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Hedge fund marketing hacks II: Five ways to make your website more impactful

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By JD David, Meyler Capital – I am just going to make two assumptions right off the bat: firstly, you already have a website – even if it is just a splash page – and secondly, no one “accidentally” goes to an alternative manager’s website. They are there for a deliberate reason and therefore, likely already have at least some knowledge about the manager before arriving at the site.
The purpose of the website

First things first – it’s worth understanding what an alternative fund’s site is actually designed to accomplish. 

To us, a website serves four very distinct purposes:

  • Establish credibility and relevance; reinforce a “brand” 
  • Communicate a core value proposition
  • Drive interest to learn more 
  • Provide a platform to profile interest through analytics

And just as importantly…what an alternative fund website is not for:

  • To “sell” anything
  • To explain “everything”

The purpose of the home page

If done right, the home page will go a long way to helping accomplish the first two goals 

In order for that to happen, the message should primarily address the “value proposition.” More below, but to oversimplify – it’s about the “Why” – not the “What” 

Most fund managers seem to have a hard time with this. There is this incredible urge to make sure that people know exactly what you do when they first land on the site. Ask yourself, when was the last time anyone came to your site by accident? 

In our industry – it doesn’t happen. Institutional investors aren’t landing on your site after searching “long/short equity” in Google. The point being that investors already have an idea of the “What” or they probably wouldn’t be on your website to begin with. It’s actually not much different in many other industries.

Think about it – do you really expect Ford’s home page says, “…we are an automobile company that makes sedans, SUVs and trucks in lots of different colours and price points” (I checked. It doesn’t). 

But no need to fret. We have all sorts of other sections to use, like “About,” and “Strategy” which are a perfect place for the “What” (and the “Team” and “Contact” pages are for the “Who”).

Hack 1: Remove everything from your home page EXCEPT your “value proposition”

Your value proposition can be summed up as your core beliefs and your edge all rolled-up in one. 

Ideally, it is that one claim that few others can make but you

Put another way, if there is just one thing you want a prospective investor to remember when they walk away from your site – it’s this. So, create a powerful statement and prominently slap it up on your home page. 

And – for the same reason that Ford’s website doesn’t say, “we make cars that have an engine and four wheels“, your value proposition probably shouldn’t say, “We are an SEC registered investment advisor that seeks to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns, blah, b-blah, b-blah….”

Not saying that is not important information. It’s just not unique, interesting or only something that only you can claim. 

Hack 2: Remove the extraneous from the rest of the site

Saying “everything” is akin to saying “nothing.” Focus on what mattes.

The PT Barnum line, “Always leave them wanting more…” is totally applicable here. Too much information and they have no reason to ask for more. And for a change, industry regulations actually protect a managers from themselves by restricting what they can actually say anyway. 

With respect to the layout and language – simplicity always wins. 

Hack 3: Be interesting (add content)

Yes – “being interesting” is a hack. The reason – most people in the industry are actually interesting – there is this perverse belief that everything that they produce is “proprietary” and only people that pay a fee deserve hearing their pearls of brilliance. 

You want someone to think you are smart or value-added? Show, don’t tell…and let them discover it for themselves. 

Content accomplishes a bunch of things:

  1. It can go a long way toward building your reputation as an industry authority 
  2. It creates a reason for people to pay attention to you
  3. The more time someone spends on your site, the easier it is for you to develop useful analytics and profile interest; and 
  4. It enables you to create a “Call-to-Action” 

Hack 4: Use data to “score” behaviour

For an industry obsessed with data it sure doesn’t take advantage of it when it comes to marketing.  

The ability to measure analytics and generate behaviour-based “Lead Scores” is common in every other industry. Not only do we measure who watches our videos, we measure what they watch, how much they watch, how often they watch, how often they replay a portion and forward on to a colleague. We do basically the same thing with page visits and then measure the interactions over the life of the relationship. 

There really aren’t many better ways of measuring the ROI on the website than this. 

Additionally, profiling interest can make you much more productive – not only does it enable you to focus your time on those prospect that are actually focused on you, it helps you tailor your conversation based on their actual behaviour. 

Hack 5: Make it professional

Maybe you don’t wear a suit to a client meeting but I would also guess that you don’t wear ripped jeans and a t-shirt. It matters to you that you look professional. Your website is no different. And refreshing your website to make it appear professional doesn’t require a lot of effort. 

…Actually, none of the steps required to take a website from something that looks and smells like everyone else’s to one that engages and helps to drive business involves a whole lot of effort.

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