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Advisor-Client Communications: How Compliant Texting is Changing the Game


Social media proficiency is a must have for advisors and agents today. In fact, 92% of advisors report that social media has helped them gain new clients.[1] Social media plays a key role in the digital landscape, and done correctly it can help advisors find new clients and strengthen relationships with their current ones.

Not only has social media transformed how business is conducted, it has also transformed where it is conducted. It is estimated that nearly 3 billion people worldwide own a smartphone.[2] Another staggering statistic: 70% of web traffic comes from mobile devices.[3] In order for your advisors and agents to find and stay connected to clients, they need to be both social and mobile.

It may seem unbelievable, but over 60% of advisors’ and agents’ time is spent on non-revenue generating activities such as administrative tasks.[4] With texting, advisors and agents have an ultra-efficient way to stay connected with clients. In fact, text read rates are as high as 98%.[5] Studies show that 75% of people report receptiveness to receiving text messages,[6] making it easier for your advisors and agents to connect to clients. Within financial services, the average customer opt-in rate for advisor texting programs is 80%,[7] suggesting that clients are eager to hear from their advisors and agents. We’ve found this is especially true in today’s volatile financial climate.

Not only are clients more responsive, but activating texting as a compliant advisor-client channel drives a deeper level of authenticity in the last mile of communications. It also enables your field with the flexibility to schedule time-based text message reminders, such as appointment and annual review reminders, that help shift the balance of where advisors and agents spend their time, from administrative activities to client meetings.

Does this mean that you should solely favor text messaging over email marketing? On the contrary. When it comes to communications, a balanced approach is always best. Authentic relationships thrive across various digital channels. Make sure your advisors and agents leverage both text messaging and email marketing to communicate with their clients and prospects for a successful content strategy with a tangible ROI. For example, studies show that when sending a text to follow up on an email, the email open rates increase by as much as 30%.[8] And given that clients of advisors using Hearsay, on average, respond to a text message in under four minutes,[9] your advisors and agents are more than likely to connect with their clients quickly and efficiently.

To learn more about how automated text messaging can improve client communications, check out the recording of our most recent admin webinar or share these advisor/agent webinars where we discuss how Hearsay tools can provide compliant text messaging that helps save time, secure prospects, and increase client retention.

SOURCES:
[1] https://www.putnam.com/advisor/business-building/social-media/?van_seg=social
[2] https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2019/02/05/smartphone-ownership-is-growing-rapidly-around-the-world-but-not-always-equally/
[3] https://review42.com/smartphone-statistics/
[4] & [7] Hearsay Data, Time Management for Sales Study, 2017
[5] & [6] https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2019/01/roi-showdown-sms-marketing-vs-email-marketing/
[8]  Hearsay 2020 Financial Services Social Media Content Study
[9] https://www.business2community.com/infographics/email-marketing-vs-sms-marketing-stats-infographic-02021390

Financial Services Email Marketing: 5 Steps to Building a Strong Foundation

Learn about email marketing best practices and the importance of your advisors / agents maintaining consistent, on-brand communications with their clients.

When it comes to having a holistic and consistent digital presence, email plays a vital role in making sure your advisors and/or agents keep the conversations going with their clients. Email marketing allows your advisors and/or agents to nurture leads and develop relationships with clients in ways that are personable, measurable, and scalable.

Not only is email marketing a core digital communication channel, but this approach is budget friendly too.  According to the Data and Marketing Association, the ROI for every $1 spent on email marketing is $44-—an astronomical ROI of 4400%. So, how do you develop a strong email marketing strategy that delivers? Here are some critical best practices with which to start:

  • Personalization: Personalizing every communication with customers helps build a connection and increase engagement with them. After all, if your advisors and/or agents saw them in person, they wouldn’t greet them with “Hello, valued customer.” In a survey conducted by Econsultancy, 74% of marketers report that targeted personalization increases customer engagement while 94% of companies surveyed agree that personalization is “critical to current and future success.”
  • Automation: Automation is an efficient and time-saving way to manage email campaigns while still maintaining personalization. Balancing your email strategy between drip, nurture, and triggered campaigns helps your advisors and/or agents nurture leads, move prospects along their customer journey and suggest relevant, timely calls to action.
  • Mobile-Friendly Interface: A study by the World Advertising Research Center (WARC) estimates that by 2025, almost three quarters of all internet users will access the internet with just their smartphones, only reinforcing the importance of having a mobile-first approach when it comes to design. This means designing for a responsive environment that adapts to the screen size used as well as designing with smaller screens in mind overall. What does this mean for your emails? Making them concise and easy to read on a mobile device should always be top of mind.
  • Track Your Metrics: While there are dozens of metrics you can focus on to determine how successful your emails are, there are a few foundational ones that all email campaigns are built upon: bounce rates, open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribes. These metrics alone can help you fine tune your campaigns as they indicate if your emails are: 1) delivered, 2) read, 3) acted upon, and 4) helpful enough to keep receiving.
  • Consistency with Social Presence: Just as your advisors and/or agents have their own personal brand, that brand should sound the same in all their online communications. Staying consistent in voice, tone, and content reinforces the relationship they are trying to build with their clients. For example, if clients receive an email that sounds off brand and inconsistent with previous communications, it can be jarring and off-putting and can chip away at the trust your advisors and/or agents have worked so hard to earn.
    Just like a strong personal brand or an effective content strategy, email marketing is a crucial tool that keeps your advisors and/or agents top of mind with clients and helps guide them along the customer journey.

To learn more about how to build an effective email campaign around these best practices, check out the recording of our most recent admin webinar, or share these advisor/agent webinars where we discuss more email marketing strategies and how Hearsay tools can help.

The ROI of Your Advisors’ and Agents’ Digital Presence

Learn about the ROI of digital relationships, digital validation, and what metrics you can share with your advisors and/or agents to measure their digital programs.

A strong digital presence is table stakes in today’s business world, and as with anything in business, it’s important to see ROI from the time and money you invest in such an endeavor. Building and maintaining an impactful digital program is something that can take significant resources, but the right tools can save your advisors and/or agents time that they can then re-invest where it matters most—with their clients.

When it comes to measuring the ROI of online presence, there is a direct correlation to a different kind of ROI: the ROI of relationships. A consistent digital presence is key to helping your advisors and/or agents build relationships with existing clients and nurture new ones. In fact, an overwhelming 87% of consumers begin their product searches online. This translates to researching advisors and agents on social media before even agreeing to a first call or meeting. When your advisors and agents have a compelling online presence, the ‘digital validation’ they get when prospects are in the research phase saves precious time.

Creating an online presence that stands out is a combination of defining the key metrics that are the most important to the objectives of your advisors and/or agents social program and then adhering to social media best practices in order to execute them. Once there are clear goals established for your field programs, specific metrics help measure each one.

Some examples of metrics you can share with your advisors and/or agents to measure their programs are:

  • Referral traffic: Track how customers found you and the source they used. Knowing how your customers are finding you helps you know where to focus your efforts as well as find the gaps where you want to grow your presence more.
  • Conversions: First determine how you define conversion for your business. Is it when someone registers for an event or when they sign up for your email list? It can differ depending on what you’ve determined leads to closing business.
  • Client engagement: Clients interact with you online with retweets, likes, comments, link clicks, shares, and mentions. Measuring client engagement helps you understand what’s resonating with your clients and what isn’t.
  • Brand reach: How many total followers do you have and what’s your audience growth rate? How many people do your posts reach when they in turn share your posts? Your message goes beyond your immediate audience.

Having a concise, measurable digital strategy is more than just a means to an end. It means remembering that there is also an ROI to relationships—and that those relationships are built one online interaction at a time.

To learn how to increase the ROI of your advisors’ and/or agents’ digital presence, check out the recording of our most recent admin webinar, or share these advisor/agent webinars where we discuss best practices to measure their online business, as well as how Hearsay tools can help them grow it, with your field.

The Transition to Digital Selling: LinkedIn Sales Solutions Livestream Panel Discussion

Find out what Clara Shih, Hearsay Systems Founder and CEO, and others talked about in the LinkedIn Sales Solutions livestream panel discussion The Transition to Digital Selling. Get insights and best practices on how to navigate this new digital selling landscape.

COVID-19 has impacted every part of the world, and the business world is no exception. Everyone has had to learn how to adapt. In the LinkedIn Sales Solutions livestream panel discussion The Transition to Digital Selling, Hearsay Systems Founder and CEO, Clara Shih shared her insights and best practices on how to navigate this new landscape.

Moderated by Alyssa Merwin, VP of North America for LinkedIn Sales Solutions, the discussion centered on the transformation needed for sales professionals to not only survive the current economic climate but to thrive as well. Aptly summarizing the disruption everyone is experiencing, Alyssa began the conversation with a quote from Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella: “Two years of digital transformation has happened in the last two months, and many of us have not been prepared for that.”

Embracing Digital Engagement and Digital Selling

When asked what changes she sees among the Fortune 500 clients Hearsay works with, Clara described the delicate balance financial firms in particular are currently facing. Existing as both highly regulated and essential businesses, financial firms are experiencing an additional complexity amid the torrent of COVID-19. Clara then cited examples such as JP Morgan Chase, Allstate, American Family, and TD Ameritrade as Hearsay clients who swiftly shifted in the wake of COVID-19 to completely virtual models. Within days, they were able to embrace digital engagement and digital selling to protect their employees while also continuing to serve their clients. “Digital selling has rapidly shifted from a nice-to-have to a must-have,” she said.

How to Build Trust in a Virtual World

Clara also shared two key insights into how to build trust and rapport in a digital world. “It starts with having the right mindset,” she said. “It’s a mindset that is customer first and it’s a mindset of just acting—because to do nothing right now is the worst thing you can do.” Once you have that mindset, the second area to focus on is having “an appreciation for the fact that the more channels you’re connected with someone, the deeper a relationship you have.” Digital platforms allow agents and advisors to connect in more ways than ever existed before, whether it’s through texting, emailing, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram to name a few. Translating those connections into digital selling,” Clara continued, “everyone talks about having a good sales call or having a good sales meeting, but a great sales call actually starts with having a really good LinkedIn profile and having done your homework.”

But how do you build trust virtually when the established way of meeting in person isn’t possible? Clara shared her learnings: “It’s doing your homework, it’s going through your trusted network. Those referrals and recommendations from mutual connections are more important than ever to compensate for the lost way of establishing trust.” And like any valued connection, being able to continually deepen that relationship through things like thought leadership is essential. “Today, especially with COVID, we’re in permission sales. Reps have to earn the right to get that customer on the phone.”

Prospecting vs. Deepening Existing Customer Relationships

As the discussion continued, Alyssa shared results from a recent LinkedIn survey that polled 500 sales professionals. The results showed that 70% of sales professionals are making customer retention a higher priority in today’s environment. Clara concurred, sharing that Hearsay itself is seeing that “if a customer is happy, they tend to end up doing more business with us,” adding that analytics suggest that, even pre-COVID, being there for your clients can allow you to “forge customers for life, and they remember that servicing moment. They remember when you went the extra mile and they appreciate that you were proactive.”

What Should Stay in the New Normal?

While the learning curve of this digital transformation has been steep, organizations continue to evolve and adapt. So what should stay in this new reality based on the lessons this time of crisis has taught us? “This is a time where we have to be human and we have to be authentic,” Clara concluded. “Going forward, it’s going to be human digital engagement. If you’re human without digital, it’s just not possible or scalable right now given we have to be apart. If you’re digital and not human, whether you’re just a bot or you’re a sales rep who sounds like a bot because you’re just sending a canned pitch—that’s not going to work either. It’s really the combination of the two and I think we’ll be better for it.”

To hear Clara’s remarks in their entirety and also learn from other panelists, you can watch the discussion here.

Hearsay Content Study: Delivering the Right Content at the Right Time for Maximum Effectiveness

Check out key highlights of this benchmark study based on 18 million+ published posts with 23 million engagements, from agents and advisors in Life Insurance, Wealth Management, P&C, and Mortgage. 

The 2020 Hearsay Financial Services Social Media Content Study is here, and we wanted to share a few key findings from the third annual edition. With each year’s study, we continue to fine-tune the data to share benchmark results that can really make a difference in your social media program. We have unearthed trends and best practices signaled by corporate social media program administrators, advisor and agent publishes, as well as consumer engagements.

Focusing on the same four lines of business from last year’s study—Life Insurance, Wealth Management, Property and Casualty, and Mortgage—we aggregated data from 54 leading U.S. financial services firms and their cumulative 173,000 advisors and agents who used the Hearsay Social platform during the calendar year of 2019. In all, this year’s study analyzed more than 18 million published social media posts and garnered in excess of 23 million engagements across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. This year’s results show clear, actionable trends within the financial services industry as a whole that can positively impact any program. Here’s a preview of a few key findings:

  1. Authenticity Prevails: This year we dug a little deeper into the data to analyze trends beyond content categorization, including the impact of editable posts and custom content. The verdict is in: custom content is king when it comes to engagement. Of the published content we analyzed, unmodified suggested content had an average engagement rate of 47%. We’ve long known that modified content performs better, and this year’s study showed us that the numbers are even more telling than in the past. Compared to unmodified posts, we found more than twice the lift in engagement rate when the suggested content was modified by the advisor or agent. Even more significant is that original content created by advisors on average gets 10X the engagement rate of unmodified content!
  2. Hearsay Campaigns Strike a Balance: We also analyzed the use of Hearsay Campaigns against suggested and custom posts and found that Campaigns blend automation with efficacy. This approach strikes the perfect balance between consistency in message and cadence with minimal effort from the field. Out of nearly 18 million total social posts analyzed from the Hearsay platform in 2019, 51% of all suggested publishes were automated. This mirrors the growth we continue to see year over year when it comes to content publishing automation. Automation allows organizations to share high-quality, curated content to their entire field to amplify brand messaging, drive traffic to websites or communicate timely content, such as updates around the COVID-19 outbreak. Automated publishing is a great way to increase advisor adoption of digital channels and are particularly valuable for practices with little local marketing support, significantly lowering the compliance burden, even as centralized content creators tailored campaigns by region or provided multiple campaign options to ensure variety.
  3. Trend Towards Lifestyle Content Continues: Similar to the past two years of the study, lifestyle content such as health and holidays proved to be quite popular. For example, in wealth management, lifestyle content increased from 15% of total suggested content in 2018 to 25% of the total in 2019. At the same time, the average number of publishes per piece of content increased 16% year-over-year, demonstrating an increase in advisor activity across social and signaling more comfort and buy-in from the field. With lifestyle content generally showing the highest engagement rates, program administrators have a significant opportunity to tweak content strategies to drive even further engagement. It is important for Marketing admins to work to get the right balance of content type (financial education, lifestyle, corporate brand) media type (message, video, photo, link) and modification blend (automation, modified, original content) to maximize the efficacy of their organization’s content strategy.

Being able to share timely, relevant content is paramount to any social program, and implementing the right balance of automated publishing, modified, and original content helps put you ahead of the content curve and ensures you stay there. The Hearsay Social Media Content Study aims to deliver trends and insights to help social media program admins take a data-driven approach to their content strategies.

The Power of Giving Your Customers Control

Hearsay Summit 2020 is officially a wrap! Along with being the first virtual one we’ve ever hosted, we had two days of amazing speakers, fireside chats, and breakout sessions. One of the speakers we were lucky enough to hear from was Glenn Shapiro, Allstate President of Personal Property-Liability.

Glenn shared four ways that the advancement of customer-centricity can work amidst the current challenges of COVID-19 and beyond:

Give customers control.

According to Glenn, “Customers want to take work that we have somehow, and for some unknown reason, tried to keep from them for years.” Customers want to feel a sense of control over their own customer journeys, and businesses, now more than ever, can and should give that to them. Glenn shared an example of how Allstate’s claims process evolved a few years ago from using onsite appointments to an online claims submission model that completely empowers the customer. He shared how coworkers were recently noting how effective this model is during the current challenges. While he agreed that may be true, he emphasized it was simply practicing the fundamentals of giving the customer control that allows for that. “If you do things that empower the customer, they’re going to work in any scenario.”

Eliminate friction.

Next, Glenn shared an example of a company that, by putting its customers in control, set itself up to weather the current pandemic climate: Publix. The widely known grocery chain took an experience that is traditionally high touch and typically done in person and created an app, allowing its customers to order and pay for groceries online and then pick them up. When COVID-19 arose, Publix enabled its app to track customers’ arrivals into the parking lot so that they could seamlessly pick up their groceries without ever even leaving their car. By eliminating possible points of friction, Publix was uniquely situated to quickly pivot to address the current needs in this crisis.

Create customer connections.

Glenn’s next example highlighted a company that created connections with its customers—as well as for its customers—during COVID-19. Netflix, although already well-positioned for the current atmosphere, partnered with Google Chrome to create Netflix Party, a feature that brings people together by allowing family and friends to watch shows together from different locations. As Glenn pointed out: “They decided to create connections between people.”

Put relentless focus on internal consistency.

Glenn used Amazon as an example of a company that shows a relentless focus on internal consistency. While it may seem obvious given its business model is thriving even during COVID-19, Amazon’s seeds for success were planted way back in 2002. Jeff Bezos created a list of expectations for his company from a technology standpoint, now referred to as the “Bezos Mandate,” that Amazon uses to this day. Glenn pointed out that although Amazon has several different lines of business, “they are completely seamless, completely integrated, because they have been relentlessly focused on internal consistency.”

For more insights from Allstate President Glenn Shapiro, or to see other speakers from our virtual event, check out our Hearsay Summit 2020 Highlights page.