Hearsay’s fourth annual Social Selling Content Study analyzes data from more than 200,000 advisors and agents, from over 100 leading global financial services firms who used the Hearsay platform in 2020, to uncover trends and insights.
Hearsay’s 2021 Social Selling Content Study aggregates and analyzes data from over 100 leading global financial services firms and their cumulative 200,000 advisors and agents who used the Hearsay platform during the calendar year 2020.
We’ll share the learnings uncovered through the data and discuss the implications for sales and marketing leaders trying to support their advisors’ success in the field.
Next Tuesday, Hearsay will kick off its 9th annual Hearsay Summit, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to convene the financial industry’s best and brightest minds on our virtual stage!
Last year’s pandemic altered social selling, and advisors and agents were quick to pivot from tried-and-true approaches to test new strategies for the new normal. Across all lines of business, Hearsay customers embraced the opportunity to break through the noise by accelerating digital adoption and scaling efficiencies in nurturing authentic client engagement.
At this year’s summit, not only will attendees hear insights and learnings from industry thought leaders, they’ll get to “choose their own adventure” when it comes to learning and networking. Here’s just a sampling of what’s on offer:
- Keynote presentations from innovators like Canva Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki and Starbucks CMO Brady Brewer. Guy will cover his top ten tips for igniting change at your firm, and Brady will share how Starbucks uses principles and storytelling to guide the team in their last-mile interactions with customers.
- An Executive Panel featuring leaders at First Republic Bank, Northwestern Mutual and EY, who’ll discuss balancing digital innovations with human relationships, attracting next gen advisors and customers, and leveraging their legacies for future success.
- Breakout sessions where digital transformation leaders share how they’ve successfully scaled one-to-one customer engagement
- Collaborative Think Tanks comprised of curated peer groups
- A chance to collect Spark Points that you can redeem for e-gift cards, when you attend general and breakout sessions, or participate in Speed Networking or Think Tanks
Haven’t registered yet? Now is the time to save your spot at this exclusive, complementary event. Say yes to igniting connections, and unlocking the full potential of authentic human-client engagement. We can’t wait to see you there!
For years, the humble website faded into the background, quietly working while emails zipped out, social media dazzled the business world, and live events grabbed attention with flashy keynote speakers and deal-closing conversations.
In 2020, everything changed. From local insurance offices and retail bank branches, to bank headquarters and popular steakhouses, the world stood still. High-profile events and industry conferences were cancelled or converted to virtual-only experiences. Email inboxes and social media feeds were flooded with updates, brand messages, and webinar invitations.
Many consumers were suddenly stuck at home, hungry for information and limited to the internet. A tidal wave of questions and requests hit the financial industry, sending advisors, agents and bankers scrambling to respond. With no in-person options available and an astonishing volume of inquiries that could not be met with a one-to-one approach, the importance of a broadcast approach, via personal websites and digital interactions skyrocketed.
COVID-19 underscored the increasing need for a comprehensive digital strategy that includes professional websites at the field level. But even before the pandemic, there were a number of reasons why establishing a robust website program for bankers or advisors was a long-term strategic requirement. Although there exist several website types that provide specific tactical benefits, including listing pages and landing pages, we believe the most important and impactful website is the multi-page site that showcases an advisor’s professional experience, coverage areas and credentials, while capturing leads and providing curated content.
A robust website effectively serves as a digital hub that empowers each advisor or agent to:
Welcome visitors to an “always open” digital office
Websites provide the opportunity to create a favorable first impression and share in-depth information that establishes credibility and builds trust. They allow an employee’s personality, experience, and approach to client service to come to life in a way that’s available whenever a prospect is ready to learn, whether that’s 3:00 am on a Tuesday or noon on a Sunday.
Connect the digital dots
Consumers search for information in a variety of mediums. There is no “linear path” anymore. A prospective client may start on LinkedIn, the next on Google and a third by reaching out for recommendations via an email to work colleagues. Advisors must meet consumers where they are by making information accessible across all digital touchpoints. Adding a URL that leads to her polished website across all her social media profiles (and in her email signature) achieves this.
Provide a localized and curated experience
Trust in institutions is at an all-time low, while trust in peers and local experts is at an all-time high. This means that someone is more likely to trust the advisor working with his cousin or best friend than a high-profile company that runs ads during his favorite television show. Giving an advisor the ability to connect at a one-to-one level with local prospects by promoting a local event (such as a charity drive or tailgating event), tailoring content to a specific audience (such as boaters in South Florida), and curating articles or blog posts around his or her coverage area (such as advisory expertise for generational wealth transfer or savings plans for first-time homebuyers) creates a sense of connection and personal relevance that a corporate website or program cannot.
As they say, you never have a second chance to make a first impression. When busy or anxious consumers are searching for a wealth advisor, mortgage banker, or insurance agent, they are seeking someone with the knowledge, experience and resources to help them achieve their goals. A robust website, acting as the digital hub that connects prospective clients across all possible touchpoints, is a savvy way to own that impression and stand out in the current environment.
If you still need to be convinced of video’s marketing efficacy, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you’re already bought into video and just aren’t sure how to start, this should help get you from lights, to camera, to action.
When the only tool you have is a hammer…
Video works, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for every job. Who are you trying to talk to? What do you hope they’ll think, feel, or do after seeing your post? If after thinking it through it feels like you might be using video for the sake of using video, switch gears and save your filming fun for another day.
The right way to use video
There’s no one right way to use video. Like every other trick in the content marketer’s bag, the magic is in knowing your audience and creating an experience that makes sense within the context of the chosen channel.
Imagine, for example, a financial advisor who’s looking for a way to mix some personal posts in with more professional fare as a way to nurture existing client relationships and stay top of mind. She shoots a 10-second velfie (video selfie) of her daughter and herself showing off their freshly dyed Easter eggs, and posts it to LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram with a text teaser that reads, “Teaching my daughter early to never put all her eggs in one basket. #teachablemoment #assetallocation”.
By posting a short, relatable video with a wink towards her work, she bridges the different vibes of the three channels she chose with content people are inclined to like, comment on, and share with their friends: “This is that financial advisor I was telling you about. Great person, and really knows her money stuff.”
Now imagine another advisor, also looking for a teachable moment, who decides an explainer video would be a great way to help his clients understand asset allocation, while also reminding them of his expertise. He shoots a 7-minute video of himself talking through considerations and theories, then posts it to Facebook with the text lead, “Understanding Asset Allocation.”
It’s possible he’s such a dynamic speaker that people will be riveted till the final frame. It’s more likely that Facebookers who see his post won’t even slow their scroll for a long video with a title that sounds like homework. Even if their curiosity is piqued enough to take a peek, seven minutes of complex talk with no visual support could lead them to bounce without engaging. Even worse, the experience may put them off, causing them to feel like they’d prefer an advisor who “gets” them better. Yikes!
Which reminds me
Everybody wants to know the optimal duration for video. Here’s the thing: If it’s interesting, relevant, and timely, or if it informs or entertains or even just pleasantly distracts, then people will watch…and keep watching. But if it’s none of those things, they’ll stop, drop, and scroll within seconds.
That said, one of my favorite co-workers from my Franklin Templeton Investments days used to tell his team to “be brief, be bold, and be gone.” He wasn’t talking about social media content, but it’s not bad video advice.
Final cut: Video is a reliable means for brands and people to make connections with clients and prospects in a way that’s more compelling than pictures plus text. Still, the format can’t compensate for storytelling fails, so think about your audience, put yourself in their shoes, then create a content experience worth having.
Bonus: I made a video about how to make a not-horrible video! Watch it here.
In keeping with annual tradition, the US Financial Industry Regulators have published their respective Examination Priorities for 2021 (See SEC, FINRA, NAIC, OCC). Not surprisingly, they share a number of overlaps, with the pandemic and the implications of a potential continuation of remote work playing a large role across the board. Regulators continue to examine how financial services firms interact with their audiences, in order to ensure a responsible approach geared towards fair and balanced outcomes.
Although they’ve clearly outlined specific activities they view as counter to fair and balanced outcomes, it is clear that regulators are moving more towards principles-based enforcement. The perennial reminder to include appropriate disclosures, robust supervision regimes, and consistent books and records is, of course, restated within these priorities letters. However, an important call-out is that the regulators are becoming more explicit with regards to checking for non-monitored activities, in the spirit of refocusing towards outcome-based priorities.
FINRA, in particular, has expressed the most explicit requirements around proactive monitoring for communications with the public. Not only are member firms required to monitor unapproved channels, they’re also required to stay abreast of new tools, features and channels, and must ensure their policies are up-to-date with regards to what’s permissible on existing and future channels.
Not all firms are required to adhere to FINRA’s strict requirements; however in our view, this is a critical development, as firms have historically been able to remain confident that a policy-based prohibition on certain communications channels was sufficient for regulators. As the regulatory environment progresses, firms should review their policies and procedures to expand their prohibition policies. Ideally, firms should update their electronic communications surveillance systems to monitor for “channel-hopping” (moving from monitored to non-monitored channels, e.g. email to text), and include robust testing procedures to establish a reasonable basis for disproving channel-hopping.
For assistance updating your policies and procedures, or preparing for upcoming regulatory audits, don’t hesitate to reach out to Hearsay’s in-house Compliance practice, or your sales representative.
In a recent webinar, Mark McKenna, Putnam Investments’ Head of Global Marketing, joined Hearsay’s VP of Marketing, Leslie Leach, to highlight key findings from Putnam Investments’ 8th Annual Social Advisor Study, along with year-end data from Hearsay’s platform. Not surprisingly, this year’s results were a little different, as agents and advisors alike pivoted their strategies to adapt to a socially distanced world.
Here are four key findings from the program:
Social media not only sustains, but drives new client relationships
With a huge shift away from in-person communications and events, digital noise on traditional channels increased significantly, with an accompanying decrease in engagement. Although advisors may have already been connected with clients on social media pre-pandemic, the crisis drove an increase in sheer volume of interactions. Not only were advisors expected to communicate with current clients, they also leveraged their online presence to garner new business, exploiting features like LinkedIn’s view of 2nd and 3rd degree connections, InMail and Sales Navigator to effectively prospect to an expanded network. The study also found that lesser-used networks like Instagram had higher engagement rates, highlighting an area of opportunity for advisors.
Retaining authenticity remains critical for breakthrough
Being able to stand out among the noise is now a crucial day-to-day consideration for advisors. Not only do they need to provide thought leadership via social media, they also need to be more personal, striking a balance between providing corporate content and connecting on a more authentic level with clients. Advisors who shared more personalized content were rewarded with higher engagement rates across their social media accounts.
Pro tip: Leslie recommended leveraging Hearsay’s modified content templates as a scalable solution. “By their nature, modified content templates are easier and faster to review from a supervision perspective, combining corporate scale with the ability to easily personalize content at an individual level.”
Direct messaging satisfies the need for speedier response time
Because advisors could no longer hold in-person meetings, the use of digital tools like social DMs, text messages, mobile calls, and emails, grew significantly, along with a more pervasive client expectation for quicker response times.
An advisor’s response time can make or break a client relationship, and advisors rose to the challenge. Texting conversations on Relate, Hearsay’s compliant texting solution were up 3x compared with 2019, while the average response rate was 13 minutes, versus the industry standard of 14 hours for an email. With more widespread acceptance, and the ability to enforce compliance, in-app messaging is proving to be an indispensable tool for field teams.
Support from the home office matters
With a shift to remote work, advisors still require the same amount of support—if not more—from their home offices. Advisors all learn differently, so remembering that different training modalities work for different people, and providing various learning tracks, templates and models, helps to speed adoption. It’s important for advisors to connect where their clients want to connect, and with proper support for the home office, advisors can be more efficient in their client engagements.
A huge thanks to both Mark and Leslie for sharing the key findings and observations from Putnam’s Social Advisor Study and Hearsay’s 2020 platform usage and results! Sign up to access the on-demand webinar here.
This is the final post in the “Last Mile of Digital Maturity” series. Read part 1 here, part 2 on reaching and attracting the right prospect here, part 3 on scale and orchestration to target the right prospect here, and part 4 on nurturing and converting new business here.
While new client acquisition is important, meeting overall business targets demands that firms maintain and build on existing relationships. The best leading indicator for continued business growth and retention is a steady volume of 1-to-1 conversations with clients. More consistent, personal communications translate to deeper relationships which build trust.
Establish a Cadence
We all know that relationships are built over time, whether personal or professional. It’s critical that your field regularly engages with clients—reaching out on a birthday or graduation, proactively scheduling annual reviews or recommending coverage changes—while also staying top of mind during less predictable moments of market volatility or turmoil.
To develop these communication rhythms, firms need to embrace digital channels that encourage usage, promote the right behaviors, and measure adoption, as digital programs are of little value if they’re not being utilized.
Surface the Right Behaviors
Core systems like CRM are important to the enterprise, but self-recording activities are time- consuming and take away from a rep’s core business. Often, data doesn’t get entered unless automated, and many firms have no idea how frequently and effectively their reps are engaging with prospects and customers.
Without this data, corporate marketing messages can be off-target or tone deaf. To truly understand the last-mile engagements that deliver an authentic experience, firms must arm themselves with the data that enable them to deploy a more advanced, personalized content strategy aimed at cross-sell and up-sell. Likewise, sales and distribution leaders can better assess the success rate of various techniques.
Mature firms are addressing this process head on by automating this process, ensuring interaction data feeds business intelligence, CRM and core systems to guide actions. Data holds the key to these insights—but firms must invest in an infrastructure that automatically captures this activity. Only then can you identify the opportunities that truly optimize your approach. (Learn more about how strategic integrations allow firms to enrich CRMs and turn every rep into their best rep in our white paper.)
Deliver a Best-in-Class Client Experience
In financial services, the most telling indicator of client retention is last-mile engagements. Most programs should aim to facilitate a minimum of 10 personal touch points per client, per year. The most mature firms leverage a digital platform and data to guide the field to deliver a consistent experience to every client, maximizing the value of these touch points to drive optimal behaviors. By guiding and lightly prompting field outreach during key moments, they’re increasing the likelihood of more consistent outcomes that translate to deeper, more entrenched client relationships.
Interested in helping your field build deeper relationships and grow their business? Download our white paper now.