Want an all-star Web site?


Want to be an all-star when it comes to Web site marketing?

When advisors need inspiration to improve their online marketing to hit the ball out of the park, they should look to their favorite major league baseball team for inspiration.

Hit a dinger!

Often times advisors ask, 'What is the best example of a Web site?' If they want to hit a home run, my answer is RedSox.com.

It might disappoint them to learn it is not a financial services industry Web site, but there are a ton of great lessons to be learned from all Major League Baseball sites. In a conversation with Matthew Gould, VP of communication for MLB.com, he explained that years ago, based on Commissioner Selig's vision, the 30 clubs voted to unanimously have all the sites managed the same way, so it does not matter if you like the highest payroll Yankees or the lovable losers Cubs, you are getting the same experience.

"We want the fan of the team to be able to get the most relevant information presented in a way that is easily digestible," said Gould.

In reviewing an MLB team's site, one can learn a grand slam of lessons:

Get Called Up To The Majors
The use of prime real estate to get the message across and promote important content is so important. Look at an MLB site and see on the left half they have a slideshow of features they are promoting. If firms have something like this, they will be graduating from the farm team. This functionality frees up the Web site to promote lots of things with little space. In other words, content does not get stuck riding the bench, placed below the fold (i.e. off the bottom of the screen), where viewers cannot see it and are less likely to find it. Plus, it creates an action that draws in the eye of the visitor. If used well, this feature showcase can differentiate a Web site from every other sub .500 site out there.

See The Ball
If you look on your favorite team's site, you'll see a "video corner" that plays automatically when a visitor lands on the site. Videos are a great way to make a connection with clients and prospects. They are an effective way to get your team's brand personality across to a first time visitor in just a matter of seconds. If you effectively leverage videos, you will have a competitive advantage over a majority of the other players.

Get Hits
To be successful online, advisors need to be pushing out fresh content. Gould called the center content titles "the headline stack." With Major League Baseball, they have writers, editors and others dedicated to push out content just like a newspaper would. Advisors should have a content strategy, resources dedicated to creating content and have a creative calendar that includes what information needs to be developed and when it needs to be shared.

Make The Catch
Recent findings confirm the fact that images generate the most engagement on Facebook. The same reasons they work on social networks, the same reasons they work on websites. Make sure use images to to tell a story, sometimes without words. We are all visual learners to some degree, so do not be afraid to put pictures to work for you.

Be A Team Player
The MLB sites are truly integrated. Whether it is selling merchandise or promoting their social media pages, they pull it all together in one place. Gould said, "We have a full commitment to social media." A close look at their "Fan" page shows they have a "Social Media Clubhouse" that promotes each team member on Twitter. This is not a bad idea for a firm to do if they want to promote their employees who are representing the organization online.

In describing the MLB Web sites' strategies, Gould hit the ball off the cover, saying, "We may only have a few minutes of their time. We want to fully optimize their experience." In today's attention-deficit-disorder society, it is so true that a Web site has to grab visitors and keep them there or they will get distracted and go somewhere else. The MLB.com network is doing something right, as they get 10 to 12 million visits per day during the season.

Hopefully these tips help you hit the ball out of the park with your own Web site!

Note: As always, check with your compliance department for its specific guidelines on what your organization will allow you to do with social networks. It is strongly recommended you hire an archiving service to capture all social media communications.

Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful. His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas. Read more at ByrnesConsulting.com and follow @ByrnesConsultin.