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.

How Financial Agents Can Thrive Using Social Media

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Social media has become one of the most popular tools at a marketers disposal. Nearly every business has at least one social media channel, usually one or two of the big 3: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and with good cause. 64% of Twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy the products of brands they follow online. 91% of retail brands, who are marketing to many of the same people as financial advisors, use more than two social media platforms. There are many benefits for brands who use social media.

The problem with social media is that you can’t just jump in and start going. You need a plan. The plan, just like any other business plan, should be related to your organizational goals. The results will take a decent amount of time to come to fruition, so don’t be concerned if the results aren’t immediate. Having a solid, written plan that guides your decisions will make starting out on social media much more straightforward.

There are many, many, many different social media platforms, all with different use cases and demographics. Crafting a strategy for each platform you choose to use is essential. Planning the strategy will follow the same steps, regardless of the platform. Only the details will be different, to cater to the strengths and weaknesses of a particular platform and their demographics.

Today, we will examine the steps needed to implement a fantastic social media plan. Remember, the steps will be the same regardless of the platform. 

1. Establish Goals

Without clear goals and objectives, you cannot create a plan. Setting goals gives you a path to follow. Even if the program changes down the line, having goals is crucial. Goals let you monitor the plan’s success. 

You know what your business goals are better than I do. I’m not going to tell you how to gain clients; you know how to do that. Just let me give you a few general pieces of advice for marketing on social media:

  1. Your social media goals and benchmarks need to be correlated to your overall business goals.
  2. You should use a variety of metrics, both platform specific (likes, shares, comments engagement rate, followers, etc.) and general (ROI, conversion rate, unique visitors to your website, etc.) to measure social media success
  3. Be patient, results from social media take time, but when they do there is a snowball effect.

Use the various metrics holistically, don’t put too much weight on any one metric. Stats such as likes, comments, shares and follows don’t bring revenue, but they are handy to know. Likes, shares and follows are a good way to see your reach, and comments can be used to see how engaging your posts are.

How and where you set your goals are up to you. Depending on your target demographics, the platform you use, and the platform-specific metrics, your goals can be established in many ways. Regardless of what your goals are, they should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound). Goals of this type force a more focused social media plan, something that will make it much easier to isolate, tweak and test various tactics.

2. Social Media Audit

Step 2 of your social media plan should be to do a social media audit. A social media audit involves combing through all your profiles, analyzing the performance of those pages, and researching which platforms your target audience frequently uses. A thorough inspection will give you an excellent idea of exactly how potential customers can connect with your business. This stage is an excellent opportunity to implement consistent messaging, finding areas where your branding is not uniform and fixing those problems. Your goal should be to understand what aspects of your social presence needs to be improved.

3. Check Out the Competition

Step 3 is just an extension of step 2, but it is important enough that I believe it deserves its own section. To be successful marketing on social media, you need to have an understanding of what your competitors are doing in the digital space. You can learn from their mistakes, successes, and ideas to improve your profile. Even if your social media plan focuses on LinkedIn, you should study competitors Twitter, Facebook and other social accounts. As Sun Tzu once wrote:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”

You need to have an excellent understanding of exactly what your competition is doing, and why they are doing it. People only need one advisor, you need to win the war for their business. Look at how the competition promotes themselves, their services, and how they interact with people. Then you can learn from, adapt, and tweak these practices, so they fit who you want to be as an advisor. You want to be unique, but you have similar goals to the competition. It does not hurt to see what they are doing and how you can position yourself against it.

Another benefit of a competitive social audit is that you can use competitors as a benchmark for setting your own goals. Take a brief look at the number of followers, engagement, and other metrics you can get publicly and chart your success against them.

4. Create a Content Plan

The next step in the process is to create a content plan. A content plan should include the type of content you want to post, when you should post that content, and how you will promote that content. Posting the content on both your blog and social media platforms can be an excellent way to drive traffic to your website.

LinkedIn, with its professional demographics, is interested in educational materials. Its members are looking to become more productive, help them by providing high-quality information. If people realize you’re an excellent source of information, they may ask to join your network because they see you as a valuable member of their network. Becoming a trusted, accessible source of information can allow you to become a thought leader.

5. Re-evaluate

As with any plan, you should be regularly evaluating your social media and content plans. Regular evaluations will make it easier to monitor your goals to see if your desired results are being achieved. If you monitor the various metrics discussed above, you can identify aspects of your plan that may need adjustments. Always be experimenting with different tactics to achieve your goals, and let the plan evolve as new tactics work or fail. Remember, social media takes time to achieve success, some things will fail. Continue to test and constantly improve.

Conclusion

Once you have your social media plan in place, it’s time to get loud. By “get loud” I mean begin interacting, commenting, and otherwise engaging with members your network. On LinkedIn for example, you can join groups dedicated to specific subjects and interact with people who are interested in the subject.“Getting loud’ and using the platform’s unique features will help you grow your network and get better results from social media. You should also begin to branch out. Try out other platforms, see how they work for you.  

Having a strong social media presence is an excellent way rank higher in search results, will make you more approachable online, and improve your contact list. A social media plan will not guarantee positive results, but if you work hard at creating and executing the plan, you can experience excellent returns.

Social media is an essential aspect of a well-rounded content marketing plan. Your marketing efforts won’t go far without it. If “Content Is King,” then social media is the king’s messenger.

Do you use social media for your business? Do you have a social media plan in place? Let us know how you use LinkedIn over on Twitter @VeridayHQ or follow us on LinkedIn here. Which of the social media websites generates the biggest ROI? Find out by reading our article: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter Ads.

How Digital Experiences Create Personal Connections

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According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. This shift means, to stay competitive and retain your customer base, your brand will need to work towards providing a better customer experience (CX).

In 2017, consumers are using mobile devices to research and interact with businesses at a never-before-seen rate. They now expect a seamless omnichannel experience, where your business is available through whichever channel the customer prefers.

That means the onus is now on businesses, across all industries (but especially in financial services), to provide better mobile and digital experiences.

Today, we will examine why creating personal connections through digital and mobile experiences is so critical to financial services professionals in the modern world.

Great Digital Experiences Create Connections

Brands need to utilize digital channels to foster personal relationships between their business and its customers. There was once a time where relationships could be built between a business and their customers based purely on in-person interactions. Those days are no more. Today, a strong digital presence is required to create personal connections with your clients.

47% of millennials claim that social media has helped introduce them to new brands. A whopping 71% are more likely to buy from brands they ‘like’ on Facebook or follow on Twitter. These stats help illustrate a growing trend for marketers; that research and purchase decisions are made using digital channels.

It’s not just millennials who are making the move to digital. All generations are using online content, social media, and web searches to research products and services. If you can provide a customer an answer on social media, if you have a beautiful, informative website, or an engaging blog, you will leave a positive impression on potential clients. If you can leave a positive impression on somebody, they might begin to follow you on social media, liking and sharing your content and joining online discussions. At that point, your followers are promoting your business for you.

The whole process is similar to getting referrals, only instead of clients recommending you to their networks (cousins, friends, etc.), the recommendations are made to their social networks by liking, sharing, and otherwise interacting with you online. This process creates a personal connection, as the person you provided a valuable answer to, now feels as if they have a relationship with your brand. In 2017, relationships between businesses and consumers are built mostly online.

Personalized Digital Experiences are Valuable and Expected

A study in the academic journal, Brain Research, found that people react differently when hearing their name instead of somebody else’s name. There is activity in all parts of the brain when a person hears their name. People react differently when spoken to directly, and you can use this insight when creating your digital strategy. 

A personalized digital experience will make your customer feel special. This personalized experience will develop a sense of brand intimacy. More than 85% of mobile marketers report success with personalization, leading to higher engagement, revenue, and conversions. As a result, consumers have begun to expect personalized experiences online.

56% of consumers are more likely to shop with retailers who offer a personalized experience, and a whopping 74% get frustrated by seeing content that doesn’t match their interests. That frustrated reaction is similar to what would occur during a poorly executed in-person interaction.

Imagine if you were having a conversation with a financial service professional about getting approved for a mortgage. Throughout the conversation, the financial service professional kept bringing the conversation back to why you need a credit card. It’s likely that you would become frustrated by the attempts to have you sign up for a credit card. The same reasoning applies to digital experiences. If a brand continually produces and shares content about topics you have no interest in, you will eventually become frustrated and stop following that brand.

Not personalizing your digital marketing and communication efforts will result in frustrating your audience. That frustration will eventually cause you to lose the chance to build a personal connection with that customer.

Fostering Personal Connections Through Digital Experiences

So the question now becomes, how can a brand build personal connections with their clients through digital experiences? All things considered, there are a few ways to do it:

  • Provide Access to Real People Online

One way you can foster personal connections with customers is by providing access to employees online. Providing customers access to real people can easily be accomplished by providing a name and contact information to relevant employees. Instead of a “black-box” email form, where the client needs to fill out their information and describe the nature of their problem, provide an email address attached to a real person so they can contact them directly. In fact, the most requested improvement from customers was “better human service.” 

Providing access to real people online will allow customers to feel personally connected to your business. Therefore, the customer will feel connected because they know they are interacting with a person. Our article, Don’t Eliminate Human Interaction speaks to the need for the “human touch” in your business and how you can provide those interactions.

  • Personalized Communications

Personalizing communications has never been easier. Thanks to a variety of automation platforms, you can personalize newsletters and share content only with relevant audiences. As stated above, people react differently when addressed by their name. It evokes a personal connection that does not occur from generalized communications. Personalization has evolved beyond just placing the recipient’s name at the beginning of an email; now personalization involves crafting messages that will speak to an individual’s unique interests.

You can utilize consumer data to target communications and marketing efforts on a one-to-one level. Consumer data can come from a variety of sources. It can come from anywhere, from forms on your website to data gathered from tracking systems (IP addresses, etc.). For more information on using data to segment and target your audience, check out our article: You Don’t Know Your Customer…. Because You Haven’t Asked.

  • Use Social Media to Make Your Voice Heard

Social media platforms are some of the most effective tools for creating personal connections with your audience. Over 69% of adults in the United States use social media. There is a very high likelihood that your target audience uses at least one social media platform.

You can use these platforms to share informative content with your target audience. A study by AOL/Nielsen showed that 27 million pieces of content are shared every day. You can reach out, and provide your target audience with relevant content that will help educate them about topics of interest. Getting the information directly from their financial services professional will nurture the audience’s connection to your brand.

Personalizing your digital experiences will make your digital marketing efforts more effective and help you foster personal connections with customers. To learn more about personalizing experiences, check out our article: What is Personalized Marketing? Finally, follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ if you’re interested in content marketing, digital customer experiences and how businesses can thrive in the digital age. In fact, while you’re at it, you may want to check us out on LinkedIn as well!

 

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter Ads: What’s the Best ROI?

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This post was authored by Claire Akin and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

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Facebook is the third most visited website in the world, with U.S. Facebook users spending 40 minutes per day on the platform — almost as much time as they spending eating and drinking. LinkedIn and Twitter are not far behind, with more than half of U.S. professionals actively using LinkedIn. With so much time spent on the “big three” social media platforms, it makes sense for advisors to advertise to prospects using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter ads. But which is the most cost-effective? That all depends on who you are trying to reach with your social media strategy.

Facebook Ads

Of the big three social media platforms, Facebook has the most robust and complex advertising capabilities. While the targeting criteria are incredibly powerful, the platform may be overwhelming to beginner users. You can target based on age, gender, location, income, interests, keywords, activity, “liked pages,” and more.

A popular way to use Facebook to target is with their “lookalike audience” function. You can upload a list of an advisor’s current clients’ email addresses and Facebook will run an algorithm to “match” the group and advertise to users who are demographically similar.

Facebook ads can be relatively inexpensive, but they can also have lower conversions than the other two platforms. There’s a lot of competition and noise on Facebook, so you’ll want to make sure that your ads are accurately targeting your prospects and that your clicks are converting into actual leads.

One way to accurately target prospects on Facebook is by advertising to users who have liked a specific page. For example, an advisor that has a large anesthesiologist client base targeted the state association of anesthesiologists Facebook page, which is highly representative of his target market. Other advisors use interest based groups like the local country club page to target prospects.

If you can’t find a page where prospects have effectively self-selected, it may be tough to accurately target prospects on Facebook using the other filters. The “interests” and “income” filters to be inaccurate at times, especially when micro-targeting specific zip codes. You’ll also want to consider whether your target demographic is using Facebook actively, which tends to have a younger and more female user base.

Prices on Facebook ads can vary widely, so it’s important to test your ads with small budgets and make adjustments until your cost per click is profitable for you. A good rule of thumb is to get close to or below about $1 per click. For a recent $100 campaign, we achieved an ad exposure of 4,800 and 110 clicks for a cost per click of $0.91.

LinkedIn Ads

The major upside to LinkedIn ads is the accuracy with which you can target based on industry, job title, employer, or seniority level. From there, you can filter by location, gender, and interests. For financial advisors, the targeting is more powerful than both Facebook and Twitter. However, if the employer you are targeting is small, you may not be able to place an ad directly to their employees due to minimum audience restrictions.

If your ads are setup correctly, you can be sure that the people who see them are highly qualified prospects. However, you will pay significantly more per click on LinkedIn than you will on Facebook or Twitter. It’s important to understand that while the cost per click is higher, your conversion rate may be much higher too, since the ad viewers are highly qualified.

In one case, an advisor with a $100 campaign budget targeted women executives in her affluent suburb. Her ad received 30,000 impressions and 30 clicks, for a cost per click of $3.29. One of the people who clicked through to the advisor’s website sent a message about a recent inheritance and her desire to find an advisor to help manage this new wealth.

For LinkedIn ads, you can create “sponsored content” ads, which give more exposure to a selected LinkedIn update within a user’s timeline or you can create text ads, which reside in the advertising section at the top of your newsfeed. While the prices are similar for both ad sets, I tend to prefer text ads since they seem to stand out more. If your message is more complex, you’ll want to use a sponsored update to take advantage of the graphic and greater space offered.

Twitter Ads

Ads on Twitter are basically sponsored tweets, so they show up in a user’s newsfeed like a normal tweet. You only pay for actions, such as clicks through to your website, and you can set a max cost per click to make sure your ad is profitable. Targeting is a challenge though, because Twitter lacks the detailed demographic information that Facebook and LinkedIn have.

The easiest way to target on Twitter is with keywords. You could target your ad towards those with the keyword “engineer” in their profile and narrow by gender and location. You can also target users who have followed a specific user, so to reach financial advisors, I could target followers of @GuidevineFA.

Because there is less advertising demand on Twitter, prices tend to be lower than LinkedIn and competitive with Facebook. If you’re able to accurately target your prospects, Twitter ads could be a great option.

The Verdict

The trick to running social media ads is to consider the results of the campaign in its entirety, not just the cost per click. Be sure that you give users an easy action to take, such as downloading a report or scheduling an online meeting. Then, make sure your website is tracking “conversions” and where they came from.

Overall, Facebook tends to have lower costs per click, but less qualified traffic. LinkedIn has higher costs per click, but much more qualified audiences. Twitter can be a low cost and highly targeted option, if you are able to select appropriate filters for your demographic.

When running social media ads, start by testing campaigns of $50, then adjusting to get a cost per click of less than $1 on Facebook and Twitter, and less than $4 on LinkedIn. Be sure to track website traffic and conversions using Google analytics so you can determine what the resulting traffic is doing on your site. Once you’ve created a campaign that performs and converts well, increase your budget to drive more traffic to your site.

The Irony of Social Selling in the Digital Area

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Social selling in the digital area occurs when salespeople use social media to interact directly with prospects. It involves developing relationships by interacting with prospects on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Social selling and digital marketing are different things, although they work well in tandem. Digital marketing focuses on sending out messages to many people, whereas social selling is focused on cultivating one-to-one relationships.

Social selling has been used long before the advent of digital platforms. Starting in the 1940’s and 1950’s, salespeople started building connections with their clients. They built these connections by taking prospects golfing, to the country club or to an exclusive event. By building a relationship, and highlighting common interests, you will increase the likelihood that a purchase will be made.

Social selling has made a comeback in recent years for two main reasons:

1)  Due to the connectivity brought about by advances in digital platforms, it is now easy to communicate with prospects using the internet.

2) Social selling is making a comeback because of changes in the way people buy products and services. Now, 60% of the buyer’s journey takes place before a salesperson is contacted. This means that before a prospect reaches out, they’ve already done most of their research which means a salesperson is less likely to be able to influence their knowledge.

How can digital channels create human connections?

One clear way that digital social selling parallels social selling of the past, is through the growth of digital connections. This mirrors the concept of growing your network, meeting people at the country club and industry events. This was the way social selling was originally completed.

A good salesperson needed to be part of the right social groups to get a meeting with a warm lead. To get your message across, you needed to know somebody in order to work your way into an organization. Simply getting your message in front of somebody who may be interested in purchasing your products or services was extremely difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.

Today, it is easier than ever before to make connections with people. There are many ways to find qualified leads, both digitally and in the physical world. Social media is leading the revival of social selling and is one of the most effective digital methods for generating leads.

Using social media to make connections

Social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, are a clear indicator that social selling is back like never before. These platforms allow businesses to build connections with potential leads by following and engaging with them on the platform. This parallels the way in which salespeople network in the physical world. In the original wave of social selling, salespeople connected with potential leads by taking them to lunch or some other form of social interaction.

Social networks are more effective at creating these connections for a few reasons.

1. Social media websites have no cost to sign up.

This is a clear cost-savings because you can interact with potential leads at no expense.

2. Social media is a quick way to make a connection

In the original wave of social selling, an invitation to dinner, golf or some event was practically required to get in front of a lead. The prospect might not humor you if the offer does not seem worth the time. That constraint is no more, which takes a burden off company expense accounts.

On social networks, people provide a description of themselves along with their likes. You can also see members of their network. Depending on the platform, different information will be provided. On LinkedIn, for example, people will provide information about their current position, previous jobs, and their professional skill set. That is one of the reasons why B2B sales use LinkedIn to prospect clients. Depending on your niche, who you are prospecting, and what their interests are, you can use different social networks to target leads.

Ratings and Reviews: Connecting the World

Another way that modern social selling mirrors social selling of the past is the growth in popularity of customer reviews. It has never been easier to see what other people think about a business or their product. Websites like Yelp and Google+ have hundreds of millions of users. Yelp users post 26,380 reviews per minute. So, it is likely that your business has already been reviewed many, many times. Reviews are significant because 92% of consumers read online reviews in 2016, up from 2015.  These reviews are important because they can be prospect’s’ first impression of you.

The online review ecosystem reflects another aspect of social selling from the past. Word-of-mouth reviews used to be the only way for leads to get an unfiltered opinion of your business. There are several limitations of word-of-mouth reviews, including the inability to verify the truthfulness of the review. Another limitation is the fact that you must already know (or work hard to seek out) somebody who has done business with the company in question.

Online reviews have given consumers access to more information than ever before. While the truthfulness of reviews is still open to question, brands now have an opportunity to respond. The size of your personal network is no longer a factor in accessing reviews. This means that a potential lead can get opinions on your business from all different customers, regardless of their locations. While these reviews are done online, they are still done by real people and should be considered. There is a good chance your prospective customer will have seen the review.

So how can you combat bad reviews? This article does a great job of examining what to do and what not to do about bad customer reviews.

Content has become less complicated to produce

Another reason that social selling is making a comeback is because reality-based content and entertainment can be easily produced. Digital channels crave content. It’s the fuel that keeps the cycle running smoothly. Without quality, engaging content, digital channels would slow down to a crawl, due to a void of information. For business purposes, content can come in many forms, but for most industries, the content must be based in reality.

Reality-based entertainment and reality-based content have become much easier to produce thanks to improved digital tools. Thanks to a variety of web applications, every picture can look beautiful. Stock photos are high quality and available in droves to ensure engaging images can be added to your content. Video and audio have never been easier to produce. People can create any form of content they want. They no longer need the level of expertise required before technological advances made content creation more accessible.

Today, creating content has never been easier. With improvements in technologies such as cameras, monitors, and editing software, video has become prolific. 78% of people watch online videos every week, 55% watch every day. This form of media has become extremely important in today’s digital environment, partially because it is very engaging, partially because it is easy to create.

It has never been easier to produce content and get it out to the masses. Content allows you to share, comment and otherwise interact with prospects in the digital space by presenting a talking point. This content revolution is changing the way social selling takes place.

How can brands use digital social selling?

There has been an undeniable culture shift over the last decade, with social selling becoming a key linchpin for salespeople. This shift has lead to several brands wondering: “What do we do now?”

There are several key activities for brands to manage when implementing social selling in the digital area.

  • Creating content for your team to disseminate.

Content is one of the most important aspects of social selling. As a form of inbound marketing, social selling should involve building confidence through education. By educating prospects, they will grow to trust you, and when the time is ripe they will seek your business out.

  • Keep Conversations Local

Social selling is most effective when used on a local level. If salespeople have tools that allow them to geo-target their prospects, keeping the conversation local is much easier. These tools are available as part of many larger suites and are immensely valuable to salespeople. Another way to help target local leads is to have location-specific campaigns that speak to common pain-points of the local demographics.

By targeting locally and creating educational material for salespeople to use when social selling, it allows them to limit their conversations to the most qualified prospects possible. This will increase the ROI of your sales efforts by limiting the number of interactions your sales team has with cold leads.

Conclusion

It’s almost ironic that the digital area was once thought to be the domain of isolationist hermits who didn’t want human interaction. Now, it is the place where billions of people go to share information, review products, converse with businesses and make purchase decisions. The landscape has changed, and just like in the 1950’s, social selling is a key tool for any business.

Before the transformation of the digital landscape, golf trips and exclusive events dominated social selling. If you didn’t have a membership at the best local country club or tickets to a hockey game, you would have a very difficult time getting in front of a warm lead. Today, those barriers have become less important. All you need is a digital platform, informational material and the willingness to start a conversation. Social selling today mirrors social selling of the past in many ways and is a tactic that should be considered by financial service professionals.

Do you use social selling to generate leads for your financial service business? Is it still golf trips and hockey tickets or do you use digital platforms? What is your favorite way to use social selling techniques? Do you use Twitter or LinkedIn? If you do follow us on those platforms to hear more news about selling in the digital space!

Social Selling is Not the Same as Social Media

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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.

The Importance of Digital Marketing In Financial Services

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Fundamentals are important in anything you do. As Jim Rohn, author, motivational speaker and mentor to Tony Robbins, once said:

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”

Having great fundamentals are as important in digital marketing as they are in anything. The profession is constantly shifting to new places and adopting new technologies. Every now and then, it pays for marketers to reexamine their fundamentals.

The financial marketing landscape is quickly shifting to new, unforeseen territories. Some firms are implementing chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) and other cutting-edge technology solutions. Others are still playing catch-up; designing websites, getting on social media and finally beginning to create digital content. The digital world is extremely competitive and you need to be prepared for it.

This article will discuss a few reasons why you need to get serious about the fundamentals of digital marketing.

1. The Great Wealth Transfer

Younger generations will be inheriting $30 Trillion from baby boomers over the next 30-40 years. Financial service firms, including advisors, brokers and banks, need to prepare to court these digital natives if they wish to continue managing the wealth currently held by baby boomers. This shift of wealth can be a never-before-seen opportunity for FinServ providers, or it can be the event that leads to the extinction of many members of the FinServ community. Advisors, brokers and other FinServ firms, who do not get on the digital bandwagon will lose their client base. They will be unable to attract younger clients, and as baby boomers begin to transfer their wealth, outdated FinServ providers will quickly become irrelevant.

If you cannot communicate in a way that speaks to younger audiences, you will be one of the FinServ providers who loses clients and capital quickly. The younger generations expect social interaction and digital communication, even with their FinServ providers. To gain the trust of generation X, Y and Z, you will need to be present digitally. Check out this article to learn more about marketing to millennials. 

Communicating in ways and places that speak to your audience is a key fundamental to digital marketing. Consider what your messaging is, and how it speaks to your target audience. Can you easily be reached online? Is your website engaging and able to draw people in? These are key factors to consider when rexamining your digital marketing fundamentals.

2. Young Adults Using Social Media

FinServ providers aren’t going to have to wait very long to feel the younger generation’s impact on their business. Do you actively target millennials? They are far more likely than their parents to pick their FinServ provider through internet research and social media. Research by McKinsey showed that two thirds of the buyer’s journey touch points in finance are consumer-driven. The consumer-driven touch points include word-of-mouth (sometimes taking place on social media), online research (using a search engine to find information) and customer reviews (both offline and on websites such as Yelp).

These younger generations, such as millennials, basically require you to have a high-quality website in order to gain their trust. If FinServ providers don’t have a strong digital marketing presence, they risk becoming irrelevant. Digital marketing includes being present (and active) on social media, having a quality website and communicating with prospects via the channel(s) of their choice.

Remember, there are 2.3 billion people using social media, you should be one of them. Engaging and sharing quality content on social media is an excellent way to attract clients. Social media use has become a fundamental piece of the digital marketing equation. Information gets spread online through social media. Every generation uses at least one social network en masse. Not having a strong social media presence to share and spread content, news and as a touch point for communication is a huge mistake in digital marketing. Strong use of social media is a fundamental of digital marketing.

3. Baby-Boomers Love Social Media Too

Baby Boomers love Facebook. They represent about half of Facebook’s user base, and more than half of adults over 50 use some form of social media. You might not be aware of that fact, but the last decade has seen a major digital transformation. Everybody, from the youngest consumers, to the oldest grandparents are now active on social media and regularly use the internet.

The gap between the average person’s expectations for technology options, and what technology options FinServ firms provide is very, very wide. This gap has always existed. Financial service providers are slow to react to new technology. Compared with other industries, technology leaders in FinServ are behind the 8-ball. Just over two thirds of CEO’s in the financial sector are worried that they are too slow adopting technology.

If you want to grow your client base using digital marketing, social media is a fundamental aspect. Everybody uses it, and it has become a primary source of information for a large number of consumers. There are some aspects of the digital transformation that are often poorly implemented due to poor fundamentals.

So, what are some of the reasons financial service providers are so slow reacting to the digital transformation?

Compliance

The main reason financial service firms are so slow on the adoption of digital marketing is compliance issues. FINRA has guidelines for oversight of content, but many leaders are worried about compliance issues involved with the adoption of new technology. They are worried that confidential information can be stolen, and that the new technology will not aid in oversight. Another worry is that the solution won’t make a meaningful impact on compliance timelines. Compliance is a very big deal in FinServ. However, that does not mean you should be gun-shy about adopting digital marketing tools and tactics, especially when there are marketing and compliance solutions built especially for financial institutions.

Digital marketing is essentially a requirement for growing any business these days, therefore you need to have your compliance requirements sorted out before beginning. There are many solutions to help with this process (such as Digital Agent). Compliance is such an essential, fundamental aspect of digital marketing that it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Once you have a compliance system in place, you can begin content marketing, using social media, and engaging with customers online, without fear of breaking an industry regulation.

Leadership Disconnect

Another reason why FinServ firms might not adopt digital marketing practices or invest in technologies, is because their leaders do not know of their existence. Older people might not realize that there are many, many demographics who spend a large amount of time on social media platforms, simply because they don’t use them. They justify this anti-technology rhetoric by saying all of their clients are the same age as they are, that everyone is like them. This allows them to (wrongly) sit in their own bubble and not have to face change.

These leaders don’t realize that every generation is on social media, every generation searches for business online. They will severely slow down efforts to modernize, losing clients in the process because the leader doesn’t cater to them. To summarize, leaders who (for whatever reason), may not understand the ubiquity of technology across all industries. As a marketer, you might need to advocate for the adoption of even the most widespread technologies.

To be successful at digital marketing, your business must have full buy-in from leadeship. It is a digital marketing fundamental and without it, your efforts will fail. Digital marketing takes a unified, agile approach to be successful, something that cannot happen without a connected leadership team, working hard to make things work.

Legacy Systems

One reason that FinServ is behind on adopting digital marketing technologies is that very few of the leaders realize the pressing need to change. Very few (if any) leaders in FinServ rise out of the marketing department. Most leaders do not realize the extent to which their business is falling behind on technology adoption in the marketing department. The average leader in financial services simply struggles to see the value in adopting new technologies that may speed up certain processes.

It’s not that leaders do not wish to stay up-to-date with marketing technologies, but due to expensive legacy systems and ingrained processes, they simply can’t. There are simply too many obstacles blocking the path to change. These obstacles, along with leadership who are somewhat disconnected with the reality of the situation, are the reasons that FinServ providers are falling behind on technology adoption.

Having legacy systems slow you down can be annoying, it can even be quite harmful to your business. It is not breaking any fundamental principles of digital marketing, but can be a symptom of having disconnected leadership. To be successful at digital marketing, you will need to be flexible, you will need to be able to adopt new practices and technologies as they gain popularity. A fundamental aspect of digital marketing is staying on top of current trends. If legacy systems are preventing you from doing that, something must change.

Inadequate Flexibility

Smaller, or independent firms often have a much easier time reacting to technology trends. Their flexibility allows them to control compliance issues in-house, not having to communicate with another department or location. They can motivate change internally. The fact that these firms are less reliant on legacy systems and procedures make them less resistant to change.

Many digital marketing technology solutions do not carry with them a significant up-front cost, especially compared to a decade ago. For this reason, smaller firms are at no disadvantage compared to giant institutions with legacy systems. The larger your organization is, the slower the compliance process can be. There is more material flowing through the compliance department, slowing everything down. The more reliant on legacy systems an organization is, the slower the organization will be to adopt in new technologies. If you cannot stay up to date on the adoption of technologies, it will be very difficult to succeed in digital marketing.

If you have those legacy systems or procedures, don’t worry too much. With proper leadership, willingness to change, and an investment in technology, you can easily become a leader in digital transformation in the FinServ industry. 

Think back to your marketing fundamentals. Communication is a key component, another is delivery of your message where it will be received by the intended audience. Ensure that you are constantly working on getting the basics right, or else, as the digital age progresses, you will lose clients and your practice may dry up. It is important to stay modern, ensure your digital marketing efforts have a basis in strong fundamentals.

How are you preparing for the great transfer of wealth to millennials? Is anything holding you back from adopting technology? What do you think the major reason that FinServ hasn’t adopted these technologies sooner? 

Do Financial Advisors Need LinkedIn Premium?

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This post was authored by Claire Akin and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

We know that LinkedIn is a powerful networking platform for advisors, given that one in three professionals worldwide have profiles. The Pew Research Center surveys show that the average user is 44 years old, the average income is $109,000, and the average investable asset value is over $250,000.

If your new client account minimum is above $250,000, consider that 26% of ultra-high-net-worth investors also use LinkedIn. As the Great Transfer of Wealth begins, LinkedIn is becoming more important for your legacy plan, with the fastest growing segment being Millennials.

LinkedIn offers four main uses for advisors:

  1. It’s your online resume
  2. It’s an online Rolodex of your network
  3. It’s a powerful search tool to find and connect with qualified prospects
  4. It’s a publishing platform that allows you to share your expertise

The Problem that LinkedIn Solves

Remember the old days when you would exchange business cards with a contact at a networking event or on the golf course so that you could refer business to one another in the future? The problem with that practice is that once your contact changed companies, the business card was rendered useless. Because workers change jobs more often today than they did years ago, this problem has been magnified.

LinkedIn offers a solution to this problem, allowing you to virtually exchange business cards and stay in touch no matter the career transitions that you or your connection make. In fact, LinkedIn will let you know each time one of your connections changes companies so you can reach out and congratulate them, keep in touch, and perhaps ask if they have rolled over their old 401(k).

By connecting with your network on LinkedIn, you can stay in touch, grow your influence, share your expertise, and ask for introductions. But if you’ve spent any time on LinkedIn, you’ve probably been solicited with offers to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium.

What is LinkedIn Premium?

LinkedIn Premium is a paid LinkedIn membership that offers benefits above the free version. There are four versions of LinkedIn Premium, depending on if you’re a job seeker, a sales rep, a recruiter, or an advertiser. Fees associated with LinkedIn Premium accounts range from $30 per month for job seekers to $150 per month for recruiters.

LinkedIn Premium is a subscription-based service that “unlocks” special features on LinkedIn including:

  • An enhanced profile with a larger photo and headline
  • The ability to see who has viewed your profile
  • Advanced search criteria
  • Between 3 and 30 InMail Credits
  • Up to 10 saved searches

Should You Upgrade?

The drawback to LinkedIn Premium for financial advisors is that the features focus on connecting with those you don’t already know. For most advisors, cold messaging on LinkedIn is not as effective as relying on referrals from their network or asking for an introduction from someone they know.

Advanced search capabilities are helpful for identifying qualified prospects, but the free version of LinkedIn allows you to search by criteria including current company, industry, and job title. LinkedIn Premium search criteria such as function and seniority level can be accessed for free by using keywords like “executive” or “manager” to target those segments.

InMail Messages are undoubtedly valuable and can be used to contact prospects or centers of influence that you’re not connected with. However, InMail Messages are easily ignored and LinkedIn no longer credits back InMail Messages that are not answered. At a price of $10 per message, advisors may have a higher ROI with other marketing efforts.

Some experts point to the LinkedIn Premium profile badge as a vanity cost and data on the renewal rates for premium subscriptions has not been published. However, because the LinkedIn platform was built primarily for job seekers and recruiters, it makes sense that they would benefit the most from LinkedIn Premium memberships.

For financial advisors looking to expand their network, a better use of time and resources may be to use the generous Basic LinkedIn features and to send thoughtful connection requests to members with a mutual acquaintance, which continues to be free.

 

optimize-linkedin-profile

Ignoring LinkedIn is Hurting your Advisory Firm

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According to The Wall Street Journal, “At Social Media High, Facebook is the all-star quarterback, Twitter is the school paper’s editor in chief and Snapchat is the mysterious, Harley-riding transfer student. That makes LinkedIn the nerd who skips prom for the mathlympics.

However, within the financial services sector, LinkedIn is the all-star quarterback with 9 in 10 Financial Advisors active on this social network (LinkedIn). LinkedIn is a hub for growing your advisory firm, strengthening and nurturing your relationships, and building awareness for your business.

Signing up for a LinkedIn account and letting it gather dust will hurt your career – you need to be active on this social network. There are many little changes you can make to optimize your LinkedIn account, as well as many opportunities to engage with other LinkedIn users – more specifically your clients and prospects. Some of these engagement opportunities include:

  • Joining and contributing to relevant LinkedIn Groups
  • Posting updates for your LinkedIn network to see
  • Like and comment with updates made by people in your network
  • And so much more

LinkedIn recently conducted a comprehensive survey of Financial Advisors and found that 75% of Advisors who gained clients from LinkedIn stated that they use the site to improve their referral network. They gathered the top reasons Financial Advisors use LinkedIn, which included:

  1. Building brand identity
  2. Enhancing current client relationships
  3. Staying up-to-date on industry insights
  4. Improving their referral network

In a very digitally-centric world, it is important to acknowledge that as a Financial Advisor, you need to not only have a LinkedIn presence, but an active one at that. You must recognize that ignoring this all-star quarterback of a social media network could hinder your Advisory firm’s success. By staying active on LinkedIn, you could be a social media all-star, reach new prospects and grow your Assets Under Management (AUM).

Advisors: Reach your Prospects by Posting at Optimal Times

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More than 60% of Financial Advisors, who prospected on LinkedIn, successfully gained new clients as a result (source). As a Financial Advisor, having an online presence, specifically social media, is crucial to helping to convert prospects into clients and growing your business.

With almost 1.6 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 320 million on Twitter, and over 100 million on LinkedIn – being active on these social media giants needs to be part of your digital marketing strategy (source).

However, it isn’t just about flying by the seat of your pants and posting content whenever, wherever.  It is important to have a solid social media strategy in place. To find the most optimal time to reach your target audience, it’s going to take time and research. Think about:

  • What day and time are people the most engaged with your posts?
  • When do your posts reach the most people?
  • Is posting more frequently benefiting you or hurting you?

To get you started, take a look at this infographic by SurePayroll, which outlines when the best time to reach out to your audience is on several social media platforms. Keep in mind that this is not a one-size-fits-all formula; you will still have to do some of your own research, and analyze your own profiles to see what is working for you, and what is not.

 

Advisors: Reach your Prospects by Posting at Optimal Times Infographic