Content Marketing Vs. Public Relations (PR) [Infographic]

,

Communicating information to your audience is a very important element of gaining their attention for your brand. Marketers are always looking to new mediums to send their messaging out to the audience.  Advertising was very popular in the days before the internet, but today’s digital age has lead to two main strategies dominating marketing departments across multiple industries: content marketing and public relations (PR).

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:

“a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience. Ultimate goal is to drive profitable customer action.”

The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as:

“a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

As you can see, both of these definitions are quite similar. This infographic from CJG Digital Marketing examines the differences between the two practices.  

At Veriday, we believe content marketing is an effective strategy for regularly communicating relevant information to your audience. If done correctly, you will increase customer engagement and therefore increase the size of your client base. While public relations has its merits, we believe that content marketing is the more effective of the two marketing strategies. We believe it is more effective because PR is usually used during special events or crises, while content marketing is a regular occurrence.  
Content Marketing Vs. Public Relations

Social Selling is Not the Same as Social Media

,

Social selling is defined by LinkedIn as:

“leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and ultimately, achieve your sales goals.”

Now, for many salespeople this seems intuitive, “How else are you going to make sales?” You need a way to meet potential buyers, and cold-calling is a waste of time and money. Therefore, your network is the best way to make sales.

With the way that social media has gained popularity over the past decade, communicating with your network has never been easier. Like Dale Carnegie said in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Social selling follows that theory and applies it to brands. You can get more customers by taking interest in them, building relationships and developing trust than by using interruptive marketing techniques to ingrain your brand name in their head. 

Today, we will discuss several misconceptions about social selling. First, we will examine the misconception that social selling only takes place on social networks. Email, websites, and other forums can be used for social selling as well. Then we will discuss how social selling involves building personal relationships with the prospect. Finally, we will discuss the risks associated with selling on social networks.

1. Social selling does not only take place on social networks

While social selling involves leveraging your social network, it is not exclusively done on social media. Social selling is about building connections with your network, and these connections can be built in many ways. Many interactions will take place on social media, but email, websites, and forums are also great places to engage with your network.

Email
  • Email has its challenges because you first must build a contact list. This list can include clients, but in order to grow your network, you will need people to sign up for your newsletter:
    • You can get people to sign up for your newsletter by putting signup forms in various locations online.
    • To motivate people to sign up, outline the value proposition for your newsletter.
    • Offer subscriber-only incentives for signing up.
  • Once you have a contact list, email is one of the best methods of engagement for a few reasons:
    • Email has the highest ROI of all digital channels.
    • Emails are very personalized.
    • Results from email marketing are easily measurable.
  • Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
Websites
  • Publishing content to your website will increase your search rankings. Engaging, informative content draws people to your website (and keeps them engaged). Without content, your website will be nearly undiscoverable for those without the URL.
  • You can engage with your clients on your website or blog. Simply offering a comments section on your blog and asking people to comment their opinions is an effective way to build relationships and engagement.
  • New ways of engagement, such as chat (or chatbots) can entice people to visit and spend more time on your website.
Forums
  • An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.
  • There are many forums online, the largest of which is reddit.com
    • Reddit has many subject-specific forums, from NBA basketball to macrame.
    • Brands can even start a forum about themselves, inviting people to engage in a conversation with you
  • Other forums are focused on a specific subject, you will need to search for an active forum that meets your niche.

Regardless of where you choose to engage, the end goal is to start a conversation and build connections. Each channel you choose to use has their own strengths and weaknesses, so consider your end goals when creating an engagement strategy.

2. Social aspects of selling and customer engagement are about personal connections

To be successful at social selling, you will need to engage your customers in order to build a personal connection. People are far more likely to do business with an entity that they trust. This trust is best built through personifying your brand and putting a human face on your business.

Developing trust with consumers will lead to increased customer loyalty, which in turn will lead to improved customer engagement. Engagement, loyalty, and trust will lead to a more profitable audience, leading to more sales. We see companies who have improved engagement increase cross-sell revenue by 22% and drive up-sell revenue from 13% to 51%.

Social selling involves putting the customer first. Putting the customer first means meeting their needs, listening to their concerns, building a relationship with them and doing what you can to simplify their life. If you can achieve those goals, you will create a personal connection. You no longer will just be “the financial advisor” to your customers. You will be known on a first-name basis. Become part of their network and they will grow to trust you.

3. Social networks may be a lower value place for engagement, viewed as risky or an unsafe place for commerce

Engagement from social media can sometimes be seen as having less value than engagement from other channels. Some brands view social media as risky or an unsafe place for commerce because they cannot control the conversation.

On social media, you have to “go with the flow”. Anyone can say anything, at any time and it’s up to the brand to respond how they see fit. This can lead to some awkward and uncomfortable situations that require a response. The risk of public negative feedback can scare some brands away from using social media.

Some brands also view the engagement from social media to be “cheap”. These brands believe the engagement from social media does not lead to sales. 56% of businesses said they are unable to tie social media to business outcomes for one reason or another. Recently, various platforms such as Facebook have come under attack for having misleading analytics. The recent controversies have made the platforms even more questionable for marketers. At the end of the day, social media still is an excellent way to reach younger demographics, share content and engage with your audience.

While some brands feel social media is of low-value, it cannot be ignored that several brands have done an excellent job leveraging social media for their businesses. Dove, Netflix, and Coca-Cola are just three examples of brands who have successfully leveraged social media to start a conversation. There is absolutely nothing stopping a brand in finance from doing the same and becoming a social media superstar.

Implications: Firms need to consider broader context for social engagement strategies

You will need to consider a very wide-reaching strategy to get the most out of social selling.

Social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, are an excellent way to grow your network and share content. Email is a great method to re-engage with previous customers, keep prospective clients updated on new information, and maintain brand awareness in the minds of your readers. Forums, such as Reddit, can be used to find like-minded individuals and build connections with them, drawing them into your network.

If you don’t consider the main use case of whatever medium you are using and the context in which you attempt to engage, your social engagement strategy may seem erratic. Your goal is to build a relationship and gain trust. In order to do that, every interaction must feel natural and unforced.

So, what are your favorite strategies for social selling? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @VeridayHQ.

Digital Customer Experience vs. Customer Experience

,

Over 3,424,900,000 people use the internet every day. 90% of those people have used it to purchase something or contact a business within the last year alone. In the United States, Germany, France, U.K., and Canada, over 80% of the population has an internet connection. If you ignore the technologies commonly used on the internet, you are dooming your business to irrelevance.

We talk a lot about customer experience (CX), primarily digital customer experience (DCX) on this blog. They are subjects we believe to be extremely important due to their significance to businesses in the digital world. If you can’t offer your customer a high-quality digital experience, your customers’ experience when interacting with you will suffer greatly. There is no way to survive in today’s competitive environment without offering exceptional experiences at every step of the customer journey.

Customer Experience (CX)

Customer experience (CX) is one aspect of a digital transformation. All customer interactions, every touchpoint, and phase of interaction with the customer is a part of the overall customer experience. CX is an ongoing process, growing and evolving every time the customer interacts with your organization. An excellent customer experience is the cumulative impact of many touchpoints. Good CX provides consistent experiences that meet customer expectations, every step of the way. If you offer a better CX, you will improve your customer retention rate. By increasing customer retention rates by 5 percent, you can increase profits from 25 % to 95 %. Customer Experience focuses on the customer journey, the environments they interact in, and the actual touchpoints a customer interacts with.

An excellent customer experience can turn people into promoters and extremely loyal enthusiasts who urge their network to buy your product or use your service. A bad customer experience will turn that customer into a detractor, potentially leading to them “trashing” your business’ reputation and advising their networks to avoid you like the plague. It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience.  Evidently, CX is something you should be focusing on continually improving, seeing as it can have a critical impact on your business.

While customer experience has many different aspects, there is seemingly a singularly most important aspect of the whole equation. Regardless of the touch point and interaction, digital customer experience is an emerging concern. The digital ecosystem will often be home to initial interactions, and at the rate in which technologies are being adopted, more and more touchpoints will happen digitally.

Digital Experience (DX) for Customers

Digital customer experience (DCX) refers to the experience customers have with an organization on digital platforms. DCX encompasses every communication, all products, services and processes your customers experience via a digital channel. DCX is just one part of CX. The net cast by customer experience is much wider.

With the way information is consumed today, it is clear that DCX is the most important part of CX. After all, 70% of buyers return to Google at least 2-3 times during their research. Meaning that most, if not all, of the information a person has about you, will be found online. Roughly two-thirds of the buyer’s journey is completed digitally. Be sure that you offer an engaging, personalized DCX.

According to McKinsey, companies with greater digital capabilities were able to convert sales at a rate 2.5 times greater than companies at lower levels did.

It is important to ensure your clients have a pleasant experience when looking online for information. DCX involves every digital touchpoint, including all web and mobile interactions. DCX also encompasses beacons, IoT devices, face scanning, wearables and any other potential digital touchpoints.

One of the most appealing aspects of crafting a great digital experience for your customers is the copious amounts of data it produces. Due to the amount of data that gets created in the digital ecosystem, including cookies, online forms, existing profiles, and other data sources, DCX can be quantified much easier than experiences in non-digital ecosystems. The quantity and quality of the resulting data allow marketers to personalize the DCX, enabling them to offer content and messaging that uniquely speaks to that customer.

Conclusion

Customer’s expectations have changed. They want a better experience when doing business with your company. To meet and exceed those expectations, you need to prepare yourself to fully utilize the data provided by digital environments. You will also need to offer personalized content and provide an all-around great and seamless experience.

Remember, while these strategies are related, they still have enough differences between them that they can be considered separate concepts. Customer experience involves including more experiences, such as in-branch, over the phone, any mass media advertising, receipts, or other face-to-face interactions. Digital customer experience focuses on mediums that are strictly digital.

If you want to learn more about digital experiences check out:

For more information on customer experience, visit the following:

To better understand CS through a real world example, feel free to read our case study on the IBI Group.

In collaboration with IBI, Veriday implemented a digital strategy, combining location-aware and responsive design technologies. This strategy would transform the online customer experience.

Since the launch of their new digital experience strategy:

  • Site visits have increased by more than 55% year over year
  • Average visit duration has increased by 35% year over year
  • Increased Pageviews by 90% year over year

As always, thank you so much for reading, check us out on Twitter @VeridayHQ or follow us on LinkedIn.

9 Star Wars Quotes That Can Make You A Better Financial Agent

,

In 1977, George Lucas released his third film as a director: Star Wars. It was a massive success, leading to five more films before the production company behind the Star Wars franchise (LucasFilm) was sold to Disney. The space epic is centered around a series of intergalactic conflicts, exploring how your destiny is forged by the decisions you make. 

Throughout the course of the series, a variety of characters deliver quotes of great wisdom. The advice and ideas they share in these quotes are not only useful within the context of the films, but teach lessons that can be applied to the financial service industry. The lessons from Star Wars involve: keeping your business secure, having self-confidence, being patient, finding value where it might not be apparent, and making smart decisions.

I’ve compiled 9 of my favourite Star Wars quotes that I believe give insights into how you can become a better financial agent.

1. “You are unwise to lower your defenses.” — Darth Vader, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

This quote by Darth Vader was delivered while dueling his son, Luke Skywalker, on the second Death Star. While you probably won’t need to defend yourself against a lightsaber anytime soon, this quote can still be of consequence. It can apply to a variety of scenarios for financial agents, but it is most fitting when considering digital security.

You would be unwise to lower your defenses, especially those surrounding your company’s data. If you do not ensure that your data is heavily protected, you risk losing confidential information to hackers. In the financial service industry, this means breaking industry regulations and putting sensitive information at risk. Your clients would not appreciate a data breach; an event that would jeopardize your relationships with them.

You should take every possible measure to ensure you protect your data. This means training your employees to spot vulnerabilities and investing in a secure solution to store your data. 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses, and 60% of small businesses go out of business after a cyber attack. Digital security is a big deal, and you need to be constantly vigilant of potential breaches.

After being scolded about lowering his defenses, Luke promptly had his right hand cut off in a duel with his father. You don’t want your business to suffer the same fate.

9 Star Wars Quotes That Can Make You A Better Financial Agent

2.  I find your lack of faith disturbing.” – Darth Vader, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Our second quote by Darth Vader is another versatile statement that can be applied to a variety of scenarios. In the original movie, this line is delivered right before Darth Vader does something evil. Today, we will frame this quote as positive and make it about believing in yourself.

If you come to a decision, in business or in life, be confident that you made the right choice. You meticulously research and work with your key decision-makers to make the right financial plan for your client. Don’t let doubt creep into your mind and shake your confidence regarding the decision. Unless a strong amount of evidence comes to light that you made an error, stick to your guns. Believe in yourself. You are very capable and have the experience and knowledge to make the right decision.

Darth Vader was a villain, dominating the galaxy with the Emperor. It’s very sad because, in another life, he probably could have written a very successful self-help book.

3. You know better than to trust a strange computer.” — C3PO, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

9 Star Wars Quotes That Can Make You A Better Financial Agent

C3PO, the overly formal protocol droid, has the second lesson about security on this list. After R2D2 commented that the hyperdrive of the Millennial Falcon was broken, C3PO delivered this line. The ship was in the middle of a space battle, and R2D2 was given the information by the enemies computer. While the information R2D2 received was ultimately correct, C3PO raises a good point. You shouldn’t trust strange computers (or systems, or emails, or anything).

If you receive a notification, an email, or another alert about a problem, you should independently investigate that problem. If you don’t have the resources or knowledge to investigate, you should find someone in your organization who does. The most common phishing techniques can be combatted simply by being vigilant and questioning things that don’t seem right.

Also, be aware of strange hardware. USBs and other storage solutions can be used to upload viruses, ransomware, and other malware onto your computer. Do not plug in a USB that you don’t know the origin of. Don’t trust a strange computer and be aware of potential cyber threats.

4. Patience you must have, my young Padawan.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

This quote was originally delivered by Jedi Master Yoda to the young and inexperienced Luke Skywalker during Luke’s training. Luke was rushing his training so he could go fight his father Darth Vader. Yoda, on the other hand, felt he needed more training. Despite his unconventional way of speaking, Yoda always conveys great wisdom. There are many ways that patience benefits financial agents, but today we will take a look at two in particular.

The first scenario where patience applies in finance is when trading stocks and securities. When you look to make a trade, you must set your rules for entry. At what price point will you make the trade? At what point will you sell what you currently possess? Should you sell after turmoil? These decisions are all very important. Being patient can ensure that you make the right decision at the right time.

The second scenario where patience is a virtue in finance is anytime you help a client with their finances. You are a professional. You have the training and the knowledge to help them make a plan that fits their needs. Be patient, and encourage them to be patient, when investing or saving for the future. It takes time to save for things such as retirement. Be patient. When working with clients, you should be like the Master Yoda of the conversation. Convey your wisdom and speak the truth.

5. Judge me by my size, do you?” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

9 Star Wars Quotes That Can Make You A Better Financial Agent

Yoda is full of grammatically incorrect quotes brimming with wisdom. As he accuses Luke Skywalker of misjudging his power, Yoda asks a question that should be asked more often. You should be very cautious when judging opportunities. Just because a company is small, doesn’t mean it is a bad investment opportunity. That small company could grow to become extremely profitable. Perhaps a great investment opportunity is severely undervalued. When it comes to trading, be careful of judging things by their size.

Just because a client doesn’t have a lot of assets, does not mean that they should be treated as such. There are a number of reasons not to judge somebody by the size of their wallet. That person could win the lottery tomorrow, and be a multi-millionaire. They could inherit a large fortune, or simply work their way up the corporate ladder quickly. All of these scenarios leave that person with more assets than they currently have. If you treat them poorly while managing their wealth (pre-windfall), you risk driving them off when they “make it”. Simply disrespecting clients of lesser means, may hurt your assets under management in the future.

Take millennials as an example. Financial advisors often ignore them because they currently don’t have many assets. In reality, millennials are the future for financial service providers because of their growing spending power. In due time, they will control a significant amount of the world’s wealth. Financial advisors who can draw a millennial client base before the generation fully realizes their wealth will have an advantage over their competition.

6. “You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting.” – Shmi Skywalker, Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (1999)

The mother of Anakin Skywalker (AKA Darth Vader), Shmi Skywalker, was a relatively minor character in the Star Wars franchise. She spoke this line to her young son before he turned to the dark side. The quote applies to finance (and life) in a number of ways.

You cannot do anything to stop change. It is a constant. Governments will put in place regulations that impact the financial services. Businesses will make bad decisions, and things will fail. What makes a good financial agent is your ability to anticipate and react to these change in order to benefit your client base.

Since you cannot stop change, you should embrace it. Stay on top of modern trends. Understand what technologies and strategies are emerging and how you can take advantage of them. Look for opportunities for success within changing situations. Anakin Skywalker did not heed his mother’s advice. Anakin tried to stop change and in doing so he lost everyone he loved and became Darth Vader. Do not make the same mistake.

7. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Yet another quote delivered by Yoda to Luke Skywalker during his training. This quote is about determination. Your actions have real effects, and you should have the patience, knowledge, and confidence to follow through with your plans. If you say you are going to “try”, you are subconsciously admitting that your plans might fail.

When you go to the store to get milk, do you say “I’m going to try to get milk”? No, you don’t. You say “I’m going to get milk” with the confidence that you will be able to get the milk. You should have confidence in your plans. Believe your plan can be accomplished. Do not try. Just do it.

If you cannot ensure that you can make a plan and 100% follow through, then you may need to re-evaluate. Break down what you need to accomplish into manageable pieces, and make a plan for each of those segments. To gain trust from your customers, you need to be able to communicate exactly what you can do for them. If you can highlight what you can 100% achieve for your client, you will better be able to provide tangible value.

You need to constantly be communicating your value, highlighting what you do for your clients. Service providers face a challenge that is not faced by distributors of goods. The physical existence of goods serves as a reminder of their value. When people see their car, they are reminded of the value it provides. Services do not have that reminder, so service providers need to constantly remind their clients of the value they provide.

8. Who’s the more foolish, the fool? Or the fool who follows him?” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Old Obi-Wan Kenobi spoke this line to Han Solo while aboard the Millennial Falcon. Han was calling him “an old fool”, and Obi-Wan returned with this biting comeback. Obi-Wan has a serious point here. If you know better, why would you follow bad advice? For financial agents, this goes two ways.

You should resist the pressure to sell financial products you don’t believe in. Major financial institutions often push their agents to promote particular products. If you don’t believe in a product, why would your client be interested in it? You are an expert. Every product or service you recommend to a client should be tailored to their unique needs. Don’t be unwise when recommending action. It is your responsibility to make the most logical, well-intended decisions, regardless of what expectations are held by leadership.

The other side of the equation for financial agents comes when they are the ones providing guidance or advice. Your clients will not be happy if they believe you have made “foolish” decisions. They lose faith in your ability to manage their finances. Bad decisions and mismanagement will result in clients using trust in you, damaging your reputation. Ensure that your decision-making process is justified and easily explainable. People understand why taking risks is important, however, they will not be understanding of foolish mistakes.

Be mindful of every decision you make; as even if made in good faith, decisions can easily result in negative results. You do not want to be seen as a fool (because you aren’t one). Ensure you advocate for the right decisions are made… even if they are out of your control.

9. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” – Multiple characters, Star Wars: Multiple times (1977-2016)

9 Star Wars Quotes That Can Make You A Better Financial Agent

Arguably the second most iconic line of the series (behind “May the Force be with you”), this quote speaks volumes. Every time a character proclaims: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”, something bad happens almost immediately.

The lesson you can take from this quote is that you should trust your “gut”. Financial markets can rapidly change, with government actions or small changes in an industry having a widespread effect almost immediately. If data isn’t available to accurately forecast the expected results you should trust your intuition. Mistakes and missteps are bound to happen. You can justify your actions in those moments if you know that you stuck to your convictions and trusted your instincts.

If you have a bad feeling about something, as Luke Skywalker did right before he saw the original Death Star for the first time, you should trust that feeling. You have training and experience. Rely on that to make the correct decision.

As you can see, you can learn a lot of lessons from the Star Wars saga. Through the many adventures the heroes faced, we learned lessons to apply to finance (and business in general). What other Star Wars quotes relate to the financial service industry? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ! Have an excellent day and may the Force be with you!

How are Financial Services Delivery Channels Changing?

,

As Bob Dylan once sang: “the times, they are a changin”. This song-worthy statement certainly holds true in the financial services industry today. From online and mobile experiences to the internet of things, to robo-advisors and the use of artificial intelligence, things are very different today compared to a decade ago. Today, we are going to look at five graphs from the Financial Brand and see what they say about technology use in financial services.

1. Importance of Each Delivery Channel

importance of different channels

This graph examines the importance of various delivery channels to consumers.

The graph clearly shows that to consumers, the in-branch experience is the single most important delivery channel. Nearly half of consumers surveyed thought that the quality of the in-branch experience was the most important delivery channel for customer experience. In addition, nearly a quarter of respondents rank it as the second most important factor.

Notice how the smartphone app and smartphone browser experiences rank as far less important? This shows that mobile technology solutions are still far less important to the average consumer than the in-person experience, at least when it comes to banking.

Over the phone customer experience, a distinctly non-high-tech delivery channel rated very highly as second or third priority delivery channels. However, it ranked very low as a first option. This could be because if a consumer’s most used channel has a problem such as:

    • Local branch is closed for emergency
    • No internet connection is available
    • Long distance between consumer and branches
    • Laptop exploded
    • Etc.

Any of these problems could motivate a consumer to call the bank in order to solve their problem.

This means that even when you believe that digital experiences rate highly for your consumers, you will need to provide a solid in-person experience in order to satisfy their secondary and tertiary preferences.

2. Considering New Experiences

New experiences consumers are willing to try

The second graph we are looking at examines which new experiences consumers are willing to try. This graph shows that consumers are more willing to consider traditional financial service experiences. Any form of technology added to the equation will lower the adoption rate, especially among baby boomers.

Consumers are extremely willing to consider meeting in-person with a traditional financial advisor who provides personalized service for a traditional fee, across all generations. Again, this shows that consumers are very open to the idea of human interaction.

The second category, automated investment services, is less popular across all demographics. The results are the closest between this category and the previous one with millennials, who likely have the smallest amount to invest of all groups. Their relative lack of wealth, along with their digital upbringing makes them more comfortable with automated investment services.

Online financial coaching, the third option, is again dramatically less popular than meeting an advisor in person with every group except millennials. This point could tie to the one above. They do not have many assets and were raised in an environment where digital channels were emerging, making them more comfortable with those channels. Social media groups have a very little chance to be considered by any consumer, even millennials.

What I take away from this graph is the fact that consumers prefer in-person professional advice in financial services. The farther removed a service was from a professional, the less likely it would be considered.

3. Is Robo-Advice Trusted?

Is Robo-Advice Trusted?

The third graph compares whose advice is more trusted: humans or robots? While most respondents have no strong feelings one way or another, the consensus is that human advice is superior. Just over half of total respondents felt that human advisors could be trusted more than robo-advice.

Although humans are still seen as more reliable, this graph should be worrying to financial advisors who do not (or cannot) offer robo-advice. The first robo-advisor launched in 2008, so they have not even been around for a decade. By 2020, robo advisors are projected to manage over $8 trillion.

Financial advisors need to be concerned about this trend. $8 trillion is a significant amount of business to lose to automation. Financial service providers need to come together to develop a coherent strategy as to how to combat this threat. Perhaps all financial advisors will soon offer robo-advice at a rate lower than that of their standard services.

Regardless of how they combat it, a strategy must be defined soon. As the robo-advisory market matures, more and more people will be willing to adopt it. Automation is on the doorstep, how will the financial service industry respond?

4. Consumer Attitudes Towards New Technologies

Consumer attitudes towards new technology

This graph examines consumer attitudes towards new technologies, highlighting two highly sought-after groups in financial services. Now, before we get into the analysis, some factors must be accounted for. First, these are the consumers’ opinions of themselves. That might account for over half of millennials and the mass affluent claiming they are one of the first people to try out new technologies. Among these groups, being an early adopter of technology can be seen as “cool”. This wording might also contribute to the low number of respondents who claimed they are “hesitant” to try out new technology, thanks to the negative connotations often associated with that word.

Now, let’s examine what this graph tells us about attitudes towards technology adoption. It is clear, that both the mass affluent and millennials are interested in new technologies. Nearly a third of each category believe that they are the first person to try out a new technology. This points to an extreme eagerness to use new technologies. These are the consumers who will try out the latest, greatest app. They will wait in line to buy the new iPhone and they will appreciate (and use) the new features of a product.

Compared to the average person, millennials and the mass affluent will rapidly adopt new technology, they are your trendsetters. When you introduce new technology solutions, ensure that the message gets out to these groups of people.

If millennials and the mass affluent adopt a technology upon implementation and keep using the technology, it is a great sign that you have a winner on your hands. Keep this in mind when adopting a new technology for your business. Not everyone will immediately pick up new technology. Use these groups as a litmus test to gauge the success of a new technology solution

5. Adoption of New Digital Services

Adoption of new digital solutions

The final graph we will look at today examines what digital services consumers are aware of and which services are being adopted. There are two ways in which someone could view this graph:

The first way in which someone could view this is as a cynic. They would see how many people are aware of the technologies and then compare it to how many people have adopted it (or plan to). If a person looked at the graph this way, they would conclude that the financial service industry is failing at motivating the adoption of technology solutions.

The second way that someone could look at this graph would lead them to believe that the financial service industry does not consider consumer needs when introducing new technologies. Only two of the listed options have at least half of respondents planning to use the technology. These two options are arguably the most practical for financial services and could be a benefit to anybody. Digital protection against theft and fraud, as well as mobile transfer technologies, are useful to any consumer of financial services. They add convenience and safety to everybody, hence the high adoption rates. Other options listed either don’t benefit the average person, often come with significant fees, or seemingly put people’s data at risk.

Another thing that jumps off the page, is the fact that most of these options have an awareness rate below 80%, with some in the low-60% range. To me, this is the most concerning aspect of the entire graph. How can a financial institution expect to sell these solutions if people aren’t aware of them? Perhaps there is some nuance to the situation, but it appears that financial service marketers need to work on spreading awareness of new technology solutions.

Conclusion

These five graphs say a lot about the use of technology in the financial service industry. They show consumer banking habits through the perceived importance of various channels. The graphs show what experiences consumers would consider trying and how technology could take some percentage of business away from humans. The graphs also showed how consumers view technology, as well as to what degree consumers are aware of various financial services.

However you choose to read into these graphs, they must show to some extent how technology is moving in on traditional financial service offerings. If anything, the graphs should be a reminder to those in FinServ that the world is changing rapidly. In the future, your competition might not be a human, but a machine. Always be aware of your competitive landscape and consider what you can do to compete with automated services.

How did you read these graphs? Will robo-advisors ever truly become a threat to the traditional financial advisor? What can financial service providers do in order to retain more customers and fight back competition from financial technology? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @VeridayHQ or on LinkedIn here!

How to Build Customer Loyalty in the Digital Age

,

This post was authored by Matthew Draper and originally appeared here on Liferay.com

———————————–

The age of digital transformation has helped companies better understand and connect with their target audiences, with everything from dynamic content to page behavior insights helping to create a better picture of how individuals interact with companies. However, it has also greatly affected how loyal customers are to any given company.

Studies show that customers are more likely than ever to jump to competitors when they become dissatisfied with their current services, no matter how long they may have had a relationship with a company. Research from Vision Critical has found that 42 percent of Americans will stop shopping with a brand after only two bad experiences, making consistent high-quality customer experience critical in customer retention. While that lack of loyalty may mean ample opportunities for companies looking to expand their clientele, Harvard Business Review research shows that it costs approximately seven times more to gain a new customer than it does to retain one. As such, cultivating customer loyalty has both reputational and financial benefits.

But the question remains, how does a company improve customer loyalty in an age where loyalty is in short supply?

Encouraging Customer Loyalty Through Good Customer Experience

Changes in modern customer loyalty can be seen as an outcome of digital transformation, with more services than ever made convenient and easily accessible online. However, today’s customer often takes greater advantage of these online opportunities than the companies themselves, leading to today’s drop in customer loyalty. One of the largest factors in constantly shifting customer loyalty in the digital age is customer experience. Studies show that while pricing and quality of products may play a part in why a customer chooses one company over another, customer experience (CX) is the most important aspect in his or her choice.

The term customer experience can be applied to any interaction that a potential client has with your company, but there are several specific areas that can have the largest impact on loyalty. Brands can fight back against the waning tide of customer loyalty and its impact on client retention by improving the following areas of customer experience.

Ease of Access

Existing and potential clients should have the ability to quickly and completely reach your company’s services whenever and wherever they want. Today, customers expect to find and receive the online services they want without complications or delays. Without true brand loyalty, making your services easily accessible can make a major difference during a potential customer’s split-second choice between your company or a competitor.

Pre-existing loyalty may cause an existing client to go to you first, but not being able to quickly find/receive the services they want will easily send them to your competitor. Companies should consider how to implement omnichannel experiences in their services. In doing so, target audiences can smoothly and quickly interact online in both desktop and mobile, as well as in person, for a seamless experience that pushes them consistently and naturally toward closing a sale.

Supply Helpful Customer Service

The field of customer service is one of the most memorable interactions between your business and its customers. Customer service can include free shipping on items, customer loyalty rewards programs, return policies, promotional offers and customer support with issues concerning a product. According to research from Harris Interactive, 62% of U.S. consumers have switched brands in the past year due to a poor customer service experience. Good customer service not only reinforces to clients that your company cares about them, but prevents one of the biggest reasons for customer drop-off.

No matter the industry, customer service plays a crucial role in representing your brand in what are often the most decision-influencing interactions in any customer journey. Successfully demonstrating your dependability during these times can have a major positive effect on customer loyalty.

Distinguishing Your Brand Identity

Customers will tie your brand to the customer experience you provide. Should you offer a great experience, customers will attach positive feelings to your brand, but provide poor experiences and these failings will be tied to the brand instead. As such, it’s crucial that customer experiences align with your company’s larger goals so that good experiences not only gives clients a positive memory, but improve your brand’s standing in the public consciousness. For example, Amazon Dash buttons, which allow customers to reorder a product with the single push of a button, distinctly feature the brand of the company. In doing so, customers tie the brand to the simple, successful and satisfying experience they have had in using the button.

Forrester’s Customer Experience Index has found that a customer’s emotional connection with a brand has some of the strongest influence on loyalty. Cultivating that emotional connection and making it a positive one will yield short- and long-term loyalty in an age that has more competitors than ever before. In a sea of products and services from more brands than ever, having a positive emotional tie will help your brand distinguish itself from the crowd and feel less replaceable to clients.

The Human Brand: How Personal Connections Shaped the World

,

At Veriday, our team has recently been reading The Human Brand, written by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske. The book looks at branding through the lens of a psychological scientist to see how branding can have an effect on customer loyalty and retention. We believe that personal branding is key to gaining and retaining customers by offering them personalized experiences that establish human relationships in an increasingly digital world. We are striving to facilitate those relationships in financial services through technology solutions that allow personalized marketing to remain compliant.

The introduction of the book is very informative and uses several engaging examples to explain the thesis of the book. Today, we are going to take a look at the first documented brands and why they were needed. We will also look at the status-quo before brands became commonplace and discuss the proliferation of branding, both corporate and personal, in the increasingly digital world.

Trademarks: Branding Post-Industrial Revolution

Brands have been around for a very long time. In 1882, French painter Édouard Manet painted the masterpiece, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. On the right side of the painting, there is a bottle of ale with a trademark for the British brewer Bass & Co. It’s believed that this was the first commercial trademark in a piece of fine art.

It is fitting that the first use of a trademark in fine art took place during the industrial revolution; where for the first time, people were buying goods of unknown origins. Before industrialization, people purchased (or traded) goods from other members of the community. When you bought bread, you knew the baker personally. Maybe you even had a social relationship with them. That relationship meant that there was some level of trust behind the transaction. In the book, it’s framed as “buying the person behind the product along with the product itself.” 

Since the industrial revolution, we do not have relationships with the merchants and manufacturers of our goods. Before the advent of social media, there was no way to hold them accountable. If there is not a way to hold companies accountable, there is less incentive to treat your customers with respect. With no incentive to treat customers well, some businesses feel like they can employ predatory practices. 

Trademarks originated as a way for customers to know where their goods were coming from. They replaced the personal relationship with manufacturers that was the norm pre-industrial revolution.

Social Relationships: What Branding Replaced

Back when everybody knew the people who made their goods, an interesting practice took place. Commercial sales of bread needed to be at least a certain weight or the baker would face grave social consequences. To be safe, bakers would add an extra roll or two into every batch. This is where the term “baker’s dozen” comes from.

In the days when everybody knew their baker, if a baker shorted their customer, the information would be spread around the community, and their reputation would be ruined. The baker who undersold bread would face social humiliation and business consequences. The threat of these consequences provided enough social pressure to keep people honest. The authors of The Human Brand concluded that:

“Merchants accepted that the relationship they had with their customers were critical to survival, and they either learned to nurture those relationships or their business would fail.”

175 years ago, merchants could see the value in building relationships with their customers. Because of the industrial revolution and the rise in manufacturing centers, merchants and customers grew apart. Customer-merchant relationships are no longer as close as they once were.

The authors propose that social networks have made the world more closely connected. Social networks have reestablished the social consequences of providing a low-quality product. Social accountability is here to stay. Customers can now influence outcomes that used to be far beyond their control. Thanks to social networks, there is instant karma. If a company does something dishonest, the whole world will know almost immediately.

Humanization of Brands

The authors introduced a case study of when the Montgomery Ward company tried to humanize their mail-order catalogue. They included pictures of the company’s founders and other executives, with their signatures underneath the pictures. They were trying to humanize the brand by evoking a human connection with the readers. Their attempt to humanize the brand was meant to solve the “unknown hands” issue that was present since the industrial revolution. In the book, the authors showed this note from a Montgomery Ward customer:

“I suppose you wonder why we haven’t ordered anything from you since the fall. Well, the cow kicked my arm and broke it and besides my wife was sick, and there was the doctor bill. But now, thank God, that is paid, and we are all well again, and we have a fat new baby boy, and please send plush bonnet number 29d8077 . . . “

This note clearly illustrates that their efforts to humanize their brand were successful. The customer replied as if they were responding to their local shopkeeper despite the fact that the note was sent in a mass-selling situation. It would be the equivalent of sending a personalized letter to a mass retailer like Wal-Mart or Amazon today. Building relationships with your customers and evoking emotions by providing a human connection can increase customer loyalty.

There need to be consequences for brands when they misbehave. In the days before the industrial revolution, manufacturers had social relationships with their patrons. If they acted dishonestly, word would spread through the community and ruin the merchant’s reputation. In today’s digital world, social media has almost the same function.

Conclusion

A lot has changed since the industrial revolution. The world went from local sales and personal relationships with every merchant to mass-selling and no connection with merchants thanks to the increased manufacturing capacity brought by technological change. Since social networks have gained popularity, merchants have started to build relationships with their customers online. We have seen a revival in social accountability, meaning that bad customer experiences get shared across the web, resulting in bad publicity for the offending business.

This connectivity is not without its challenges. Brands now need to make special considerations on how to naturally engage with their customers online. Brands have to make plans for dealing with upset customers online or risk a media firestorm. Relationships in business are back to a new, never-before-seen level. You will need to nurture and grow your client relationships or be left behind in the increasingly social world.

The Human Brand discusses the challenges of humanizing your brand in today’s social age. It is a great read for any marketer. Have you read this book? What were your biggest takeaways? As always, let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ