Why Your Website MUST have an SSL Certificate (and What It Is)

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Google has made an update that may affect the way people view websites and ultimately advisor websites when viewed on a Google Chrome browser. In July of 2018, with the release of Chrome 68, Google will begin displaying “not secure” warnings on any page that is from HTTP and contains any form submission options that allows for the transfer of potentially sensitive information such as first name, last name, email, phone number, login info, etc.

Example of a secure site within Google Chrome:

 

 

Example of an insecure site within Google Chrome:

 

 

This warning is based the fact that data on these types of pages can be sending information through an unencrypted connection.

To avoid this warning and serve up an encrypted page requires the data to be exchanged on HTTPS, the secure version of HTTP.  It offers additional protection in blocking someone from trying to view that traffic and is commonly referred to as a “Person in the Middle attack”.

Without this protection, a hacker could ultimately see what’s on an advisor’s screen, which in many cases could be sensitive or confidential information.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates have been available for over twenty years. Having an SSL certificate ensures that sensitive data of your website’s visitors will be transferred over a secure network.

Despite the importance of having an SSL certificate, many organizations or business owners have delayed the adoption due to the price of the certificates and the complexity of implementation. Now, with this new update on Google Chrome, website owners simply can’t afford to not have an SSL Certificate.

Why Your Website MUST have an SSL Certificate

Increasing site security

SSL certificates will protect the sensitive data transmitted from and to your website. This will encrypt the connection and help protect your visitors when they visit your website.

 

 

 

 

Credibility and Trust for Your Customers

A significant benefit of SSL certificates is the fact that they can help you gain trust with your visitors. How many times have you clicked on a website but got a warning and still proceeded to the website? You probably closed the website, just to be on the safe side. Alternatively, you proceeded with caution and would never fill out any form or take any action. You wouldn’t want your visitors to be rethinking if your website is safe. With an SSL certificate, your website will be displayed with a security padlock in the address bar of the browser. If your website doesn’t have a certificate, some browsers may label it as “unsafe.”

SEO Advantages

Another benefit of having an SSL certificate in place is improvement in SEO rankings your website will get. Google gives websites with encrypted connections a slight boost in ranking. That boost isn’t substantial but would definitely give an advantage over competitors who don’t have certificates.

So now what? How do you go about obtaining an SSL certificate?

The most common way to get an SSL certificate is to check if your current hosting provider offers SSL certificates. We are committed to updating you on important information related to your website performance. Contact our service team to get your SSL certificate in place for your website.

5 Reasons Why Your Enterprise Needs an Archiving Tool

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As a business grows it will create more data – data that needs to be meticulously managed and monitored in order for it be utilized properly. Keeping tabs on this data can prove problematic for businesses that never put an archiving system in place. Effective record management becomes a vital process to ensure the protection of the organization and the advisors. Archiving is the process by which inactive information, in any format, is securely stored for long periods of time.

In addition to archiving traditional documents, it is important to archive all content, this includes website pages, blog posts, email newsletters. While you can attempt to archive data manually, this would take up a lot of resources opens up to a risk of error, cannot accurately track changes, and will create confusion in the case of a change in staff.

Here are 5 reasons why your financial enterprise needs an automated archiving tool:

1.Prevent Data Loss

Information that hasn’t been archived in a central and secure location could be lost forever. There is a chance that an employee accidentally deletes or misplaces a file. While in some cases data recovery experts might be able to retrieve this information, this takes time, cost a lot and is rarely 100% accurate. Using an archiving tool allows employees to retrieve the backed-up information independently without having to rely on third parties.

2. Legal Requirements

Archiving is important for legal reasons too. Many enterprises accidentally delete data that they legally should be keeping. An effective archiving system will ensure company- and industry-specific retention schedules are adhered to, regardless of each employee’s knowledge of the retention schedules. Data protection authorities enforce more severe penalties on businesses so employees should be made aware that ignoring these policies could lead to hefty fines or even prison sentences in some cases.

3. Increase Security

In a time when archiving cyber-attacks and data breaches are becoming more frequent, archiving is important for security reasons. By securely archiving documents, businesses can keep track of information and increase protection from unauthorized third parties. Even the most cautious of businesses are now targeted by very adept hackers. Paper records in open circulation can easily be taken from crowded offices or stolen by bitter employees. A reliable offsite archiving system will reduce this risk.

4. Reduce Risks of Errors

Conducting an audit requires a thorough examination of the inner workings and fine details of your business. With the right archiving tool, you can improve the accessibility of data and mitigate the risk of human error.

5. Saves Time

Traditional auditing is very time-consuming, requiring greater resources from larger organizations. With the right archiving tool, the auditor can access the historical content more effectively. The right tool will also include features like the visual editor and powerful filters to allow auditors to work much faster.

Archiving is vital for business continuity and ensuring the highest level of performance in a competitive marketplace, attempting to establish a manual audit process would be too resource intensive and risks exposure. In the instance of financial advisor marketing, this would be impossible to archive the content of every page, of every advisor. Digital Agent offers an archiving tool, Digital Archiving, that allows the enterprise to automatically archive advisors website content. There are a host of features such as high-powered search, visual website review, and external content archiving that increase audit efficiency. Digital Archiving gives enterprises greater peace of mind by auditing your advisors’ online presence.

 

The 4 Forces Driving Advisor Marketing Transformation

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Seldomly are decisions made on a whim. Factors both internal and external guide these choices. Businesses are no different. Leaders are focused on constantly moving forward and embracing new strategies and technologies. Business leaders who do not adopt this approach, their business will stop moving forward, stay stagnant and the competitors will surpass them through their continual improvement and embracing constant change. One of the areas of transformation that leaders should be looking at is advisor marketing. Let’s explore the driving forces that are transforming advisor marketing.

To better examine the driving forces of transformation, we are looking at the “Jobs to Be Done” framework that we use internally to help with strategic planning. The 4 aspects of the framework are:

  • Push: The problems that exist in the current state that drive the desire for charge.
  • Pull: The benefits that a company would get from making the change and transforming to the new state
  • Inertia: These are the costs and habits that are holding back from making the change
  • Anxiety: There are the concerns people and groups have about moving the known to the unknown transformational state.

Push:

As mentioned previously, companies are always trying to move forward because in many cases the stagnant organizations will be surpassed. This competition forces companies to adapt and continue to transform. The second factor that pushes organizations towards transformation is organizational anxiety. People are always changing, learning to do new things, and improving old things. This applies to advisor marketing transformation. There may have been a way to do things in the past, advisors are more knowledgeable and become less content with the current state for advisor marketing that they demand better. The final factor that pushes for transformation is technology impediments. Legacy systems may have been a solution when first implemented but as marketing best practices evolve, so should the advisor marketing platform. If the platform does not evolve, SEO rankings will drop, brand perception will decrease, user experience will be outdated, etc.  

 

Pull:

There are also factors that pull organizations toward the transformational state. These are not obligations (at the moment) but instead factors that would provide value and meaning to users. The first is Client Experience. There has been a lot of disruptions we see across many industries. These disruptions change the way organizations and clients interact, resulting in clients wanting exceptional experiences regardless of industry or organization. The second factor is competitive advantage. The transformation would be perceived as an extra to differentiate from other organizations; allowing for more sales or different pricing/positioning models. The last factor is long-term vision. The leadership of the organizations may see external factors and predict future changes and are deciding to be proactive instead of reactive by implementing a transformational program.

Inertia:

Simply these are the factors that hold organizations back from making change to “what has always been done.” First is the existing habits of users. Transformation may be too much of a radical change for people and can result in poor user adoption/user frustration in the beginning. Secondly, whether it is human or monetary resources, there is a cost to the transformation that is weighed against the benefits. Often times, the cost is seen as too high without being able to truly see the value.

Anxiety:

There are human factors that question the value of the transformation. Are the users aware of the need/desire for change, and do they have to the knowledge to adapt to the transformation? Are the decision makers willing to take the risk involved with transformation? Additionally, does the organization have the capabilities to support the transformational platform and its users before, during, and after its implementation?

When wondering if your organization should move from its current advisor marketing program to a transformational state, it is important to properly evaluate the driving forces behind the transformation. Using the “Jobs to Be Done” framework, organization can see all the factors that are driving them towards the transformational program and all the factors that would restrict them from moving forward.

What Happens in the Field, Stays in the Field: Why head office marketing campaigns have limits

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Enterprises are spending large budgets in attempts to build trust with consumers, but consumers interact with the field agents in which they have not built a relationship with. This model of trust building is wasted effort as customers care more about trusting the advisors with whom they interact with.  There are many benefits for financial enterprise marketers to include field teams in their marketing distribution.

  • Messaging amplification
  • Additional content creators
  • Increased advisor visibility

The one key benefit of advisor marketing programs is the unique positive impact on customer relationships. Just as we all do not answer phone calls from unknown callers, customers do not respond to brands outside of their trusted networks. Companies outside of that trust network, have to work much harder to gain the attention of the customer. If you can tap into the trust network of your customers using your employees as conduits, you are going to build stronger long-term connections.

As an enterprise marketer, you oversee a department and have a budget that is dedicated to programs to create customer engagement – how can you make valuable connections? The traditional approach would be to deliver messaging at the brand level; this method, however, creates a disconnect. All engagement will happen between you the brand and the customer, but the revenue comes from the field level, not the brand level. So only focusing on the brand-customer relationship will mean the customer may trust the brand but does not have a relationship with the field agent with whom they are supposed to trust their money with.

To build this trust, customers look for the personal connections and credibility in their advisor. As they are publishing their own connect, there is a stronger chance of customers connecting with the content because it will be written by a person that a customer can speak with in person. Also,  the advisor will write about subjects that are relevant to their client base. They will have a better understanding of their micro-segment and what financial information will be beneficial to them. Another benefit to advisors producing their own content is to build credibility. Credibility is no longer measured simply by just education and title. Credibility is built when the advisor clearly understands the needs of the client, the difficulties they may face, and having a plan to meet client objectives.

The final element to establish credibility is a proven track record. This will validate expertise and the plan set forth by the advisor. Several elements that establish credibility can be done through marketing content. If website, email, or blog content, speaks to the needs and problems of the potential client, they will self-identify and begin to trust the expertise of the advisor. Additionally, if the marketing content provides a few actionable tips for free, this helps to build trust as it is not hidden behind a wall.

While a head office marketing department may have the resources to create engagement with the customers, it has its limitations. The programs would not be able to provide the same level of personalization for customers. Tailoring messaging that mean the needs of specific micro-segments. Furthermore, enterprise marketers need to leave room to allow for the field teams to engage with the customers and build relationships at that level. In this way, the engagement and relationships build between customer and enterprise will result in the customer being loyal to the brand. And the engagement and relationships built at the same time between the customer and advisor will establish trust and confidence in the management of the customer’s finances.

Four Advisor Personas Enterprise Marketers Need to Be Aware Of

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As an enterprise, when you think about all the advisors that have an online presence and using Digital Agent, their online efforts probably vary drastically.  Some sign in multiple times a week and some probably sign in a few times a year. Ultimately, enterprise teams want to see 100% of advisors leveraging Digital Agent and the marketing tools they provide to its full capabilities. In order to educate and truly understand the habits and characteristics of advisors, we wanted to define the four advisor personas. These personas take advisors through a process of full adoption starting with frequent users to fully active users. Let’s take a look at each of the personas:

1.Online Business Card Website (rarely make updates, no blog)

These advisors have a website but it is a fairly basic website.  These websites have only a few pages that outline the basics such as About, Contact, Product, Services, etc.

Habits and characteristics of an online business card website advisor:

  • Takes a long time to make changes. Wants everything to be perfect before it goes live
  • Does not make updates very often, a few times a year
  • Does not have a blog
  • When they do want to make a change or an update, they will often leverage the Digital Agent service team to help them
  • Does not take time to learn digital marketing or how to leverage Digital Agent better

2. Website Only (make updates but does not blog)

This group of advisors have a website and make frequent updates to it but do not have a blog. They like to update their website but feel they don’t have the time for maintaining and creating content for a blog.    

Habits and characteristics of a website only advisor:

  • Makes updates to their website
  • Leverages the service team to learn about digital marketing and Digital Agent
  • Does not see the value in having a blog
  • Curious about the basics of digital marketing and how they can get more traffic to their website

3.Passive advisor

A passive advisor is defined as an advisor who has a website that they update frequently and they also have a blog that they update 1-2 times a month. While they understand the value of having a blog, they have a hard time making it a priority in their day to day activities.

Habits and characteristics of a passive advisor:

  • Regularly makes updates to their websites
  • Adds content to their blog at least once a month
  • New blog content could be either original content written by the advisor or content created by the enterprise
  • Interested in learning digital marketing strategies and how they can apply to their website
  • Leverages the Digital Agent service team to learn and improve their website and blog

4.Active Advisor

Have 100% of advisors who are actively using Digital Agent is every enterprise’s goal. By leveraging the full capabilities of Digital Agent advisors will see results from their efforts. So what defines an active advisor? An active Digital Agent advisor is someone who regularly updates their websites and has a blog that new articles are posted to at least 5 times a month.

Habits and characteristics of an active advisor:

  • Regularly signs in makes updates and adds new blog content
  • Leverages the resources provided to them to increase their digital marketing knowledge and knowledge of Digital Agent
  • Treats their website as an important part of their overall personal branding and marketing strategy
  • Sets aside time on a consistent basis to improve and create content

By understanding these four personas and knowing which advisors fall into which categories, financial marketers can be better equipped to educate and train on the value of digital marketing and Digital Agent. When they have a better understanding of advisors can start to move towards the next personal level with more activity.

 

Protecting Yourself During An Advisor Audit

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How does your team ensure that emails, documents, content, communications can easily be retrieved if and when necessary? Would it be stressful trying to track down all the emails, files, conversations and log of everything that happened related to that piece of content? Instead, the process could be stress-free if there was an automated archiving system in place. There would be no worry or stress because knowing all the content, the compliance reviews, and external content have all been captured and can be found with high accuracy.

What is Auditing?

Auditing is the process of collecting and examining an organization’s (or individual’s) records and content. This process is to determinate the information is both accurate and in accordance with any rules, regulations, and laws. Internal audits are conducted by internal employees to examine records and are aimed to improve internal processes such as operations, controls, risk management, and governance. External audits are performed by auditors from outside an organization to provide an independent opinion.

Benefits of Performing an Audit

Ultimately, the benefit of performing an internal audit is the protection of assets and reducing exposure to risk. Other key benefits of conducting an internal audit are:

  •    Improving efficiency in the process
  •    Ensuring compliance
  •    The scope of the audit is defined by internal stakeholders
  •    Reports are presented to internal stakeholders ensuring a level of privacy
  •    Establishes monitoring procedures
  •    Identifies redundancies
  •    Increases accountability
  •    Can serve as an early detection system, allowing for timely corrections of issues.

Moving into Digital

The traditional internal audit process is both time consuming and is susceptible to errors. The typical workflow begins with the auditor collecting data. This is what happens when an internal audit takes place

  • Manually search through raw data such as emails, documents, spreadsheets, for the information required or submit a request for that information. This manual search brings productivity to a halt as it is very time intensive and becomes stressful because information may not be easily found or is missing entirely.
  • When submitting a request for information, the request will take days even weeks to pull the data. Once the data is pulled, it may still be in its raw form, not in a format that can easily be reviewed.
  • The auditor would need to sort through mountains of data or have it been organized into a report which takes even more time
  • Finally, with all this data and the sort time frame caused by all the effort spent gathering, the auditor will get stuck in comparing raw figures rather than taking a more analytical approach and providing valuable strategy and insight.

With a modern platform, all the archived data is found in one user-friendly place that allows for accuracy in what the auditor is searching for. Reducing the turnaround time for information gathering allows the auditor to examine the raw data, and have the time to extract valuable insights and develop strategies.

Find out more about Digital Archiving, Veriday’s latest Digital Agent Solution.

3 Most Important Features of a “Digital Handshake”

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Business is all about relationships. Professionals working in sales and marketing spend their entire careers developing relationships with prospects. Commercial relationships, like any relationship, needs to be built on a foundation of trust. Once upon a time, a handshake was the ultimate symbol of trust in business; however, that time may be slowly coming to an end. More and more commercial relationships are built solely online with a salesperson and their customers never meeting in person. This distance has put a wrench in things. Trust is now harder to develop, simply due to the distance brought upon by digital channels.

So what can marketers and salespeople do to continue to build relationships and develop trust through digital channels? At Veriday, we believe the answer lies into mastering your “digital handshake.”

What is a “digital handshake?” Well, it’s the process in which brands and professionals can develop trust through digital channels, usually social media. A digital handshake and a physical handshake have many similarities. Similarities include the fact that other parties will judge you on the “quality” of the handshake.

A good physical handshake will be firm, dry (no sweaty hands), and includes eye contact. What factors play a role in the quality of a digital handshake?

1. Authentic Digital Handshake

Your digital handshake needs to be authentic. Consumers are digitally savvy and will be able to tell if you are peddling half-truths or trying to hide your true self. Your messaging on social media, the design and overall “feel” of your website, and your communication tone should reflect your true self. Authenticity is a fundamental component of a digital handshake.

2. Omnichannel Digital Handshake

There is a difference in the handshake between people who are meeting for the first time and established, long-time colleagues. The stronger a relationship is, the more personal the handshake will feel.

The same thinking should apply to your digital handshake. You need a true omnichannel strategy to ensure that no matter how well an audience member knows you, no matter how close your relationship is, you can provide the correct response. Your digital handshake will be less trustworthy if you send the same cookie cutter, automated response to everyone, regardless of how many interactions you have had, what their request is, or the medium, you will turn off prospects because you will feel “too robotic.”

Your digital handshake needs to be able to follow people across various mediums to be truly effective.

3. Warm Digital Handshake

The final quality your digital handshake needs to have is lots of warmth. The tone of your messaging, the imagery you use, and the intimacy of your interactions will determine the warmth of your digital handshake. We’ve discussed it many times before, but warmth is one of the two most important factors in how your brand is perceived by your customers and prospects alike.

A high-quality digital handshake takes strategic thinking but will help you build relationships with potential customers through digital channels. At Veriday, we help brands undergo digital transformation and can help you develop websites, portals and other digital properties that will help develop relationships between your brand and your ideal customers. Contact us, if you need guidance in digitally transforming your business.

If you want some more fantastic information about digital transformation and improving your digital handshake, follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ and LinkedIn

Brand Personification: Why Should You Care?

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The financial service industry has traditionally relied on word-of-mouth marketing to attract business. Financial advisors and other agents would rely on referrals from their current clients to gain new clients. These marketing methods are becoming antiquated, thanks in large part to a fundamental change in how people research and purchase services.  These days, people engage in online research to determine which service provider fits their needs. This change in the decision making process has lead to the proliferation of inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing involves creating and sharing content in an attempt to gain visibility with search engines. You must earn your website traffic in an increasingly competitive landscape by focusing on SEO, creating quality content, and utilizing social media to spread your message. Brand personification is a method to help make your inbound marketing efforts feel more natural. A company and brand can feel like a faceless entity, which will discourage people from engaging with you. Thanks to this fundamental shift, we decided to learn a little bit more about brand personification in the financial service industry.

We sat down with the CEO of Veriday, Marc Lamoureux, to ask a few questions about brand personification in the financial service industry. Marc has years of experience helping financial service providers personify their brands and effectively engage with their customers while maintaining compliance.

During the course of our conversation, we asked Marc several questions regarding the benefits of brand personification in the financial service industry. From his experience, Marc discussed basic facets of personification and eventually progressed into the finer details and specific benefits of brand personification.  

Here is the transcript from our conversation:

Rob Glenn: What does brand personification mean to you?

Marc Lamoureux: Brand personification involves adding a human element to a brand. A brand on its own is inanimate, so we want to add a human element to the brand. We know humans want to connect with people, so if your brand has human qualities you can build a better connection with your customers.

Rob: Why should companies care about brand personification?

Marc: We should care because in the last twenty years, the way technology has gone, there has been a lack of human connection between brands and their customers. At the same time, social networks have seen a monumental surge in popularity. Those social networks represent the opposite of what has happened with technologies. As technology makes everyday experiences more impersonal, social networks are about connecting people. As a brand your goal is to figure how to connect with people using technology. That is the problem that lies at the heart of brand personification.

Rob: What benefits can be realized by associating real people with a brand?

Marc: The main benefit of associating people with your brand is that it creates a stronger connection with your customers. By associating real people with your brand you can develop trust between real people and your brand. When you build a stronger connection with your customers, you end up keeping more of the customers you already have, in addition to gain new customers.

Rob: How does personifying your brand effect where and how you deliver your messaging?

Marc:  I think personifying your brand brings you into the local community. The strategy we recommend, here at Veriday, involves aligning local representatives of your brand with a local customer. When you do that, you get a much stronger connection and you feel like you are part of the community, not just a large, faceless presence.

Rob: Do you think that engaging in brand personification opens new engagement channels for companies?

Marc: Yes. I think you have a lot more flexibility and capability when you add personification to your brand. Take email for example:

In an email world, a customer may receive an email from a generic brand. They may not recognize the brand, or they may not trust the email. They’re naturally going to suspect a generic sales email. Contrast that with an email from an individual associated with the brand, someone that the reader is familiar with. They are almost 3 times more likely to open that email and do something with it because it comes from someone they know and trust.

Rob: How does brand personification help drive real engagement?

Marc:  I think brand personification is a strategy that is going to provide a must stronger connection to customers. In the market today, when customers are looking at your website, the standard “contact us” option is a 1-800 number or a form you fill out and wait for a response. At Veriday, we would advocate for a “contact me” button, directing customers to a specific individual. They will know who they are speaking with, and sometimes they can be offered a choice of who they wish to contact. That will instill a level of trust in the customer, because they can research that person and make the engagement themselves. For an organization, it’s a more productive way to engage with the customer. You will experience a lot less abandonment with that strategy.

Rob: Which technology solutions can aid in the personification of a brand?

Marc: I think at a high level, you can employ this solution on social networks, on web, and in email. At Veriday, we have created a product called Digital Agent, which was designed expressly for brand personification. It organizes all your brand and marketing strategies and aligns them with your people, to create more trusted human connections across social, web and email.

Rob: Will brand personification add to compliance costs?

Marc: One of the perceived challenges of expanding your marketing programs out through individuals, is that it creates a very expensive burden on compliance reviews, especially in financial services. Regulators are asking financial service companies to review and approve every piece of content that is distributed to customers. The benefit of the compliance workflow that Veriday provides, is that we can increase the volume of personification in the engagement models without dramatically increasing compliance costs.

Rob: How will personifying my brand affect how I attract clients and grow my business?

Marc: The advantage you get as an organization (from personification), is that you can associate real people immediately with a customer inquiry. When a customer researches your company, they will immediately find a human connection. If they are engaging with 1-800 numbers, or online forms, where they don’t know who is going to call them back, they are less likely to take advantage of the engagement model.

Rob: From your experience, how do customers respond to a humanized brand?

Marc: Is a customer more likely to engage with Facebook.com directly or with their friends on Facebook? They are more likely to engage with friends. We view brand personification as evoking the same strategy. A customer is more likely to engage with somebody they know, compared to a brand or somebody they don’t know.

Rob: What happens when you activate the people within your organization to engage with customers?

Marc: When you activate your human resources in engaging with customer you do two things:

  1. You create stronger connections with customers and the customers have a comfortable place of trust to engage with your business. That is a very positive advantage.

2. Another thing you get to do (in terms of analytics) is making decisions about the success of your engagement efforts. You might see hotspots where there is great engagement. That information can be used to glean interesting insights to try to recreate those circumstances elsewhere. Therefore, you also may see some weak spots, where you may need to alter various aspects of your strategy.

That wraps up the conversation with Marc Lamoureux, CEO of Veriday. His insights on brand personification inspired the creation of our article: Being Yourself: Why Brand Personification Increases Customer Engagement.

Does your brand engage in personification? How have you enabled your human resources to offer a more personal experience? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ or on LinkedIn.