Powering Up Your LinkedIn Presence For Success

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Your LinkedIn profile has so much potential to be your strongest marketing tool if leveraged correctly. By having a professional completed profile with unique content written, advisors can differentiate themselves.

1. Where does LinkedIn Fit In?

  1. Priority 1: Point A to B: Your LinkedIn profile is your website. It is functional and mandatory. Without it, your business does not exist, even with a LinkedIn profile.
  2. Priority 2: Your LinkedIn profile is your personal and owned platform for publishing original content. You can fill your profile with content
  3. Priority 3: Start to optimize your profile using keywords, meta description, and page titles. These will increase organic and paid keyword traffic improving marketing results
  4. Priority 4: Create a good first impression with your profile picture, achievements, content. Prospects and leads are checking you out in the decision-making process

2. Your LinkedIn Profile Needs a Makeover

Your LinkedIn Profile is not your resume. Resumes are a thing of the past. They are boring and flat and only useful when someone is looking for a new opportunity. LinkedIn is a multidimensional tool, it’s a marketing platform. Companies and brands are leveraging other social channels to grow a following and produce content. LinkedIn can be exactly that for an individual to grow their own personal brand.

Core Profile Components. The Peep Hole.

The Basics are name, location, industry, profile URL, summaryAndrew Chung LinkedIn

Profile Image – Your profile image should be current, clear, up close and eye-catching

Professional Headline – Consider if your audience would continue reading your profile if they only read your headline. What do you specialize in? What is your expertise? Do you have any designations, certifications or brand name associations? Have you been published anywhere online that is recognizable? These are all factors that would make your audience want to learn more about you. When writing your headline try to be bold, catchy and confident so people want to contact you.

Contact Information – Never stop branding yourself. It’s a good idea to use a work email and avoid emails from gmail, hotmail, msn, yahoo, etc. When you post on LinkedIn, it can also be sent to twitter to be published as a Tweet. It is more professional to change your LinkedIn URL to something personalized

Experience – This is where you tell your story. Visitors have scrolled down to learn more about you. Use this area to build your credibility and show. Consider including what results did you achieve in your time at this company or business? Why do these results matter? What impact did they have on your clients/customers? Do the results matter to your audience?

Published Content – LinkedIn allows individuals to write and publish content. There is a huge opportunity here to position yourself as an expert in your field. Instead of always posting and linking to industry reports why not write something yourself. Your digital footprint is very important for prospects.

3. Validating Your Profile

To validate that your profile will work for what you’re trying to accomplish it might be a good idea to consider LinkedIn Premium. Focus the quality of your profile instead of the quantity that you are writing. By leveraging the LinkedIn insights, you can ask yourself what is the right audience for your content? What are the key industries or companies you want to target? What does the distribution look like?

Is your profile coming up when people search on LinkedIn? How many of my viewers are finding me via keywords and search vs other mediums?

LinkedIn Marketing

 

4. Generating Leads

Remember Content Marketing. Start with a clearly defined audience and brainstorm and create content specifically for your defined audience. Next, distribute that content to your LinkedIn profile so that your audience and followers can read it. Drive profitable customer action by encouraging call to actions in your content. Lastly, measure it! Any marketing efforts should always be measured.Andrew Chung LinkedIn Profile

Share Curated Content to

  1. Drive engagement
  2. Drive your brand
  3. Share helpful content while being helpful
  4. Ask questions to encourage engagement

Best Practices

To summarize, focus the fundamentals first. Ask yourself, is this an accurate illustration of how you would greet and introduce yourself in person. Stage your company or personal brand in your summary. Tell a story with your experience. Use LinkedIn analytics to determine if the correct audience is connecting to you. Share content that is owned and curated but try to share more of your own content first. Create profitable action by providing conversion points. Lastly, apply networking techniques to grow your audience. Once you have your LinkedIn profile updated, leverage some of that content on your own website.

6 Best Practices of A Great Omnichannel Experience: Part 1

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Thanks to the ever-increasing capabilities of mobile devices, more and more people are using multiple channels when making a purchase. Just 27% of people use only one channel during their buyer’s journey. That means the other 73% of individuals are omnichannel customers. These omnichannel customers are more valuable to your business, spending 4% more every time they shop. It’s essential to design a high-quality omnichannel experience to cater to these high-value customers.

These six omnichannel best practices are vital to winning the business of customers who make purchases using multiple channels.

1) Strive for Consistency

With such a large percentage of people using multiple channels to make purchases, it’s important to provide a consistent experience across channels. A true omnichannel experience lets customers do research on one channel, continue researching on another, and finally make a purchase using a third channel. Brands should provide a consistent experience, making it simple and straightforward for prospects to navigate across channels.

Consistent design and messaging can enable people to shift between devices quickly, finding the required resource regardless of which channel. Resources with consistent design and messaging will be instantly recognizable, making it easy for prospects to find resources on different channels.

Back-end consistency is the most important part of the omnichannel experience. People do not want to have to start their shopping experience all over again when they transition between devices. Organizations need to break down back-end data silos. By fully integrating the back-end, brands can ensure there is a smooth transition between channels, eliminating customer frustration.

2) Bring Digital Technology in-Store

Organizations should bring digital technology to the in-person experience to create cross-channel consistency. Marrying digital technologies with the traditional in-store experience lets brands create unique interactions that can thrill their customers.

Bringing digital technology into traditional in-person experiences benefits organizations in two ways. First, it enhances the in-person experience, introducing non-traditional mediums to share product information and motivate sales. Secondly, it introduces consumers to new digital technologies, increasing the chances that they will interact with those technologies online.

How can brands bring digital technologies to the in-store experience? Creating a mobile application is often the first step. An app lets brands used location-based tracking and beacons to provide local offers to customers when they are in-store. An app can also use artificial reality to showcase products visually. Another way to integrate digital technologies into the in-store experience is to create interactive content displayed on touch screens, creating in-store digital engagement opportunities.

3) Real-Time Updates

To create a true omnichannel experience, organizations must be able to update information in real time. This is necessary because what is done in one location must be reflected in others. Customers will become frustrated if they proceed through the entire journey on one channel, only to find out that the services they need are not available. This might mean the product they purchase sold out, and the inventory hasn’t been updated, or that they cannot book a meeting with their financial advisor through a mobile device. Frustrations like this can alienate customers and cause them to make their purchase elsewhere, therefore losing your business a customer.

According to a study by Accenture, 50% of customers expect to be able to place an order online and pick it up in-store. Customers want to be able to see their purchase and resource search history, regardless of which device they use.

To facilitate the expectations of a complete omnichannel integration, brands need to eliminate data silos with complete back-end integration. To learn more about the importance of integrating data silos, check out our article: You Won’t Believe How Data Silos Are Killing Your Business.

That wraps up part one of our two-part series on Omnichannel Experience Best Practices. Check back on Thursday, October 24, 2017, for part two! In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ or LinkedIn!

5 Most Impactful Digital Transformation Trends in Finance

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It’s clear that the financial services industry is experiencing digital transformation. Driving that transformation is a series of trends that incentivizes banks to change. Consumers no longer want the same old experience; they want convenient, secure solutions that meet their banking needs. These five digital transformation trends will encourage banks to improve their digital capabilities and advance into a new era of banking.

1) Blockchain

2017 has been the year of the blockchain. For the uninitiated, blockchain refers to a digital ledger in which transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly. The blockchain is so attractive to banks because it offers transparency, security and lowers transaction costs. Banks are working to increase the effectiveness of peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, and the blockchain can be the foundation of that system.

Blockchain-based technologies are driving digital transformation in banking by offering the possibility of an entirely transparent ledger of transactions. The blockchain can make it easier for consumers to transfer assets between each other. Blockchain-based systems can add a layer to security to P2P payment and lending systems, a feature that is already popular with consumers.

By adding a layer of reliability to P2P payment systems using blockchain, banks can increase consumers confidence in their ability to deliver branchless banking.

2) Branchless Banking

While some customers enjoy using branches to meet their banking needs, an ever-increasing portion of the population wants to be able to handle all their banking without ever stepping in a branch. In fact, over 40% of consumers have not used a bank branch in the past six months.

Consumers want to do their banking without having to go to a branch, and digital transformation is the cause. Many people have become used to shopping online, watching TV online and using the internet for nearly every transaction they need to make. Banks are no exception. They need to offer a high-quality, secure, branchless experience to keep their customers satisfied.

Features such as online personal banking, offering the ability to sign up for services online and digital peer-to-peer payment systems will allow consumers to forego using a branch while still being able to meet their banking needs. The blockchain is one new feature that can facilitate branchless banking.

3) New Features

Once upon a time, debit cards were a new, innovative feature that could be used to excite customers. Today, those same debit cards are being phased out for more convenient payment systems. If a bank does not continually develop new features, consumers will look to FinTech challengers to scratch their itch for innovation.

Developing new capabilities, such as online banking, P2P payments or building an app has changed the way that banks interact with customers. The status quo changes quickly, and what is fresh and innovative in 2017 will one day be considered outdated.

An essential feature of digital transformation is the drive to continually innovate and improve the customer experience using technology solutions. This continual innovation will lead to more fundamental changes that shake the banking industry to its core. The innovation caused by digital transformation may alter aspects of financial services that were once thought to be immune to change.

4) Cashless Transactions

Cash currencies are becoming less common in societies all across the world. The process of states transitioning from cash to digital currencies has already begun. On November 8th, 2016, India announced a recall of over 80% of the country’s currency, something that wouldn’t be possible unless the move to digital transactions had already begun. Thanks to the growing ubiquity of digital payment apps, online banking, and P2P lending platforms, cash has lost much of its usefulness.

Paper currency is on its way out, thanks to technologies such as blockchain ledgers and P2P payment systems. To many, carrying cash is an annoyance, and even the smallest transactions are conducted with a credit or debit card. In the future, cash will have no place in any developed society. It’s time for banks to implement digital payment systems that require nothing but a smartphone. One day, even cards will be considered a nuisance.

The future of transactions lies in peer-to-peer payment systems. Nobody wants to have to find an ATM just to get cash so they can pay their friend back for lunch. If you cannot provide this digital feature, customers will lose patience.

5) Enhanced Security

All consumers need to be aware of online security threats. Recent, high-profile examples of cybercrime have contributed to some individuals being skeptical of any digital technology. Even well-known companies who are digital natives such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook have to deal with these concerns. Consumers want to ensure their data is safe, especially when the data contains sensitive information that a bank might need.

Banks need to develop security protocols that consumers can easily learn. Banks should educate their customers on things such as: The importance of protecting passwords, using secure connections, always being vigilant of potential security threats and, reporting suspicious emails and links.

By teaching customers to follow these procedures banks can build consumer trust in their bank’s security capabilities. Building that trust will motivate customers to begin their own personal digital transformation, pushing them to complete everyday transactions through digital channels.

These five digital transformation trends are not only affecting banks but the financial services industry as a whole. Financial service professionals need to adapt to what consumers want. Banks need to offer convenient service, where customers control the interaction. Most consumers have already begun to expect some level of digital mastery. Are you ready to meet their needs? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ or LinkedIn. If you want to learn more about digital transformation, you can check out more of our blog posts here.

A Beginners Guide to Digital Advertising

Outbound Digital Marketing Tactics

$83 billion dollars is projected to be spent on digital advertisements in 2017. There are many different types of digital ads, different pricing models, and different media types. Some ad formats can only be had on one platform; others are universal. These nuances and differences are important to every marketer who uses digital channels to connect with their audience.

For the first time, digital advertising expenditures surpassed TV expenditures, showing that consumers are turning to digital channels more and more.

So, what are the different types of outbound digital marketing tactics? Well, the most well-known are digital advertisements, which we will be discussing today.

Online Display Advertising

Likely the most well-known type of digital advertising, on-page advertising has been around since the early days of the internet. They were once categorized by where they appeared on a web page, but have since been revived in a more modern format. As Marketingsherpa put it:

“Abandoned just a few years ago, banner ads are back with a vengeance, although they’re now known as online display ads. Advertising networks and enhanced targeting are drawing marketers back to this lower-cost format.”

For our purposes, online display ads are considered any ad that can appear on a web page and does not utilize any online only capabilities. They exist in a variety of forms, which I will briefly outline below:

Static Ads

Static display ads offer no movement or opportunities for user interaction. They are images that link to the advertiser’s site. Static ads try to combine engaging imagery with a compelling call-to-action using only still images and text.

Animated Ads

Animated ads are similar to static ads in the fact that they do not provide opportunities for user interaction. The only difference is the fact that animated ads contain movement, usually in the form of a GIF. Publishers typically impose limits on this type of ad to minimize the processing power required to show them.

Interactive Ads

Interactive ads are more complex than animated or expanding ads. The ad offers some functionality, for example, you can enter personal information in some, others track the movement of the cursor. Another difference between interactive ads and animated ads is that interactive ads are more customizable, where advertisers can set the number of clicks before bringing the audience to your website.

Expanding Ads

Expanding ads are ads that increase in size when the cursor moves over the ad. They can grow to a variety of sizes, depending on the publisher’s preferences. These ads can be any type (static, video, interactive, etc.), and can change format when it expands. Expanding ads give advertisers more information without taking the user to another page.

Video Display Ads

Video display ads can begin at any time, depending on the publisher’s preferences. This type of advertisement offers a large variety of functionality. Some video ads allow pausing, rewinding and other standard video features. Others cannot even be muted. If a user clicks the ad, it will take them to the advertiser’s website. Video display ads are different from pre-roll ads in many ways.

Video Advertising

Have you ever watched a video on Youtube? If you have and don’t use an ad blocker, you likely recognize the opportunities for running advertisements next to video content. Most video hosting websites offer multiple types of online display ads in addition to the following types of video-specific advertising.

Video Ads

Video ads run alongside creative video content. They can be inserted before, during, or after the main video. There are different formats for these ads. They can either be skippable or non-skippable (which are more expensive). Video ads (on Youtube, and most video hosting platforms) can range from five to thirty seconds. Video ads are more costly to produce than online display ads, but if the ad is placed in a favorable environment, it produces a better ROI. It’s important to consider that long video ads may frustrate the audience and damage the reputation of your brand. People will almost always skip ads if given a choice.

Bumper Ads

Bumper ads are similar to skippable videos, but can only be up to six seconds long and always play before the video. The ad must be played before the user can watch the video. This ad format is all about brevity and takes advantage of the fact that the user will most likely skip a video as soon as they are allowed. Bumper ads and longer video ads can be used together for a well-rounded video marketing strategy.

Overlay Ads

Overlay advertisements are semi-transparent ads over the bottom portion of a video. These ads are essentially static display ads that become translucent after a certain number of seconds. If the user touches the ad (or moves the cursor over it), it will reappear. Clicking these ads will take you to the advertiser’s website, just like a static display ad. The major benefit to overlay ads compared to static ads is that the overlay ad is more likely to be viewed because of its location on the video player.

Social Media Advertising

Major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are prime locations for brands to advertise. These websites get a significant amount of traffic, and the platforms have a great deal of data on their users, allowing advertisers to share their messages with a very specific subset of users.

Most ads on social media websites appear as sponsored posts and can contain text, images, or video. Every platform is optimized for different sized pictures and videos, so social advertisements should be created with a particular platform in mind.

We examine the differences between advertising on the three top social media platforms in our article: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter Ads: What’s the Best ROI?

Every social network is different. Every social network has different demographics, different user needs, and different advertising formats. Depending on the goals of your marketing campaign, your niche and what your call-to-action is, some social networks will be better than others.

To maximize the effectiveness of social media, a mixture of organic activity (unpaid), and advertising on social media will increase your reach, engagement on sponsored posts, and drive a return on investment back to your firm.

Search Advertising

Google is the world’s foremost search engine. Over 3.5 billion searches are conducted each day on Google alone. As a result, brands have (for years) been finding ways to make their products and services more discoverable in searches. Search engines have realized this desire, and make it possible to pay to appear in a particular spot of a SERP (search engine results page).

These advertisements do not appear in organic searches but get prominent placement on the results page.

On mobile searches, ads appear above the organic results. They are marked with the word “Ad,” but otherwise are identical to a search result. Desktop search ads appear at the bottom of the SERP, in a “product listing ad block” on the right-hand side of the page or at the top of a SERP for “highly commercial queries.”  

Search advertising is paid for on a per-click basis, meaning advertisers are only charged when somebody clicks the ad. Keywords are bid on to determine which brands get to show their advertisements next to particular queries. Search advertising has quite a lot in common with organic search engine marketing. Many activities are the same including keyword research and the efforts to optimize click through rates. The only major difference is that an ad can guarantee a first-page result, where organic searches need to work for it.

Google (and other search engines) are constantly tweaking their algorithms, and with it, changing the way they display search ads. To effectively advertise on social media, stay up to date on the minutiae of search engines. Search Engine Land is an excellent resource for staying informed on topics such as SEO, search marketing, and advertising.

Takeaways for Financial Services Marketers

Despite a period of backlash against certain publishers in early 2017, digital ads continue to grow and proliferate. A mixture of outbound and inbound marketing tactics are considered best practice for a well-rounded marketing strategy. Advertisements are among the most common outbound marketing methods. Therefore, it’s important to have a solid understanding of them. 

To learn more about core tenants of digital marketing, we have a few articles that may help:

16 Digital Marketing Acronyms You Need to Know
Outbound Vs. Inbound Marketing for Financial Advisors
Omnichannel is the Key to Optimizing Customer Experiences

If you liked this article or any other posts we share, please follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ or LinkedIn. Thank you very much for reading, have a great day! 

9 Characteristics of Successful Content

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Creating engaging content can be a difficult task for any marketer. However, there are several steps that you can take to ensure your content experiences the most success possible. To get the best return from the time and resources invested in an attempt to attract customers, try to create each piece of content with these nine points in mind.

  • Targeted

Before you even begin writing, you should know WHO you are writing for and center the content around a topic that will peak their interest. Having a comprehensive understanding of your target audience will allow content to speak to their unique needs and interests. By targeting content at a particular group, you can highlight specific benefits and information that will be relevant to them.

One can target content at their audience by utilizing buyer personas for each segment of their target audience. Also, website analytics can be used to see who is visiting your site and viewing your content.

Half the challenge of content marketing is getting an audience to consume the content. In addition to writing directly to a specific audience, you can use search optimization to make your content more discoverable.

  • Optimized

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a strategy to have your original content rank higher in search results. It is used by individuals and organizations to increase the visibility of their content. It has become so common that an industry of “growth hackers” and “SEO gurus” has developed to help businesses rank higher in search results.

SEO has proven to bring results. Keywords, the quality of the content, how much activity the website that hosts the content experiences, and several other factors contribute to the success of SEO efforts. Another form of optimization is Social Media Optimization (SMO). SMO deals with increasing your business’ visibility and improving your reputation using social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Successful content needs to be written for the audience first, with optimization in the back of your mind throughout the process. You put in the effort to create valuable, high-performing content. SEO and SMO will make it easily discoverable by members of the intended audience.

  • Provides Value

Perhaps the most important question to ask about content is “Does it provide value to the intended audience?” You can provide value in many ways. To provide value, you should educate, entertain or solve a problem your audience might be having. Your content should not only be used to promote your services. It should be created to benefit your audience. If the target audience does not see value in what you are sharing, they will ignore you.

To learn more about providing value through content, take a look at our article: The One Thing You Need To Include in Your Newsletter. Newsletters are just like any other form of content; they need to be a valuable use of the reader’s’ time.

  • Tells a Story

Storytelling is among the most effective methods for communicating information. The way stories speak to the human brain is unique, effectively motivating action centers within the brain. This phenomenon does not occur with any other methods of communicating information. It might not always be possible to tell a story through your content, but the more you can do it, the more value you can add to your content marketing efforts.

To learn more about how to tell engaging stories in your business, our article: The Power of Storytelling in the Business World examines why storytelling can be a great tool for businesses to communicate information to their audience.

  • Educational

Your content should be somewhat educational for your audience. There is little point in simply rehashing information that the user already knows. Content should have the purpose of informing your readers about something they need to know about your product, service, business or industry. You can educate your audience with any content imaginable.

Content written well below your audience’s level of knowledge may offend them, pushing them away from your website and towards your competitors.

  • Captivating

Capturing your audience’s attention is a difficult task, something that many content marketers struggle with on a daily basis. You want to captivate the attention of your readers, so they become engaged with the message. Engaged users are members of your audience who actively pay attention to your content. Those users are “listening” to what you are saying.

How can you captivate an audience? Some tactics go a long way towards engaging your readers. By speaking directly to your audience, asking them questions and using a consistent tone of voice, you can engage and captivate your readers. Content should always aim to grab and hold the attention of an audience.

  • Shareable

Your content needs to find a way to get in front of the of members of your target audience. One way for that to happen is by creating highly shareable content. You need to distribute content through channels where you know you can find your audience. At the very least you should use digital channels where you know your content can get in front of the users with interest.

If your content is flawless but doesn’t get seen, is it as valuable as it should be? Writing content that aligns with your business strategy does not have to be an overly complicated endeavor. Just create a website that can host your content (a blog or resources section) and share that content across various social platforms, email and other relevant forums.

If your audience can find your content, and that content is high-quality, then they will share it with other individuals. Thus, spreading the reach of your content.

  • Persuasive

Regardless of which stage of the buyer’s journey the reader is in, your content should aim to motivate action. If the reader is in the early stages of the purchase cycle, your content should convince them to learn more about your brand (or products/services). If they are in the later legs of the journey, it should persuade or motivate them to take that next step, finally becoming a customer. Target every piece of content towards a particular stage of the sales process with a focus on the beginning and ending stages.

A technique exists called pre-suasion, which means priming your audience to convert to customers using content. This method positions your message so that before you even deliver it,  the audience already agrees. “Pre-suasion” involves using visuals, phrasing, how you order details in the content and understanding why your brand (or content) appeals to customers. The book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, by Robert Cialdini,  examines how effective persuasion does not lie in the message itself, but in the critical moment right before the delivery of that message. Persuasive content can lead to conversions, helping you gain customers and grow your business.

  • Converting

What’s the end goal of content marketing? It’s likely to attract profitable customers to your business. That’s why it’s important for your content to contain a call-to-action CTA. That CTA does not have to motivate a purchase, that is not always appropriate, but a good marketer will always include a call-to-action.

That might mean asking your audience to like, comment, share or retweet your content on social media. The CTA might encourage the audience to visit other resources or to subscribe to your newsletter or Youtube channel. Regardless of what you want to motivate, your content should nudge the audience into the next step of the journey. For more information on creating CTA’s, read our article: 6 Tips for Creating Better Calls-to-Action for Financial Advisors.

If your content has these nine characteristics, and you aim to consistently create content that engages and converts your audience into customers, your content marketing efforts can lead to fantastic success.

Does the content your business produces have any of these nine characteristics? Do you produce engaging content? Have you found success in content marketing? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ! If you thought this article was helpful, check out our eBook: Unlocking Digital: How Financial Companies Master Modern Marketing

How Customers Get Information in 2017

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There are many ways to communicate information to your customers. The last decade has seen an influx of digital communication methods. Traditional advertisements, blog posts, videos, and press releases all communicate information. However, thanks to new technologies including social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to the growing popularity of blogging, there are several new ways for customers to get information online.

With more and more channels opening daily, consumers today have far more choice about how they get their information. Which sources of information are trusted? How do customers get their information in 2017?

  • Social Media

Social media is one of the most impactful trends of the last ten years. Everybody (even sometimes their grandmother) uses social media in some way. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have become a primary source of information for consumers across all segments. The most recent research suggests that 62% of adults get their information from social media. 70% of consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information available on a social media site. A social media presence is especially important for providing information to millennials. 88% of millennials get their information from Facebook, and 47% say social media influences their purchase decision.

Even if your business chooses not to advertise on social media platforms, merely having an organic presence will help your business gain visibility. If you aren’t on social media in some fashion, you will fall behind your competition.

The bottom line is, your business needs a social media presence, especially if you are looking to attract local clients.

  • Customer References

Customer references include testimonials, case studies, and online reviews. They allow prospective customers to gather information about your business from people who have already done business with you.

Customers find other customers more trustworthy than salespeople. They gain little to no benefit from your decision, and as a result are less biased towards your product or service.

To ensure customers can get information about your business from other customers, you should gather case studies and testimonials. Having testimonials and case studies will allow you to control some information the prospect sees. Testimonials and case studies are ways that customers can gather information about your business from other people.

Creating a program that allows your most satisfied customers to provide information in the form of case studies and testimonials will ensure that YOU control the flow of information between your business and prospects.

Online reviews are harder to control. While some steps can be taken to manage your online reviews, there is only so much you can do to suppress negative sentiments. These steps can help you manage your online reviews:

  • Track your reviews

Review sites like Yelp and others allow you to sign up for notifications every time somebody rates your business. Other options for tracking what is said about your brand online include Google Alerts, Google My Business, and a plethora of social media monitoring tools. Being notified of reviews will allow you to remain aware of what’s being said about your brand online, enabling you to:

  • Respond to positive reviews

Responding to positive ratings online will show your customers that you appreciate their positive sentiments. There is no need to offer incentives or rewards to those who leave positive reviews, simply an acknowledgment and “thank you” will go a long way toward building customer loyalty.

  • Manage negative reviews

Managing negative reviews is usually a more intensive task than responding to the positive ratings. The goal of managing negative reviews is to minimize potential repercussions that stem from a negative review. How can you do that? By responding politely, promptly and trying to take the conversation offline. Negative reviews can be an excellent chance to show customers the quality of your customer service. If you take negative reviews seriously and do what you can to salvage that particular client’s experience, you may save a relationship with a customer.

  • Encourage positive reviews

Several steps can be taken to increase the number of positive reviews you receive. Ask your customers to leave reviews on websites like Yelp and make it easy to find the review page. Unless a customer has an extremely negative experience, they will not go through many hoops to leave a review. As a result, if it’s hard to find your review page, the reviews will lean to the negative. By asking your best customers to leave a review (and making it easy to find), your review page will be a good source of information for potential clients.

  • Vendor Authored Content

If there is one way that a brand can authentically communicate information to their audience, it’s through content. People love quality content. The average consumer engages with 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase. Today, 70% of consumers trust content authored by the vendor. Content on a branded website is especially attractive to younger consumers. Gen Z millennials, and generation X (AKA every segment under the age of fifty), all have high levels of trust in branded websites.

Consumers tend to depend more on vendor authored content than they do a salesperson. In 2017, 39% of consumers rely on vendor authored content when making a purchase decision, compared to just 19% of consumers who depend on a salesperson. If you have not started content marketing yet, it’s time to consider making the jump. For more information on inbound marketing, check out our eBook, Unlocking Digital: How Financial Companies Master Modern Marketing.

  • Word-of-Mouth

People are more likely to trust another person than a brand, especially when they already have a relationship with that person. When a reliable source gives a positive recommendation, it can motivate action.

For example, if your best friend (who you trust very much), tells you about a great experience they recently had with a financial advisor, you will trust the authenticity of that experience. If you heard the same story from the financial advisor in question, it is likely that you would question it more. Why? Because they have a reason to promote the quality of their own experience. Your friend does not.

People will trust their network over almost any other source of information. Trust developed between individuals is stronger than anything a brand can build.

How do your customers get their information? We would love to hear your thoughts. Connect with us on Twitter @VeridayHQ or LinkedIn here.

2017 State of Digital Marketing [Infographic]

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Between social media, SEO, email marketing, analytics and, creating content, digital marketers have a lot to do these days. Digital marketing moves and evolves very quickly. It can be hard to understand what is important and what needs to be improved.

The Search Engine Journal has an annual survey where they ask digital marketers what they plan to do in the coming year. The survey asks how digital marketers set timelines for various activities, where they allocate their budgets, and how they define success.

This infographic summarizes the results of their findings in a fantastic way. There are several noteworthy results from the survey,  but one, in particular, jumps out to me. It’s interesting how inexpensive content marketing can be; 44% of respondents spend less than $300 per month on marketing their content.

2017 State of Digital Marketing

 

If you liked this infographic, you should follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ. We share high-quality content like this infographic all the time. We’re always on the lookout for the latest trends in digital marketing, technology and increasing customer engagement and loyalty. Thanks for reading, have a great day!

Digital Customer Experience vs. Customer Experience

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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.

The Human Brand: How Personal Connections Shaped the World

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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