Online enquiry forms

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As a financial adviser, why do you have a website?  Some of you will say it’s about branding or profile building, but ultimately it is to attract leads.

Once your website has gained the lead, then it’s your job to convert that lead into a happy – and profitable – client. Getting prospective clients to your website is often the biggest hurdle, but in this article I’m going to skip that step and assume that the visitor has already made their way to your website.

There are many different styles of adviser websites out there, and just as many different styles of enquiry forms. I’ve delved deeply into many financial advisers’ websites; firstly as part of my compliance role when I was approving adviser websites for a large dealer group, and more recently as part of my research for both my own websites and those of the advisers I partner with.

Many adviser websites use a very basic enquiry form that simply collects contact details and perhaps some brief details about the type of service the client is looking for.  This type of enquiry form often features prominently on the front page of the website.

While I like the idea of having the enquiry form as a ‘call to action’ on the front page of the website, I do wonder about the effectiveness of such forms, and the large amount of front page real estate that is lost in making space for the enquiry form. If someone is only providing their name and contact details, they know very well that all you’re going to do with that information is use it to call them back.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if the prospective client knows that will be the case, why wouldn’t they just call you themselves?

On the other hand you have the more complex enquiry forms.  These are generally far too large to place on the front page of the website, and will instead have their own dedicated page.  Obviously you would still be placing prominent links to this page from your front page, and every other page of your website.

I have had plenty of advisers – and so called web experts – tell me that the shorter enquiry forms are far more effective.  Their rational is that a prospective client is much more likely to complete a form that takes thirty seconds rather than one that takes ten minutes.

But I disagree.

My company owns a portfolio of websites that gather life insurance leads.  Over the years we have used short and long enquiry forms, placed in different sections of the websites, and the results have been very different.

We have found that short contact forms on the front page deliver far fewer leads than our more complex forms, and furthermore the leads from the complex forms convert into paying clients at a much higher rate.

One of our most successful websites actually features our most complex enquiry form.  Over the years we have continually added more questions to the form and made it more difficult to complete, yet the number of enquiries we receive continues to increase every month.

The form on this website is now so comprehensive that two dealer groups have accepted it as a fully completed fact finder.  That saves a huge amount of time, and also makes for an extremely good lead.  Not only do we know a lot about the client before the first phone call, but we also know how serious that person is due to the amount of time they have invested in completing our lengthy form.

You may be thinking that a lot of prospective clients will leave the form half-finished when they get tired of answering questions, but our statistics show that we have very few ‘dropouts’ with our forms.  If someone isn’t committed to filling out the form we probably don’t want the lead anyway.

I know that most web designers will keep telling advisers that short enquiry forms are better, but if you take that advice then I believe you are costing yourself business.  I have spoken to plenty of financial advisers who have spent thousands on their websites, only to receive not a single lead from it.

Now I’m not saying that a longer and more complex enquiry form will result in a flood of leads for any old website.  What I do believe is that a well designed website that ‘funnels’ visitors through to a comprehensive enquiry form will be more effective than one that expects the visitor to enter their contact details on the front page without having had a chance to read through the website.

Online strategy is all about experimentation.  If you currently use a short enquiry form on the front page of your website, try investing a few dollars in having your web designer implement a more detailed form, and use the saved space on your front page to further promote your services.  If it doesn’t work, little has been lost.  If it does work, you could have a lot to gain.

About Shane Moore…
Shane has been in the financial services industry for over a decade.  Since selling his own successful firm he has been working with other advisers to improve their online marketing efforts through the distribution of original and regular content.  For more information visit www.ShaneMoore.com.au

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