In the case of the professional services sector, including accountants, financial services, law firms and management consultants, they are perceived as not always being the quickest to adapt to change. When it comes to establishing an online presence, many of these businesses seem uncomfortable with digital channels, from websites to social media.
Often, professional services websites fail because they have nothing to differentiate them, or to make any kind of connection with their target audience as real-life customers.
A recent survey of lawyers found that 81% of them were bored with their jobs. Does this boredom come out in websites that are sometimes jargon-filled, and unfriendly for users?
The Vicious Circle of Scepticism
“For some businesses, having a website is like stepping outside their comfort zone and they struggle to see the benefit. There’s a certain reluctance to fully engage with the concept.
“This scepticism can hamper the success of web development and what you end up with is a kind of vicious circle, where professional services continue to fail to see the value in web design and development because they never fully engage with it.
“Breaking this cycle of disappointment and under-achievement requires changing the perception of what a website is there to do.”
Don’t Be Generic
“Too many professional services websites fail to differentiate themselves. Management consultants, for example, might rely on stock photography of people in shiny office buildings pointing at charts, and stock phrases to go with them. The visual language is tired, the landscape is flat and the whole thing feels cautious and stilted.”
“What professionals must do, to make their website work, is to make it stand out. This means using fresh imagery, and content that provides clarity in explaining how the business benefits its clients and understands their pains. It needs personality”
See Through Your Prospects’ Eyes
“As a business, your website isn’t an opportunity for you to talk about yourself. It is there for people who are looking for help, for services like yours. Think what your prospects are looking for and address their issues.
“How will they find what they’re after? You may offer specific services that people want to find out more about directly. How your site functions and how visitors navigate through it should reflect this.”
“This goes back to who your site is for and what its purpose is.”
“Don’t be afraid of simplicity. Your site shouldn’t be about impressing your professional peers with your breadth of technical knowledge, because they’re not your customers. Explain clearly what you can offer and what the benefits are.”
“You don’t win new business by being reassuringly complicated. Avoid jargon and don’t make assumptions that your target audience knows as much about your business as you do. If you’re an accountant, say, don’t be afraid of explaining the basics to do with tax returns. It makes you more approachable.
“Be clear what you want your website visitors to do. There must be a clear call to action.”
Stay Up to Date
“Things move fast online and for your site to compete for business it must be up to date. This includes both its functionality and the content you put on it. Keep things fresh and, above all, measure its effectiveness.
“If your site is failing to meet your objectives, look at the metrics and analytics and find out why. Then make the changes required to improve it. Business websites should be active, not static. Professional services are no exception.”