Winning the “Micro-Moments” in Financial Services Marketing

,

“The old days of predictable, periodic media sessions have been replaced by numerous short bursts of digital activity throughout the day.”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.

Advisors: How to Engage Early Stage Prospects

,

It is safe to say that the buyer’s journey has changed. Customers now conduct most of their own research, and engage with more online content to support their decisions. However, in today’s self-educated world, we know that the online information pool is vast and buyers are picking and choosing content to support their decisions and requirements.

Most people who visit your website for the first time, no matter how well-optimized it is, won’t buy or engage with you. In fact, 96% of first time website visitors are not ready to buy in their journey.   So, what are they doing and what does this mean for you? Ask yourself, do you have enough valuable content that can benefit your visitor even if they never become a client?

According to Google…

‘’Our research has shown that, on average, business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete. That means for nearly two thirds of the buying process, you customers are out in the ether: forming opinions, learning technical specifications, building requirement lists, and narrowing down their options, all on their own, with minimal influence from you.”

Sales material is not what early stage buyers are looking for when they come across your website.   Most of your website visitors come to learn, not to be “salesmanned”. Early stage buyers are not looking for why they should work with you over your competitors. They are trying to give a name to their problem, consider what options exist, and be as educated as possible before moving forward.

What does this mean for Advisors?

As a result of the new buyer’s journey, Advisors need to become teachers and thought leaders that educate their audience and earn their trust.  Some of the most successful Advisors are using content marketing to engage with prospects by delivering information that makes the buyer more intelligent. The Financial Advisors who have achieved success through digital marketing are using content marketing to provide their visitor with valuable content, without selling anything, that will benefit the visitor even if they never become a client.  Below, is a fantastic chart, courtesy of Hubspot, that outlines the different buyer stages, and characteristics of each stage of the journey.

The Buyer Journey

 

Advisor’s content should speak to their target audience in the midst of the learning journey outlined in the chart above. From awareness, to consideration to decision, position your website around content that addresses the problems, questions, challenges and information gaps at each stage; the goal being to seamlessly educate across the entire customer journey. Buyers are ultimately going to do business with people who have educated them and earned their trust. However, in a world where consumers are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages a day, it is not enough to just teach; you have to teach well.

————————————–

Quick tip: A quick and easy way to come up with helpful topics to write about is to write down all of the questions that you get asked on a regular basis from clients. Each question can be put in to a blog post to help provide solutions and answers to questions that prospects are searching for online.

 

Guide to Content Marketing

Build an Advisor Brand That Makes you Stand Out

, ,

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.

———————

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?

Marketing Financial Advisory Services in a Noisy Digital World

,

This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

Khalid Usmani, who is the Director of Advisors Success at GuideVine, and Marie Swift, who heads up PR and marketing consulting firm Impact Communications, recently spoke about marketing Financial Advisory services in a noisy digital world.

The audio interview can be accessed here:

http://www.audioacrobat.com/email/E1dDNhLwv

Here is a summary of key points.

When it comes to your digital footprint, a couple of things are very important:

  1. It’s about widening your reach
  2. It’s about deepening your appeal

Drilling down on point number one, widening your reach:

Using the Internet has become increasingly important as a medium for people to make important decisions and forge relationships.

A recent study done by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that 83% of people do research online before they make a purchase or major decision. They know what they are likely going to buy before they even set foot inside a store or call a service provider.

Another study, from Pew Research shows that since 2013 the number of people using online dating sites has gone up 3x. The interesting thing here is that it’s just not people age 18-29. The biggest increase in use came from people between ages 35 and 65.

For Financial Advisors, the big take-away is that people will find you in all kinds of places online. They may find you on your website, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, or different web portals so it is important to make sure that you are visible where your ideal clients are. Make it easy for people to find you.

To learn more about being discoverable online, read The Digital Reality for Financial Advisors.

 

Drilling down on point number two, deepening your appeal:

Deepening your appeal is perhaps the most critical part. You can certainly be on lots of different platforms and be on social media. But just being there doesn’t really make you different. What matters is making sure you have a deep connection on those platforms.

There are three things to think about if you want to stand out:

  • Messaging
  • Thought leadership
  • Call-to-action

Messaging – It is important to have consistent messaging. You’d be surprised the number of Advisors that have a dramatically different message on their website than they have on their LinkedIn profile. Make sure you have a consistent message and a consistent brand across the various digital platforms that you use so that the prospective client is seeing a similar brand across the board.

Thought Leadership – You must also have great content and be able to show how you’re different from the crowd. Too many Advisors rely 100% boilerplate content that they have purchased to distribute via their websites and/or social media. While using some purchased content is fine, relying it 100% means that you are not being truly authentic. The best strategy is to break away from the pack and show value to the potential prospects by highlighting your thought leadership. Share what you think is going on in the market or your ideas on a particular issue that a lot of your current clients face and make that conversation real online.

Call-to-Action – It is important to have a compelling call-to-action. If there isn’t a clear path that is obvious to visitor when they come to your website, they will just bounce off. So have a button and some language that specifically calls out and invite the visitor to connect with you, to download one of your latest market perspectives, to watch one of your videos, or interact with a piece of software on your site. This also translates into how you set up your LinkedIn profile or even GuideVine profile – what’s the purpose? What do I want the prospect to do when they are on each page?

Advisors who focus on widening their reach and deepening their appeal can add millions of dollars in net new assets directly through their online channels. In order to be more discoverable online, you’ll need a marketing hub (typically your website) and a number of satellite pages that connect in to and out from your hub. Imagine a big spider web on the World Wide Web. Your website or blog is the primary place where you want everybody to eventually migrate. Having satellite entities, such as a GuideVine profile page, social media profiles, and articles published on other credible is essential due to cross-linking (boosts your search engine page rankings). When people Google you by name (or by specific terms or even generic terms), your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and GuideVine profiles will show up. So think about building a multi-page footprint online.

Of course Advisors are busy people, so when it comes to building your digital footprint think about:

  • What are your goals?
  • Who’s your target?

Not every Advisor should be on every single platform out there. That is just not a good use of time. You as an Advisor have to identify what are the key platforms that you want to be on and then prioritize from there. GuideVine actually has a process for this – a trained professional helps the Advisor create a step-by-step game plan. It is important to focus on the basics:

  • Getting the profile set up
  • Making sure the cover photos and profile pictures are consistent and professional
  • Ensuring that the descriptions are the same and support the overall brand identity you’re trying to promote

Content – Once you’ve got the basics down, think about your content. Make sure you have great content – that it’s frequent, and that it’s consistent and appropriate for the target audience that you are going after. A lot of Advisors think that “creating content” means they have to write something from scratch – and that seems overwhelming to time-crunched Advisors, especially those for whom writing is not a natural strength. But studies have shown that video and infographics and other forms of visuals get shared more often than just text alone. So adding in the visuals can help you broaden your reach and deepen appeal.

One of things GuideVine has learned in having thousands of videos and tens of thousands of views is what things consumers really like when it comes to liking an Advisors video. Bottom line: having a profile page with some text doesn’t really get the Advisor’s message across. Most Advisors will agree that the wealth management business is a very heavy relationship-based business. Part of the thought process that any prospect goes through before they select their Advisor is, “Is this Advisor an appropriate fit for me from a personality perspective?” So don’t just include a list of services you offer and a narrative about the types of experience you’ve had. Try to show some personality – that’s part of what the consumer is hoping to get a sense of when they view your website, social media and profile pages online. Clients want to feel comfortable sharing details about their personal lives, not just their financial lives – and they don’t want to share those more personal details with just anybody.

Video is a fantastic way to quickly showcase your personality to someone; it saves them having to take all the time to come in person and meet with you and can speed up the get acquainted process. Videos are a quick way for you to showcase how you’d work with someone and make someone feel comfortable before they actually connect with you. GuideVine stats show that advisors that have videos have significantly greater levels of engagement.

Advisors who use their videos across various platforms including their website, LinkedIn, and any other place they have a presence, are seeing 2-3 times in terms of number of plays – and that translates into greater engagement with them.

Engagement – The third level of this is when you get to engagement. You’ve got the basics and the mechanics down; you have the great content there. Now how do you drive engagement? Part of it is building a larger followership. One of the best ways to build a larger followership is to make sure that you are actually talking to people online and creating a community around your content and ideas. Just having a big megaphone out there and saying, “Hey this is my brand and this is what I do,” but not listening to people and reacting to people’s real concerns online makes is a shallow strategy. To make it a much deeper, richer, experience, engage with people online. That is the final element that will drive dividends for your Financial Advisor firm.

 

Financial Advisors: Build a Better Digital You

,

 

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?

Learn How to Put Customers First at Liferay Symposium NA

, ,

This post was written by Angela Wu and appeared here first on Liferay.com.

A Conversation with Customers: Liferay Digital Experience Platform

As digital transformation continues to inform the way we live, work, and play, we expect companies and brands to understand what we’re looking for. Businesses have a great opportunity to hear their customers, understand the problems they face, and give them the right solution to make their lives easier. But, do most companies have an idea of how to listen to their customers?

In a recent interview with CMS Connected, Bryan Cheung, CEO, shared how listening to customers sparked Liferay’s progression into the digital experience market with the launch ofLiferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP). In Liferay’s case, transformation was not so much disruptive as it was natural, given its portal heritage, which already had laid out integrations with backend systems and the framework to drive personalized customer experience.

A Better Direction for Customer Experience

The unique infrastructure of Liferay DXP can help build a range of customer experience solutions including web, mobile, and hybrid online/offline experiences across the entire customer lifecycle. In addition, having a single view of the customer lets companies create better, more relevant interactions down the line and gets all departments working together to care for customers.

In this retail banking example, a teller displays a singular customer view. In one page, the teller can see relevant, current information, i.e., the latest conversation between the customer and the bank (wherever it might have been), gathered from multiple systems across the organization. Based on this customer view, the teller can then make intelligent suggestions to the customer and give the bank an opportunity to offer related or complementary services.
Single Customer View on Liferay Digital Experience Platform
Cheung also shared that Liferay DXP isn’t just about connecting surface level interactions. The whole point of Liferay DXP is to let businesses work smarter at what they do—without having to start all over. In this way, businesses gain another opportunity to engage, provide self-service, engender loyalty, and repeat purchases through all customer interactions.

A Natural Fit for Digital Experience Management

Over the past 15 years, Cheung notes that Liferay has set out to make technology work better for people:

“We see Liferay Digital Experience Platform as the next logical step in our evolution as a company, and I hope that we’ve done a good job listening to your needs as we’ve designed our product.”

As customers drive how they interact with brands, companies need to stay ahead of the curve with tools that deliver personalized digital experiences wherever, whenever they engage with your business.

Introduction to Content Marketing for Financial Advisors

, ,

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

, ,

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

, ,

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

, ,

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.