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Q&A with Gabrielle Levin, Hearsay’s Director of Content Strategy

Say hello to Gabrielle Levin, Hearsay’s Director of Content Strategy. After being a Hearsay customer for almost 10 years (most recently at PIMCO), Gabby is eager to combine her boots-on-the-ground experience with Hearsay’s offerings to elevate your content strategy! 

Recently, we sat down with Gabby to learn more about her expertise, and how she’ll be partnering with you to build and execute on your content strategy programs. Here’s what she shared.

How did you get into this line of work, and why are you passionate about it?

It was a total accident. After a decade producing TV commercials in New York, I took a break to chase my writer dream, but the irresistible allure of corporate America with its 401k matching and health benefits drew me back in. That’s how I wound up at Franklin Templeton where Matt Dunn – now the EVP of Digital Marketing at PIMCO – and I created a global social media program. That was back when FINRA didn’t even yet have formal guidance for social media! Real frontier stuff.

Confession: I’m not passionate about social media. I am, however, passionate about spending time on stuff that matters, so helping people cut through the clutter and figure out how to make their social selling program yield real results makes me super happy. 

At this point, everyone knows that social is table stakes for good marketing strategy, but so many programs are too tangled in process, politics, or policy to get out of check-the-box mode and into real ROI mode. My mission, which I’ve chosen to accept, is to fix that.

In this past year, how have you seen storytelling and content strategy change? What content themes and channels will continue to thrive in our post-pandemic world?

The most striking shift I’ve seen is in people’s willingness to be more human and personal with their professional social channels. Lockdown left so many of us starved for human connection, which may be what finally nudged people to reveal their more casual side. People like to do business with people they like. A steady stream of stuffy stuff just isn’t going to create that kind of genuine, trust-building connection.

So what thrives now is responsiveness, timeliness, and relevance. That means being more thoughtfully engaged in how you’re showing up in social feeds. No matter the channel, meeting people’s need for information, entertainment, education, acknowledgement, whatever…that’s where the magic will happen. Quality over quantity. 

What is the most common mistake that financial services firms make when it comes to social media content strategy and execution?

The most common misstep I’ve seen more times than I can count isn’t exclusive to financial services firms. It’s the inexplicable choice to create a social program and then starve it of oxygen.

Social media content is a very public face of a firm and its employees, yet somehow people with inadequate experience and/or insufficient support are often at the helm. Maybe it’s an assumption that youth equates to social media expertise, or that pervasive personal use means anybody can “do Facebook,” but channel fluency doesn’t equate to marketing savvy, and personal use is vastly different from business use. Whatever the reason, the result is diluted potency of a program’s potential business impact and potential exposure to unnecessary risk. 

Now that people’s lives have transitioned even more to the digital realm, the importance of supporting a social program with a team of seasoned specialists capable of navigating an emotionally charged landmine field is even more critical.

What is a best practice that any social media content administrator/creator can adopt, regardless of technology or team size?

No matter what your tools are or what your team looks like, you can create content rooted in good storytelling, aka “know your audience”. With human connection as your North Star, even a basic program can deliver meaningful results.

What’s ahead for you at Hearsay? How will you be partnering with our customers?

I’m very much motivated by my experience as a long-time Hearsay customer and the experiences of the other Hearsay customers I’ve met at the annual summit. The common challenges that span our industry—adoption, activity, engagement, demonstrating value, compliance—guide my focus on helping program owners use content to create a virtuous cycle that elevates the entire ecosystem.

My hope is that Hearsay customers think of me as a content strategy consultant and collaborator, available to help with anything from ironing out a specific wrinkle in a one-time working session to engaging in an ongoing series of sessions to create and iterate on an overarching strategy. Bottom line: If you’re a Hearsay customer and you think your content could be generating more engagement or inspiring more enthusiastic adoption or kicking off more business connections, we should talk!

Webinar Recap: Highlights from Putnam Investments’ Annual Social Advisor Survey

In a recent webinar, Mark McKenna, Putnam Investments’ Head of Global Marketing, joined Hearsay’s VP of Marketing, Leslie Leach, to highlight key findings from Putnam Investments’ 8th Annual Social Advisor Study, along with year-end data from Hearsay’s platform. Not surprisingly, this year’s results were a little different, as agents and advisors alike pivoted their strategies to adapt to a socially distanced world.

Here are four key findings from the program: 

Social media not only sustains, but drives new client relationships
With a huge shift away from in-person communications and events, digital noise on traditional channels increased significantly, with an accompanying decrease in engagement. Although advisors may have already been connected with clients on social media pre-pandemic, the crisis drove an increase in sheer volume of interactions. Not only were advisors expected to communicate with current clients, they also leveraged their online presence to garner new business, exploiting features like LinkedIn’s view of 2nd and 3rd degree connections, InMail and Sales Navigator to effectively prospect to an expanded network. The study also found that lesser-used networks like Instagram had higher engagement rates, highlighting an area of opportunity for advisors.

Retaining authenticity remains critical for breakthrough
Being able to stand out among the noise is now a crucial day-to-day consideration for advisors. Not only do they need to provide thought leadership via social media, they also need to be more personal, striking a balance between providing corporate content and connecting on a more authentic level with clients. Advisors who shared more personalized content were rewarded with higher engagement rates across their social media accounts. 

Pro tip: Leslie recommended leveraging Hearsay’s modified content templates as a scalable solution. “By their nature, modified content templates are easier and faster to review from a supervision perspective, combining corporate scale with the ability to easily personalize content at an individual level.”

Direct messaging satisfies the need for speedier response time
Because advisors could no longer hold in-person meetings, the use of digital tools like social DMs, text messages, mobile calls, and emails, grew significantly, along with a more pervasive client expectation for quicker response times. 

An advisor’s response time can make or break a client relationship, and advisors rose to the challenge. Texting conversations on Relate, Hearsay’s compliant texting solution were up 3x compared with 2019, while the average response rate was 13 minutes, versus the industry standard of 14 hours for an email. With more widespread acceptance, and the ability to enforce compliance, in-app messaging is proving to be an indispensable tool for field teams. 

Support from the home office matters
With a shift to remote work, advisors still require the same amount of support—if not more—from their home offices. Advisors all learn differently, so remembering that different training modalities work for different people, and providing various learning tracks, templates and models, helps to speed adoption. It’s important for advisors to connect where their clients want to connect, and with proper support for the home office, advisors can be more efficient in their client engagements.

A huge thanks to both Mark and Leslie for sharing the key findings and observations from Putnam’s Social Advisor Study and Hearsay’s 2020 platform usage and results! Sign up to access the on-demand webinar here.

Retain and Grow Relationships

This is the final post in the “Last Mile of Digital Maturity” series. Read part 1 here, part 2 on reaching and attracting the right prospect here, part 3 on scale and orchestration to target the right prospect here, and part 4 on nurturing and converting new business here.

While new client acquisition is important, meeting overall business targets demands that firms maintain and build on existing relationships. The best leading indicator for continued business growth and retention is a steady volume of 1-to-1 conversations with clients. More consistent, personal communications translate to deeper relationships which build trust. 

Establish a Cadence

We all know that relationships are built over time, whether personal or professional. It’s critical that your field regularly engages with clients—reaching out on a birthday or graduation, proactively scheduling annual reviews or recommending coverage changes—while also staying top of mind during less predictable moments of market volatility or turmoil.

To develop these communication rhythms, firms need to embrace digital channels that encourage usage, promote the right behaviors, and measure adoption, as digital programs are of little value if they’re not being utilized. 

Surface the Right Behaviors

Core systems like CRM are important to the enterprise, but self-recording activities are time- consuming and take away from a rep’s core business. Often, data doesn’t get entered unless automated, and many firms have no idea how frequently and effectively their reps are engaging with prospects and customers. 

Without this data, corporate marketing messages can be off-target or tone deaf. To truly understand the last-mile engagements that deliver an authentic experience, firms must arm themselves with the data that enable them to deploy a more advanced, personalized content strategy aimed at cross-sell and up-sell. Likewise, sales and distribution leaders can better assess the success rate of various techniques. 

Mature firms are addressing this process head on by automating this process, ensuring interaction data feeds business intelligence, CRM and core systems to guide actions. Data holds the key to these insights—but firms must invest in an infrastructure that automatically captures this activity. Only then can you identify the opportunities that truly optimize your approach. (Learn more about how strategic integrations allow firms to enrich CRMs and turn every rep into their best rep in our white paper.)

Deliver a Best-in-Class Client Experience

In financial services, the most telling indicator of client retention is last-mile engagements. Most programs should aim to facilitate a minimum of 10 personal touch points per client, per year. The most mature firms leverage a digital platform and data to guide the field to deliver a consistent experience to every client, maximizing the value of these touch points to drive optimal behaviors. By guiding and lightly prompting field outreach during key moments, they’re increasing the likelihood of more consistent outcomes that translate to deeper, more entrenched client relationships. 

Interested in helping your field build deeper relationships and grow their business? Download our white paper now

Nurture and Convert New Business

This is part 4 in a series on the “Last Mile” of Digital Maturity. Read part 1 here, part 2 on reaching & attracting the right prospect here, and part 3 on scale and orchestration to target the right prospect here.

Content strategy has evolved, and it’s big tech that’s set the agenda. Clients and prospects demand a personalized—-and cohesive—experience across channels. Winning firms that use targeted, timely content seamlessly between channels are accelerating business conversion and growth, thanks to a coordinated engagement strategy.

Know Your Audience(s)

Marketing departments (rightfully) invest heavily in getting to know their end customers. But effectively communicating with them requires understanding and balancing the needs of the advisors and agents who take care of them. Not surprisingly, their diversity—across age, gender, race, interests and specialties— is indicative of a variable understanding of, and appetite for, digital adoption.

Since no two advisors are alike, it’s critical to tailor your approach when building digital programs. A good foundation takes advantage of segmented user groups to coach digital behaviors and design content and channel strategy. 

Foundations of a Balanced Content Strategy

  • Balance automated (campaigns) and personalized (modified, original) strategies to engage clients, across channels, including social and texting.
  • Develop a comprehensive content tag strategy to cater to your advisor/agent population and inform client preferences.
  • Embrace data. Define targets at the outset, and ensure the infrastructure is in place to measure your efforts and evolve your approach.
  • Build a strong partnership with compliance. Find balance between innovation and risk by inserting compliance directly into the ideation or strategy phase. (Learn more about why compliance is your ally in our white paper.)

Having a foundational understanding of your clients and user base will help you develop the systems to improve your program at scale.

Develop your Infrastructure

With a balanced content strategy in place, it’s time to ensure that you have the tools and systems required to drive relevant, powerful messaging across the key channels of social, websites, mobile calling, and text messaging. Clients demand choice, and your field needs to be ready and willing to meet them where they are.

Mature programs are also syncing customer engagement activity with core systems (CRM, CDP, CMS, etc.) to gain a comprehensive omni-channel view of customer engagement. For example:

  • Social programs can sync engagement data to enrich systems like their CDP or CRM, which allows for a more complete view of contacts and leads. 
  • Texting and mobile calling programs can connect with a CRM to initiate two-way activity sync, which allows measurement of engagement frequency with contacts and leads. 

Developing an integrated ecosystem puts firms in position to reach clients with the right message on the right channel. But to truly optimize these efforts, they need to guide their field to engage at the right moment.

Initiate Proactive, Omni-Channel Workflows

Leading firms are leveraging their digital platforms to systematize field outreach seamlessly across channels in pursuit of outcomes like improved conversion and business growth. 

By leveraging omnichannel workflows triggered by CRM and other core systems, firms can optimize lead management by engaging leads quickly, effectively, and measurably. 

Are you ready to win higher conversion rates, more satisfied customers, and more loyal advisors and agents with better nurture and conversion? Download our white paper now