3 Keys to a Better Digital Customer Experience

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Every second, Google processes over 40,000 search queries, which translates to over 2.5 billion searches per day, and 1.2 trillion searches per year. Every minute of every day, nearly 700,000 pieces of content are shared on Facebook, and 571 new websites are created. Most importantly, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. The fact that consumers are going through the majority of the buyer’s journey online means that your corporate or brand’s digital customer experience is one of the most important assets in the marketing world today. In fact, it is predicted that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Source).

So, why is a digital customer experience strategy important for businesses? First of all, as many as 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. Additionally, research by Forrester found that the revenue impact from a 10-percentage-point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion.

In a real in-store shopping experience, customers tend to be more forgiving and far less quick to assign blame than in the digital world. In the digital world, the blame for a bad experience is immediately put on the organization and as a result of the digital revolution, customers ultimately have higher expectations for digital experiences.

It is more important than ever that your organization delivers an online experience that supports and nurtures prospects along the entire customer journey. Being “digital” is no longer just about having a great website. Nowadays, businesses need to consider a range of touchpoints including mobile, tablets, social media, websites, apps and more.

So, how can you build a strong digital experience? Here are three of the most important keys to delivering consistently great online experiences.

Know Your Customers

Think about who your customers are:

  • How old are they?
  • What gender are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they value?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What are their goals?
  • What do they care most about? What motivates them?
  • What engages them?
  • How do they want to connect with you?

Answering these questions, and mapping your customer’s journey can help you identify what is missing from their perspective and experience.

A good digital customer experience is centered on having a solid understanding of your customer, including knowing the answers to the questions above. Companies are finding that a better understanding of their customers and their journey can lead to significant business results. This means catering your customers throughout all of their interactions with your brand or organization – not just when they are ready to buy, or during and after a sale. After all, it is often the little details that your customers recall. Map your customer’s journey and cater to your customers’ touchpoints, individual problems, interests, needs, and wants. Delivering the best digital experience is ultimately about knowing your customers like the back of your hand; delivering the best experience at the right time, and through the right channels.

Keep the Experience Consistent

A consumer’s impression of a brand is made up of many individual touch points; it is the sum of every experience a consumer has with your brand. With the number of different touch points on the rise, it is important that you take into account that each interaction with your brand is a piece of the overall experience. When companies provide inconsistent digital experiences, the consumer ends up with a negative impression of the brand (…and it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience).

Ensure all of your channels work together to create one seamless experience. Will customers pull up your website on their mobile devices or tablets and be just as pleased if they were to pull it up on their desktop? 9 out of 10 consumers expect a consistent cross-channel experience, but 87% feel brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless experience (Source). Consistency is the key to making your customers happy, and turning them into loyal ambassadors.

Evolve the Experience

How do companies constantly redefine and evolve desired experiences to meet and exceed their customers’ expectations? The shift to digital has created a unique opportunity for companies to measure, analyze, experiment and tweak in real-time. By digging into digital analytics, you can tap into trends, and gain detailed data driven insights and perceptions to apply to your evolving digital experience.

Companies can continuously learn from the actions and behaviors of their consumers, and evolve the experience to match it. Use your customer data to anticipate the behavior of your customers, and plan for the future, instead of just reacting to what your customers are doing right now.

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By 2020, the demand for an omnichannel customer experience will be amplified by the need for nearly perfect execution (Source). Sure, it can be hard to deliver a consistent experience and redefine your digital experience in real time. Especially given that the underlying technology ecosystems have grown more complex due to new communication channels. But, if you take advantage of the platforms out there it can be much more doable. One example of a digital experience platform is Liferay. The Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is designed to help companies create and manage experiences that support the end-to-end customer relationship. With Liferay DXP, digital innovation leaders can enable every business unit in the enterprise to serve the customer consistently, by integrating deeply with business operations and continuously building a better understanding of the customer with every interaction.

10 Inventions that Changed the World

10 Inventions that changed the world

In the past century alone, there have been countless innovations that have drastically improved our lives. Improvements in transportation through the invention of planes, cars, and even rockets. Improvements to healthcare, communication, and  entertainment have also been developed. In the past 20 years alone, we have innovated at such a rapid pace in so many different areas and industries. Trying to pick just the top ten would be difficult, so that’s why we have compiled a list of the ten innovations that have changed the world. Without these, life as we know it wouldn’t exist.

10 Inventions that Changed the World

The Network of Giving Alliance Welcomes Veriday

Using Everyday Digital Transactions to Drive Social Change

BOSTON–September 22nd, 2016–Veriday Inc., a digital marketing and technology company, joins the Network of Giving Alliance LLC (NOG), an organization which delivers technology solutions to support important causes and communities around the world.

Veriday will provide its expertise in leading edge technologies to support the market deployment of NOG’s pioneering innovations, which utilize existing technological and financial infrastructures to ignite charitable giving by linking consumers, local merchants, banks, payment networks and other financial services organizations in a dynamic ecosystem, seamlessly delivered through digital channels including mobile payment solutions. NOG creates an entirely new way of driving tremendous positive social change for local communities.

“Veriday has a strong track record of successfully delivering solutions in the financial services industry. We welcome the Veriday team to the NOG Alliance to help deploy our proven ‘Network of Giving’ technology into market,” said Terry Tietzen, Executive Director of the NOG Alliance.

“NOG will create an entirely new way of supporting digital charitable giving,” said Chris Lamoureux, Chief Operating Officer, Veriday Inc. “We are excited about the opportunity to work with the NOG Alliance to help generate everyday giving to local communities, and to redirect donations to local, national or global relief efforts when disaster or emergencies strike,” added Mr. Lamoureux.

About Network of Giving Alliance LLC
The Network of Giving Alliance believes in building meaningful and impactful philanthropic solutions for the next generation. In a world they now embrace as daily life, they learn how their decisions can make direct change in the communities where they live, work and shop. To learn more about the Network of Giving, visit http://www.thenetworkofgiving.org/.

About Veriday
Veriday is a Digital Marketing and Technology Company specializing in developing products, solutions, and methods to transform online user experience and engagement. Veriday’s professional services and development teams help organizations reach their employee, customer, and member’s digital needs by creating leading edge portals and websites. From conceptual planning, implementation, through to technical support, Veriday is involved throughout the entire project process, helping companies to make their next online project a milestone success. Veriday has significant experience in the financial services and digital media industries. To learn more about Veriday, visit http://www.veriday.com/.

Contacts

Media:
Network of Giving
Craig Bida, 617-901-4654
Chief Communications Officer
craig.b@theNetworkOfGiving.org

3 Reasons Financial Advisors Should Be Rethinking their Marketing Strategy for the Millennials

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As the boomer demographic ages, and ultimately moves towards retirement, there should be an added focus on a new marketing strategy that targets the Millennial demographic – defined as the population of people born between 1982 and the mid 2000s. Millennials are the next generation of investors; they’re well educated, were born and raised into technology, and are instantly connected with one another through services like Facebook and Snapchat. Even with all of these perks, the Millennial generation has less money to spend and is in more debt than their older counterparts (Goldman Sachs). This generation will definitely need help planning their financial stability and success in terms of managing their goals, debt, and saving.

So, why do Financial Advisors need to rethink their marketing strategies if there will be a natural demand from Millennials?

Reason 1: Millennials are the demographic that grew up in the age of rapid technological development…

Most have experienced the pain of dial-up internet, been scolded for not rewinding the videocassette, all the way to having almost any movie available at any time through streaming services. They are no strangers to waking up to a new technological marvel – they’re also the ones camping out in front of a store to get it. Millennials are also no strangers to revered technology falling off the face of the Earth. This demographic will control the future of businesses since they’re the ones that will hold the most spending power in the coming years. In the US alone, Millennials have spent 2.45 trillion in 2015, and their income will exceed boomers and converge to Generation X’s income by 2018.

According to a recent global survey, 19 out of 20 Millennials have smart phones and check them an average of 43 times a day. According to Pew Research Centre, Social Media is used by 65% of American Adults and 76% of all Internet users. Breaking it down by age, 90% of young adults (ages 18 – 29) use Social Media, with Facebook dominating the market share.

The rapid evolution and advancement of technology has also changed those who influence the Millennials. Previously, 66% of boomers trusted recommendations from their friends and family. These days, only 49% of Millennials trust recommendations according to a recent report. This could mean that there is no guarantee that the new Millennial investors will use the same Financial Advisors as their parents. They trust online customer content (reviews) over any other information. This means that having a website with feedback, Facebook page with comments, or even Google Map reviews can go a long way to attract the sceptical Millennial to your business.

3 Reasons Financial Advisors Should Be Rethinking their Marketing Strategy for the Millennials

Brand loyalty also extends to Social Media; Millennials like to follow their favourite brands and entertainers on one or more Social Media platforms. Due to the sharing algorithm, in many Social media Platforms, when consumers “like” or “favourite” a piece of content on a Social Media platform it will show that to some, or all, of their connections – leading to more exposure. If they really like the content, they will then “share” it to further increase the exposure. This is the way a piece of content goes viral. If these content sharers are an influencer of a Millennial, they will definitely be more inclined to trust that product or service.

Reason 2:  Traditional forms of marketing won’t work with this new generation.

Millennials are not influenced by traditional advertising. Only 1% of Millennials surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would influence their decision. 62% said they would become loyal customers if a business engaged with them through Social Media. In terms of interaction with companies online, 30% of the interactions still occur on the businesses’ website, followed by 18% through email newsletters, 16% follow the business on Facebook, and 8% comment on Facebook posts. The chart below further demonstrates the way Canadians are interacting with companies online.

3 Reasons Financial Advisors Should Be Rethinking their Marketing Strategy for the Millennials

(Data from Canadian’s Internet Business)

Focusing on just one of these online channels leaves a gap that could leave room for your competitors to attract your prospects and clients.

Reason 3:  It is imperative for any business to have a full-fledged Omni-channel online experience. (For a more in depth look at what Omni-channel is, click here.)

Since Millennials grew up with technology, they’re accustomed to many different forms of communication – as demonstrated in the graph above. They will not only check out a businesses’ website, but they will also look at their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profile, as well as Google reviews. On top of rethinking and revamping marketing strategies, offering consistent and quality messaging, information, branding, and experience on each one of these channels is imperative. Disconnects between these channels leads to questioning credibility and professionalism, and possibly even moving to a competitor.

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Millennials are a tricky demographic to market to since there is more variance within the generation than any other prior. They hold all of the world’s information in their hands due to smartphones and the ability to search from anywhere, anytime. They are more connected to eachother and businesses than any other time in history. The lack of an online presence and valuable content, from a business nowadays, ultimately makes them sceptical.

The best place to start, to attract the Millennial generation, would be to go where they do their research: online (websites), and Social Media. Millennials are more likely to Google first and ask questions later. Having an effective online presence with all the information readily available leads to more success when trying to attract the Millennials. Rethinking your marketing strategy to remain active online will significantly help in attracting new clients and prospects, and ultimately, increasing your AUM.

 

Financial Advisors: Driving Website Traffic and Improving Search Engine Rankings

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The topics and questions from this series of articles are derived from our survey on blog topics. What topics would you like us to cover in future blogs, webinars, and eBooks? Fill out this quick survey and we will generate content to answer your questions. Thank you to all of those who have participated.

Question:

“Ideally when someone Googles for an Advisor in my area, I want my website at the top of the search.  What can I do to get my website to show/drive traffic to it?” 

Answer:

You don’t have complete control over where and how your website shows up in search engines, but you do have a lot more power and control than you might think. Improving your Search Engine Ranking and website traffic is a process that occurs from consistent effort applied over a longer period of time.

So, let’s dissect this question into 2 parts:

  1. How can I make my website at the top of the search?
  2. How can I drive more traffic to my website?

There’s a lot that you can do to help improve your website’s chances of showing at the top of search. The higher your website is in search engine rankings, the more traffic you will get to your website.

Google My Business

A starting point is to increase your local ranking through Google My Business. Google My Business is a Google service that connects individuals, who are searching online, with businesses in their neighbourhood. It helps you get your business hours, phone number, and directions on Google Search and Maps.

You should also start by “Googling” your business. Do you see search results that look like the image below? Below is a search for “Veriday”. With this example, you can see 3 benefits of simply being listed on Google My Business – Veriday’s address, interactive map, listing information, and directions when you “send to my phone”.  Google/customer reviews are also front and centre.

Untitled

It is very important to claim and optimize your Google My Business page.  As you know, 89 percent of consumers use search engines for purchase decisions. Google My Business is a critical component to ensuring your business shows up when people are searching for the products and services you offer. On top of helping your search engine rankings, your Google My Business Page show prospects your:

  • Location
  • Contact details
  • Business hours
  • Directions
  • Photos of your office
  • Other photos that you may want to upload to Google that show off your business or your people
  • Customer Reviews

For more information on Google My Business, check out our previous post here.

Click here to get started on setting up your Google My Business page.

Blogging

Blogging is perhaps the most effective way to increase your organic website traffic. Search engines, such as Google, are ranking websites that are continuously updated with fresh, new, and useful content, higher on the list of results. Google’s goal is to provide the best search results for their customers and have determined that websites with more frequently updated, relevant content are more appealing and important to searchers. When Google “crawlers” come to audit your website to see if anything has changed, they report their findings back to Google. In addition, the crawlers are looking for relevant content. For example: A financial advisor website, with fresh and unique financial advice blogs, will have a better chance of ranking higher in search engines.

81% online consumers trust information and advice from blogs (BlogHer). Blogging is one of the most effective ways to provide value to prospects and clients by answering questions they may have in a helpful and targeted way.

Additionally, every positive experience that a user has with your website, or with an interesting ‘share-able’ blog, increases the likelihood of them returning and referring people, driving more traffic to your website.

Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines

There is plenty you can do to boost search engine traffic to your website at no cost except your time. Below are some techniques to get you started on increasing your search engine ranking and driving traffic to your website:

  1. Is your website mobile optimized?

40% of people will choose another result if the first one they land on is not mobile friendly (Sweor). With mobile users exceeding desktop users, having a responsive Advisor website has never been more important. On top of that, Google’s algorithm gives an additional search engine-ranking boost for mobile-friendly websites in the mobile search results.  The image below shows a website in search results that is deemed mobile-friendly.

Mobile Friendly in Search Engines

Digital Agent users – don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. All of your websites are 100% mobile friendly aka “responsive”.

     2. Back-links

A backlink is a hyperlink that links from someone else’s web page, back to your website. Back-links are important for Google to determine the popularity or importance of your website. Remember, Google tries its best to rank websites in accordance with its relevance and importance to the searcher. How many people visit and ‘recommend’ your site with a back-link is one way to determine how popular your website is.

An easy way to create back-links is to ask partners to link to your site in return for you linking to their website. For example, links from recommended lawyers, mortgage brokers, real-estate agents, are not only relevant to your business but they improve your importance in the search engine world.

    3. Use Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

Meta descriptions provide a concise preview of a website page’s content when it appears on search engine results page. Below is an example of a title with a Meta description under it.

Meta descriptions must be short, unique and relevant. It’s better to have a custom Meta description that instils curiosity in your audience and convinces them to click on your website in their search results. Try to include relevant keywords (the words you think your prospects are searching for) in both your Meta description and your title tag with each page of your website (including each blog you post).

  4. Research Relevant Keywords

What are people searching for when they are looking for your services? Use keywords on your website that are specific to your product or service. Over time, Google will identify your website or blog as a destination for that particular subject which will help boost your content and website in search engine rankings. However, ensure you are using your keywords appropriately and don’t overuse them as Google can penalize you for “keyword stuffing”.

Are you an Advisor in the Toronto region? If that’s the case, you should try to use relevant keywords (such as “Financial Advisor in Toronto Region”) in your titles, Meta descriptions, ALT tags and so on.

  5. Optimize your ALT tags for Images

Research shows that coloured visuals increase a person’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% (Hubspot). It is also important to include alternative text tags, also known as ALT tags, so that Google can better understand the information on your site. “A picture tells a thousand words” is true, but Google cannot understand what the photos are about without ALT tags.

Social Media

Build a presence on social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ etc. All of these networks help to expand your reach, get your name, business and website address out there on the Internet. Sharing your website content and blog posts through social media accounts, like Twitter and LinkedIn, is a great way to push out your content, while driving traffic back to your website.

A Business Case for a Digital Marketing & Compliance Platform in Financial Services

The convergence of digital, social, and mobile technology is changing consumers’ behaviours, preferences, and most importantly, expectations. Although consumers’ behaviour is changing, financial institutions have been traditionally slow to change and evolve with consumer expectations.

There are legitimate reasons for Financial Services’ resistance to change. Their size, complex back-office technology, and the need to comply with FINRA and IIROC regulations, make it difficult for them to adapt existing infrastructure and processes to meet the growing digital needs of their advisors and clients.

The Business Case for a Digital Marketing & Compliance Platform in Financial Services

The Importance of Consistent Branding for Financial Advisors

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Every company, individual, and Advisory Firm has a brand, even if they don’t pay much attention to it. Simply put, a brand is everything to do with you and your company: who you are, what you stand for, what services you offer, your goals, values, personality, and so much more. It is the feeling that is evoked by your customers and prospects when they think of your company. A good brand is built over time and requires thought, strategy, and consistent implementation. Consistent branding for financial advisors is just as important (if not more important) as branding for any other business.

Keeping a consistent brand can be pretty straightforward, but first, let’s discuss the benefits that come with consistency.

Consistency helps you manage perceptions

With a well thought, well built, and consistent brand, you’re better able to shape how people perceive your practice with every interaction they have with you. A consistent brand exudes professionalism, stability, organization, which in turn will help build trust.

Consistency sends a stronger message

A focused effort to maintain consistent branding and messaging across all of your business activities can help to deliver a positive impression to your audiences. But first, you’ll need to think about how you want your brand to be perceived. What do you want people to know about you? Are you reliable and focused? Do you follow through? Do you provide your clients with amazing results? Having consistency with your brand will amplify your message and build loyalty with your prospects and clients.

Consistency protects your investment

Logos don’t come cheap – and neither does all of the marketing material you may have containing your logo. It is important to build equity in your brand by implementing it consistently whether that is online, in print, or at events. Sloppy application of logos and messaging can be very detrimental to your brand. Value what your brand represents for your organization.

Keeping a consistent brand

This can be fairly straightforward, so long as you put in the effort to ensure that your branding is consistent throughout all of your business and marketing activities. That means that you are implementing your brand consistently for:

  • Merchandise
  • Letterheads
  • Your website
  • Business cards
  • Social media accounts
  • Tone and language
  • And so much more

In the digital age, branding your company so it stands out from others couldn’t be more important. When done right, your brand has the ability to attract and retain new clients. Keeping a consistent brand can help you manage your audiences’ perceptions of you, send a stronger message to clients and prospects, and save you money in the long run.

 Are you paying attention to your brand? If not, maybe it’s time to start.

Financial Advisors: How do I add my business to Google Maps?

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With so much information readily available to us on the Internet, it has become a natural reaction for individuals to go to search engines first to find the information that they are looking for.  Have you ever found yourself doing any of the following? Using Google Maps to find a store, or get directions to it.  […]

The Future of Customer Service is Online Self-Service Portals

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We’ve all been there. We have all been on the receiving end of the frustrating “hold music” when you’ve called an organization to resolve an issue. “One moment please. Your call is important to us. A representative will be with you shortly”…repeated… again….and again. Being put on hold when you call a customer-service department has become a fact of life. In fact, according to a survey by ResearchNow, the average person will spend 43 days on hold with automated customer service in one lifetime. Unfortunately, when people think about calling a customer service line, it is usually accompanied by negative and unenthusiastic feelings.

Consider these scenarios as well: Have you ever waited in line for an ATM machine even though there is nobody in line for the teller inside the bank? Have you ever arrived at an airport and chose to use a kiosk, rather then going to a person at the desk, despite being no line? Often, as consumers, we try to avoid situations where we can’t help ourselves in some shape or form. A recent study by Zendesk confirmed that 67% of respondents prefer self-service to speaking to a company representative.

Online self-service is becoming one of the most popular channels by which customers are looking to resolve problems and learn more about organizations. Today’s digital customers are happier when they can manage and complete their tasks at any time they want, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Is your brand delivering on what customers want?

Consider these facts:

  • 3 out of 4 consumers prefer to solve their customer service issue on their own (aspect)
  • 90% of consumers expect an organization to offer self-service customer support portal; 60% of consumers have a more favorable view of the brand if the self-service offering is mobile responsive (parature)
  • 73% of consumers want the ability to solve product/service issues on their own; one-third say they’d rather ‘clean a toilet’ than speak with customer service (parature)
  • 91% of survey respondents said they would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs (zendesk)
  • 75% of consumers move to another channel when online customer service fails, and Forrester estimates that unnecessary service costs to online retailers due to channel escalation are $22 million on average

Why self-service?

As consumers, we like to schedule appointments, troubleshoot problems, change a reservation, ask billing questions, get status updates, seek technical support, access FAQs, and ask our own questions, with minimal human interaction.

There are 3 underlying themes as to why consumers prefer online self-service:

  1. According to a survey done by zendesk, 75% of survey respondents said that self-service is a convenient way to address customer service issues. Customers can do it any time they want and take as long as they need.  Phone and email support can’t measure up to the timeliness of online self-service.
  2. Additionally, customers want online self-service for efficiency. Forrester found that 77% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide them with good customer service. Customers do not long for conversation and don’t want to be waiting in a queue to talk to a person, only to be transferred to a different department after already waiting. They want to get online, find what they are looking for, click around, and be done – as painlessly as possible, so that they can get back to what they were doing before they had the issue.
  3. Lastly, customers want control. Customers are increasingly being empowered to do almost anything themselves online. They do not want to have to rely on other people to do what they can do themselves. The customer does not want to give up control to the company but would prefer to take it into their own hands. Give your customers service on their own terms, not yours. 

Why self-service is also great news for companies

Online self-service is not only a good thing for customers. The shift towards online self-service is hugely beneficial for companies as well:

  1. Online self-service keeps your customers engaged with your brand and website.  A self service portal allows you to manage your customer relationships in a scalable way, as your company grows.
  2. Centralizes information and tools so that customers will always know where to find the information that they need.
  3. Online self-service provides companies with insight that simple website analytics can’t provide. Companies can track what their customers are doing on their self-service portals to get a clearer picture of their customers and experience with the brand.  This allows companies to continuously improve the experience based on observing what their customers are doing.
  4. Online self service portals are the most cost-efficient customer service channel.  A well built self service centre has the potential to be huge cost-savings for organizations.  By allowing your customers to track information online, in one place, you can lower the number of calls coming into your customer support centre

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Customers are making it clear that they are eager for effective self-service. But, they have also made it clear that the self-service experience that they want must perform seamlessly. Online self-service is only convenient, efficient, and control granting if you are giving your customers a great experience. On the flip side, a negative self-service experience provides your customers with an inconvenient and frustrating experience, forcing them to switch channels to get their issue resolved, which can be quite costly for the company.

So, how can your organization create an online self-service experience that lives up to customer expectations? Stay tuned for a new post, coming soon, where we will discuss the keys to creating a self-service experience that supports your customers and brand.