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Cut through the clutter and get business done with Hearsay Relate

Last year’s global pandemic put every business to the test, and TechGirl Financial was no exception. Victor Gaxiola and his wife Kim had worked in financial services since 2004, but together, they established TechGirl Financial in 2011 to serve a specific niche market: women in technology. Although the pair have always run a digital-first operation, the past year created unanticipated opportunities along with new challenges.

In a recent fireside chat with Brittany Nevares, Customer Marketing Manager at Hearsay, Victor described how the pandemic surfaced new client trends that paved the way for deepening connections during a time of uncertainty. Specifically, Victor shared how he leveraged Hearsay Relate—which enables secure, compliant texting—to nurture more intimate relationships with his clients.

As everyone conditioned themselves to habitual use of new technologies (Zoom much?) to get work done and maintain personal relationships, Victor encountered a double-edged sword.

With a decreased need to be local, geography was no longer an impediment to acquiring new business. “Technology allowed us to open our business to everyone, so that we weren’t limited to the Bay Area, but could also take on clients in North Carolina and Texas as well,” said Victor. However, this meant that his local client base was at risk of being courted by advisors outside his area. Nevertheless, he feels that while the rise of video conferencing afforded clients more selection and variety, it forced advisors to innovate, in order to stand out from the crowd. “This is where a niche focus like women in technology helps us differentiate our practice,” added Victor.

Zoom was a good proxy for client onboarding and reviews in the absence of face-to-face meetings, but to communicate regularly in between Zooms, Victor found that Hearsay Relate integrated seamlessly into his new business model, helping to drive deeper relationships.

“Relate was a game changer in terms of enabling us to make an intimate connection with clients and cut through the clutter,” said Victor. “Every day we’re bombarded with emails and marketing messages, but when it comes to texting, we’re a bit more selective as to who can text us and who we’re willing to respond to.”

Below, Victor shares three of his best practices for Hearsay Relate:

Effectively manage business and logistical transactions

Whether it’s appointment requests, confirmations, reminders, or signature requests, Relate helps you bypass an overflowing inbox to get transactions completed. “If you send a DocuSign request, there are times when the email is ignored; but send a text reminder through Hearsay Relate and it gets done,” said Victor.

You can use Relate to pre-program anything that’s logistical in nature. You can also plan for paperwork or administrative tasks in advance; for example, if there’s anything special that your client would like covered in a meeting, you can send information or pre-work ahead of time, to be better prepared.

Stay on top of your clients’ personal celebrations and milestones

Fortunately, you can also integrate Relate with an existing CRM to pre-program personal texts like birthday greetings, anniversaries, holidays etc., with Relate. Victor likes to get creative with birthday messages, by scheduling a morning greeting embellished with an emoji or image. These small touch points help nurture more intimate connections.

“It’s easy for anybody to understand how Relate helps from a communications and logistics standpoint,” said Victor. “But one day, we received a photograph of mountains and streams from a client in Colorado, who was out on a walk. This kind of unsolicited sharing enriches our relationship with our clients beyond the business,” added Victor.

For him, it’s a two-way street: The business of finance is personal, so it’s important to establish trust with who you’re working with. While he can share endless social posts related to finance, if Victor takes a photo of his dog or cat and refers to them as “the intern,” he gets much more engagement. “The human side—and the humor—goes both ways, and the more we do it, the more we get it back,” he noted. Many of Victor’s clients become a part of his and Kim’s personal lives, which he feels is an unforeseen benefit that Relate has brought to his business.

Establish communication best practices early on

When it comes to communicating with clients, Victor distinguishes between social media (used for scale) vs. Relate (used for 1:1 exchange). Depending on one’s book of business, it’s important to strike a balance between managing time and being efficient. With top clients, Victor ensures that he’s using Relate to reach out no less than once a month; some clients are on a weekly cadence. 

Because three people on his team use Relate (himself, Kim and an Operations Manager), he uses a single Relate number, so that everyone can be in on the conversation. Relate allows users to assign a delegate, so it’s easy to see who’s responding and when. His team includes initials with each text response, so that even clients know who at TechGirl Financial is responding.

As the battleground for client attention continues to evolve, Hearsay Relate helps Victor and the team at TechGirl FInancial “get right to the point without any fluff,” while nurturing more authentic, personal client connections.

A huge thanks to Victor for sharing his insights and best practices for Hearsay Relate with Brittany!

Lincoln Financial Increases Social Program Adoption and Inbound Web Traffic

It’s always a thrill when a client partners with Hearsay to achieve success through social selling. It’s even more exciting when they’re willing to share their story to benefit others, and Lincoln Financial Group’s Distribution Marketing team agreed to do just that recently.

Lincoln Financial Group provides advice and solutions that empower people to take charge of their financial lives with confidence and optimism. The Lincoln Financial Distributors division markets and sells Lincoln-manufactured variable and fixed annuities, life insurance and investment management products through financial advisors, financial intermediaries and sales professionals.

The Distribution Marketing team wanted to take a strategic approach to drive demand for their financial services in an authentic way and decided social selling was the right approach. They knew that delivering the right technology would be critical in driving adoption from their field team and the business outcomes they desired. Ease of use, efficiency and a strong foundation of compliance were also ‘must haves.’ In addition, they knew they needed a comprehensive program to guide onboarding and beyond. To ensure they met all of their goals, they were looking for a true partner, not just a technology vendor.

Lincoln selected Hearsay Systems as their partner and deployed Hearsay Social to 350 wholesalers. This required close orchestration between the Lincoln Financial Distributors marketing leaders and the Hearsay team, including tailored training and an instrumental digital toolbox.

Learn more about the solution by downloading the full case study.

“The transparency we get in our partnership with Hearsay and how Hearsay is able to perfectly serve our industry has made it one of the easiest decisions we’ve made. We are looking forward to moving forward in rolling out a CRM integration next!” –Scott Carlisle, AVP Digital Marketing & Collaboration for Lincoln Financial Distributors Marketing 

Lincoln Financial Distributors’ strategic approach and dedication to set the program up for success from the beginning is starting to pay off. Their onboarding efforts have resulted in a 300% increase in adoption of the social selling program, which has led to more than 114K impressions and 1.8K clicks across social posts. Perhaps most impressively, the company has found that upwards of 50% of inbound traffic to the Lincoln Financial website was driven by wholesalers (up from 28% at program launch).

“Hearsay has made growing our social program simple, providing amazing tools to get our sales folks engaged. Through usage of their dynamic campaigns, pre populated content and ROI tools, our social program has grown over 300% in one year!” –Kiersten Shank, Digital Marketing Consultant 

Download a PDF of the full case study here.

Announcing the Hearsay Summit 2020 Innovator Awards!

Drum roll, please!

We had over a dozen nominees for this year’s awards. This year’s winners had a very unique experience — they received their awards in the mail and we celebrated them virtually on Day 2 of the Hearsay Summit last week. We hope you were able to join and raise a glass to celebrate them during the awards ceremony.

Learn more about our six winners and the amazing accomplishments they’ve conquered over the past year with their Hearsay programs.

Greatest Compliance Efficiencies

This award recognizes the Innovator who has leveraged Hearsay Compliance to effectively automate compliance workflows while minimizing risk and enhancing communications across the entire agent/advisor-client journey.

Greatest Compliance Efficiencies Winner – Christy Zielinski, MassMutual 

Christy partnered with Hearsay’s Compliance & Supervision Advisory Practice to develop a secondary review process for monthly internal audits of supervision activities. This process enabled MassMutual to mitigate risk by monitoring its compliance admins through an audit feedback loop. This operational efficiency ensures the supervision review procedure is properly followed in order to adhere to industry regulations and best practices using social media. Christy’s leadership drove this initiative to completion and MassMutual is now averaging 3K automatically captured posts a month that will result in an expected reduction of 24K alerts annually!

Best Strategies for Improving ROI

This next category recognizes Innovators for each Hearsay product category (Social, Sites, and Relate) for establishing and measuring program ROI, increasing field agents/advisors adoption, and driving greater client efficiencies.

Best Strategy for Improving ROI – Sites winner – Wendi Phillips, The Co-operators

Wendi has launched over 600 fully custom-themed sites in two languages, English and French.

She has been working to harmonize advisors’ sites with the Social program team at the Co-operators, combining forces to roll out a smooth program for advisors. Wendi has been pushing Hearsay to the best of its abilities to roll out a customized Sites platform and to brainstorm ways in which the Co-operators can better integrate Social and Sites, all while demonstrating clear ROI to advisors.

Best Strategy for Improving ROI – Relate winner – Nicohle Schluender, Thrivent Financial

Under Nicohle’s direction, Thrivent is completely transforming the digital experience for its financial representatives and the clients they represent by creating a seamless client experience. Nicohle spearheaded the full field rollout of Relate to all 2,600 financial representatives during the COVID-19 crisis to make sure communication between financial representatives and clients never stopped. Thrivent has also greatly increased the number of leads they receive through their Advisor websites. Nicohle is a true visionary!

Best Strategy for Improving ROI – Social winner – Scott Carlisle, Kiersten Shank, Lincoln Financial Distributors

Scott and Kiersten have demonstrated a relentless pursuit of transformation. Over the past year, they have grown Lincoln Financial’s Social program at an unprecedented rate while establishing ROI benchmarks and catering to their wholesaler client on a daily basis. As part of their efforts, they’ve optimized LinkedIn profiles, doing a full audit of all 272 of their wholesalers and providing them with best practices to make their profiles go “from good to great!” Scott and Kiersten also created a digital resource hub with educational videos. They’ve seen an 85.5% increase from last year for wholesaler onboarding, a 74.5% increase in LinkedIn connections from last year, and continual organic growth for their LinkedIn and Twitter pages. Additionally, they’ve experienced an increase of 128.8% in creating and posting content on behalf of their wholesalers from 2019 to 2020 per business line.

Most Influential Insurance Leader in Transforming the Client Experience

This award recognizes the Innovator who has leveraged the Hearsay platform to effectively lead their organization through change management while increasing client transparency to transform the client experience.

Most Influential Insurance Leader in Transforming the Client Experience Winner – Erin Fenton, Allstate

Erin received two Innovators nominations this year and is this year’s winner for Most Influential Insurance Leader in Transforming the Client Experience. She has increased traffic to from the Agent Social program by about 1,400% since 2016. The agent active rate each month on social has grown by about 20% since 2016. The program adoption of agents has also increased by 22% since 2016. The total published content per year has increased by 164% since 2016. These are incredible wins for Erin and Allstate!

Most Influential Wealth Management Leader in Transforming the Client Experience Winner – Chris Johnson, Janney Montgomery Scott

The next award recognized someone who has leveraged the Hearsay platform to effectively lead their organization through change management while increasing client transparency to transform the client experience.

Chris has been managing the Hearsay program since its inception in 2015 across Social, Sites, Relate, and multiple integrations, as well as dealing directly with the field for training and communication. He has spearheaded unique integrations with Hearsay including threaded archiving for Relate and third-party site integration to the Hearsay publisher. He also led beta testing for any new features that Hearsay develops. Under his leadership, yearly adoption of the Hearsay Program at Janney Montgomery Scott has grown over 280% in users since the start of the program in 2015. In the past year there were thousands of visits to the teams’ financial advisor sites. Hearsay Social was the top referral source for traffic and third in total acquisitions, directly behind organic and direct referrals for Hearsay Sites. Hearsay Sites has also generated over 650 leads in the past year.

Congratulations to all our winners and nominees this year!

AmFam’s Digital Maturity Model: The Proof is in the ROI

You may have seen the blog post we did in May, featuring American Family’s digital maturity model. After winning the Hearsay Summit ‘Transforming the Enterprise’ award, we were anxious to have Josh Feyen share secrets to his team’s success with guiding agents to not only get started on social media, websites, and texting for their businesses but how to really fly. In the post, Josh gave us AmFam’s top three tips for maximizing their ‘Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly’ program:

  1. Educate your reps (and don’t forget to take advantage of their competitive spirit)
  2. Provide lots of content and leave room for agents to post their own original content too
  3. Track metrics and review/revise the maturity model yearly, since the rules of digital success are continually changing

As follow-up to the first blog post, we decided to catch up with a few American Family agents and staff who have progressed through the program to demonstrate how a digital maturity program truly produces measurable results.

Heath Burchill, Colorado – 70% increase in calls from Google, 50% website lead close rate

Heath Burchill has a large agency, managing 14,000 policies and 11 employees. His agency is consistently at the head of the pack in driving traffic and leads through his agency website. He has seen a traffic increase of 130% to his Google listings resulting in a 70% increase in total calls. Through 2019, mobile searches on Google directly generated 200 calls to his agency, which is significantly helped by 20 years in business and 189 positive reviews on Google. And the Burchill agency has a 50% close ratio on website leads!

Monica Hoskins, Ohio – Top agent driving leads through agency site and

Monica Hoskins spent 10 months ‘Walking’ on social media before she decided to try her hand at increasing her original content posting. That original content increase began in October 2018, and now she’s a ‘Fly’ agent most months. She is also one of the top agents driving leads directly through her agency site and, both of which convert higher than the state sales average.
Monica has a couple of tricks up her sleeve when it comes to creating original posts that really drive engagement. First, people love getting a glimpse of who she is as a person. Insurance is a business built on trust and customers want to know that the person they’re putting their faith in for guidance is a real person. Monica’s most popular posts are pictures of her grandkids, which make engagement “go through the roof,” with 300-400 engagements. Next, she makes sure to respond to social engagement. This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many business people don’t take the time to do it and how often it results in leads.

Christina Smith-Gallagher Agency, Wisconsin – Success through delegation 

Christina’s agency ‘walked’ for all of 2018 but in 2019 moved on to ‘run’ and ‘fly’ as she delegated social media ownership to her staff Kristie Pecard. Kristie focuses on original postings and managing the content calendar. Kristie also updates the agency website a few times a year and they’ve even had a few reviews recently which Christina responded directly to. Finally, the agency’s calls from their Google listing have also increased year over year by ~120% from 100 to over 220.
There are a few best practices Christina and her team follow that have contributed to her success. First, Christina has built a team and delegates across multiple office locations for digital and sales. She has a talented social media program manager in place, Kristie, who subscribes to campaigns that keep corporate content flowing. She also uses the Hearsay calendar feature to change some of those dates to spread corporate content out. This allows her to pepper in customer content like staff highlights and funny stories.

Todd Laczynski, Indiana – More leads, above-average conversion and delegation

Todd’s agency is driving leads through the digital channel and creating more original content in 2019 compared to 2018. The agency is not only driving leads but consistently has an above-average conversion rate. He is also receiving more calls each month from Google, over 55 for last month. He credits some of his success to delegating ownership of digital marketing to his staff Brianna Merz. She makes sure all agency profiles are up to date, sets content for Facebook, and uses her mobile phone to stay on top of any new notifications.

Hearsay Highlights

The agents and their teams told us some of the things they like about Hearsay and use to increase success:

  • Relate has saved team about 4-5 days/month worth of time
  • Appreciate Hearsay as a ‘one stop shop’
  • Keep Hearsay Relate IM desktop open so they can respond to text messages immediately
  • They get notification emails when they are getting a text message, in case they aren’t using their phone in that moment
  • By posting to Facebook through Hearsay, they don’t always get new business but tend to get a lot of clients wanting to reinstate and/or add policies.
  • Delegation is key. If you have hired staff, let them help keep your social media going – it pays off!
  • They use the resources and guidelines that the home office provides to the field, like the agent site profile suggestions when just getting started, and the dynamic campaigns to “keep the content lights on”

One large trend we noticed is that the agents are not spending a lot of time in the Hearsay dashboard. We love to hear this because as you get up and running, you shouldn’t need to spend much time using Hearsay. Hearsay hopes to set each agent up to be out meeting with clients and nurturing relationships. These agents are really on their way to digital mastership!

How to Demonstrate Social Selling ROI in Financial Services

Proving the return on investment (ROI) of social selling can seem daunting, particularly when multiple stakeholders – sales leaders, marketing leaders, and agency leaders – all seem to value different indicators of success. But quantifying results of your efforts can change the perception of social selling (a much needed but often questioned tactic in financial services), and increase enthusiasm by demonstrating the real impact social media has on business outcomes.
So what is social ROI? Simply put, it’s proving that you’re getting as much or more out of social selling as the resources (time and money) you’re putting into it.

Establish Your Social Media Objectives

Before you can measure or report on the success of your social selling strategy, you must establish some clear objectives. What exactly are you aiming to do?
Social selling objectives will differ by role, and might look something like this for financial services and insurance firms:

Marketing Leaders Increase brand reach, referral traffic and lead generation
Sales/Distribution Leaders Increase client acquisition, cross-sell/upsell and client retention. Also, increase advisor recruiting & retention

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but represents a good starting point and common objectives we see across a broad range of clients.

Benchmark Your Performance Against These Objectives 

Once you’ve established the specific objectives your firm is focused on, it’s time to measure your program’s current progress against those objectives. Since this often appears overwhelming, we’ve put together a simple, customizable framework for demonstrating ROI – along with the tools Hearsay offers to help you use it.
Let’s get started.


The simplest way to get started with ROI is to measure how satisfied advisors and agents are with your program. Technology and marketing support is often cited as one reason advisors and agents switch (or stay) with a firm, so it’s important to track this sentiment over time.
How to get started: Work this into an existing field NPS survey, start a new survey, or use Hearsay’s ROI Survey to measure this (and more).
Hearsay Customer Success Story: A Fortune 50 multinational insurance firm – surveyed their advisors in 2018 with extremely positive results. Of the respondents:

  • 94% of advisors found value using social media (23% found it very valuable)
  • 68% of advisors found the social selling program helped establish their brand and value proposition within their networks
  • 45% said it strengthened their client relationships
  • 31% found a new lead or client
  • 25% received a referral
  • 21% report that 5-10 transactions/clients were influenced by social
  • and 18% say it’s helped them find a candidate for hire


A more complete approach is to include the marketing value generated for both advisors/agents and corporate marketing. A simple way to measure the financial value of awareness created by your field team’s organic social marketing is to calculate how much it would cost to generate those results through paid advertising.
How to get started: Use Hearsay’s Ad Equivalency Calculator to quantify the value of your advisors’/agents’ total impressions, clicks, and more. Next, use Hearsay’s Attribution feature to measure the corporate referral traffic & leads generated by your program.
You can quantify the value of that corporate traffic by multiplying it against your firm’s average Cost Per Click (CPC). Example: Let’s say your program generated 460,000 visitors to your corporate website and your firm’s CPC is $5.00. It would cost your firm $2.3m to generate that qualified website traffic through paid advertising.
Hearsay Customer Success Story: Since we released Campaigns (marketing automation for advisors), one Hearsay Social customer has been able to reliably generate over 1 million unique website visits every year. At an average cost per click of $5.19, that’s over 5.4 million dollars in highly-qualified corporate website traffic. Unsurprisingly, this referral traffic alone provides a return on the firm’s investment in Hearsay Social multiple times over.
Aside from proving social selling ROI, there are important insights to be gained from this tracking that may have otherwise been missed. Through tracking how much traffic (and how many leads) different posts and campaigns generate on an aggregated basis, for example, we’ve found that in insurance and wealth management the highest-ROI content often has low engagement but high click-through. Topics like Retirement, Divorce, Aging and Neurological Decline, and Special Needs Families are all private matters that many do not want to discuss publicly on social media. However, readers will click on an article, read, and fill out a form for more information.
Without URL attribution, you may not discover that some of the highest ROI content has zero likes or comments, yet generates impressive website traffic and leads. Being able to measure how much traffic and how many leads different content and campaigns generate also allows admin teams to close the loop and refine their content strategy over time in a data-driven way that’s more directly attributable to revenue than ‘like’ and ‘comment’ engagement rates.


The most robust approach includes a measure of your program’s impact on client acquisition, upsell/cross-sell, and client retention. This can be measured anecdotally or by correlating your field team’s marketing activity with their production (sales) data.
How to get started: Use Hearsay’s ROI Survey to show, anecdotally, how social helped your advisors and agents grow business through increased acquisition, retention, and more. Alternatively, use Hearsay’s Digital ROI Assessment to conduct a detailed analysis of the performance and business value of your social selling program.
Hearsay Customer Success Story: A Fortune 500 Wealth Management  customer who conducted the Digital ROI Assessment found interesting results on two fronts. The goal of the assessment was to analyze the correlation between sales and branding performance and the use of social media. There were two hypotheses tested:

  • Advisors who use social media perform better than those who don’t
  • Among those who do use social media, advisors that do so more actively perform better than peers that are less active

Comparing datasets of more than 1000 non-social and 1000 social advisors, both hypotheses proved true.
Those who used social media (compared to those who did not), on average:

Increased net new AUM by 50% Grew their total AUM and client base 50% faster Generated 150% more website visits

Of the already more successful group of social users, the more active among them:

Brought in 70% more net new AUM than their less active social peers Grew their business up to 90% faster than less active social users Generated 400% more website traffic

Understanding your social program’s performance at this level gives you a strong basis for investing in the program going forward.

Best Practices for Reporting Social ROI

Gathering data is one thing, but communicating it effectively to interested stakeholders is equally important. Here are some tips:
Consider your audience. Speak to the business goals of the group you’re addressing. Don’t simply data-dump. Explain how the metrics you are reporting help further their objectives.
Clarify limitations. It is possible to measure social ROI, but it isn’t possible to measure everything. Social selling doesn’t always follow a straight line from cause to effect. Be clear about what is possible to measure with the data you have, but also be honest about those things that defy measurement.
Use templates and plain language. Using templates not only saves time, but also makes it easier for stakeholders to compare results from one report to another. Avoid using data-speak. Provide insights in straightforward language.
Stick to a timeline. Regular review and reporting of social success makes it easier to understand progress over time. It also makes it easier to iterate and pivot as soon as you discover a current strategy isn’t performing as well as expected.


Measuring the value of social selling isn’t magic. Though there are intangible benefits of a great social selling strategy that don’t readily appear on a spreadsheet, carefully choosing objectives, leveraging the power of analytics (including Hearsay Insights), and communicating clearly allow you to provide tangible ROI to your agents, advisors, and cohorts.

How Digital Programs Drive Revenue for Agents [Webinar Recap]

Last week I hosted a webinar full of leading industry voices. From American National, Christy Morgan, a digital marketing specialist, and Matthew Daley, an agency owner, joined us to talk about how they’re using social media to drive real revenue. Jim Kerley, Chief Membership Officer, at LIMRA also joined us to give us a broader industry perspective. Our discussion touched on everything from how the client journey has changed, to creating engagement to tracking ROI.
For those of you that prefer the written word to sitting through a webinar, here are the highlights.

The Client-Advisor Journey has Changed Significantly with Digital Channels

Many of you may remember the “pre-Google” days, where nothing was digital. Jim shared a ‘back in the olden days’ story about how agents actually read a newspaper to find out about important life events – birth and death announcements, who got hired and fired – and then sent a physical letter, followed up with a phone call to get a meeting, there was phone back and forth until the prospect had all of the information they needed, until finally a contract was signed. This took a LOT of time.
Matt then contrasted today’s “post-Google era,” noting that customers are more educated than ever before. He noted that people are no longer looking to TV and newspapers, but social media for answers. By the time people reach out to Matt, or he’s given their name to contact, they are already well into researching the product/service they want. Matt said, “What we try to do using Hearsay Social is make that beginning of the process of them getting to know me, on my terms…We attempt to provide value to them before we ever speak to them. What I’m trying to create is being [on LinkedIn, Google, Facebook] before they even know they’re looking for me – seeing my name, learning information from me. I want them to feel like they know me before they call me.”

The Key to Social Success is Building an Emotional Connection 

Building relationships has always been the key to being a successful advisor or agent. Though it may seem hard to believe for some, this can absolutely be done online, through social media. Jim believes that social media allows you to present yourself in a way that allows others to decide whether you match what they want and need, and being pre-qualified in the relationship is a very powerful thing. He shared that research shows many consumers are very interested in buying what advisors have to offer; they’ve done a lot of research and they’re looking for relationships. If you can present yourself in a powerful, engaging way – a human way – they’ll reach out to you.
Matt’s agency perspective brought several concrete steps one can take to build these relationships:

  • When you meet people at local events, follow them, friend them, then invite them to like you. Let them get a sense of who you are before you begin discussing products.
  • Create a sense of community. Do personalized, local interest posts. His agency shares things like ‘Where’s the best apple picking?’, ‘Who has the best pies on Long Island?’, and curated lists the Long Island community will value. He strongly believes in providing value beyond answering insurance questions. This is what keeps people coming back!
  • Interaction is critical! Where a lot of people lose credibility in social media is in the response. Make sure when people engage with your post, you respond to them. Matt gave a hilarious analogy here: If you were at a party and someone came up and said ‘Hi, my name’s Jonathan” and you turned around and walked away, it would be rude. Same goes on social media

What Fuels the Emotional Connection? 

The answer to this question is no great surprise. Christy and Matt agreed a combination of content and brand – a set of attributes you want prospects/customers to think of when they think of you or your agency – were the necessary foundation for building an emotional connection.
For content, Matt shared that “insurance is still sold at kitchen tables and in the back of pickup trucks, but the funnel starts online now; content has to be local and personal.” By this, Matt means that he and his agency invest a lot of time in building custom content that let his brand shine. He noted that using Hearsay is critical for them to schedule their content and ensure compliance, and occasionally share corporate content. The scheduling feature in particular is a favorite, since it allows him to appear to be always accessible. He can schedule posts all day and night, on holidays and have a consistent presence. Consistency is a point that Matt stressed repeatedly.
While Christy sees the value of organic (custom / personalized) content, she knows that it doesn’t come as easily to some agents as others. Her job in the home office is to support the field with ideas, strategies and content to engage with their audiences. She provides plenty of content through the Hearsay Social Library to supplement advisors’ own efforts. She makes sure they have a strong content library, and educates agents on using content in a way to personalize and humanize themselves for validation rather than advertising, which is a trap many inexperienced advisors fall into.
An important note from Jim: he strongly believes that while contests and gimmicks may work, what consumers want today is understanding and advice. There is so much information out there, they’re looking for someone who they can trust to turn to for education. The real prize they are looking for is education.

Final Thoughts

The other big topic we touched on is metrics. At Hearsay, we’ve developed new metric guidelines (KPI suggestions) for companies to evaluate the impact of advisors and agents at each stage of the client journey, as well as actions to be taken with Hearsay Social at each stage to support those goals. I talked through these, Christy talked through what metrics are important to her and Matt shared what tracking helps him as an agency owner. It was a pretty robust discussion so I encourage you to tune in to the recorded version of the webinar to learn more.
I’ll leave you with a story Matt shared as our final thought: Earlier this year, Matt was doing a campaign via traditional marketing (letters) and social media. He was contacted by phone, by someone who saw a post on Facebook through a friend who followed Matt. Because he saw Matt’s information through a trusted connection, he was predisposed to trust Matt. Matt signed this large account that would typically have a 6 month to 1 year sales cycle in just 3-4 weeks!

Get to Know Hearsay: Jill Kiernan, Customer Success Executive

When Jill Kiernan recently joined Hearsay’s Client Services organization from a large life insurance company, I knew I had to feature her story. As someone with years of marketing experience and a deep understanding of Hearsay prior to joining the team, she brings a unique perspective to her role and the customers she supports. Read on to learn about Jill, why she joined the Hearsay team, and the role of a Customer Success Executive!

What is your role at Hearsay and why did you join the company?

I am a Customer Success Executive located in Boston, Massachusetts. On the Customer Success team, our charter is to lead our customers to great outcomes while delivering a great experience.
I joined the company because I have been constantly impressed by the leadership and mission of Hearsay, coupled with their – I guess our, now – product offerings. I wanted to contribute toward that mission, and saw an opportunity to do so given my background as a customer. At the same time, I was looking for a role where I could learn and grow both professionally and personally and knew this was the place for me.

You were very familiar with Hearsay before joining, can you give some background on your previous role at your previous company?

I used to work for Knights of Columbus Insurance, a global charitable organization and life insurance company. In my role as Director of Marketing, I helped the field force (about 1,500 insurance agents throughout the United States & Canada) develop and execute their digital marketing strategies. This included equipping them with the tools they needed to stay relevant in the digital age and connect with today’s social consumer.

What did you love the most about Hearsay from a customer standpoint?

My favorite part about working with Hearsay from a customer standpoint was the trusted partnership from day one. I loved getting to work with a team that helped us develop and implement our program goals and celebrated our successes as the program grew exponentially.
In the digital world that we live in, it can be a challenge for agents to break through and build trust with their prospects. Hearsay’s social tool enabled the agents I worked with to have a turnkey solution to manage their social media accounts and connect with today’s digital consumer. The features within Hearsay made it easy for them to not only share all of the good they were doing in the community and showcase who they were as a person, but also to raise awareness around the importance of planning your financial future and how they could help with that.
Hearsay’s team was there for us every step of the way. From agent onboarding and training to adoption and expansion, they were instrumental in the success of the social program.

What do you love about working in financial services?

I am very passionate about life insurance. Life insurance is one of the most important intangible products you can purchase, yet oftentimes people don’t realize until it’s too late. Having the opportunity to help agents and advisors expand their reach and educate consumers about the importance of life insurance and how it’s there for you when you need it most is very fulfilling. Their work directly impacts and changes people’s lives, it’s humbling to be a part of that. I am inspired every day. At my former company I was able to help a few thousand insurance professionals do this, now I am able to help hundreds of thousands through Hearsay’s solutions.

What excites you most about working at Hearsay?

The people!
Being surrounded by people who are passionate about what they do, collaborating on existing goals as well as creating new ones inspires me. I feel so empowered and supported by my new coworkers at Hearsay. From the day I started in the NYC office to now being remote in Boston, the amount of people who have reached out to help me learn has been incredible. They genuinely care about my growth and want to help me succeed. It’s an awesome feeling. I’m so grateful to be a part of this company.

What’s something that you’ve learned since you’ve joined that has surprised you in a good way about Hearsay?

I’m a newbie… this is the first tech company I’ve worked for so it’s been eye opening. I’m fascinated by all of the people, teams, systems and workflows that collaborate to create, maintain and improve the products. In general I’m very impressed by how easy it is to collaborate on pretty much everything.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given…

Remember who you are, why you started, and where you’re headed.

Favorite place for coffee/food/drinks in your city or a city you travel to frequently?

Rino’s in East Boston – The best Italian food in Boston (their lobster ravioli is to die for and has 3 pounds of lobster meat in them… just sayin), and it helps that Rino’s is conveniently located on my street!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Travel, try new restaurants (I’m a foodie), and spend time with my friends and family.

Transforming IT for Long-Term Success

Four years ago, Mutual of Omaha launched a corporate strategy that placed a high priority on digital transformation to deliver greater value to its customers. As one of the key leaders of this initiative, Chief Information Officer Mike Lechtenberger knew it would take a combination of new digital technologies sourced both internally and externally to successfully complete the mission. Mike recently shared some of the transformation strategy, process and keys to success as the IT operation evolved to a more agile, customer-centric approach.

Digital transformation: It’s all about the business outcome

A common – and understandable – misconception about digital transformation is that it’s all about new technologies. While it’s true that technology is a critical component of these initiatives, it’s also just the tip of the iceberg; enterprises have decades of legacy systems, processes and culture that also need to change to realize the true value of the latest technologies. The true impetus for any new technology is to achieve tangible business results. For technical teams, it can be easy to lose sight of this.

A strategic decision-making framework

As Mutual of Omaha kicked off its digital transformation, the first step was to establish a mission and vision statement that would support its decision-making framework. In this case, as with many digital transformations, the ultimate goal was to better serve their customers.
One of Mutual of Omaha’s core values is “we exist for our customers,” which helps ensure everyone in the company is aligned around their customer-centric mission – from frontline advisors and customer service representatives to corporate operations and IT. Mike credits this organizational clarity as a key driver in the success of transforming the IT operation and how they perceived their role in the company. According to Mike: “We focused internally on our people, helping them adopt a new mindset and expand their skillsets, as well as hiring new people to drive innovation. Our focus on culture is the best thing we could’ve done.”

A move to scalable, agile methodologies and technologies

Within the IT operation, the culture shift was manifested in a couple of ways. The team started moving to more scalable, agile methodologies and technologies, including a preference for buying SaaS and cloud solutions rather than building solutions exclusively in-house. These changes brought meaningful gains in efficiency and cut time and expenses from projects.
“As business becomes increasingly complex, we need to deliver more value in the technology we roll out,” Mike said. “We have to move quickly and efficiently and Agile methodologies and SaaS technologies allow us to that.”
The team also shifted from selecting one-off technologies to fit a specific scenario to evaluating technology by how it complements the company’s mission and fits within the overall ecosystem.
“We took a step back to evaluate the tools we had already purchased and asked, ‘What do we use this tool for? What is its purpose and are we getting value from it? How well does it integrate with the other technologies we use? Is it positioned to grow with us, the industry and technology trends for the next 5, 10, 20 years?’” Mike said.

Technology that complements strategy for enhanced digital experience

Answering these questions helped guide Mutual to technology partners that complement their strategic focus. CRM technology was a big part of that equation, and Mike notes that when it comes to developing a CRM strategy, selecting a partner like Salesforce is only one aspect of the journey. CRM encompasses all the systems that must interact with it, including technology like Hearsay for industry-specific compliant digital communications and workflows, Marketo for marketing automation, as well as the people (customers and advisors) and processes. The goal behind this initiative is to build a true cloud ecosystem.
One of Mutual of Omaha’s overarching goals is to remain relevant to its customers long term, which will require attracting, retaining and developing a modern workforce and recruiting advisors that embrace new digital technologies as they interact with customers.
“One of the best investments we made was to update our digital presence for our Mutual of Omaha advisors to ensure consistent design and branding and an excellent user experience,” Mike said. “Not only does this updated digital experience better serve our customers and support our advisors, it helps us achieve our goal of remaining relevant in the marketplace. It has been a cost-effective and impactful effort and Hearsay has been a great partner.”

In the Spotlight: Josh Bradburn, CFP®, CWS®, Charles Schwab

Each month we put the spotlight on a customer who’s fully embraced digital transformation. We’ll share stories of advisors and agents who are using digital to be more productive, build deeper relationships and increase business, as well as those of distribution, marketing, compliance and IT leaders who successfully led or participated in digital initiatives.

Josh Bradburn was recruited to Charles Schwab by his best friend, straight out of business school from Ball State University. After he ‘bought into the culture on day 1,’ he’s still going strong 12 years later. Josh is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and Certified Wealth Strategist™, and holds several securities and insurance licenses (Series 7, 63, 66, 9, 10, life, health). He lives in Santa Monica and is a financial consultant in Schwab’s Santa Monica branch. After years of being really active in his community and holding board positions at the YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce, he’s been weaving social networking into his daily agenda to extend his reach and build his online reputation.

What’s a typical day like for you?
I usually get to the office around 7am or so, start with a bit of market analysis, check the headlines, indexes and stocks, and move over to email to see what came in overnight. Then, one of the first things I do every single day is use Hearsay. I schedule my social posts based on the current Hearsay content provided by our marketing department. The rest of my day is full of meetings with new and existing clients and with boards of the organizations I serve.

What trends are you seeing in the industry lately?
It’s no longer enough to just put out a short tweet and some hashtags. Bloggers are getting a lot of traction and following because the audience can see them, and that personal touch helps people connect. These trends really align with the rise of ‘millennial money.’ A lot of the younger generation is taking to social media to gain financial literacy and talk about finance, and they want a real human they can trust to teach them.

What social best practices have you adopted?
You have to be active. It’s not enough to post one thing once a week and expect to get any traction. Social media moves so fast that a post disappears 10 minutes after it goes live. You really need to be consistent and responsive, not only with your posts, but also replies, comments and likes of other posts.

You also have to do some customizing, whether it’s adding hashtags or creating your own post — it gets a lot more traction than re-sharing exactly the same posts that others share. I want the audience to see that there’s a real person behind the screen, not a bot posting articles.

I’m also diligent about doing social twice a day. I spend about 15 minutes in the morning sharing content that’s been created for me. I regroup in the afternoon, maybe take a little longer and customize posts or put out original content.

How has Hearsay improved the way you work?
I take a bigger picture view of marketing and I’m playing the long game. I’ve learned to use social and digital marketing from a branding perspective. I wasn’t expecting million dollar referrals off the bat; I was looking to build a name and a brand with an extended audience, where people in my community view me as a go-to financial resource. I started using Hearsay in December of 2017 and really latched on and pushed it to the max. Now I often get people saying ‘I like the article you posted’ or ‘I see you online all the time’ and I’ve gotten some really nice referrals through social media that have turned into actual business.

What platforms are you using?
I use LinkedIn and Twitter, primarily for business, and I use Facebook a bit as well. I like LinkedIn in particular because it’s designed specifically to build your professional network.

What myths would you like to dispel about social media?
The naysayers tell me I’m wasting my time and seem to think their clients aren’t on social media. That couldn’t be further from the truth. People of all ages and all wealth levels get on social media at least occasionally — whether they’re posting vacation pictures or checking in on what family and old friends are up to. I heard recently that the #1 thing people do after they’ve met with a financial advisor is Google them. So it’s important to have a good online presence and reputation. Your prospects and clients are out there and they are looking for you.

Now let me tell you one thing that’s not a myth in financial services: Wow, is it regulated! It is incredibly regulated. When you start mixing finance and social media, you have to be careful. Sometimes the tiniest little thing that you would never think would be an issue may get flagged. But social media can be done and it can lead to revenue.

When you’re not at the office, what do you do for fun?
We just had our first baby, little Lucas. He’s my absolute pride and joy. It’s amazing how your life changes for the positive; it’s so rewarding when I come home and see his smiling face, see how he’s growing and changing right before my eyes. Right now, I spend virtually all of my free time with Lucas. Other than that, I love anything health related — I’ve been actively boxing for a few years, and I love playing tennis and basketball too. My wife and I are also really into food and are on a mission to go to all the 3-star Michelin restaurants we can!

How Charles Schwab Doubled Advisor Social Selling Adoption in One Year

One of the biggest issues wealth management firms have during digital transformation is getting financial advisors to adopt new ways of doing business. The move to a social selling model can be uncomfortable for advisors not well-versed in social media or viewed as a waste of valuable time by those unfamiliar with the power of social selling.

When we saw the success Charles Schwab was having with their Social Networking Activation Program (SNAP), we knew they had cracked the code. Winning our annual Innovator Awards at Hearsay Summit was a good start but, in the spirit of our mission to lift the whole industry we had to share some of their keys to success.

Introducing the SNAP Team

Managing a group of over 1000 advisors, the SNAP team is comprised of seven people, including Amy Heiss, VP of employee activation and engagement. Stacey King, Managing Director of the team, oversees the program strategy and supports the SNAP team in driving program engagement. Rounding out the team are Sean Carey (Senior Team Manager, Social Media), Katie Leimkuehler (Senior Manager, Social Media Coach), Katie Pfledderer (Senior Manager, Social Media Coach), Jake Thompson (Senior Manager, Social Media Coach), and Nia Copeland (Manager, Social Media Coach).

Social Networking Activation Success Stats

The numbers are undeniably impressive. During the 2018 calendar year, the SNAP team were able to:

  • Increase advisors in the SNAP program: 100%
  • Increase the number of Power Users: 67%
  • Decrease inactivity*: to only 35%
  • Grow social post engagement: 333%
  • Increase posts from the Hearsay library: 292%
  • Increase customized library posts: 107%
  • Help SNAP participants grow their overall network size**: 13.5x
  • All-­in-­all, advisors shared nearly 150,000 posts from the Hearsay Content library in 2018 and published over 20,000 original, organic posts.

Five ways Charles Schwab’s SNAP team turns advisors into social sellers

We can’t give away all their secrets but, with permission, here are a few ways Amy, Stacey and the team turn advisors into social sellers.

  1. Provide world class service. SNAP’s team charter is to provide white glove service to Schwab advisors as they make their move to social selling. The team is fortunate to have talented, curious, bright Social Coaches who provide regular coaching to SNAP participants at various stages of their digital journey, helping advisors use Hearsay and develop a social selling strategy to grow their business. In addition to one-on-one coaching and guidance, SNAP’s Social Coaches provide best practices and advice on topics such as time saving and productivity hacks, how to build a personal brand and how and why to create custom content. White glove service from a SNAP Social Coach goes well-beyond 1­-to-1 meetings and expands into more scalable coaching, like webinars and ‘5-­minute drills’ – short web based trainings covering trending topics.
  2. Provide a digital maturity model with a clear path to each next level. Like American Family Insurance, the SNAP team uses a digital maturity model so advisors can gauge their level of understanding and use of social media. Each stage has concrete goals and behaviors to move to the next level.
    • Beginners are new to social media, just getting comfortable posting and starting to define what they’re known for. They heavily rely on Hearsay Campaigns for one­-click easy posting.
    • Learners are starting to post their own content or customize library/Campaign posts, beginning to grow their network and maturing in their content strategy.
    • Social Sellers have grown a substantial number of connections and are building a strong brand around financial acumen and the areas they want to be known for (leadership, family focused, etc.). This is the level where advisors will see a real business impact and the SNAP team expects most advisors to end up here
    • Power Users are driving business more consistently through client acquisition and the recruiting of talent through social media. They have a robust social network, an established personal brand and are as comfortable networking online as they are in person. This level is aspirational and the team expects only 5% of advisors to reach it (though they have been able to help grow this pool by 67% in 2018 to 2% of the overall participant population). It’s not necessary for success but does offer extended benefits.
  3. Set goals. Sales people are goal oriented so setting concrete goals at each stage of the digital maturity model gives them something to set their sights on. A few metrics the team measures are network size (how many connections an advisor has), number of posts and engagement rate. They also measure percentage of custom content. It’s interesting to note that we’ve heard from more than one client that custom content – whether it’s original or corporate content that an advisor puts their own spin on – always outperforms corporate content. This makes sense in an era where people appreciate authenticity.
  4. Make it fun, reward and recognize. Don’t underestimate the value of “fun”; it is critical to success. The SNAP team’s ‘Surprise and Delight’ campaign has a hand in everything from attracting new advisors to moving them further along in their social selling journey to engaging advisors’ social networks. It’s a great example of the way SNAP keeps social media, and the program, top of mind with advisors. Some particularly fun examples include:Social media themed Valentines (I will like you forever, You’re Twitterific) that doubled as advisor business cards
    • A cookie/business card with a haiku on it for ‘Haiku Appreciation Day’ (imagine the social media pics!)
    • Fat Heads of top performers at sales leadership meetings to highlight Hearsay ‘Power Users’
    • Buttons (think “flair” from Office Space) with the faces and names of top Hearsay users ­ all pinned to the coat of the head of sales at internal events ­ to elevate their brand
    • All of these double as rewards for the top advisors who receive them, as well as motivators for other advisors. Each time a Surprise and Delight package goes out or these type of items are on display at events, requests to join the SNAP program always spike.

      “Recognition encourages loyalty. We inject fun at every turn to attract new participants and keep advisors coming back,” says Amy Heiss, Vice President, Employee Activation and Engagement, Charles Schwab

  5. Share success stories. Seeing how other advisors are able to use social media to drive real leads and close business helps other advisors envision themselves having the same success. Just like seeing others get rewards they want, it can act as a flame for the competitive fires. The SNAP team shares success stories everywhere they can to get the word out. There’s a monthly internal podcast where they focus on one program participant who talks about their success; monthly best practices calls where they do the same; and coaches share them through their monthly newsletters.

    Sales meeting SNAP program station promotes top performers

A final note, the Schwab team are also big believers in tracking ROI. In addition to the program metrics they shared, they track both new business and new hires (an important advisor metric where social can make a big impact) sourced by social media through Salesforce.

*  Inactivity is defined as posting less than 10x/quarter; down 11% from 46%
**  From beginning 2017 to end of 2018