Although money management firms differ in their Internet strategies, they still follow a common set of rules to make good investments on the web.
Alec Wiggin, president of web marketing consulting firm aabalone[red], Darien, Conn., has walked many firms through the web building process and agreed to share his tips with Pensions & Investments.
"Here's the things we've learned from the school of hard knocks," Mr. Wiggin said.
1) Have a plan.
Companies need to establish a set of objectives in creating a website and figure out how to measure those objectives. "You should build it because there are target audiences that need things," Mr. Wiggin said.
A money manager also should consider a website as an extension of good business practices. For example, in some cases companies are able to attract good employees through a strong web presence, which makes for good business overall, he said.
2) Do market research.
This is not as difficult as it may sound. Managers should find out first what consultants need, since they are the gateway to new business.
3) Consider why you need a site.
According to Mr. Wiggin, "Most are chest-beating sites" that trumpet a company's accomplishments, but don't offer useful information.
A website is not about advertising as much as it is making someone's business day easier, he said.
4) Lead your users.
Web designers and content developers need to think about all of the different pathways a user would like to travel. Market research can help this thought process.
5) Appoint a czar.
Investment management firms need to have one person to make final decisions on everything from text to art.
Mr. Wiggin has found in working with money management firms that it's extremely difficult to do an Internet project with a broad-based committee.
6) Present good, fresh content.
It may seem obvious, but in a medium in which information can be changed quickly, content should be timely and pertinent.
7) Write for a web audience.
Mr. Wiggin often teaches his clients to make their point quickly when writing marketing material for their website.
"It has to be extremely pithy," he said. "The web is a terrible reading environment."
8) Harvest information.
Mr. Wiggin advises clients to put statistical information on the site, including data on who is using the site and which pages are the most popular. Online surveys also are a good idea so that clients can see information about themselves.
9) Commit to responsiveness.
Many managers have a "contact us" button prominently placed on their sites. But Mr. Wiggin believes that if the firm doesn't have people dedicated to getting back to clients via e-mail, then the button shoul d not be there.
10) Think of the website as a work in progress.
"It's never done," he said. It takes a constant commitment to update and improve content -- which shouldn't be new to money managers who should never stop selling, either, he said.
Mr. Wiggin was a vice president at Bessemer Trust Co. before joining aabalone[red]. He has been a speaker on web marketing in recent years at the Association of Investment Management Sales Executives' annual conference.