4 Tips for Winning Referral Business Through Your Website
Make the Website Dynamic, Engaging, Educational, and Targeted
In this article, Dr. Frederiksen makes four recommendations to improve a website with the goal of turning the visitor into an engagement.
For most firms in the valuation business, referrals from attorneys and accounting firms represent the surest and most direct route to new business.Â But even if you have a strong referral strategy, there may still be a weak link in the chain: your website.
What do websites have to do with winning referral business?
When potential clients receive a referral about a new valuation firm, the first thing they do is check out the firmâ€™s website.Â It is at precisely this point that referral business can easily be lost.Â The reason is that more than 52% of people referred to a firm may decide to keep looking, even before they speak with anyone at the firm.
Fortunately, there are four key strategic improvements you can make to your site to turn it into a high performance websiteâ€”and maximize its ability to convert referrals in new business.
1.Â Â Â Â Â Use Targeted Messagingâ€¦and Images with Impact
Based on our research, the most common reason that potential clients decide not to engage with a firm is that after visiting the firmâ€™s website, they cannot easily determine how the firm could help them.Â To be effective, your website should immediately (that is, right on the home page) answer three questions:
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- Why should buyers choose you?
Images are the other side of the coin.Â Well-chosen photographs or illustrations offer visual clues and an unspoken subtext about the quality of your firmâ€™s brand.Â Avoid the obvious or clichĂ©d imagesâ€”stock photography of hands shaking or stacks of currency come to mind.Â Such overused images convey a tired brand, and do nothing to help your firm stand out.
2.Â Â Â Â Â Embrace Responsive Design
One of the biggest, but least appreciated, elements of a high-performance website is responsive design.Â This is a technique that allows a single website design to adapt dynamically to different browser sizes.Â For instance, elements that spread across multiple columns on a large screen stack on top of each other on a phone screen.Â As the chart below from comScore shows, many websites are now being accessed through mobile devices with greater frequency than traditional desktops.Â Another compelling reason to make your website responsive is that Googleâ€™s current search algorithm penalizes websites that are not mobile friendly, directing less traffic to them.
3.Â Â Â Â Â Demonstrate Your Expertise with Educational Content
Traditional B2B marketing tools such as capabilities decks or presentations are still important, but they are designed to describe or promote your firm.Â They do not show your expertise in action.
That is where thought leadership comes in.Â To build real, sustained visibility, valuation firms need to go beyond traditional promotional marketing.Â Many of todayâ€™s buyers need to be convinced of your expertise.Â By creating and freely sharing your best thinking, you can prove how much expertise you bring to the table.Â If you are not already, start writing educational pieces that dissect or solve real problems your clients face.Â If you publish these pieces on a blog, Google can make them visible to thousands of interested readers.Â Over time, many of these readers will become loyal followers of your blog and, when they have a need, will think of you first.Â That is how readers become clients.
For best results, try to produce (and feature on your website) two kinds of educational content:
- Stock content: This includes evergreen, premium content of exceptional value. Executive guides and webinars are examples of stock content, as are e-books and white papers.Â It is a good idea to put these behind a short registration form.Â That way you can build an e-mail list.Â Just be sure you get their permission when they sign up.Â Then as you develop new educational content, you can send it to your list and keep them engaged.
- Flow content: This type of content is aimed at capturing the attention of folks who are not yet familiar with your firm. The content should appear regularly, and it should offer fresh, expert opinions on issues facing your clients.Â Blog posts are the most popular way to publish flow content, but if writing is hard for you and you are comfortable in front of a camera, you could try creating video blogs instead.
4.Â Â Â Â Â Feature Effective Tools for Engagement
Finally, you will need a way to turn those referral visitors into leads and ultimately into clients.Â Some people call them â€śengagement tools,â€ť â€ścalls to action,â€ť or â€śoffers.â€ť Â Whatever you choose to call them, they are there to help potential prospects take an incremental step forwardâ€”to a higher level of engagement with your firm.
Some engagement tools work by carrying on a consistent, high-level exposure of your firm and its expertiseâ€”and social media posts are a great example of this.Â Others, such as premium stock content, are deliberately designed to move buyers further along down the sales funnel.
Next Stop, New Business
The connecting thread in all of these recommendations is that your website needs to quickly and effectively reassure the first-time visitor that they have found the right firm, with the right expertise.Â It needs to do more, however, beginning with conveying a relevant and memorable impression.Â At the same time, your site should encourage prospective clients to sample your expertise and start the process of building their trust over time.
To learn more about how your website canâ€”and mustâ€”play a central role in your sales strategy, check out our post on online lead generation.
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is Managing Partner at Hinge, the leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.
Mr. Frederiksen can be contacted at (703) 391-8870 or by e-mail to LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com.