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Automation and Time-Saving Workflows

The recent world events surrounding the coronavirus outbreak have helped us all realize that our time is a priceless commodity. There never seems to be enough time for our most valuable activities and now that most of us are homebound, it’s a good moment to think about how to automate some of our more menial daily tasks to carve out more time for meaningful interactions. Luckily, digital assistants and time-saving automation tools can help manage many day-to-day tasks so we can give our attention to the valuable time we spend with one another, be they in-person or virtual meetings.

As many of us have personally experienced in recent days, striking the right balance between high-tech and high-touch in today’s digital world is a daily challenge for most businesses. With the vast array of digital solutions at our fingertips, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds and unintentionally distance ourselves from our customers. However, when used effectively, multi-channel digital tools can help connect agents and advisors with their clients by giving back valuable time that can be spent on meaningful personal interaction rather than losing oneself in the process.

This kind of innovation can seem trivial at first; why digitally delegate tasks we can do ourselves? But like any new product or idea, once put into practice, we soon wonder how we ever managed without it. Spending time on meaningful interactions rather than rotary functions can be one of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves and our clients.

Making time to regularly communicate with clients and making oneself available – especially in these difficult times – is what sets elite advisors and agents apart from the crowd. The daily vicissitudes of the market and the fundamentally shifting landscape of our daily lives has many worried and now, more than ever, it is important to make yourself available to your clients and prospects on the channels they prefer.

Optimizing Content Strategy in Rapidly Evolving Times

In light of the unprecedented situation of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and resulting historic market instability, we want to offer support as you create thoughtful, time-sensitive content to enable your field force to reach out to their clients and prospects in meaningful ways.

It’s been heartening to see the proactive measures our customers are taking during these turbulent times, leveraging our communication tools to reassure clients with a human touch. To amplify the impact of your team’s efforts, we want to make you sure you’re aware of a few tools that can help best deliver these critical communications with authenticity and impact.

  • Developments – both market and cultural – are extremely fluid during these times. Content that was suitable yesterday may not be today and may even appear out of touch or insensitive. For instance, customers of ours had March Madness and spring break vacation outreach posts planned. When scheduling content, stay mindful of how quickly things are changing and be prepared to act quickly to remove anything sensitive to ensure your field strikes the right chord with their networks.
  • With the news cycle changing so rapidly, creating appropriate new or suggested content offering can prove difficult. To alleviate some of that stress, we created a curated content channel on Market Volatility.  Sourced from trusted publications, this feed is aimed at assuaging market fears and providing a long-term financial view. It’s our hope that this may be one less thing for our content administrators to worry about during these anxious times.
  • Encourage your teams to be proactive and open with clients. It’s critical for advisors to proactively and immediately reach out to reassure clients that they have a firm grasp on their financial goals and are monitoring the situation. This type of reassuring message can be delivered as a quick one-to-one text or via a one-to-many communication, delivered by a text, email or social media post.
  • Look ahead: changes made less than 24 hours before the scheduled publish time may not reflect in all workspaces. Try to proactively plan ahead (as best you can during these times) to ensure your message is consistent and impactful across your field.
  • Embrace modified messages: In times of instability, we recommend that Marketing teams create timely messaging to share with their field force that is easily modifiable but offers a personal touch. Here are a couple examples:
    • “The recent news about the coronavirus outbreak and its effect on global markets and daily life can be very unsettling and as a result, you may have a lot of questions about what to do with your investments and how to plan for the future. I’m always here and would love to chat with you, please give me a call at [INSERT PHONE NUMBER] or email me at [EMAIL ADDRESS].”
    • “In light of the coronavirus news, the same rules apply to your 401(k), your Roth IRA and your face: DON’T TOUCH IT. Reach out to me if you have any questions at [INSERT PHONE NUMBER].”
  • Reach out! Your Hearsay team is more than happy to advise and assist you in your content management efforts.

Please refer to this blog post about some other recommended best practices about how you and your organization can create stability during these turbulent times.

Optimizing Your Multi-Channel Digital Presence

As digital tools become a more integral part of our daily lives, the days of doing business strictly in person are becoming a thing of the past. The best way to succeed in today’s increasingly connected world is to know how to best leverage digital tools in order to offer a holistic high-tech, high-touch approach that effectively reaches your customers. Building a dynamic online presence begins with understanding how clients search for you and the services you provide, by learning what kind of customized content to share – and knowing what story to tell – through each digital channel.

Today, clients spend a fair amount of time researching their options online before ever contacting prospective agents or advisors. As clients express more interest in controlling their path to purchase through digital channels, it’s crucial to know where you fit in. By establishing a strong digital presence and following a few best practices to optimize your approach, you can stay top of mind with potential clients long before you ever speak to them online or in person.

The first step in the new digital path to purchase is ensuring you have a strong online presence to help nurture strong leads and referrals. If a prospect tries to research you online and comes up empty, it means you’ve failed a simple digital validation; the conversation is over before it even starts. Prospective clients want to learn about who you are, what your credentials are, and read reviews about you before they can move forward with considering working with you. Creating and maintaining online profiles across different digital platforms introduces you to prospective leads and also helps you strengthen relationships with current clients.

Building an online presence also helps clients get to know you personally and build trust. Digital channels such as your website and social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram give you the ability to do more than just share your contact information and professional offerings. Striking the right balance between sharing corporate, industry, and non-industry content can position you as a thought leader, a source of knowledge, and someone your clients can trust. More importantly, sharing curated, customized content to each channel regularly keeps you top of mind through digital nurturing.

Maximize Your Digital Marketing Content Strategy for 2020

Each new year is a chance to look back on what did (and didn’t) work for your content strategy as well as look ahead at what digital marketing trends will be important in the year ahead. Content strategy is a constantly evolving, continually moving target that every organization needs to stay focused on in order to hit the mark. Here are some top trends in 2020 to help you keep your content strategy on point:

Personalization: “It’s not personal; it’s business,” the old saying goes – old being the operative term. When it comes to content strategy, personalization is paramount in both customer acquisition and retention. Employing a content strategy without personalization is like throwing a bunch of ideas against the wall to see what sticks. Personalization is what adds an authentic voice to your branding and makes your audience feel connected to a real person that understands them. Without it, your content will seem generic and one-dimensional, sending the message that you haven’t done your research into who your customer actually is. In fact, an overwhelming 90% of consumers polled found messages and ads not customized to them as annoying. And as you might guess: organizations that take this approach have much less success connecting with customers and prospects.

Interactive content: Like any discussion, once you’ve started communicating with a customer, you need to keep the conversation going. Providing your audience with unique and refreshing content that stands out not only keeps them engaged but encourages them to share your content with others. Word of mouth communication is priceless, and by creating content that is both useful and shareable, you can broaden your horizons to reach new prospects and also build trust with your existing contacts. In a time of countless digital distractions fighting for your customers’ attention, interactive content helps keep it focused on you.

Shoppable posts: As you tweak your content to generate more visibility and engagement, it’s crucial that you have posts that are shoppable, meaning they allow customers to take action directly from the publication. As consumers continually move toward controlling more of their buying journey, it’s more important than ever to provide online content that’s optimized for a cohesive, holistic customer journey no matter where your customer is on their path to purchase.

Social messaging apps and texting: Part of creating a holistic online customer journey means providing as many ways for your customers to reach you as possible. Gone are the days of only communicating from 9-5; being able to text and communicate on social and email keeps the lines of communication open at all times. Look for messaging apps that also allow you to automate some of your workload such as scheduling appointments, reminders, and invitations to events. As we discussed last month, automation is a growing industry trend that lightens your workload, giving you more time with your customers.

Optimizing Your Mobile Efforts

Being able to text clients is an essential tool that helps maximize efficiency for your business and streamlines your communications. In a recent Hearsay Systems study, results show that 98% of texts from advisors are opened and 90% are read within the first three minutes. As successful as texting has become, it’s also essential to make sure all texting is done securely and compliantly. Here are a few key factors to building a compliant texting program:

  • Ensure message capture and retention. Per FINRA SEA Rule 17a-4, all texts with clients and prospects should be captured, time-stamped, logged, and archived for e-discovery. Any activity by assistants, admins, and supervision teams, such as message deletion, should also be logged.
  • Keep communications “fair and balanced.” Any information sent should follow this rule to prevent unsuitable or questionable messages from being sent. Having an up-to-date lexicon of restricted keywords can help flag possible issues and reduce the amount of time spent manually reviewing messages. Smart blocking is another preventative measure that can help stop the transmission of critical or sensitive information.
  • Separate work and personal phone numbers. Use a business-dedicated number that can be encrypted and secured for all client and prospect communications. Another reason to keep personal and work numbers separated is to avoid the possibility of an audit that would subject sent messages to a regulatory review.
  • Turnkey CRM integration is a compliant time saver. With compliant software, advisors can gain back as much as an hour a day that would otherwise be spent on manual data entry. When looking for a CRM solution, look for ones that work with Microsoft and Salesforce, as well as other CRMs, for seamless data capture.

Building and Promoting Your Personal Digital Brand

Branding, as the word suggests, is something that leaves a mark, and making an impression with customers is crucial when it comes to gaining their trust and building a relationship with them. While it’s easy to think of branding as something only large marketing teams do for even larger companies, having your own personal brand in the digital world is important and can have a major impact on your career and business. Social media is the gateway to building and promoting your personal brand in a way that not only resonates with your clients but strengthens your relationship with them.
Your personal brand communicates to others who you are and what you stand for, and social media is the keystone to amplifying your brand. Having a strong online presence helps you tell your story; it builds the foundation of trust a client needs to start – and keep – working with you. The virtual version of word of mouth, social media helps you build and protect your reputation. If a potential client researches you online and comes up empty, you may as well be a ghost.

How do you build your personal brand? 

Like any strong marketing strategy, you need to first figure out what your messaging is and then stick to it. Personal branding isn’t about curating some perfectly polished online version of yourself; it’s about sharing who you actually are, whether online or off. Building a relationship with clients takes trust, and trust takes vulnerability. You can’t expect clients to feel comfortable sharing key moments in their lives with you if you don’t share who you are with them.
Just like in any relationship, people want to feel connected and they want to know you’re invested in them. Sincere, authentic messaging helps do that. One important facet of authenticity, however, is to not deviate from it. Stay on brand; nothing can undo a hard-earned online reputation faster than going off-brand by sharing something you aren’t known for or that could damage the trust you’ve built with your clients. On the flip side, one of the biggest benefits to building and promoting a strong online presence is that as you cultivate stronger working relationships with your clients, real word of mouth comes into play. When you have clients that trust you and enjoy working with you, they often tell others. Keeping yourself and your services top-of-mind online with your clients can translate into valuable referrals offline.

The 2019 Financial Services Social Media Content Study is Here!

Find out what content engages clients at the highest rates across the financial services industry – wealth, life, P&C and mortgage.

Hearsay Summit kicks off today and we are thrilled to share a hot-off-the-presses copy of our 2nd annual Financial Services Social Media Content Study with all attendees! The most comprehensive report of its kind, it analyzes the popularity and effectiveness of various types of content across our clients’ social media programs.

We’re in the trenches with clients every day so it’s amazing to take a step back and look at the big picture benchmark numbers. As they say, data doesn’t lie. And the data in our study is based on 110,150 financial services professionals at 32 U.S. firms across four lines of business – Life Insurance, Property and Casualty Insurance (P&C), Wealth Management and new to this year’s study, Mortgage. The study this year reflects the industry’s progress as organizations across the financial services spectrum both experimented with and refined their programs.

Here are some results that stood out to me personally and, in my view, warrant a deeper discussion:

Marketing and Sales Alignment Increases

In a noticeable shift from last year’s report, the gap between content suggested by corporate marketing and published by sales professionals significantly narrowed. Overall, we’re looking at numbers shifting from a 9%-19% span in 2018 to a 3%-8% span in 2019. This indicates that marketing and sales teams are working together more closely and that their alignment has led to more cohesive, balanced social media programs with better results overall.

Published Content and Engagement Rates are Rising

Customer engagement jumped nearly 7 points, from 37.8% last year to 44.7% this year, demonstrating that as social media programs continue to mature, advisors/agents become more comfortable using various channels. This suggests that programs as a whole are becoming savvier on social channels and learning how to leverage quality, well-rounded content that appeals to target audiences while working in concert with overall corporate objectives.

Lifestyle Posts are Still Most Popular – and Still Underutilized

We found, once again, that Content fell into three standard categories: corporate content, industry content, and lifestyle content. This year, we also expanded our study to include two hybrid categories: corporate-industry and corporate-lifestyle. Lifestyle posts yielded a remarkable 85.5% rate of engagement, nearly 2x the rate found in the 2018 study (and it was already the type of content with the highest engagement!). But while engagement for lifestyle content shot up, the percentage of corporate-suggested and advisor/agent-published lifestyle content went down.

The numbers have spoken: consumers appreciate authentic content, with a less overt sales or sales-adjacent message. Although neither marketing nor the field seems to want to rely too heavily on lifestyle content, it’s time to rethink that strategy. Lifestyle content can be a highly strategic tool for driving top of funnel leads to engage with the other types of content that will move them toward a purchase.

Corporate Content is Favored by Marketing and Advisors/Agents

Corporate messaging led the way in both marketing-suggested and advisor/agent-published posts, with 34.6% of suggested content and 29.2% of published content containing a corporate focus. Corporate and industry content were recommended and published at high rates, helping to grow brand trust and establish advisors’ voice and credibility.

Hybrid Content is the Future

Hybrid content allows organizations to establish brand trust while taking a soft-sell approach, providing more flexibility for the field and enormous opportunity in this space. In the first year tracking these content categories, corporate-industry and corporate-lifestyle content combined to garner a respectable 24.3% of suggested content and 33% of published content. These numbers should take off in the next few years as teams adopt more sophisticated content plans.

Industry-Specific Outcomes

Because no line of business operates exactly the same, Hearsay also examined how social media was used specifically in Life Insurance, P&C Insurance, Wealth Management, and Mortgage.

To get the deep dive results in your industry and everything discussed above, download the full 2019 Financial Services Social Media Content Study here.

The Impact of 2019 Digital Trends on Advisor Email Outreach

Earlier this year, we predicted some high-level social and digital trends we believe will have significant influence in 2019. In this post, we’ll drill down into how each of these trends will affect your email marketing strategy specifically.

Trend 1: 1-to-1 Messaging – Email to Provide a Personal Touch

Email is the perfect medium for this trend. Even though email is an older communication channel than social media, it doesn’t mean it’s not just as important. Email creates a personal 1-to-1 connection between the sender and receiver just like letter writing once did. And it’s a two-way street: you can send an email to your prospects or customers and they can respond to you in kind.

The only issue with email tends to be time management. 1-to-1 digital touchpoints take time to create and manage. Generally speaking, the more personalized the experience is, the more time it takes to put together.

To make the most of your efforts, you can save time by using pre-written email templates designed to spark conversation as the base of your message. In addition, you can automate other processes (such as posting on social media or sending out appointment reminder texts), in order to create more time for you to focus on individual client relationships.

Trend 2: Building Trust Through Email

Building trust through email is rather simple: don’t spam and make sure your messaging isn’t too salesy in tone. Personalize each email you send, even if the majority of it comes from a template.
Here are some examples of how you can personalize your emails:

  • Did your contacts share some personal good news on Facebook or LinkedIn recently? Congratulate them!
  • Have you chatted about sports before? Add in a quick comment about how you think the season is going and ask them what they think.
  • Have your prospects recently celebrated a birthday? Wish them a happy birthday in your email!

Trend 3: Mimic Real-Time Social Content in Email

It’s difficult to create real-time content in email at scale, but it is possible for email power users to take advantage of this trend. Real-time events can include market changes, industry news, corporate updates and branch news. As a thought leader and industry expert with access to corporate or branch content, you can create editable templates for your content ahead of time to share follow-up communication soon after important news stories break.

If you’re sharing breaking news with your followers via social media, send a follow-up email to clients for whom the news hits most closely, as soon as you can. It’s ok if you’re a little late commenting on real-time events, as long as you provide a thoughtful response.

Trend 4: Email as a Part of Your Digital Ecosystem

As mentioned in our 2019 Social Trends for the Digital Advisor blog post, digital relationships between advisors/agents and their clients have become more complex. The best way to keep up is by making sure all of your digital touchpoints are connected with automation.

You can apply this follow-up framework to social posts as well. For example, if someone likes your post about savings tips, follow up with them in an email with an offer to jump on a call and discuss some retirement options you can provide.

Learn More at the ‘Email, Social and You: How Email Marketing and Social Work Together’ Webinar

If you’re a Hearsay customer and would like a deeper dive into email marketing that works, join one of our upcoming live webinars.
Advisors and agents will learn how to combine their social media and email marketing efforts to expand their overall program reach. Discover the most effective approaches in email marketing and learn how automated workflows, content channels and other best practices can optimize digital communication. We will cover the importance of using various digital channels (social, email and text messaging) to meet customers and prospects where they are in order to make tangible gains for your business.

How to Deliver the Right Social Media Content, at the Right Time

Because Hearsay’s software is purpose-built for financial services, we receive an enormous amount of data on the digital activities by financial services firms and their advisors. Our proprietary data is what enables us to provide the industry-specific features, tools and recommendations that help our customers grow.
In this month’s webinar, “Delivering the Right Content at the Right Time for Maximum Effectiveness and Efficiency,” Hearsay’s Customer Education team will review the important findings and best practices from our new benchmark Social Media Content Study. This study aims to go beyond how advisors use social for business and looks at what social content is actually resonating with their followers, clients and prospects.
In all, our customer success and data teams analyzed approximately 3.4 million posts from 77,000 advisors using our Advisor Social platform to determine:

  • What types of content are most popular with advisors?
  • What content actually drives engagement (prospect and client touch points) from their followers?
  • How can corporate or field marketing teams, as well as advisors, better optimize their content mix?
  • What differentiated content trends are we seeing for the wealth management, life insurance, and property and casualty insurance verticals? What strategy is best for each category?

If you’re a current Hearsay customer, join our webinar, “Delivering the Right Content at the Right Time for Maximum Effectiveness and Efficiency,” on Tuesday, June 19, at 8am PST / 11am EST / 4pm GMT, to:

  • Discover what different lines of business are doing to find success on social, and where you and your organization can improve your efforts
  • Learn how to round out your digital presence using various digital channels to make tangible gains for your business
  • Develop a comprehensive content strategy and set goals for your business in ways that are manageable and measurable

See you there!