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Not Your Grandma’s Website: Welcome to Your New Digital Hub

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. 

Retain and Grow Relationships

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

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

Establish a Cadence

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

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

Surface the Right Behaviors

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

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

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

Deliver a Best-in-Class Client Experience

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

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

Reaching & Attracting the Right Prospect

The First Step in Developing Last-Mile Digital Maturity

As we shared in our first blog post of this series, a new phase of digital maturity is underway. Transformational financial services firms are proactively orchestrating how the field engages with clients in the “last-mile” and guiding seamless handoffs between channels to deliver business outcomes.

Guiding your field to deliver outcomes at scale is difficult. It takes time to set up the right framework, mine the data, and leverage technology to scale efforts across a distributed network of advisors and agents. COVID placed immediate pressure on firms to rethink service offerings and accelerate digital adoption; these changes will be entrenched amongst the most digitally mature.
But transformation doesn’t happen overnight: The first step in the digital maturity journey is building the consistency and scale needed to cultivate brand awareness and acquire leads.

The Building Blocks of Reach & Attract

In this age, a credible digital presence and robust social media profiles are table stakes for advisor and agent validation. Recent research shows it takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form a first opinion of your brand once they’ve seen your profile or website. Not surprisingly, consumers frequently visit a number of sites to conduct research on financial services decisions. Prospects in an investigative phase will gravitate toward advisors with a strong digital presence. Think of it this way—would you go to a restaurant that wasn’t reviewed online?

How can firms help their teams meet this demand? It starts by building a strong social presence across the corporate brand and the field. Tapping into the network effect of social media, firms can reach a wider range of clients and prospects across demographics and regions. But credibility is key: In our analysis, advisors and agents with professional-quality profiles are 7x more likely to be called for a referral.

A cohesive strategy around social and web programs helps drive leads and increase conversion rates – that’s why it’s critical to empower your field with personalized, content-rich and SEO-optimized websites. Leads in financial services are predominantly sourced at the individual level, so a firm’s ability to deliver their field personalized websites at scale, while remaining aligned with corporate messaging, can promote a seamless client journey that captures leads while maintaining a consistent and rich brand experience.

Establishing Digital Credibility

In working with enterprise clients over the past decade, we’ve found a few consistently clear indicators for social media presence success:

  • Personalized, content-rich and SEO optimized websites for >90% of field teams.
  • At least 75% of the field has a complete social media presence. This includes: a professional photo, branding, and information detailing areas of expertise.
  • At least two major social networks are activated. While firms may gravitate toward a particular network, embracing the flexibility to connect with customers on their preferred network—which may be Instagram—is important.

These measurable steps to establishing digital credibility are the building blocks for achieving the consistency and scale needed to build your brand and acquire leads.

Attribution and Measurement

You’ve no doubt heard that what gets measured is managed. Yet one metric that is often underutilized is click-level attribution, which allows firms to evaluate the effectiveness of content, segmentation, and users, as well as assess ROI.

With Hearsay’s URL Attribution tool, firms can tag social media content with unique UTM codes to monitor inbound website traffic from social media down to the hierarchy, user, and content level. This can then be compared to organic, paid and referral traffic, and assigned a tangible ad equivalency value.

For one Hearsay customer, this level of data granularity underscored a significant increase in social traffic, and click-level attribution is now consistently a top driver of overall web traffic. This has had a tangible business impact—alongside their single customer view (a consolidated database which ingests information from their CRM, email and website analytics), social analytics help drive a deeper analytical understanding of their investor base. For instance, they now know prospects arriving on their website from social are more likely to invest than those arriving from other channels.

Supervision to Mitigate Risk

Finally, to mitigate risk and, where necessary, properly supervise client engagement activity, channels need to connect with a platform that allows for scalable monitoring, supervision, and potential remediation of client engagement activity. An essential building block for any digital engagement program is a framework for risk mitigation. When client engagement channels are connected to a unified supervision platform, your teams have a single platform to review multiple channels, streamlining efforts so they can focus more effectively on risk control.

With these foundational pieces in place, mature firms are integrating core technologies to build economies of scale and reach even more clients and prospects.

Next time, we’ll take a look at achieving scale and consistency in the reach and attract phase of lead generation and client engagement. And just like last week, if you can’t wait to learn more, download the full white paper now.

Last Mile Maturity Model

It’s time to assess digital maturity in a more advanced and comprehensive way. To help, we’ve developed the Last-Mile Digital Maturity Model.

Client Connection in a Socially Distanced World

In order to help advisors thrive in the current environment, corporate teams need to rethink how they guide the field through and beyond the present crisis to adapt to new realities and seize the very real opportunities to make their practices stronger than before.

Hearsay Virtual Event Toolkit

From webinars to live social media sessions, coffee hours to “appy” hours and more, virtual events are a great way for advisors and agents to build their brand and build trust. Here’s a whole list of ideas for you to build out for your field.

Beyond COVID – Transforming Client Engagement and Social Selling

Crises like COVID-19 accelerate the need for human touch at digital scale. While the crisis is temporary, the changes to behaviour and digital acceleration we’re experiencing as a result – more remote work, an expansion of digital communications, upgrades in digital processes and tools – are not.