Tips about using the Internet and social media — especially LinkedIn

Financial Advisors: How are you using Skype in your business?

skypeThe platform is there for you to use in your business. Its technology that works well 95% of the time.

The technology platform is there for you to use in your business. Its works well 95% of the time.

You can use it from the comfort of your home or office. It’s a great platform that allows you to connect with clients more often when they are not local to you. Many business owners use Skype with clients who are local because it gives your clients the option of sitting in their backyard (or not sitting in traffic) while working with you.

Skype gives financial advisors the opportunity to meet with clients more often or for short amounts of time because no one is driving anywhere. Skype has phone and visual features that help you work smarter on the road. I use Skype as my backup business phone system (for less than $50 a year!) Skype is especially important if you have a virtual office — as it helps you serve clients without spending the funds for a co-working situation.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN ABOUT SKYPE IN A VIDEO PRESENTATION OR AS A HOW TO ARTICLE?

Help me plan my next how to article or video presentation (Depending on the participation, I may do both).

1) If you’re using Skype now, in what instances (business or personal) are you using it?
2) If you’re not using it, what’s stopping you from using it?
3) What questions do you have about using it or setting it up?

 

Comment Here or There

Please comment here, if you prefer to email me your questions privately or if you want to be the first to learn about the video and article contact me directly here: http://www.elevatingyourbusiness.com/contactmariamarsala

* The Skype name, associated trade marks and logos and the “S” logo are trade marks of Skype or related entities. By Microsoft

8 Website Mistakes Make That Turn Away Serious Prospects

A prospect visits your financial advisory website after a friend gave them a referral to you.  They like what they see and would like to take the next step — to speak with you.  They never contact you.

Instead they leave your website annoyed (actually pissed off that they just wasted their time on your site).

Why?

You’ve probably made one (or more) of the 8 website mistakes listed below that annoy prospects and make them leave a website (even when they are looking to hire someone):

Have you given your website visitors all the ways they can contact you?
Have you given your website visitors all the ways they can contact you?

 

1) You’ve Made It a Hassle to Contact You #1

There is no “contact us”, “let’s talk”, or “schedule a call” link clearly positioned in the navigation bar. Or it’s there, but it’s hidden or so small that they can’t find it.  As a financial professional, you must reflect accessibility!

 

COACHING CALL-TO-ACTION (CTA)

Place a link to your contact information at the end of your navigation bar, where most people will look for it.  Make sure it’s on your primary bar, not hidden on the “About Us” page.  In fact, look at your site to see if it would be appropriate to place the call-to-action in 3 places:  the top right corner of your website, the bottom of your website, and the navigation bar.  Give people choices and they are more apt to contact your financial services firm.

 

2) You’ve Made It a Hassle to Contact You #2

I get it.  I’ve been on the Internet since 1994, so I understand spam.  But this is your business site.  There are clever ways to “hide” your email address from “spam-bots” but this also hides it from your prospects.  Putting a simple “Contact Us” form on your site is practical and curtails the amount of spam you’ll receive; however, many visitors don’t like completing forms.

Your web designer could also have embedded your email as part of a graphic that shows your email address, but is not traceable by “spam-bots”.  In this scenario, someone who wants to contact you must write down your email address and then type it into an email (most will not do this of course).  Another clever “fix” is making your email address look clickable, but including spaces (or using “at” to spell out the @ symbol) that need to be removed before it will work as an email address.  That’s too many steps for most people and they will abandon ship.

 

COACHING CTA

Your Contact Us page should include all the ways people can connect with you, like your physical address, Skype address, and social networking sites.  Hosting companies make it easy and cheap to create as many email addresses as you like without paying humongous fees.  To combat spam, create an email address especially for your website use.  Then, create a folder and rule in your email program so that any email to this new address automatically lands in the new folder.  WHEN you notice you’re getting too much spam from your website’s email address, switch to a different email address.  (I keep the old email account open for a year, and check it online weekly, but I stop it from coming into my Outlook folders.)  Lastly, always use clickable email addresses on your website for your visitors’ convenience.

 

3)  You Made Your Business Look Shady

Let’s say someone finds your Contact Us page, but you don’t list an address, or have a PO Box instead.  Not having an address listed on your site or having a PO Box doesn’t build trust — not something you want to be lacking as a financial advisor.  Visitors will often leave to find a website that does contain someone’s full contact information.

 

COACHING CTA

Use your address on your website.  You’re in business and I’m not sure why you’re hiding.  Are you hiding because you’re a home or virtual business?  While I can’t guarantee the same for you, only one prospect has ever rung my doorbell.  I stepped outside to speak with him and made an appointment for a future date.

 

4)  You’ve Neglected to Tell Them About You (And Your Team)

People are most likely to visit your About Us page when they like what they see on your home page.  In 2008, I sent a message to my newsletter readers and group participants on LinkedIn, asking what they wanted to see on the About Us page that I was updating.  Boy, did I get suggestions!

They wanted to know more information than I’d ever read on someone’s website.  They wanted lots of business information, but also personal information that allowed them to get to know me better.  They wanted to know what made me an expert, why I went into the business I did, and what I did before that, too.  They wanted to “see” everyone they might work with at my firm.  In other words, they wanted enough information to connect with me, to be confident that I was knowledgeable and could help them, and to understand that I was passionate about helping them.

 

COACHING CTA

On your About Us page, give your prospects more than you’d provide in a regular biography.  If you have hired any consultants or employees that will speak to them, let them know a bit about those people, too.  If your website creates a connection with your visitors, you’ll be transformed from a stranger to a financial advisor they want to contact.  Not sure what to put in your bio?  Start here at the Boring Bio website.

 

5) Your Home Page –  It’s All About You

Oh my word.  I visit your website, and it’s all about you, you, you, and your services/products.  Prospects will run for the hills!  They want your website to be singing the tune of their favorite station, “WII-FM” (what’s in it for me).

 

COACHING CTA

When someone visits your home page, you have 3-7 seconds to assure them they’ve come to the right place — in photos and words.  Tell them who you work with, what problems you help them with, and what results they might expect from working with you.

As business owners, it’s very easy for us to talk about ourselves and what we do.  However, when prospects read your web pages, they want to see themselves and the results they can expect described on those pages.  I recommend using business writers for marketing materials, including websites.  They can also update your materials, too.  If it’s not easy for you to write from your client’s perspective,  contact Chris Mifsud at Mosaic Marketing to help you.

 

6) You’ve Hit Them with Your Marketing Message Right Away

People never mind it when you ask them to join your newsletter in a passive way or AFTER they learn that you can help them with the problem(s) they are experiencing.  In fact, when they like what they see, they’ll look around for a way to get to know you in a passive way (your newsletter, your blog, or a download you offer).

 

COACHING CTA

Take the 30,000-foot view.  Look at your home page from the perspective of a stranger visiting for the first time.  If the main message within the first 6-8 inches of your home page is “join my newsletter” or “call for a free consultation”, change your page.  See CTA #5.

 

7) Your Website is Difficult to Read on a Mobile Device 

Responsive websites (websites that are easy for people to read on any digital device) are here to stay.  If your site is NOT responsive (as many of mine are not) 2015 is the time to update your site.  Plus it’s possible* that your site will be “demoted” by Google if it’s not responsive by April 18, 2015.

*News came out this year that Google was going to do this.  However, there are some glitches with their current measurement system.  Nonetheless, responsive sites are “in” and all our websites should be easily read by mobile devices. (Mine will be that way soon!)

 

COACHING CTA

a) See if your site is responsive.  To do this, open your website in your favorite browser.  Then use the maximize-downsize box on the top right corner on your PC (or grab and drag the bottom right corner on a Mac) to make your website appear smaller (narrower or shorter).  Notice if the site adjusts to the smaller screen size in a way that still somewhat looks like your site OR if parts of the page have become unreadable or are cut off.  If the latter, your site is NOT responsive.  OR here’s a responsiveness tool to test your website.

b) Put funds aside to update your site this year.  You can have your site moved to a WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla platform.  You can update the theme you’re using with the service you’ve been using.  You can do it in steps.  For example:

— Free: If you’re using WordPress on your website and used a free theme as the basis for the site, search the themes section for a responsive free theme to upload to your site.  You’ll find many options.  NOTE:  You may need to hire a website or graphic designer to fix the header or footer on the new theme, if you or your team members don’t know how.  I recently updated the theme at my blog, Marketing With Integrity with a responsive theme.

— Low-priced:  Use a service that will take your current site and turn it into a responsive site within minutes, for a monthly fee.  Sharon Pivirotto,  Author of the 401k Best Practice Blog recommends http://www.DudaMobile.com/mobile-website/features

— Mid-priced: Take what’s currently on your site and have it moved to a responsive website platform with no changes to the wording or photos, etc.  I recommend: www.GoMosaic.com and http://www.TactiBrand.com/

— Max-priced:  Fix everything now.  Have a professional create a new and improved responsive website and start your site from scratch.  I recommend: www.GoMosaic.com and http://www.TactiBrand.com/

 

8) You Have Broken Links On Your Site

It’s easy for this to happen when you link to sites that are not yours.  But broken links can also happen when you link to pages within your own site, too.  The worst culprits for broken links are blogs — mine included — because the posts (articles, tips) on them may go back many years.

 

COACHING CTA

Have your web designer create a list of broken or redirected URLs and put time aside to update the links or remove the posts or pages from your site that you no longer need that also contain broken links.

I started using a link checker program in 1998 called Xenu Lin Sleuth, which checks a page or an entire site for broken links and links that are currently being redirected to other pages.

You can also check a page at the World Wide Web Consortium’s free system http://validator.w3.org/

If you’ve created your own website by hand coding it, I’ve used the HTML Kit or CSE HTML Validator both of which not only check pages for broken links, but also look for coding errors and spelling mistakes.

 

WHAT ANNOYS YOU ABOUT WEBSITES?

Ya, there are other things that annoy people and I’d love to know what annoys you about websites!  Tell me now.  Let’s make the Web a more trustable place to do business.

If you want to annoy prospects or clients, do this with your email!

Have you ever sent an email to someone and instead of getting a response, you learn that the email you’ve contacted doesn’t accept messages?

It’s called a “no reply” email and in my opinion, it should be banned!

 

You might get one when you join someone’s email list or receive  a link to a free report.

You might get it when you pay for a service and they send you a welcome note.

 

Hint to companies who use them… they are annoying!  Let alone that, consider what message you’re sending to prospects or your clients.  “I want your business but I really don’t want to hear from you”.  ERRRR

 

ACTION

1) Go into your ezine (online newsletter) account or autoresponder and send yourself a test.  Make sure that you receive an email what you can actually reply to or respond to should you have a question.  If not, go into your control panel or dashboard where you can add your email account.

2) Do the same with your shopping cart.  In this case buy some thing free and see what happens. If you don’t have something free, create something for this test.  (Your newsletter or free downloads are in your shopping cart right?)

 

 

 

 

 

Google+ (Plus) Changes: Good or Bad?

As you may have heard, Google+ will be torn apart.
Find Us on GooglePlus

There are two sides to the “coin” of course. Will it make Google+ better or worse for the business and executive communities?

Technology firm new stands out as it does because these firms often takes risks and try out new things.  Google and Microsoft often do this when they put programs in BETA.

As humans and professionals — either business owners or careers minded individuals — we are in charge of our own destiny.  We run the most important “company” on earth. The company called “YOU INC”.  As a continuous or life-long learner (I’m presuming that since you’re reading this you are both) chances are that you’re taking daily risks of various sizes and proportions.

The more risks we take each week, the more growth we’ll see. It could be positive growth or positive growth through the lessons learned by failing and then either coming back stronger and better or moving on.

As a geek*, I see a promising online program and participate early on in their existence.  Originally they were called BBs (Bulletin Boards) and then changed somewhat to being called Forums, before they became “social networking sites”.  Some of the forums started in the mid-1990’s are still thriving like Warrior and HTML forums.  Ryze, which was to me the first social networking site was so promising, still exists and I always wonder why some company hasn’t taken it over add fixed it.  eAcademy, LinkedIn, Alibaba, and the list continues.

Google+ has the start of something good happening in it’s community platform. I hope it make changes to expand and make that area of Google+ more discussion and networking oriented.

As Google SVP Sundar Pichai told Forbes  “I think increasingly you’ll see us focus on communications, photos and the Google+ Stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area.”

I hope that the communications Mr. Pichai speaks to includes changes to the Google Communities, we’ll all have to wait and see.

For now, get involved in the financial advisor and investment advisor communities on Google Plus and LinkedIn, too.

Here are a few good resources this subject:

Google+ Site Today : https://plus.google.com/

Google+ Communities: https://plus.google.com/communities

Forbes quote is from this article:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/miguelhelft/2015/02/26/exclusive-sundar-pichais-plan-to-keep-google-almighty/

 

Other good articles on this subject:

Wired:  http://www.wired.com/2015/03/google-knew-dead-google-still-social-network/

MarketingLand: http://marketingland.com/google-plus-will-die-may-change-82377

Why have people been using Google+: http://dustn.tv/social-signals-and-google-plus/

An alternative community for professionals currently on Google+
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Elevating-Your-Financial-Business-Exclusive-4624383/about

Keep with with trends and financial news at: https://www.fatoday.com/splash.php

 

(c) 2015 Maria Marsala.  Like this article?  Get our article sent  to your inbox.  Join the Elevating Your Business Community at www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com

 

 

*Maria was an early user of technology.  Think 1973 at Merrill Lynch (Pierce, Fenner and Smith).  She started using a computer in 1975 at Reynolds Securities when she entered trades into a company database.  Used a computer on the trading desk in 1976 at Bear Stearns.  She purchased her first computer in 1980, got onto the Internet in 1994, created her first website in 1998, designed her first ebook in 2000, and has been called one of the “pioneers of article marketing online.”