investors to your website. And the way you're doing that is, is by posting rich content – whether that's insights from your managers or your CIO's, podcasts, videos, quarterly commentary, manager Q&A's, all of those things that you provide to potential investors are considered very rich and useful, and this attracts investors to your website. So you're pulling investors to your website as opposed to just putting something out there and hoping that somebody comes to you.
When you do inbound marketing, these are people who are coming to your website. They're downloading information where you're able to capture that information, and I'll talk a little bit about that later on. And then you can nurture these relationships and then eventually convert these potential investors into long-term investors. This is also where advisors prefer to communicate with you and also high net worth and potential investors. They prefer to communicate via content on your website. They want to get information. So if you provide them value, if you provide them education, if you provide them ways to make their lives easier, whether it's an advisor looking for information that they can share with their clients or high net-worth individual who's concerned about investing and wants to know your latest thinking about the market.
This allows you to track the visitor's behavior. Because when they visit your website, when they come to you, you can ask them to download information, download content and when they do that you can capture information. If your content is rich enough and ads value they will absolutely download it and they will give you their information. And the information you're capturing can be first name, last name, asset size, the firm's name, how many employees, and more.
That allows you to nurture that relationship, continually sending them valuable content similar to what they downloaded. Once you've attracted and you've captured the data and by what they're downloading you can figure out why are they on your website, what are they looking for, why are they looking for that, that's what you are able to find out through inbound marketing. And once you do that, over time you can continually send them valuable, rich content similar to the types of things that they're asking for, which allows you then to follow through and follow up. And so when you're contacting these people, they are no longer a cold call. They are now warm leads for you. And because you have provided them with rich content, when they may get your call they may actually welcome a conversation with you. It won't be like a cold call. It's easier to convert that type of potential investor into a long-term client.
Now, how do we capture the information? I like to call this the Decision Tree, and some of you know about this where you're going to put in a lot of brainwork behind the Decision Tree. And the Decision Tree looks something like this. So SunStar Strategic, for example, is a public relations firm. Let's say someone comes to our website and they want information on website development. Well, we start sending them information about website development – whether that's updating their messages, having key messages on their website, making it timely, how do you update your brochures, having most recent market commentary on your website, posting timely media mentions on your website and so on and so forth. Over time we can drip on these potential clients and give them the type of information that they ask for in the beginning.
In your Decision Tree you can say if XYZ person clicks on quarterly commentary, then maybe a week later we'll send them more commentary and maybe a week after that we'll send them a manager Q&A, and maybe especially now maybe we will send them something having to do with elections and how should they be thinking about investing as the elections are coming up depending on who wins the office – the presidency. And so you're going to put in a lot of the brainwork behind that. But once you put that in and the forms are created, then as people come in, it can be automated so that it just does it automatically for you. And so then, once it becomes automated, as you update your website with timely content, whether that's videos, podcasts, emails, etcetera, then that gets pushed out to the people that are interested in that type of content.
And then turning that into when you contact these people ultimately they've been receiving this rich content from you, and so they almost look forward to hearing from you. They want to talk with you because you've provided them with information that they can use.
Another thing your firm can do is automate performance data that comes from your administrator. If you automate this, then it becomes a no-touch system. Your administrator can update your performance data automatically as it happens and you don't have to worry about it, you don't have to think about it, it is automatic. So that's another nice thing about using this type of system.
Pardot or HubSpot and some of these companies like that have these types of systems make life easier. So the less touch, the better. And similarly again, as I talked about updating your videos, commentaries, Q&As, etcetera, this can get pushed out automatically to the folks looking for a particular type of content, so you don't have to think about it and it's done automatically.
That brings me to a website I want to share with you as an example. Mairs & Power was honored as having one of the best mutual fund websites in the industry by Web Marketing Association, and I'm happy to say that SunStar Strategic designed their website. We were very excited that they won this award and I will share with you why it won. So you'll see, Mairs & Power is very, very transparent. Automatically you know who's running the show over there. You have a video by the senior folks at Mairs & Power that you can click and you can watch the video about who they are, what they do, how they invest, etcetera, etcetera. These are custom photos of the folks themselves and so it shows you right away this is the company that you're dealing with. And as you can see, it's very easy to navigate.
And then they have their key messages right there for you to see. So right away, like I talked about initially, this is the first impression that they make as investors go to their website. You automatically see a video from key personnel and then you see how they invest – you see their key messages. They talk about being long-term investors with a regional focus and so on and so forth. Here you'll see they have featured content. Easy to find and easy to download. They have a whitepaper on the right - "Why we invest first in Minnesota." So you can download the whitepaper or you can watch the presentation. So they give you an option of what you can do.
They also have recorded updates, commentaries, fund fact sheets, economic charts right there for you to click on, and you can find out all about what they're doing. Easy to stay in touch – this is what I was talking about. This is a form, for example, that you can fill out and it says, "Stay connected." It says, "We will send you periodic emails with our latest thinking on investing in the markets." It asks for some basic information for you to type in and then they'll contact you and send you that information.
They're really, really good about posting videos. And so it's a video where you can watch – it's about their investment process. So very transparent. You can see right away what they're doing, what they're about and then they talk about being long-term, regional emphasis and they invest in companies of all sizes. So right away, they have their key messages right out front for you to see. There's no guessing, you don't have to dig for it, it's right there in front of you. You can look at it in text or you can actually watch the video as well. So they give you an option of how you want to receive that information.
Here are the data feeds I talked about. These are done automatically. Again there are three different funds – the growth fund, balanced fund and the small cap funds, and the data is fed automatically and it's again, no touch, easy, it's right there. These are charts that they created to support their main messages – their key messages. They are very, very good at creating charts to support their messages. And this is just something that they like to do because they feel like they can show you their key messages, they can show you their investment process and you can also read about their investment process. So they like to show it to you in two ways. So very transparent, very clear what's going on here, and you'll see this is partly why it won the award. So they're very good about explaining who they are and what they do.
Here's something unique that they did, which I thought was – well, we helped them do it but that I thought was super creative is not only are they posting content that they're creating themselves, but they found this special report in The Economist about the Midwest and investing in the Midwest. So they got permission from The Economist and posted this on their website. It gives the potential investor an idea of how they're thinking, what they're thinking about and what they like to read.
Their timeline is a look at the firm's story timeline, this is really cool. As you take your mouse and you hover it over the different faces, they have their historic timeline from the beginning to present day. And as you hover your mouse over the different individuals and different time periods it pops open some information about that person or that time period. So it's really nice. Very interactive. It kind of moves and it's really cool. And if you go to the website you can see how it works. But they have the whole history here from start till present time, which I thought was a really, really nice touch.
And here they have quick links to their fund information. You have performance, fact sheets, commentaries all available right there. And then more importantly they have the call to action on the right-hand side, where it says why don't you join us. Sign up and you'll be invited to quarterly calls on our strategies and market insights. So it's a call to action saying hey, give us your information and we are happy to share with you our calls and you can join us and you can listen to our thinking and our insights and how we're investing for our clients.
Here's shareholder account access. It says, "My Fund Account." You can just click on it and get information quickly. And then at the bottom right you'll see here they have a live chat available. We also have that on our website because we find it very handy for people to just let's say they just want something quickly from you. They can just click on it and have a live chat from somebody, so that's just something added that they do for their clients and for potential investors.
Another company that I would like to highlight is Villere & Company. When you go to their website, the first thing you see is here are the founders. This is information about the key personnel at Villere. It's right there for you to see and you don't have to dig around to figure out who they are, what they look like. Their bios are there, kind of nice intro to the website when you go there. And then you'll see they have just quick facts about their mutual funds, fact sheets, commentaries, they have overviews. So easy to navigate, easy to find, they have a really nice website.
Here they include their deep connection to nonprofit organizations. And so they want the potential investors and prospects to know their personality, that in addition to investing for you they have a deep commitment to nonprofit organizations and they want you to know that about themselves. So they have that there on their website. And you'll see this is one of their key personnel and one of the nonprofit organizations that he works with.
AThey will post timely information. Their website's constantly evolving, just like Mairs & Power, always updating, Q&A's, commentaries whether it's quarterly, etcetera. And you'll see the most recent one is September 30, 2020. The one before that was a Q&A on August 5 and then before that on May 7 a Q&A, so it's right there for you to download. So it's really important that you have timely information. One of the worst things is when you go to a website, and believe it or not there are fund firms that have commentaries from years and years ago, and it's not recent and it's not updated and it sort of makes it feel like no one's working there. You don't want that to have happen, so always update your website with the various ways to communicate with your potential investors. It's really important to keep it timely and fresh.
Here they're highlighting featured news. On the left you have as recent as September 30 and they have more recent ones as well, but it just hasn't been posted yet because it has to go through compliance. But they have Bloomberg Business Week on the left and then in the middle is Yahoo! Finance and on the right is TD Ameritrade. This is their various spokespeople on these various highly influential financial networks.
They have their client login here. Easy to find client portal, right there for you. You can just click on it and get in and access what you need to access. So very, very nicely done.
Q&A (Marilyn Dale)
Are there any guidelines that we have of what Hibre's been discussing available that you can use as a basic guide for content, website, social media, etc.?
We do have quite a bit on our website. If you take a look at SunStar Strategic, there is a section that we call the Education Section, and right below that we have actually four blogs that you can peruse, you can sign up for and we have exactly what you're asking for, what these ideas might be.
If you were going to prioritize the kinds of content that Hibre's been talking about, what do you think might be the top two or three?
Message is absolutely the most important thing you can have on your website. It is so important to have a consistent concept of who you are, what you stand for, how you do the investment process and what your philosophy is so that people can truly understand what it is you have to offer to them. That message is something that can be developed over time. Chances are that you've got a good grasp on what it ought to be, but at the same time, a number of the folks in your organization might be giving different messages. They might be spinning it in slightly different ways. Taking the time to sit down with that group – whether you do it on your own – that's the charm.
Whether you do it on your own or you have an opportunity to meet with a group like SunStar or another marketing or PR firm, somebody who can consult with you and lead you through a process of truly articulating what makes you different, why should somebody come to you instead of the guy down the street? Getting that message into the website is the most important thing that you can do. We also believe that you should add any news coverage that you get. You want to draw people into your site. That is of prime importance to draw people there -- if you're showing up on CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, etc., there is a natural tendency to want to learn more and they'll click over to your site. Your name is out there, that's adding credibility to who you are. And again, if something can click to your site, that's the biggest advantage you can have.
Take a look at whether you are inviting people to do more once they're in your site. Are they engaging with you? It's referred to as the CTA, a call to action. That call to action can be for additional materials, it can be to set an appointment, it can be to watch a video, to check on another page. But give them something to engage with.