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“My advisors don’t use the website management tools I’ve provided to them.”

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My advisors don't use my technologyYou’ve experienced this challenge before. The challenge of adoption. After investing a significant portion of your budget, time and effort, your advisors don’t end up using the tools you’ve provided to them. In a research study we performed in which we surveyed 25 financial institutions and broker-dealers, the unfortunate result of the lack of adoption came complacency and the simple acceptance that advisors simply would not take the time to use these tools. As a result, important questions weren’t being asked to evaluate why. Well, we did and our advisor population distilled it down into three key areas of improvement:

  1. “It’s hard to be productive with the current tool.” Many advisors gave up on the tools they were provided and cited reasons due to usability and the fact that the tools weren’t intuitive enough or sufficient enough for them to customize their websites. Moreover, content review times took too long if they used the tool.
  2. “The website designs provided by marketing are not modern and do not accurately reflect my practice.” Advisors felt that they wanted more choice with respect to the website templates. Additionally, many of them demanded mobile website functionality.
  3. “I don’t have enough time to maintain my website.” Advisors want to spend time in front of their customers, not in front of a phone or computer screen managing and maintaining their website. Many of them found it to be a time consuming task and many were looking to their enterprise marketing departments to manage their individual web properties for them. A challenge that would prove to be difficult to scale when we asked marketing departments if they take on that task.

Adoption of a technology relies on two key factors: risk and payoff. For example, advisors feel that spending time on their website will take away from time spent with clients and hence less revenue. This is their perceived risk measured against an unknown payoff. So their decision to give up on the tool is actually quite logical. You as a marketer believe that an investment in more modern tools can benefit advisors but as you implement those new technologies, you need to ensure you are solving these issues while balancing your corporate objectives:

  • Can I provide better design choices for advisors without fragmenting my brand?
  • What is the investment profile to provide mobile websites for my advisors?
  • How do I implement a content distribution strategy that adds value for my advisors in a scalable and cost effective way?
  • Am I stress testing the usability of the tools before I deploy them? Do I have the right advisor engagement strategy?

These are just some of the key questions that you should be asking yourself to help set you on a path to increased and improved advisor technology adoption. Ideally, this not only leads to better business results overall but also positively impacts advisor practices. If you’d like a more in-depth view of your advisor technology adoption strategy or would like to speak with us about improving technology adoption, simply fill out the form below.

“I need to upgrade my advisor marketing program and I need a business case.”

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I need to upgrade my advisor marketing program and I need a business caseMany wealth and insurance believe that their current advisor digital marketing program needs an upgrade starting with the website management tool they either built in-house or purchased within the last 5-8 years. Trends in digital marketing such as the increase in adoption of social media, email marketing and a better understanding of web analytics from advisors are demanding the need to modernize and integrate the digital marketing tools that advisors are using.

The need to upgrade older platforms are generally obvious to the marketing professional seeing as they are immersed into the world of the latest and greatest digital marketing technologies. The biggest challenge implementing an upgraded program initially begins with selling it to management, where knowledge of such trends are not as common and rightfully so. As such, justifying the increased investment profile requires a much more diligent business case process. After all, that’s the language of executives and to sell it effectively, you need to speak their language.

A typical framework that we use in collaboration with potential financial services organizations looks like the following (note: most of this should theoretically apply to you even if you are not in the financial services space but in a regulated industry like law):

  • Can upgrading our current platform increase revenue?
  • Will implementing this upgraded platform reduce my expenses?
  • Does the new platform increase customer satisfaction with our advisors and overall organization?
  • Does the new platform increase advisor satisfaction with our organization?
  • Will implementing this platform reduce our regulatory risk?

The key to solid business case framework is formulating a business case that is holistic. Yes, the almighty dollar is 100% the most weighted aspect of the business but other areas like customer and advisor satisfaction also play a role. More importantly, implementing a platform that increases regulatory risk will also never past the initial litmus test.

If you’re considering a project of this nature in your visible future, we’d love to help you develop a solid business case across all of the digital marketing tools you are considering. To start a conversation with us, simply fill out the form below!

“I have challenges maintaining my website with my current provider or tool”

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Challenges with my current provider or website management toolWebsite management technologies have come a long way since the commercialization of the web and has been a growing industry. Back in the early to mid 90s, it was virtually impossible to create a website unless you knew how to write computer code. Since then however, many technology companies have developed applications both offline and online, to help the non-technical user create their own personalized websites. Companies like WordPressSquarespace, Format, Wix, Digital Agent and Cloversites, to name a few, have created amazing tools for anyone with a little bit of technical knowledge.

As advisors begin to develop a maturity for website development and digital marketing in general, there are a number of key challenges that we’ve seen within this community. These challenges are primarily related to either the tool they use to maintain their website (which they could have individually purchased or could be a tool provided by their dealer) or with a web development company. If you feel like you’re spending too much time or money maintaining your website, here’s a few key questions to ask yourself before considering a switch:

  • Do I need to call my web development company to make minor changes?
  • If I need to make changes to customize my website, do I need to pay hundreds of dollars to my current web development company?
  • Is it easy to make changes to my website without contacting my web development partner?
  • Does my website partner (the tool manufacturer or web development company) have experience supporting firms in regulated industries such as financial services?
  • Does the tool I’m using have an integrated compliance component to it or am I responsible for communicating directly to my compliance department?
  • Is the tool intuitive? Is it obvious what I need to do to make simple changes to content on my website?
  • Can I easily customize my website using the tool provided?
  • Have I done everything I can using the tool and am I happy with how my website looks?
  • Am I investing more than $1000 per year to host and maintain my website?

These are just a handful of questions you should be asking yourself if you’re not entirely sure if you’re making the best investment on your website and subsequently your web presence. It’s always a good practice in business to re-evaluate such investments given how frequently web technologies change.

If you’d like a second opinion on your current website investment we’re happy to have the conversation. We can’t promise that the outcome will always be a “Yes, You should switch“, and we’d love to be the ones to give you the validation you’re seeking. Simply fill out the contact form to get in touch!

“How can I generate more leads with my website?”

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How can my website generate more leads?“When does this thing (website) start making me money?” is one of the most commonly asked questions we hear from advisors and a really good one and one many of us struggle to answer. One of the greatest challenges in business has always been to ensure that your marketing activities somehow relate back to revenue. After all, you’re truly in business for one very key reason, money.

So, how can your website make you, the advisor, money? Quite simplistically, it comes down to one thing and one thing only, Content. Content is the lifeblood of the web. It’s effectively what makes the web literally exist. Without content, we would have nothing to find when we search for things we need. Having a website is important and is a critical step in legitimizing your business and telling the world you exist, but a website with little to no active content can stifle its ability to help you generate leads.

Why? Well, it’s pretty straightforward. Content that exists on your website needs to address questions that people are asking through search. Practically speaking, it’s how prospects find you. The most common way to produce content and subsequently generate traffic to your website is through. “Blogging”. This is likely a term you’ve heard at some point but what does it really mean. What is “blogging”? Well, to be frank, blogging is really just website content. Nothing about “blogging” makes your web content any more special, than if you were to write an article and publish it to your website. It’s really more of a practice than it is an actual tangible thing that magically generates more traffic.

Ultimately what it comes down to are the practices you follow when writing your blog. The one key to remember about blogging is that you’re always better off with any blog content than none. Avoid getting into a trap that many businesses fall into by over analyzing what you’re going to write about. But, before you go off and start a blog, there are a number of things to keep in mind:

  • Who, within our advisor practice, can write?
  • What are some key topics we often talk about with our customers?
  • How often should we post our blogs?
  • How will we notify our clients and prospects that we’ve updated our blog?
  • Does our current website management tool have an integrated blog?
  • What do our clients want to read about?
  • How will we measure the success of our blog?

This is just a snapshot of some key questions you can ask yourself prior to starting a blog and, shortly after you’ve started your blog, you’ll start to see an increase in the amount of traffic to your website. Once you’ve accomplished this very important goal the next critical step is to “convert” that traffic into a lead and then subsequently into a client and revenue.

Looking for more advice on blogging and how you can turn your website into a revenue generating business asset? Start a conversation with us and fill out the form below.

“Compliance Takes Too Long to Review my Content.”

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Compliance is taking too long to review my contentAs web technologies continue to become more accessible and easy to use the volume of content that can be generated increases exponentially. Moreover, as the tools become more sophisticated, the more advisors have the ability to select and change the branding that appears on their website. If you couple these two perspectives and add on the fact that all of this activity is transpiring in a regulated industry you begin to see increasing work loads for compliance officers who need to review content to ensure content is inline with regulatory requirements. Additionally, in certain business models Wealth and Insurance marketing professionals need to ensure that the changes advisors make do not fragment or negatively impact their brand.

It’s no secret that many organizations in regulated industries such as financial services, have challenges keeping up with volume of content reviews coming at them from their advisors. Slower than average review cycles not only directly affects advisor satisfaction with the dealer but also impacts an advisor’s ability to do business and be agile. While there is no silver bullet to this solution, it’s important that your enterprise compliance team have the best possible review tools and business processes to keep review times at a minimum.

If you feel compliance is taking too long to review your content, here are some points to think about before you think about picking up the phone and discussing your wait time with the nearest compliance officer:

  • Is your compliance team approving content through email or through an automated tool?
  • Is the process used to review your website content a manual process? Are you sending your website link through an email to your compliance team?
  • How are you notified that your content has been approved or rejected? Is this information being transmitted to you from a third party tool or directly from the compliance officer?
  • Are you constantly struggling with mismatched information such as your designations, licenses or even biography with your compliance and registrations department?
  • Does your organization have a service level agreement for content review times?
  • Do the tools you are using have the ability to track the average review time?
  • Can you identify the individual who is to review your content next? (mostly applicable in a multi person review process)

The fact of the matter is that compliance officers most definitely are not just sitting on their hands staring at your content and reviewing it at a snails pace. Content review times are typically drawn out due to manual business processes, a lack of awareness of the content review process or just a shortfall in terms of the technologies compliance officers are using to perform content reviews. As such, compliance officers have countless hours of reviews to perform beyond what they are currently resourced to do.

We understand these issues and have experience speaking with compliance teams. If you feel your organization could benefit from a conversation with us, let’s start a chat first with you and determine next steps to improving your organization’s content review times.

7 Ways to Increase Your Website’s Traffic with Blogging

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Blogging is an extremely useful digital marketing practice that can generate leads by attracting new traffic to your website. It is a key strategy that many successful marketing organizations adopt in order to create a thought leadership position and add credibility to their brand. Here’s a short checklist to help get you started on your blog!

1. Communicate When you Blog

One key best practice is to ensure you are communicating to your clients and potential prospects that you’ve written something and updated your blog. Have a LinkedIN profile? Great! Once you’ve completed writing your blog, post the link to your blog post as a status update to your LinkedIN! Or, if you prefer to email your clients, include a short snippet and link to your blog post on your next email to your clients. Increasing your search rank involves proving to search engines like Google and Bing that you are a relevant source of information. The volume of traffic to your website is one key contributing factor to that result. And besides, if you’ve taken the time to write something that you’re passionate about, you should let the world know that you’ve written it!

2. Use Keywords in your Titles

Many blogging platforms have a field specifically designated for your blog title. The primary reason for this is, in fact, for search. Search engines read and index your pages looking for titles. If your title matches popular keywords you’ll have a higher likelihood of getting ranked higher than other websites. Now, you’re probably wondering, how do I know if a word is a keyword? Here’s a quick tip: visit “http://www.google.com/trends/” and type in words or phrases that you’d like to use in your title. From there, you’ll be able to identify the popularity of the words you plan on using!

3. Use impactful images

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “A picture says 1000 words”. When you write and create content, you should always think about the image you want to associate with your writing. There is research that proves that using images actually increases the likelihood of your content being read. Secondly, when you use images and post the link to your blog post on social media sites like LinkedIN, they will automatically pick up the image and post it along with your status update!

4. Link your posts to other parts of your website

Search engines like Google and Bing love what is known as “Internal Links”. What’s an internal link? It’s basically a link where when you click on it, it takes you to another part of your website on the same domain. One simple example of an internal link would be on your main navigation/menu tabs. So, how do you put this into practice? For one, announcing your blog post on your home page with a link to the post every time you create one would work. Also, when writing your blog posts, think of different ways to link your posts together. If you’re referencing topics from past posts, be sure to link those posts together!

5. Maintain frequency in your blogs

The web is always changing and there are ebbs and flows to how your visitors will interact with you. One key success factor in driving traffic to your website is to ensure content maintains some level of recency. Arguably, blogging once a day is better than blogging once a week, but more importantly, is to blog frequently. We recommend that you consider blogging once a quarter at a minimum. Don’t forget that you can also leverage other sources of content from your business partners. For example, your estate planner might want to contribute and write a short piece for your blog.

6. Create a Content Calendar and Commit to Writing

Blogging can sometimes be perceived as a daunting and arduous task. Distill the process down by first starting off with a content calendar and plan out your topic for 4 quarters, 12 months, 52 weeks, essentially whatever frequency you decide to adopt. This will help simplify and map out the themes you plan on writing about for the rest of the year and will also give you a preview on the workload. Thinking about the topics before you start writing can also help you get your creative juices flowing even before you put pen to paper.

7. Write valuable content

Content is king and blogging is, hands down, the BEST way to generate traffic. However, there is a bit of a catch. Your blog isn’t a tool that you should be using to advertise your services or pitch your visitors on the next best product, that’s what the rest of your website can do for you. The content that you write on your blog should be authentic and trustworthy. This is about creating and establishing your business legitimacy. It’s also a first impression. Think about how you would interact in a first meeting with a prospect. How do you add value to them? Similarly in blogging, what information can you give your website visitors to make them coming back for more?

New Feature Announcement: Blogging and Event Promotion

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Advisors with Digital Agent websites can now use two new features to attract new visitors to their website; blogging and event promotion. They will now have the ability to blog on their website and the ability to promote upcoming client-facing events they are hosting. These two new features will help extend the capabilities of Digital Agent into an effective content marketing platform for financial and insurance advisors.

Start Blogging to Improve Your Search Results and Online Reputation
Users of Digital Agent can easily add a blog to their Digital Agent website, allowing them to communicate directly with their clients and prospects about relevant thought leadership topics.   According to a recent study conducted by The West Program, 77% of internet users say they read blogs regularly, which makes this feature an excellent way to establish yourself as a trusted advisor on your topics of choice in your industry.

Promote Upcoming Client Events
Hosting a golf tournament, client dinner or seminar?  Create events using Digital Agent, promote the event on your site, and collect RSVPs.  With this feature, your Digital Agent website becomes an even stronger communication tool and asset for your current customers.

“Both of these features align to our long term strategy of making Digital Agent a business asset and content marketing tool for financial and insurance advisors.” says Andrew Chung, VP Products, “With the changing landscape of both a regulated financial services industry and online investor trends, having a content rich website is becoming a requirement for financial advisors. Our goal is to provide them with a platform to follow through with such a strategy without worrying about some of the nuances of website setup and maintenance.”

If you’d like to see a demonstration of these new features or a full demo of Digital Agent, please contact questions@digitalagent.ca

How should I design my website menu?

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Your website menu, often called “Tabs” or “Navigation” is a critical component for your website. Getting it right will help you accomplish two key goals. Your users will have a positive experience finding information on your website and Google will equally have an easier time crawling and ranking your website in search results.

User and Visitor Experience

As it relates design and user experience, it is generally a best practice to keep you top level navigation to a maximum of 7 or 8 items. That’s the max. This means when you get to that number in your menu, you are essentially pushing the boundaries of an efficient and effective user experience. If your website currently has 8 or more menu items, I would encourage you to assess whether you can reduce the number of navigation items into a smaller number of categories. When I walk through this process with clients, I tend to follow a model that is very similar to how a library would organize and categorize their books. If you distilled the process used to organize books down into a few steps, it essentially involves creating categories at the highest level, for example, Science, Business, History followed by sub categories. The key to creating these high level categories is to ensure that each category is mutually exclusive, that is to say, no overlap. If you’re able to follow these rules, this will help you reduce the number of website menu items and will also help your visitors find the information they are looking for.

Naming and Search

As far as the naming is concerned, I tend to recommend to my clients to try, as much as possible, the use of common page names. Using terms like “About Us”, “Contact”, “Products”, “Services”, as top level items can yield two benefits. For one, it helps Google better understand your page and eventually provide structured queries for your visitors when they search for you (these are the links that appear underneath your search results in Bing or Google). Secondly, it gives your users an easier way to find content. There’s no exact science to naming, however,  if you decide to deviate away from traditional page names, make sure it is evident what a user can expect to find in each portion of your website. If it’s confusing to you, chances are it will be confusing to your visitors. Lastly, try to keep the number of words and letters of your website menu items short. I’ve noticed on a lot of websites that have 3 or 4 words for a single menu item. This isn’t necessarily going to penalize you from a search standpoint and is more of an indicator that perhaps your categorization technique isn’t efficient enough.

New Interactive Widgets for Digital Agent!

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We’re excited to launch a number of different interactive widgets to our library!

Google Maps has never been so easy!

Have you always wanted an interactive Google map on your website that your visitors can use to find your exact location? Well, look no further. As long as you’ve correctly typed in your address in your approved profile, you can drag and drop a Google map anywhere and as many times on your website!

Interactive Google Map widget

Twitter Widget

Do you use Twitter to communicate with your audience? Digital Agent now has an easy-to-use tool that that enables you to add a Twitter widget to your website. Marketing and Compliance, don’t worry, each Twitter widget created using Digital Agent will go through an approval and vetting process before being published on a Digital Agent website.

Twitter Widget Example

Interactive and Mobile Ready Calculators

our brand new interactive calculators to our inventory of widgets! And yes, they’re mobile ready! Choose from 5 professional looking calculators that will exponentially enhance the attractiveness and usefulness of your website! These interactive calculators have been designed to increase your visitors’ time on site thereby increasing the likelihood that they’ll read your amazing content!

Interactive Savings Calculator

New Features: Pre-Approved Pages

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As of today, enterprise marketing users can continue to support their advisors web presence by using our newest authoring feature for Pre-approved pages. Yes, that’s right. With the help of enterprise marketing, advisor users can add fully populated pages to their website in 2 easy steps. Enterprise marketing support teams will create these pages with an easy-to-use drag and drop interface to design a web page and populate the page with content from the pre-approved content library.

This feature will go a long way in supporting an advisors journey through the creation and maintenance of their website and will also help to reduce the content review workload for enterprise compliance groups as this new feature requires the use of pre-approved content.

Pre-approved pages example