Creating and maintaining your financial advising firm’s website can be daunting. Between selecting the images, choosing tool integrations, writing the content (and the list goes on and on), we understand the difficulty of developing a strong company site. That’s why we’re here to help. We’ve built hundreds of sites over the years and while working with clients, we’ve noticed several common mistakes that people make when building their own websites. So, our team has developed this list to aid in your website creating efforts. Here they are - 13 of the most common website mistakes for financial advisors:

1. Use Other People's Content

Purchasing ongoing articles or other content to keep your website fresh may sound like a good idea, but it doesn’t help reinforce your message. Other people’s content typically doesn’t speak to your specific audience. By writing your own blog posts, articles, and insights, your potential clients will get to learn about you. You’ll also reap the benefit of improving your SEO, as you will naturally write about topics that are of interest to your target audience. (For more from Twenty Over Ten, see: 3 Key Steps to Craft the Perfect Online Presence.)

2. No Real Or Clear Point of Differentiation

Our team has seen countless advisor homepages that look exactly like this. They say the EXACT same thing - no real message, no value-add, and nothing unique at all about what you as an advisor will do for your clients.

When someone visits your site it has to immediately resonate with them. It needs a clearly articulated difference that sounds better and more relevant to your ideal visitor. If they aren’t intrigued, they’ll leave your site fast. This is the greatest foe of getting quality referrals too - it doesn’t just push away potential prospects, it underwhelms client and centers of influence (COIs) who you need to refer to grow and sustain your practice.

3. Calculators

Unless you have a very specific financial calculator for a very specific audience and reason, calculators are completely useless. Website manufacturers used to sell these as “cool” add-ons. Advisors typically bought in, but they’ve added no value. Shouldn’t you be their financial calculator? Get rid of them. Really, no one uses them. If you don’t believe me, check your Google Analytics.

4. Drop-Down Menus

You are not Crate & Barrel (see below) or Target, who need to convey all of their various product choices online because consumers are making their purchase decisions right then and there. Rather, you and your service are the product. Therefore, your entire website should be about conveying your story, your philosophy, and your value, as clearly as possible. Keep it short and simple.

Most people don’t want to feel like they have to read a book to understand who you are, why you are different and what that means to them. Less is almost always more when it comes to website copy. Say something compelling and then stop talking. (For more from Twenty Over Ten, see: The Top 7 Website Mistakes Financial Advisors Make.)

5. Use Other People's Videos

Going back to point number one - using content provided to you by others can have its place. For instance, you might send a video to a new client to explain how you use (and how they can use) a tool like eMoney in their financial planning journey. However, that eMoney video is not going to sell your services for you. The most effective videos will consist of YOU talking to your site visitors.

6. Keep Great Ideas on Inside Pages

You should put your best and most compelling ideas on your home page. Longer home pages are effective because a visitor gets a good summary or snapshot of whether you’re worth investing the next 5-15 minutes of their time. If you hide your ideas, you may not gain their interest. Readers shouldn't have to click through three or four pages to figure out what specific niche you serve. This should be on your homepage.

7. Explain That You Do Many Services But Not One Core

It’s good to let visitors know how deep your expertise is, but doing so at the expense of a core offering or focus is not good marketing. The best businesses find a simple way to promote their best features and services. Focus on that ONE core area and the rest will fall in place. Claim a focus, then build value and confidence in that.

8. Cliche Stock Photos

Have you seen the same man on several websites before? We’ve seen some of the same models in the same stock photos on so many advisor’s websites that we have a running joke in our office: those guys must be the world’s best-kept secret billionaires to need so many different financial advisors. But in all seriousness, try and find some interesting or different photos. You can be original and still use stock photos.

A much preferred photo option is a backdrop photo. A backdrop photo is one that focuses on an object with a blurred out background or a simple texture/horizon and doesn’t grab the visitors specific attention yet. The image should paint a nice atmosphere for your brand style.

9. Have More Than Five Main Pages

Most advisory firm’s websites have an average visit duration of just over one minute. Keep it simple and easy to navigate. Large navigation menus take away white space, aren’t mobile friendly, and scare away website visitors. There’s no reason you need to tell your message with more pages than this. (For more from Twenty Over Ten, see: How to Write a Strong Bio for Your Website.)

Try this formula for your website navigation - answer these questions and you’re site is complete:

  • What We Do (what’s your core expertise and what are the benefits?)
  • How We Help (your approach or process - a diagram works well here)
  • Who We Help (a simple description of who you help most and why)
  • Why We Do It (your passion and purpose count)

10. Use Small Fonts No One Can Read

Small fonts on a website make your eyes work hard. Again, you have a very limited amount of time to get your point across to site visitors. Don’t make them work hard at all. People will abandon a website very quickly if they are frustrated by any part of it, including difficulty reading or seeing the writing.

11. Not Mobile Friendly

Our internal research shows that for most advisors, about 30-50% of all their website traffic comes from mobile and this stat increases month over month. This is no longer an option, your website MUST be mobile-friendly. In fact, if it’s not, Google will penalize you in the search engine rankings. Many website providers get this, but it’s always a good idea to test your site on multiple devices. Google even has a tool to help you determine if a web page is mobile-friendly - just enter the page URL and run the test.

12. Too Few Or Too Many Colors

Again, don’t make it difficult for people to decipher your message. You've probably experienced how distracting it can be when a website has too much going on. Once you’ve created your brand, you should stick with the color scheme developed by your branding expert or logo designer. A website palette should consist of three primary colors and one or two background colors

13. No Social Integration

Make it as easy as possible for site visitors to check out your social media pages. After all, we inherently understand that social media is where brands and companies are more “relaxed,” so we can get an even better feel for who they really are and what they stand for. Even further, make it as easy as possible for readers to share your blog posts with direct “share” buttons.

We love this site example that was actually a co-creation of Tactibrand and Twenty Over Ten - the “stay in touch with me section” was perfectly executed. (For more from Twenty Over Ten, see: Choosing the Best Platform for Your Advisor Website.)


This article originally appeared on Twenty Over Ten.

Want to learn how to invest?

Get a free 10 week email series that will teach you how to start investing.

Delivered twice a week, straight to your inbox.