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Is Digital Transformation in your Organization’s Future?

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Digital transformation has become an overused phrase in the workplace. According to Forbes, digital transformation is the use of technologies to radically improve the performance or reach of an enterprise. 78% of respondents across a wide range of industries said that achieving digital transformation is a priority for them within the next 2 years (MIT Center for Digital Business). But, what does this mean and how can you leverage digital transformation to your organization’s advantage?

In business, digital transformation can involve changes to the foundational components of an organization; from its operating model to its digital infrastructure. A transformation program touches every function of a business; from marketing and sales to operations. The process of digital transformation can be expensive and risky. Generally speaking, businesses that go through this transformation are the ones that have failed to evolve and keep up with their industry, and as a result, are playing catch up.

For large organizations, digital transformation takes a significant amount of resources and time, a cross-functional set of business skills, and a strong understanding of customer and employee needs in regards to their digital experiences with your organization. Putting your organization through digital transformation can be a risky process, although, if done right, it can produce great benefits for your employees, clients, and organization.

Keep in mind that digital transformation is not for every organization. Organizations that continue to foster a culture of constant evolution and cross-functional collaboration are always transforming. Organizations that aren’t constantly evolving and adapting are generally the ones that need digital transformation to be able to compete with competitors in their industry.

Employee productivity

In recent years, there has been a heavier focus on digital initiatives in most (if not all) industries. Businesses are starting to see digital initiatives as a means to help better engage customers externally and employees internally. 58% of businesses surveyed now look to digital to help sell profitably and 56% of businesses assess the impact of digital in relation to customer experience (Accenture).

On an internal level, digital transformation has the potential to empower your workforce. Implementing the right digital tools can help ease the collaboration process across departments and geography within your organization. Done right, digital transformation can help integrate and streamline entire business processes. A streamlined process means fewer unnecessary emails, errors and delays since workflows are being assigned to the correct employees. Through features like role-based workflows, you are able to assign tasks to specific individuals, which in turn will reduce the amount of work that falls through the cracks. With the ability to add, edit, share and collaborate on essential data, your teams can resolve problems more quickly and in real-time, which in turn can help your organization not only meet, but exceed client needs.

For more information on elevating employee engagement by going digital, click here.

Customer experience

Being productive, and efficient internally is important for an organization because a good customer experience starts with your internal team. With well-functioning internal processes, your customer experience has a significantly better chance of being successful.

A study done by Forrester Consulting concluded that 63% of organizations planned to improve their online customer experiences this year. Digital transformation is a customer-driven business transformation initiative rather than a strictly technical challenge. Throughout the customer journey, customers will interact with your organization across more than one channel within their journey. It’s important to ensure that the customer experience across all of your channels is consistent and positive, especially on the digital front.

Increase in sales

Companies that have embraced digital transformation are 26% more profitable than their average industry competitors and enjoy a 12% higher market valuation (MIT Center for Digital Business). While sales are important, what is more important is gaining the knowledge of how those sales are made. In today’s digital age, most consumers will almost exclusively interact with and learn about organizations through digital channels. With a better understanding of your customers, an increase in productivity and an improved overall customer experience, your organization will not only become more profitable but will have also build a stronger brand. By having a positive, well rounded brand reputation, your organization is more likely to succeed in retaining clients and converting prospects, especially when they are deciding between you and a competitor.

Promotes a positive and forward-thinking company culture

According to PA Consulting, only 26% of people think their firm has the right mindset to survive and thrive in the digital age. Across the three dimensions of digital transformation – organization, operational process, and technology – businesses are making strides, but they are still struggling with traditional silos and lack of alignment (Accenture). Many firms are stuck offering an “average” digital experience, meaning that they have a limited understanding of what to do next, how to do it, and how to measure the success of each digital experience. Embracing technology and using it to improve your organization’s business processes and engagement rates can create a company culture that encourages creativity and innovation.

Through the process of digital transformation (although it is different for every organization), you are working towards improving the way you run your business, how your employees interact within the organization, and how your external communication channels can improve. The process of planning how your organization will go through digital transformation and enhance business processes can promote out-of-the-box and creative thinking. By taking the initiative to innovate and change big things within your company, you are cultivating an environment that is open to change and improvement. Creating a company culture where development and creativity is encouraged can promote a positive, innovative, and forward-thinking company culture that you can be proud of.

Not one person alone can make digital transformation happen. It requires a company-wide buy in, strong collaboration, and executive advocacy. The motivation can’t come solely from the C-suite. The brainstorming and input on the transformation process must come from all levels of an organization. Take a look at the image below, courtesy of Bobby Albert. 96% of problems are not known to top managers. This statistic speaks to the importance of ensuring every individual in your organization has a say in regards to modifying processes, making improvements, and how to go about your organizations’ digital transformation.

Digital Transformation Iceberg
Now is the time for organizations to re-examine their businesses processes before they are left too far behind in the digital age. In a time where digital is transforming how we do things, it is more important than ever to ensure that your organization is evolving and reacting to the changing digital times.

 

The Business Case for Liferay DXP

Improving Customer Experience: Mobile, Online Self-Service, Content Targeting

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Did you know that 88% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience? In fact, it is predicted that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key differentiator (Walker). Take a moment to think, how does your customer experience (CX) stack up to your biggest competitors?

What is customer experience (CX)?

CX is the product and perception of an interaction between a customer and an organization. These perceptions affect how customers interact with a company, from their buying behaviours to what they say about you. A good CX can lead to higher customer loyalty. In other words, if their experience with you is positive, they’re more likely to continue doing business with you and recommend you to others.

In order to give your customers a positive experience, you’ll have to put in the work. You should know who they are, what they like, and how they interact with you, and use that knowledge to create and deliver personalized experiences that will enhance their experience. Gaining this in-depth knowledge isn’t something that happens overnight – it takes both time and effort. You’ll need to collect and sort through a lot of customer data and gain valuable insights from it. But, at the end of the day, a good CX will lead to an increase in sales and customer loyalty.

customer experience chart

 

So, what are some areas that you should focus on to improve your CX?

Self-service help is a must

Have you ever called a company and were immediately put on hold for 15 minutes to upwards 2 hours just to get your questions answered? Gone are the days where people are willing to wait on hold to have their questions answered. The data below demonstrates that 56% of customers either leave or go to a competitor because of website issues, this includes not having a self-service option on your website.self-service-matters statistics

Self-service is a way for customers to find answers to their questions using an assortment of options. This is important considering that 50% of customers think that it’s important to solve product or service issues themselves (zendesk), and 70% expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.

Different forms of self-service include:

  • E-Support: This is a web-based version of customer service. The customer can access information and perform routine tasks over the internet by searching a knowledge-base or reading a company FAQ.
  • Apps: A software program on mobile devices that is used for carrying out specific tasks. This could be like your mobile bank application to transfer funds or check your balance.
  • Interactive voice response: The customer can interact with an automated telephone system to perform specific tasks
  • Chatbots: This is a program that serves as an online customer service representative for a company. They have the ability to combine artificial intelligence (AI) with a graphical representation.

Is mobile in the picture?

When it comes to providing experience across different channels, ensuring that you have a good mobile customer experience should be at the top of your list. A bad mobile experience can do serious damage to your brand and could result in loss of business as 52% of customers are less likely to engage with a company because of poor mobile experience (Think with Google). If you want to improve your customer loyalty, retention, and overall CX, ensuring that you have a good mobile experience should be a focus for your organization.

Having a good mobile experience goes far beyond just being responsive. Companies have been a bit slow to adapt, with 90% of customers saying that they have had a poor experience seeking customer support on mobile (Software Advice).

 

Mobile experience issues graph

With a higher number of consumers looking for online self-service, it’s important that they are available to the consumer through several different channels, including mobile. Whether it’s a mobile-friendly FAQ, a phone application, or interactive voice response through calls, it’s important to ensure that you are keeping your target customers in mind, and how they would want to interact with your business.

Content Targeting

It is important for marketers to capture insights and information about their customers in order to provide effective customer experiences. With technologies such as Liferay, you’re able to create and track highly targeted marketing campaigns that present the right message to your visitors at the right time, based on social profile, behaviour and browsing history. Having a single-dashboard to view each customer’s behaviours, interests, and patterns can help you push out the right content to each customer. This can improve your customer experience and further build trust, loyalty, and engagement.

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By forming a better understanding of your customers, you’ll be able to build a customer experience that resonates with your audience. Tailor your website to the needs and preferences of each individual with targeted information and segment identification, giving your visitors exactly what they’re looking for. By creating user-friendly self-service options, having a consistent mobile experience and targeting your content – you will be able to improve your overall customer experience. If you ensure that your customer interactions with your organization are consistent, convenient, and evolving, you will continue to drive brand loyalty.

he Business Case for the Liferay Digital Experience Platform

Financial Advisors: Using Niche Marketing to Grow your Business

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As more people obtain their CFP certification, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Advisors to prove their value over competitors.

It used to be common for small businesses to market themselves as a “one-stop shop.”   This made sense when it was difficult to access a range of Financial Advisors. However, with the arrival of the Internet and powerful search engines, as well as the vast amounts of content available online, this has all changed. Now, trying to be a “one stop shop” offers much less competitive advantage in the overcrowded online market.

Many Advisors believe that by being a generalist, they are able to reach more people, which will lead to more potential clients. The reality is, it is difficult to sell everything to everyone, and even more difficult when you are trying to do it online. If you cast too wide of a net online, you won’t catch many fish at all. The challenge with a general audience is that your online messaging can become very generic and as a result, less persuasive and engaging.

So, you want to grow your business online, and build a more effective online presence? Why is defining your niche market one of the first things you need to do?

Niche Marketing

First off, what is niche marketing?  According to Business Dictionary, “niche marketing is concentrating marketing efforts on a small but specific and well defined segment of the population. Niches do not ‘exist’ but are ‘created’ by identifying needs, wants, and requirements that are being addressed poorly or not at all by other firms, and developing and delivering services to satisfy them. As a strategy, niche marketing is aimed at being a big fish in a small pond instead of being a small fish in a big pond.

The objective of niche marketing is to become the expert and go-to for that service and audience, and develop a reputation as the preferred Financial Advisor for that market. Niche Advisors become specialists with expertise in solving particular problems for a particular set of people with similar challenges. And because prospects see niche businesses as specialists, they are often more willing to pay a premium price for what they will perceive as being a higher level of expertise than generic Advisors.

In the digital age, is it no longer safe to be a generalist.

You only have a split second, if you’re lucky, to catch a prospects eye when they are rifling through their Google search results. In a world where you are competing with thousands (even millions) of websites, the last thing you want to do is get buried because your content is generic, and similar to all of the other Advisors marketing themselves online. Ask yourself, with so many Advisors and so much content online, why should a prospect do business with you over another Advisor that they have come across in Google searches?

Build your online presence around your niche market.

These days, the only way to grab someone’s attention is by providing them with something that is relevant and provides value. Instead of the risk of spreading yourself too thin by saying everybody is your potential client, niche marketing will help you to focus your online efforts, keywords and content on a specific group of people, and what their specific needs and challenges are. You’ll quickly develop a deep understanding of what’s important to them, the ins-and-outs of their financial affairs, their problems and opportunities. From there, you will know exactly what content to create and share with your digital network; crafting valuable content that is specifically targeted towards their buyer journey and the challenges they are facing.

The best way to ensure that your website content is valuable is to make sure it fits the criteria of informative, interesting and relevant. If your content is informative, it will either answer a question often asked by your niche market, or provide valuable insights related to your niche market. If your content is interesting, it is written in a way that makes your niche market want to read it. If your content is relevant, then it relates to the lives, challenges, work, or interests of your niche market. In order for your niche website to stand out and rank higher than the others, you’re going to need great niche centered content that is informative, interesting and valuable to readers and potential customers

Targeting keywords and content that align with your target audience’s search queries will also help in your Search Engine Optimization efforts; helping you to rank higher in your specialized niche market.

Winning the “Micro-Moments” in Financial Services Marketing

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“The old days of predictable, periodic media sessions have been replaced by numerous short bursts of digital activity throughout the day.” Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior VP of ads and commerce at Google.

This, is what Google has recently called “micro-moments”, a term coined in 2015 that you can expect to become more fully realized across all digital media in 2016.

What exactly is a “micro-moment?” According to Google, Micro-moments are moments when consumers act on a need; to learn something, discover something, and do something. A micro-moment is a window of opportunity when your audiences want to know or do something; where decisions are being made and preferences shaped. In short, they are open windows of “in the moment” opportunities when someone searches for something top-of-mind using the closest device to them. Think about these scenarios as “I want” or “I need” moments, when the consumers want to know something right then and there.

Micro-Moments (1)

 Image by Google:  Img source

What does this mean for Financial Service Marketers?

Did you know that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less? 40% of consumers will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. This is just one way that a consumer’s micro moment can be won or lost.

Financial Institutions and Advisors battle for clients, and dollars are won (or lost) in these micro-moments. In fact, Google reports that consumers are often more loyal to their need in the moment than a particular brand or product. They are attracted to the brands that satisfy their needs in those “micro-moments”. The significance of these micro-moments to financial service marketers is that they will be able to leverage them to be there when their prospects or clients need them.

Every time a prospects needs or wants something, it is an opportunity for you to provide and be more then just an Advisor. How can Financial Services compete for those micro moments?

To start, identify your prospects and clients’ buyer journeys, and identify those “micro-moments” that matter most. Where do prospects want to find information about financial services? Where do they want to learn about saving and retirement? How can you help them save money or spend more effectively? How can you be more helpful online in the moment? What content can you deliver to engage them in a meaningful way?

It comes down to showing your prospects and clients that you can help in their daily lives, and not just when they are present in your office for a meeting. To win micro-moments, understand your prospects intent, and then provide them with the most relevant, useful and high quality information that addresses their need in the moment.  The strongest brands will capitalize on these micro moments and evolve to match these moments with valuable content.

Build an Advisor Brand That Makes you Stand Out

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What comes to mind when you think about Coca-Cola?

You may be thinking “a popular beverage”. But, when it comes to their brand, it’s more than just a beverage company. Coca-Cola sells happiness, togetherness, and positive emotions.

So, when it comes to deciding between buying a Coca-Cola product or a Pepsi product, both are popular beverages and in the same realm. What pushes people to decide is often the emotional connection an individual has to that brand.

A brand is everything to do with you and your company: who you are, what you stand for, what services you offer, your goals, values, personality, and more.  A brand lives and evolves in the minds and hearts of potential clients.  It is a fostered set of emotions and ideas consumers associate with your company.

Cultivating a strong brand is crucial to your businesses’ success, both online and off. There is a lot that goes into building a brand and shaping how others perceive you and your business; from customer testimonials to your value proposition.  Seeing that we are now in a day and age where people will make purchase decisions based off of emotional connections, building a strong brand identity can help build value for your business.

Just as a brand can drive its prospects to pick them over a similar competitor, your personal brand can drive your prospects to pick you over other Financial Advisors.

So, ask yourself:

  1. What does my personal brand say about me?

Your personal bio is the most powerful branding tool you have. In Mitch Joel’s book Ctrl Alt Delete, he talks about “digital first”. This concept emphasizes that the first place we learn about things (and people) is online. This means that, often times, an individual’s first impression of you will be based around how you carry yourself online. Your personal bio is one way to communicate who you are without having to be face to face with prospects and clients.

On a broader scale, what you communicate on your website and social media defines how you (and your brand) will be perceived by an audience. When you promote yourself as a Financial Advisor, you’re promoting what’s on the surface of your brand. But, what makes you unique and sets you apart from other Advisors? Do you promote yourself with the idea that you are a unique brand, such as “Coca-Cola”; a brand that sells happiness, togetherness, and other positive emotions, or just “a popular beverage”? If you’re selling your services by sharing your valuable knowledge with your audience, people will start to build trust with your brand.

  1. What do I WANT my personal brand to say about me?

Are you family-oriented? Do you specialize in a niche area of Financial services like retirement planning? Are you a fan of a specific sports team? Do you use your interests to better connect with clients? If being family-oriented is something that you want to be portrayed to your audience, use images that focus on that throughout your website. Use images and create content that further demonstrate your understanding of your niche market. You can use also social media to humanize your brand further by celebrating your favourite sports team’s success. There are so many ways to create a well-rounded personal brand that is true to who you are and what your advisory firm is all about.

Take a minute and think about what you want people to think (and say) about you and your business. Do you want them to see you as someone that is strictly business or someone that wants to get to know their clients on a more personal level? Even with a digital shift, human interactions are still very important to sales and business processes. A prospect or clients experience with you online (and off) should feel personalized and human. You want prospects and clients to connect and relate to your brand on an emotional level. Giving your audience a solid sense of who you are may make them more willing to trust you as an Advisor, which is particularly important in this industry and when competing with other Advisors.

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What does your brand say about you? Can you identify your values, goals, or uniqueness from what you’ve put online? Remember that a brand is not what you say it is, but rather what your consumers say it is. At the end of the day, do you want to promote yourself as a unique brand, such as Coca-Cola, or just a popular beverage? In other words, do you want your brand to connect with your audience on an emotional level, or be seen as just another Financial Advisor?

Financial Advisors: Build a Better Digital You

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As a student looking for work, I was repeatedly asked, “Do you have a LinkedIn account?”, “What do your social media accounts say about you?”, and “What kind of an impression are you making on the digital front?” It has become very common for employers to look for potential candidates through social media and use it to vet applicants. So, ask yourself, “What do my social media accounts say about me and how can that affect my Advisory firm?”

Just as employers use the internet to find the right candidates for their organization, your prospects look to the internet to decide who the right Financial Advisor is for them. So, take a step back and assess the online presence of your business:

Where can I be found online?

  • A personal website
  • Your company’s website
  • Your social media accounts – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc
  • You were featured in a news article
  • A guest blog you’ve written

There are many ways to get your name (and your Advisory Firm) out there.

  1. Create a website

We are in the digital age of “Googling”. People will Google anything and everything, including which Financial Advisor would be best suited for them. Having a well designed, user-friendly, and dynamic website can help you gain credibility as a Financial Advisor by continuously establishing a great first impression with website visitors. Adding non-financial information such as community involvement, charitable endeavours and local events on your website can also help build strong relationships between you and your audience. A website can act as an extension of your business. It has the capacity to be a 24/7 online business that is working and available to clients and prospects, even when you aren’t. If you put the work in, your website can be a hub of answers for your clients and prospects.

  1. Create and build your social media accounts

Gone are the days where a first impression occurs when you first meet and shake someone’s hand, especially in the Financial Services industry. Considering that 70% of the buyer journey is completed before reaching out to a company, chances are your prospects have researched you prior to your first phone call or meeting. Having a strong social media presence that effectively articulates your services, brand and you as an Advisor, can be the difference between a gaining another prospect or a client.

  1. Blog!

It is said that the millennial generation, also known as your future clients, have an approximate purchasing power of $200 billion. 88% of millennials used Facebook as their main source of news in 2015. When it comes to news, answering questions, a means for entertainment (the list goes on) – we, the millennial generation, will turn to answers or information we find online and share it with our peers.

81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs (BlogHer). Blogging is one of the best ways to have a conversation with your audience by answering their questions in a non-intrusive manner. Blogging is also a great way to boost your websites search engine optimization (SEO) and ranking. Improving your search engine ranking can also help improve traffic to your website, all while building your digital brand.

So, to get you started on building a better digital you, do a quick audit of your existing online presence:

  • Do I have a website? Is it mobile friendly?
  • Do I have a profile on my company’s website?
  • Do I have an account on at least 1 social media platform?
  • Am I active on my account(s)?
  • Have I blogged?
  • When will I start (or continue) to build a better digital presence?

Introduction to Content Marketing for Financial Advisors

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Marketing has evolved tremendously in the past decade – and more importantly the way we market to people has changed. Today’s consumers make purchasing decisions based on research they do on their own, reading online reviews, and through trust that is built overtime with an organization.

We are now in the age of “Googling”. This means that people are turning to search engines, like Google, to find the answers to their questions. Considering that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine (imFORZA), having the ability to answer a prospects question online could help you seal the deal when the time comes. After all, 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to a sales associate (Pardot).

With content so readily available to consumers, one of the best ways to build trust and credibility is through content marketing. So, what is content marketing and how can you start your content marketing journey?

Well, first off…

What is content marketing?

By dictionary definition, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. 

Content marketing aims to educate and inform your audience without selling your product or service – a form of uninterrupted marketing. Consistently creating content that is relevant, informative and provides value to your audience will help attract new clients to your business as it positions you as a thought leader and builds a sense of trust between you and a prospect. Content marketing is one of the most important marketing strategies you can implement for your business. It helps you to build trust with your audience, connect and engage with prospects, and strengthens your Search Engine Optimization, all while further establishing yourself as an expert in the Financial Services industry.

Content creation

There are a variety of different formats of content that you can create to attract a wider audience of prospects. By creating content in different formats and promoting through different channels, the chance of others finding, reading and referring back to your content increases.

To make things easy, start with one idea and decide which medium would be the most appropriate way to share it. Would the information be better interpreted as a blog post, an infographic, a video?

Why content marketing?

Content marketing is a means to help solve, educate and inform your audience on problems they may be facing. By providing prospects and clients with readily available information online, you’re able to build a more trusting and valuable relationship with them. This is one of the most inexpensive and effective forms of inbound marketing. According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.

If you think back to a problem you may have encountered, or a question that came up such as, “How do I stain my porch?” or “What are the best restaurants in Toronto?”, Did you search for an answer online? Just as you turned to the Internet to find answers, many people do the same for topics related to the Financial Services industry. Search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300% (imFORZA). By including content marketing in your digital marketing strategy, your business has the potential to be a 24/7 online hub for individuals looking for financial advice.

Getting started
To get started on your content marketing journey, here are some things you can do:

  • Find an area that you can be an expert in and use content marketing as a means to answer your target audience’s questions, and solve their challenges.
  • Make a list of blog post ideas – kind of like an extensive FAQ, or relevant topics that would be of interest to your audience
  • Create a content calendar – this will help keep you organized throughout the process
  • Decide on the types of content you want to create
  • Make your current content more socially shareable
  • Learn to optimize your content and boost your SEO to amplify your organic reach
  • Use eNewsletters to push out and repurpose your content

 

For a more in-depth guide to content marketing, try downloading our eBook: The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing

The Road to Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Success

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On the path to marketing a business, people can lose sight of their local audience. According to a study done by the National Public Radio, localized content had 6 times more Facebook shares than non-localized content. From increasing your website traffic to improving your clients overall experience with your business – localized marketing can do wonders for your Advisory Firm.

According to Search Engine Land, 67% of smartphone users want ads customized by city and 61% want ads customized to their immediate surroundings. With SEO continuously evolving, it’s hard to keep track of how to best optimize your Advisor website and content – especially with a local focus.

There are many elements that go into a building a strong and effective local SEO strategy. One of the most important features to have for your Advisor website is to be mobile responsive as Google now ranks responsive websites higher than those that aren’t in search engine rankings.

The infographic below, courtesy of 99MediaLab, takes you on a visual journey down the road to local SEO success for your business. As a Financial Advisor, be sure to take note of what you are currently doing with your SEO strategy, and what you need to start doing to successfully market to your local audience.

The Road to Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Success Infographic

Newsletters: The Forgotten Hero of Content Marketing

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Newsletters are one of the most cost-effective mediums for building relationships and maintaining contact with your customers and prospects. Despite being one of the most effective marketing tools available, this digital channel is often overlooked by digital marketers.

As a Financial Advisor, Newsletters are a great way to boost your content reach, grow your contact list, and help in building trust with clients and prospects. As newsletters are now an opt-in form of digital marketing, they are the perfect medium for pushing out content to your target audience without being disruptive.

The Content Marketing Institute found that 78% of respondents included newsletters in their content marketing strategy. With newsletters being the primary use of email marketing (Capterra), taking advantage of this marketing tool can lead your business to further success.

So, why newsletters? As a powerful marketing tool, newsletters can:

  • Increase your web traffic
  • Increase your repeat visitors
  • Allows you to track who’s receiving, opening, and visiting your website
  • Educates your target audience
  • Nurtures your leads
  • Builds trust with your clients and prospects

Just like anything in digital marketing, newsletters are not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are 3 different types of eNewsletters that marketers typically use, each with a different purpose.

Corporate eNewsletters

They are designed to keep customers and prospects up-to-date with organization updates. They summarize company announcements, press releases, new products, etc. This type of newsletter is typically sent on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Lead nurturing eNewsletterssales funnel

The goal of this type of eNewsletter is to engage, inform, and stay top of mind for clients and prospects. The content you share with your audience can lead them through the awareness, consideration, and decision phases by providing them with useful content, familiarizing them with your business and, eventually, driving them to take action and become a client. Content within the eNewsletter can include educational materials such as blogs, sales information, and marketing offers. Depending on where your audience may be along the sales funnel, having a call-to-action may push those at the decision making phase to commit and become your client.

The goal of this type of eNewsletter is to engage and influence prospects with every interaction they have with you. The content you share with your audience can lead them through the awareness, consideration and decision phases by familiarizing them with your business and, eventually, driving them to take action and become a client.

Curated eNewsletters

Curated eNewsletters aim to build awareness of a topic, while also allowing your organization to provide their perspective on it. This type of eNewsletter is a mixture of syndicated (third party) and original content. It displays that you have a grasp of what your audience is looking for by surfacing the best content out there into a one stop shop. This is also a great approach for Advisors with a limited amount of content.

Lead nurturing and curated newsletters tend to have higher open rates, and are generally sent on a weekly basis, at the same day and time (ex. 2:30 pm every Tuesday).

 

An effective eNewsletter is non-intrusive, provides value to the reader, and makes them feel like they are being educated rather than sold. eNewsletters don’t require you to create new content as they’re a great way to repurpose your old content. As a Financial Advisor, you should take advantage of this effective means for building and maintaining relationships with clients and prospects. eNewsletters will not only extend the reach of your content, but can also do wonders for your business.

Takeaways from the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit 2016

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I recently attended the Digital Marketing Summit in Toronto and was a panelist on the Power Panel: Surmount Barriers to Transform your Omni-channel into a Customer Centric, High Performance Digital Ecosystem. The conference was very educational and a great way to meet industry leaders in the Digital world of Financial Services. Having learned some new perspectives on all things digital, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on two presentations that stood out during the conference.

The Keynote Address by Mitch Joel

The keynote address “Reboot Your Digital Marketing Strategy to Transform Your Brand and Win in the New Landscape” by Mitch Joel, President of Mirum, and author of Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT DELETE was the most interesting. His presentation provided me with a different perspective on digital today.

The first was Mitch’s story about Snapchat. Apparently, in Snapchat’s very early days, when it was only about 5 people, Facebook offered to buy it for $3 billion.  Amazingly, Snapchat’s founders turned it down. Snapchat’s size and younger audience demographic was attractive to Facebook, but Mitch explained that Snapchat was quite different from Facebook. Snapchat represented the real world.  In the real world, most conversations are not recorded.

Today, in the ‘virtual world’, what people really want is an in-the-moment experience and to interact in a non-recorded way.  Snapchat, and tools like Slack and Periscope, provide the brevity and genuineness of reacting to something as it happens, just like real life.

Teenagers need unstructured time online without fear of parental criticism, which can easily happen on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Snapchat gives younger audiences the freedom of communicating in a private digital environment. Similarly, ‘Periscope’ lets you broadcast live video to the world. Followers can join, comment and “send you hearts in real time”. In the workplace, Slack, a chatting application, has been encroaching on email as a form of business communication. Email is still quite formal but conversely Slack allows for creativity and brainstorming — similar to a face-to-face meeting. Slack imitates that experience better than prescribed emails that most work-forces use.

Apps like Snapchat, Periscope and Slack prompt us, as marketers, to think about ways our own brands can mimic ‘real world’ experiences to connect not only with millennials but also with all of our customers in the ways they connect with each other.

Another interesting tidbit from Mitch was that Amazon bought the gaming channel, Twitch Interactive, in 2014 for almost $1 billion. Twitch is not actually a gaming website but an Internet video channel for “broadcasting and watching people play videogames”.

At first glance this seems like an awkward acquisition, however, Twitch is the fourth-largest source of U.S. Internet traffic, so perhaps $1 billion was worth it.

Mitch’s take away from this acquisition is that companies should obviously be investing in video, but also that thinking differently about your business can sometimes lead to tremendous success. An ecommerce and cloud computing company is leading the way with Amazon Prime video streaming and networks like Twitch. It is now not just about content or channels, but about networks like Netflix and CraveTV. Mitch Joel states that Amazon’s move into networks teaches us a potentially new way for marketers to think. Many brands are hiring journalists and other media types as a way to create more authentic, creative stories. He says that maybe the opportunity is for brands to think about not just creating and publishing content, but more about how to “become their own media network”. Perhaps the future is less about native advertising and more about brands becoming a network with their own studio.

Think about Purina owning a ‘kitty network’ similar to AFV or Elon Musk owning a “sustainability network’ that is all about saving the environment.

Another very interesting comment Mitch made was that the ‘purchase button’ should be everywhere. He mentioned the Best Buy Facebook Page that has a tab titled, “Shop Now”. Mitch says, why drive people back to your website when they should be able to buy right from within Facebook? The Internet strategy of years ago that drove consumers back to their website is slowly dying. This rang particularly true for me because in 2001, I worked for a ‘dot com’ called ePod. ePod had a unique advertising technology, that was way before its time. We called it a ‘website within a website’. We worked with companies like Disney to create an ad unit that would advertise a Disney product in a video, inside an ad unit with a ‘buy now’ or ‘add to cart’ functionality built-in.  Yes, ePod was quite a way before its time.

My final takeaways from Mitch’s presentation were that we, as financial services marketers, need to ensure that we represent real-life. Marketing with flexibility, creativity, authenticity, and kindness. He said those were the keys to developing great businesses.

In a digitally centric world, authenticity and creating and developing real relationships are the keys to success.

Facebook’s Erin Elofson

Erin Elofson, Director of Financial Services at Facebook, sold the benefits of Facebook advertising, but she did it in a very educational way. I have spent a fair bit of time trying to find the secrets to effective Facebook advertising – with some great success – but I always thought that we could do better. Of course, video advertising was lauded as the key to success.

Video on Facebook has exploded, but the most enlightening was Erin’s comments on storytelling and driving people down the purchasing funnel. In hindsight, it is common sense, but Erin’s examples and success stories sent a strong message to the DMFS audience.

If you are a believer in content marketing, then you know that ebooks, case studies and blogs that educate the consumer before asking them to buy are significantly more effective than content that immediately asks people to take action1. Erin says that Facebook advertising should do the same. Campaigns that “sequence” different ads work best. The first ad should tell the brand story. For example, “our community focused bank supports people who lost their homes in Fort McMurray with a 1% mortgage”. The next ad in the “sequence” should provide product information. For example, “our friendly bank will easily transfer your mortgage over from another bank with no penalty”. Only after these two ads have run one after the other, should the message include a call-to-action such as stating the current mortgage rate and inviting the audience to click to apply.  Erin also showed a simple formula for taking existing television or YouTube video ads and paring them back to become effective brand stories in Facebook.

From personal experiences, acting too quickly by asking people to take action immediately, without persuading them down the purchasing funnel through story telling, takes discipline. In a world where CEOs and shareholders are clamoring for quick results to meet quarter-end numbers, it is very tempting to ask prospects immediately to ‘buy-now’. I get many sales calls right after I download a piece of content. We often wrongly assume that if the product is as good as we think it is, or if they are the right target audience, they will buy. And if they don’t buy or click now, they never will. Erin brought American Express to the stage to tell their Facebook advertising story. American Express explained that once they adopted this disciplined approach to Facebook advertising, or ‘story telling’, the results were overwhelmingly positive. Research from Adaptly2, published by Facebook, concurs with the same results:

Among those who were exposed to the sequenced ads compared to those who were exposed to the non-sequenced ads, there was an 87% increase in people visiting the landing page and a 56% increase in subscription rates. In addition, they converted at higher rates.

When you think of this approach, it makes total sense. I am on Facebook reading my friends’ updates, looking at their photos, watching funny videos and reading news about a movie star’s dress. Do I really want some stranger telling me to buy their product?  Wouldn’t it be better to see funny videos or moving stories related to the brand to get to know them before I am asked to buy?

“Some advertisers may find it counterintuitive to elongate a campaign as a way to more gradually bring their audience through the purchase funnel, rather than more immediately delivering a call-to-action,” says Adaptly’s CEO, Nikhil Sethi. “But we have proven that this classic brand-building approach it is both effective and efficient, even for direct response advertising.”3

My most memorable brand video on Facebook was the Westjet Christmas Miracle. That doubled my affinity for the airline. My resulting perception is a kind airline that cares about their people and their customers. As a marketer, I am surprised that I would feel that way about a brand solely based on their marketing.

Other themes of the Digital Marketing Financial Summit, were personalization, utilizing data to deliver better customer experiences, omni-channel challenges, using attribution for measuring advertising and more.  Lastly, as a regular conference participant, I was very pleased to see how engaged the attendees were. Attendees had many questions for the presenters. When visiting our booth, they were open to hearing about our products and services rather than just the giveaways we had at the booth.

Conferences like DMFS provide us with the ability to step outside the office to learn, develop relationships, and talk to people in the “real world”.

 

1, 2, 3 Creating More Effective Online Marketing Campaigns.