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How to create financial websites that count

The rise of LinkedIn has created a new space for professionals to connect, but if you’re a financial professional looking to grow your client base, a networking site will not solely build the credibility you need to succeed.

Finance careers and the management of other people’s valuable savings and investments, are built on a firm foundation of trust. People work hard and they want to know that the professionals they partner with to look after their money are also working hard to secure their future.

Whether you’re a sole consultant, start-up, or established finance business, your website says a lot about you. And if you don’t have a site, potentially this says even more.

As a financial professional, a website not only helps you build credibility and trust and outlines what you do, it also shows potential clients you are a consistent and stable presence in the market. With economic downturn still impacting Australia, and the world, reassuring people you will be there, no matter what, plays a big part in their selection of a financial consultant.

These days a website is an essential part of your communication strategy. When building a business website, you also want to build an image of a reliable, qualified, experienced professional who will work tirelessly to meet the expectations of your clients. To achieve this, our experts have six key recommendations to consider.

1. Web design and implementation
When selecting a financial consultant, people undertake stringent qualifying processes — after all, your guidance could determine their future. Trust is a factor that will sit firmly as a foundation of their decision.

Ensure your site is clean, crisp and not too complex. Potential and existing clients should be able to navigate the site with ease and find what they are looking for in a few intuitive clicks.

2. Let your clients do the talking
In building this foundation of trust, it is important to remember that 78% of consumers trust a peer review while only 14% trust an advertisement. Stay away from the hard sell and instead, dedicate part of your site to real testimonials that exemplify just how reliable and trustworthy you are.

3. Be accessible
When the market takes an unexpected negative turn, it is not uncommon to hear people complain that their financial advisor is suddenly nowhere to be found. Your site is a good first step in showing them you are always around. Publishing a regularly updated calendar online (careful to avoid specifics such as client names) will also help people feel comfortable that your presence is stable. Similarly, promoting various methods of contact emphasises that you are committed to your clients and keeping them informed is a top priority.

4. Start a website and create new business
Carefully consider the style of your site and the language used. Your site can become your new business development manager if it is created with sales in mind. Be careful to avoid the hard-sell — as any good BDM would. Provide all the information potential clients need in order to know what you do, how you do it, what you value and how they can relate to you. Your site can make a first impression and a connection that you simply need to capitalise on.

5. Be a thought leader
A positioning strategy that creates the perception you are a thought leader is a good way to be seen as a reliable guide, as opposed to someone looking for extra clients to build their own income. Including a section on your site that allows for regular blogs or ground-breaking white papers will enable you to give evidence of your skills and experience and increase credibility. Your communication strategy should consider factors like search engine optimisation in blogs and white papers as this will lead to increased traffic to your site and potentially, new business.

6. Integrate your digital communication strategy and your social media strategy
Without a doubt, you already have a LinkedIn profile and potentially a Facebook page. Ensure you use your site and blog pages in conjunction with these to build traffic.

Regardless of net-worth position, clients of advisory firms expect high levels of customer service, results from their investment and overall satisfaction. Your website is a critical communication platform during the service process, therefore it must be made not only to the right calibre, but to help you serve your clients better through technological innovation and clear, effective brand presentation. Building a business website should not be undertaken lightly, as it is a major representation of your business. Don’t dive in without a plan — tie your web design and implementation in with your communication and social media strategy so all three are working together to create new contacts, expand your network, and convey your values.

With consumer and investor optimism on the rise, now is the perfect time for brokers to rethink their marketing and online communication strategy to better suit changing investor expectations and demands.

For more information about building your financial website, please contact Platform on (02) 9911 7788.

9911 7788Strategic Partnership with ReachLocal

Platform Digital is pleased to announce our strategic and official partnership with ReachLocal Australia, an International Digital Advertising Agency dedicated to providing a total web presence strategy for local businesses.

Realising traditional Search Engine Optimisation is on the decline due to ongoing changes by Google, ReachLocal has developed intelligent systems which provide online marketing that does much more than put your name on a list of search results. ReachLocal offers unique Search and Display packages, ideal for any business wanting to build their presence online, create more response to call to action and importantly, increase conversion to sales.

The Reach Package difference lies in its unique systems, which provide in-depth data and measurement, right through to the very dollar entering your business. That is, every email, phone enquiry, web purchase or booking generated from a single click can be tracked to uncover the true return on investment of your campaign.

Are you interested in boosting your website traffic, building online awareness for your brand, or increasing your online sales? We can work within your budget to generate real, measurable results for your business.

Read more about our collaborative marketing services with ReachLocal by visiting our Internet Marketing page.

For more information about our partnership with ReachLocal, please contact Platform on (02) 9911 7788.

How to create a mobile app in 4 simple steps

Over the last few years, the mobile app market has exploded. And for good reason. Having an app for your business or promotion is a strong marketing tool that drives traffic and builds revenue.

The Benefits to Business

Like any brand-building or marketing tactic, planning to build an app can sound like a lot of work. But as the digital age takes full effect, and according to Google, smartphones achieve 52% penetration in Australia, an app is something you can’t afford to overlook — particularly if you want to enter the world of mCommerce and sell online.

Well-constructed and strategically-planned apps help create stronger business relationships, build loyalty, reinforce your brand and increase visibility, accessibility and exposure across mobile devices. An app will connect you with ‘on the go’ consumers and generate brand recall and recognition that in turn creates repeat business.

The 4 Simple Steps

Building an effective and functional mobile app is not as daunting as it may first seem. While many people have some misconceptions about the complexity, the cost and the process, creating an app that appeals to your clients is just a matter of knowing what you want and following four straight-forward steps to achieve it.

So how does the app development process work?

The process can be broken into four main steps – idea, layout and planning, design, and going live.

1. The idea
Everyone has an idea lurking somewhere in the dusty corners of their mind, so this step is less about having an idea and more about working out if the idea has any viability.

As with all project processes, the first step is research. Log on to your app store or head on to Google and use the search function to determine if your idea has already been developed. Test apps that work on similar ideas to determine if you can bring anything new to this area, or if your idea can improve on what is already existing.

If you’re still eager to start building an app, it’s time to develop your idea. Like any good project, you need a plan in order to get started. You need to flesh out your idea, work out who would use your app and set aside budget for marketing it.

2. Map it
Similar to developing a web page, your next step will be to fully map out your app functionality. This is a big step and can be a lot of work — so be prepared to enlist the help of professionals or dedicate some serious hours.

Mapping out how your app will work literally means determining exactly what pages you need, what will be on them, how they will link together and in what order — it means knowing exactly what happens when you press button x on page y. When working with a professional, keep in mind the complexity of the app and how much needs to be mapped and tested will add to your development cost.

3. Design
One of the most important aspects of app development, the design can mean the difference between success and failure. Like a website, the design of business apps not only makes them appealing or not, it can also influence how credible an app is, how easy it is to use and how your functionality will all be tied together. This step is incredibly important — and you get what you pay for, so don’t select the cheap option if you’re hoping for significant return on investment.

4. Launch it
While the app market has been dominated by iOS and you were once only required to build the app in xCode for Apple, it is now worth considering also creating an Android app. Android is growing at a rapid rate and ignoring its increasing importance in the app market may be to your detriment. If you’re going to build an app, you should make sure it’s available to everyone!

Once your app is developed, designed and tested, it’s time to launch. If you have worked with a developer or digital team, they will often take care of this step for you so you can concentrate on the important task of marketing your app. If you’re developing the app yourself, you will need to create an iTunes Connect account ($99 per year) and fill in all the account details. Once your account is set up you can also use it for any apps you may develop in the future. You can use iTunes Connect to monitor the success of your app from downloads to revenue. Specialist digital companies will also monitor progress for you and assist you in improving your results.

Once your app is in the store and waiting to be downloaded, you can build your ROI in various ways. In-app ads and paid extensions to the app content can get you started — of course if the app is built for mCommerce, it should generate its own revenue.

Post Launch & Awareness

It is also important to remember to market the app as you would any new product. If yours is a business app, ensure your integrated marketing strategy includes signposts to the app from other media such as your website or online videos.

If you are serious about taking your app idea to the next level, Platform Digital can help you in all aspects of the planning, idea creation, research and strategy, wireframe, design, development, launch and marketing phases. We can provide a straight forward guide to how to make an app.

If you need more information, insights, advice or a no obligation quotation for bringing your app idea to life, or alternatively, you’re considering a mobile optimised site please contact Platform Digital on (02) 9911 7788.

Tips for making the National Broadband Network work for your business.

If you’ve managed to sift and sort through election and political spin stories in the newspaper lately, you know the government is quietly undertaking one of the largest infrastructure projects ever in Australia.

The National Broadband Network (NBN), an extensive project aimed at advancing Australia’s communication technology, will deliver a faster, more reliable broadband network for all businesses and homes.

With plans for the NBN to be finished in 2015, Australian households and businesses are looking forward to a future of high internet speed and stable connection to online global resources. Project managers of the National Broadband Network have also been looking ahead, enabling the network to evolve as it is installed, so come 2015, it is capable of delivering everything the latest technologies require.

If getting past the latest political front-pager hasn’t been easy, you may feel a little in the dark when it comes to exactly what the National Broadband Project is and what to expect. We’ve compiled some brief stats and facts to get you up-to-date.

  • The NBN will deliver optical fibre broadband at up to 1 Gigabit per second to 93% of premises across Australia. This is 50 times faster than current ADSL services and will lead to the capacity for high quality video conferencing, high-speed file downloads and uploads and faster browsing. The other 7% will receive high-speed fixed wireless or satellite services, providing 12 Megabits per second.
  • The NBN fixed wireless and long-term satellite services will be upgraded to provide broadband speeds of 25 megabits per second download and 5 megabits per second upload (25/5 Mbps). This 25/5 Mbps service will be available by mid-2013 on the fixed wireless network and from the start of operation of the long-term satellite service in 2015.

With time flying and 2015 really only just around the corner, it is important businesses stay on top of NBN developments so you can prepare your communication strategy to take advantage of the new network. So here’s the latest on benefits and opportunities:

  • Geography won’t be an issue. The National Broadband Network will deliver a faster, more reliable broadband network for all Australian businesses, no matter which part of the country you’re based in. This means more Australians will be able to participate and compete in a global marketplace.
  • No more delays. The NBN will offer a stable, speedy service. No more lagging behind technology-leading countries! This again gives us more opportunity to compete.
  • It will provide Australian businesses with access to high-speed, reliable broadband which will mean we’ll be able to take advantage of new communication technologies and increased data sizes. This in turn means we can work more efficiently, improve productivity and reach new markets.
  • We can reduce costs and find new markets with the improved connection. It will open up opportunities to conduct more online sales, transfer data more easily and hold virtual meetings.
  • Using video and high resolution images to show products and services to customers will improve due to increased internet speed.

Being ready for what the new network will mean for your business should already be a consideration in your digital communication strategy. Web design and implementation built on human experience strategies and web performance testing requires time and input from various experts, including your business leaders. Now is the time to start thinking about what you can offer your online consumers with significantly faster internet connection speeds.

The progress of the NBN project can be followed on this site: http://www.nbn.gov.au/about-the-nbn/nbn-progress/

For more information about optimising your design in order to make it work even better with the new NBN, please contact Platform on (02) 9911 7788.