Having a polished, engaging online presence is now one of the most essential marketing tools for all industries. When it comes to financial services marketing, a website can drive traffic from targeted audiences and engage potential clients and investors. It can help establish a firm as a trusted authority and, above all, differentiate the brand in the marketplace.

By reviewing top financial services websites across the web, we have developed essential tips to help you build a site that visitors will love.

Start with your logo.

Your firm’s logo should be present and clearly distinguished from other elements on the page. If you place your logo on the same line as your site navigation or login, make sure it is prominent enough to be the first thing visitors see when your webpage loads.

Search is your friend.

Many financial services firms are operating on a national or global footprint and don’t give much consideration to search engine optimization. The fact is that people are searching online for everything today. When your prospects search for “deal structuring advisor” and “corporate restructuring services”, you want them to find your firm and not your competitor’s. Attach industry sectors to keywords to ensure that SEO traffic is highly targeted and relevant.

Strive for clarity.

Your website is the online face of your firm, and it will likely reach more people than any other medium. Let people know they’re in the right place the minute the page loads. Since people are consuming information at alarming rates, they need to quickly find what they are looking for. Make everything crystal clear – from your navigation, to your site structure, messaging, and value proposition. Figure out what your main message and CTAs are, and make these elements eye-catching and prominent by using strategic fonts, scale and placement.

Remember to personalize it.

The same way you’d strike up a conversation at an in-person event, your website should sound like you’re speaking with visitors, not to them. The executive of a manufacturing plant with $100 million in revenue will likely have different needs than one at a software firm with $500 million in revenue. Personalize your marketing so that it invokes an emotional connection with each prospect.

Use engaging content.

Make sure your website grabs their attention with engaging content. Use a consistent, second-person voice that is clear and concise––in this case flowery writing is not your friend. A relaxed tone that conveys transparency and authenticity will yield better engagement than a stiff, formal tone.

Stay relevant.

When potential clients are seeking guidance from a financial services firm they want to be assured they are getting top-tier advice. One way to show that your firm is forward thinking is by staying current with website trends. Make sure your site incorporates best practices such as fast page load times, responsiveness, video, infinite scroll, larger font sizes, and content snippets.

Make sure it’s responsive.

Users are accessing the web from many more devices today, and it’s important to ensure your website is compatible with them. A responsive website will scale to the device being used. This enables the visitors to browse your site on-the-go and gather information quickly, without having to squint or pinch and zoom to see. Websites with no responsive framework can turn away users at an alarming rate.

Be original.

Too often financial services firms use the same imagery found on competitor websites. While using pictures of nature and buildings is often tied to key messaging, thinking outside of the box is a better way to go. Not only will unique imagery present you as a leader in your space, but you will be differentiating your brand and establishing a competitive edge in the marketplace. Even if the themes are the same, seek out untapped sources for photography, schedule a custom photo shoot, or use video instead.

Refined and polished design.

Value propositions for financial services firm are often tied to track record, expertise, and cutting-edge thinking. Nobody is looking for sub-par performance or guidance. A polished and refined financial services website design will immediately establish authority and professionalism. Color and fonts should be consistent and support the brand identity. There needs to be a structured grid containing the website, and elements such as buttons and links should be designed so that they stand out from other website copy.

Become the go-to.

Prospects will be inclined to partner with firms who are thought leaders. Even with heavy regulation, financial services firms can (and should) hop on the content marketing bandwagon by providing case studies, insights and commentary to educate prospects and showcase leadership in the space. Not only will unique content help keep your firm stay top of mind with prospects, but frequent and consistent publishing is one of the best ways to increase search engine rankings. If you don’t have someone on your team dedicated to content marketing, consider repurposing or curating existing content, or partner with a thought leadership publisher for more leads and traffic.

Use less text, more visuals.

People are scanning information these days. Charts and images can help break up large blocks of copy and still get the same message across. We’re in an internet age where people are sophisticated browsers and infinite scrolling is now standard practice, so don’t try to cram everything above the fold. Use interesting charts and graphics in place of text to illustrate key data points and statistics.

Remember quality control.

Your website represents your brand and your work, so any mistakes made in the web-world reflect poorly on your work in the real world. Make sure every word is proofread and double-checked so that no one questions your professionalism and attention to detail. It’s worth restating that your website is the online face of your firm—it needs to be top notch for potential clients and investors to take notice.