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“Where do I start if I want an effective web presence?”

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Where advisors can start building your web presenceMany financial and insurance advisors today are asking themselves whether they need to be online. Some are convinced that their customers don’t go online and some just aren’t sure whether being online is the right thing for them. The reality of the time period we live in is that if you can’t be found online, you don’t exist. Think of the last time when you were the buyer and the seller handed you a business card. If you’ve never heard of them, your first instinct would likely be to look for them online. So, having a web presence isn’t a matter of “should I”, it’s really a matter of “when and how”.

When we talk about having a web presence it does mean more than just a website, however, any solid web presence starts with the creation of a website. When advisors first embark on this digital journey, we recommend that advisors focus on asking themselves a number of key questions that can help accelerate the creation process and ultimately get the website to a “ready-to-launch” state:

  • What colours best reflect my practice’s brand?
  • What is the general process or philosophy I follow when it comes to doing business with my clients?
  • What imagery best represents my local area or brand?
  • Do I have a biography outlining my credentials?
  • Do I have a personal photo or image?
  • Do I have photos of my team members?
  • Do my team members have a biography outlining their credentials?
  • Do I have a logo? Do I need a logo? Will I use my dealer’s logo?
  • What services or products am I licensed to sell?
  • Do I have any testimonials from my current clients?

These are just a handful of the questions to ask at the beginning of the website creation process. The key thing to remember is that having a web presence is an iterative process. The most important part of getting started is just that, getting started and getting your website launched. Remember, there’s no such thing as perfect when it comes to the creation of a website and with a website, you’ll have a foundation that you can build on to grow and solidify your web presence.

If you have more questions or would like an honest conversation about how to get started and where you can go, get in touch with us using the contact form below.

“Our review process for advisor websites takes too much time and effort.”

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Our review process for advisor websites takes too much time and effortThe creation and use of online content is becoming an increasing trend both within the advisor industry as well as the general digital marketing world today. When this happens in a regulated industry you begin to see increasing work loads for your compliance officers who need to review content to ensure content is inline with regulatory requirements before it gets publish (or goes live). Insurance and wealth management marketing departments also need to ensure that the changes advisors make do not fragment or negatively impact their brand.

Many wealth and insurance dealers have challenges keeping up with volume of content reviews coming at them from their advisors. Slower than average review cycles not only directly affects advisor satisfaction but also impacts an advisor’s ability to do business. It’s quite the dilemma when you consider the fact that the primary goal of the dealers is, in fact, to support advisor businesses. While there is no silver bullet to this solution, it’s important that your enterprise compliance team have the best possible review tools and business processes to keep review times at a minimum.

If online content review times are a concern to you, there are some key questions to think about as you assess your situation to determine how best to approach and improve the review process:

  • Is your compliance team approving content through email or through an automated tool?
  • Is your audit trail automatically captured or do you need to record information in a separate tool or possibly even in an Excel or other electronic spreadsheet?
  • Is the process used to review content a manual process? Are you receiving website links through an email from your advisors?
  • How are you notified that your content has been submitted? Is this information being transmitted to you from a third party tool or directly from the advisor in an email/telephone?
  • Are you constantly struggling with identifying changes between versions of the same content?
  • Does your organization have a service level agreement for content review times?
  • Do the tools you are using have the ability to track your average review times? Does your technology provider help you monitor and improve these times?

Content review times are typically drawn out due to manual business processes, a lack of awareness or inability to communicate the status of the content review process or just a shortfall in terms of the technologies compliance officers are using to perform content reviews. As such, your compliance officers have countless hours of reviews to perform beyond what they are currently resourced to do.

We understand these issues and have experience speaking with compliance teams. Moreover, we’re always interested to learn more about the complexity of a compliance officer’s workflow. As mentioned earlier, there’s no silver bullet but there are a number of key changes that can be made to improve your content review times. If you’re in the process of re-thinking your current review processes or looking for a second opinion, get in touch with us.

“I need to show auditors that all published content on our websites has been vetted and approved.”

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Show auditors that all published content on our websites have been vetted and approvedIDC predicts that financial services IT spending pertaining to risk functions will reach more than $80 billion by 2017. In the world of a regulated industry, this should not come as a big surprise. This effectively indicates that due to significant investments in business processes and tools, that compliance departments will need to be very diligent of tracking and storing all data and information pertaining to everything from trades, to email communication to web and social media content. It also indicates an increase in the complexity of these organizations derived from more people, more processes and more complex workflows and access rules.

With every compliance group or individual we speak to, it’s clear that audits are a very time consuming aspect of their work. Making it easy for auditors to find information and effectively do their job, in turn makes it easier for compliance to focus on the more important day to day tasks. When it comes to website content, the reality is that it should not be hard to work with the auditors on this aspect of their review. If you’re having challenges in this space, here are a few key elements to consider especially if you’re looking for a way to reduce the amount of time your compliance departments spend with auditors:

  • Does your current platform automate and monitor the auditing and archiving of all web content being submitted by advisors and subsequently reviewed, approved or rejected by compliance?
  • Can you assign granular workflow permissions to specific individuals or groups of advisors?
  • Can you comment on specific workflows and content versions?
  • How do your marketing and compliance teams communicate with your advisors during the review process? Is that communication logged and tracked?
  • Are your pre-approved content libraries access controlled? Can you set permissions on specific pages or digital assets like documents, images and video?

In the world of compliance, you can never have enough governance around your content and the questions above are just a snapshot of what you need to consider if you’re looking to improve your audit times. If you’ve answered no to any of the above questions, we can help steer you in a direction that makes sense for your organization. Start a conversation with us and we can help you some of the initial thinking around your current processes by filling out the form below.

“I need better web analytics reporting for my advisor websites.”

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I need better web analytics across my advisor websitesYou’re a marketer and as a marketer you love analyzing data. Traditional enterprise marketing strategies involves repetitive and cyclical testing which leads to minor or major changes in marketing tactics. As you already know, the same rules apply with digital marketing. Your results are not just revenue based but also advisor support based. This means that while you are looking for information that can help your advisors generate more leads and revenue, you are also looking for data that can help you take steps to improve your advisor businesses.

The requirement for a more global view of advisor web performance becomes increasingly more important as you consider adding more technologies to the advisors toolkit. There are a number of common questions that are fundamental to help you make better decisions around changing and adjusting the way you support your advisors businesses:

  • How active are my advisors on our tool?
  • What is the average visitor time on site across all of my advisor sites?
  • What is the most popular or least popular piece of pre-approved content being used by advisors?
  • What is the most clicked on piece of pre-approved content by visitors?
  • What is the most downloaded document?
  • Are clients logging into their accounts through my advisor websites or through our corporate site?
  • Are we seeing any correlation between what advisors are doing on their sites and their individual practice results?
  • What are the most commonly used features of the platform we’ve provided to our advisors?

If you have some of the same questions or a different set of questions, or if you’d like some additional thinking around your web analytics strategy we’d love to connect with you. Successfully supporting advisor business is a critical component of the client value chain and it’s important to ensure you have all the right information to achieve that goal. To start a conversation with us just fill out the form below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Compliance Takes Too Long to Review my Content.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Ways to Increase Your Website’s Traffic with Blogging

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

1. Communicate When you Blog

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

2. Use Keywords in your Titles

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

3. Use impactful images

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

4. Link your posts to other parts of your website

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

5. Maintain frequency in your blogs

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

6. Create a Content Calendar and Commit to Writing

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

7. Write valuable content

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