Seven Strategies for Building Better Web Sites

When it comes to websites, boutique asset managers are often at a competitive disadvantage compared to bigger firms with deep pockets and large digital marketing teams.

The good news, however, is that it doesn’t take a huge investment of capital or time to create a robust website that enables advisors and institutional investors to research your products, your investment processes, and your team. Employing seven cost-effective strategies can create a better user experience that can help generate leads—and increase inflows.

  1. Employ Simple and Responsive Home Page Design

Unlike the cluttered, text-heavy sites of the past, today’s asset management web sites are flatter, simpler and dominated by strong design elements to create an optimal combination of branding and functionality.

Typically, a home page is dominated by a single background image with an overlaid logo and minimal text. Top-level navigation links are at the top with dropdown boxes linking to lower-level landing pages. Home page text is often confined to callout boxes promoting educational insights, firm-related media coverage, market commentaries and whitepapers, and spotlighted funds.

  1. Make it Easier for Researchers to Get the Full Story

Most investment professionals can find basic information about your funds on third party research sites and consultant databases. What they want from asset management sites is a deeper level on information to aid in their due diligence efforts. You can make this task easier by:

  • Offering visitors the ability to find funds both by category (equity, fixed income, international equity, etc.) and via an alphabetized list.
  • Updating fund returns, top holdings, and expense information as soon after quarter end as possible—monthly is even better.
  • Including more sophisticated volatility measures such as beta, R2 and Sharpe ratios in your funds’ performance grids.
  • Designing all data for a fund on a single scrolling page to simplify viewing and printing.
  • Adding links to downloadable fact sheets, manager commentaries and bios, shareholder reports and prospectuses as well any related white papers or other thought leadership pieces written by the portfolio manager.
  1. Create Targeted User Experiences

If you differentiate the kinds of content your offer to institutional investors and advisors, it’s important to quickly guide these audiences into appropriate “micro-sites” using “gateway” navigation on the home page.

Take advantage of these separate areas by offering relevant content for these segments. Institutional audiences will want sophisticated performance metrics and evidence of your firm’s expertise. Advisors will want this information as well as tools they can use to help sell your funds to their clients.

  1. Create a Compelling Investment Story

While advisors and institutional investors will primarily come to your site to learn about your products, they also want to know why your firm’s investment process is disciplined, repeatable and different than those of those of your competitors. A standalone “Investment Process” section can answer questions such as:

  • Which members of your team are involved in asset allocation and security selection decisions?
  • What makes your quantitative and/or qualitative analysis approaches unique?
  • How does your “top down” and “bottom up” research identify opportunities other firms might miss?
  • What kinds of unique expertise on the equity and fixed income markets, industry sectors, and international markets do your portfolio managers and research bring to the process?
  1. Keep it “Fresh”

Effective websites are dynamic. A visitor should always be able to see something new every time he or she comes to your site. Rotating background images promoting fresh insights, white papers or market commentaries; animated “text crawlers” that point to blog entries or media coverage of your firm, or call-out boxes that change every time the home page is viewed can create a “sticky” user experience that will make your site more than just a static repository of fund information.

  1. Simplify Fulfillment

Once you’ve convinced your target audiences to consider investing in your funds, make it easier for them to take the next step by:

  • Consolidating downloadable applications, prospectuses, and other fulfillment materials in a single “Documents” area easily accessible from every page of the site.
  • Including corporate phone numbers and email addresses in addition to the standard “fill in form” on your “Contact Us” page.
  1. Make it Mobile Friendly

On some sites, smartphones and tablets account for as many visits and page views as desktop computers. Forward-thinking web development teams now employ “responsive design” technologies that display web pages, text and navigation in ways that are optimized for viewing of different kinds of devices.

A Worthy Long-Term Investment

In a world of increasingly commoditization and cutthroat competition among asset managers, it’s crucial for boutique firms to demonstrate why their products, their approach and their people merit serious consideration. Investing significant marketing capital in a well designed, dynamic, content-rich web site offers the most cost-effective way for you to achieve these objectives.

For more information on these and other strategies for helping firms attract and retain investors, contact Dan Sondhelm at 703-597-3863.