For most of us, marketing is like going to the doctor: You have to do it. The health of your practice depends on it. But it can sometimes be a pain.
Fortunately, there now exists a plethora of next-gen tools to make your online marketing efforts as pain-free as possible.
Blogging With The Best
You know you need a website. You're pretty sure you need a blog, too. Thousands of marketing agencies out there would be happy to take both tasks off your hands. But if you're more of a DIY-er, then several website and blogging options are available to you.
For example, WordPress and Blogspot are free Web-based site-builders and blogging platforms that allow you to create and edit posts in real time, without needing any specialized coding knowledge. (They also feature post archiving and the ability to delay posts pending compliance's approval, which helps you satisfy regulatory guidelines.)
In addition, Tumblr—also free—is an up-and-coming blogging platform that doubles as a social media service; followers have the ability to like, share and comment on posts as they might a Facebook post.
All three options are increasingly optimized for mobile use, allowing you to update your blog on-the-go right from your smartphone or tablet PC.
Social Media Smarts
These days, social media isn't just a tool. It's a necessity, especially to reach younger, more tech-savvy prospects.
Keeping up with social media, however, isn't a simple task, as the Big Three networks—Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter—all move at a lightning-fast pace.
Integrated social media platforms—such as Hearsay Social, Finect and AdvisorSocial—allow financial advisors to create and manage posts across several social media networks, including the Big Three. Using these tools, you can schedule posts, monitor conversations and topic threads, and track your follower counts, all from one convenient dashboard. The vast majority are also Web- or cloud-based, meaning you won't have to shell out for costly hardware upgrades.
In addition, most professional social media platforms for financial advisors also include the ability to archive and record posts—an absolute necessity, given the SEC's social-media marketing guidelines. Among the usual rules against posting customer testimonials or promoting performance, the SEC also stipulates that social media posts must be documented in a permanent archive in order to be considered compliant.
Dozens of vendors offer tools to construct comprehensive email marketing campaigns, including market commentaries, e-newsletters, articles and sales letters. Old standbys—like Constant Contact and MailChimp—have faithfully served businesses of all sizes and industries for years.
Some newer platforms, however, are specifically designed for financial advisors. Morningstar, for example, offers an e-newsletter builder that pulls from its own article archive, saving you the time and effort of writing articles yourself. Advisor Products, meanwhile, offers a more modular interface, where you can mix and match your articles with theirs.
Both products—indeed, most content marketing platforms—provide analytics tools, so you can track who opens, reads and shares your messages. They also allow you to build and upload custom email lists, segmenting recipients by demographics or by how frequently they wish to be contacted. That's a must, since the same sales letter that appeals to a Gen X-er probably won't fly with a baby boomer staring down retirement.
And ultimately, that's the most important thing to remember about all marketing fintech: The technology you choose is only as good as the message you send.
ANDERMAN ON SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT
Wayne Anderman is managing partner at The Private Wealth Management Group, the investment and planning advice arm of H.D. Vest Financial Services. To stay in touch with his clients, his firm uses Hearsay Social, a comprehensive social media platform built specifically for financial services and insurance firms.
Before you adopted Hearsay Social, were you using any social media?
I was a LinkedIn user for many years. But due to regulatory constraints, I was not able to use the name of my firm, as we had no feasible way to archive, monitor or filter our communications.
Why Hearsay? What benefits does it offer?
One of the greatest benefits is that we can rest assured all our compliance and archiving needs will be met. The platform's robust back-office functionality and screening measures keep us in good regulatory standing.
Another benefit is its easy communication tool for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. A single content article, link or original work can be posted across all three of the social media behemoths in just a few seconds and with just one click.
Who do you use Hearsay to communicate with?
We've found that it enhances the personal, human connections we've already made. Hearsay Social gives us a consistent, reliable, original voice with which to speak to a network of well over 1,000 people and businesses—99% of whom we already have real-world connections with.
As we use social media more and more as our digital business cards, Hearsay Social has allowed us to extend our reach far beyond physical business cards.
How does Hearsay help you with content marketing efforts?
It gives us a distribution channel for information that both keeps our audience current and reflects our relevance to their financial well-being. For example, we use its curated content library of prewritten, compliant and often personally developed articles and links, which saves us hundreds of hours, if not more, in our marketing efforts.
Can you evaluate the success of your social media marketing efforts?
Yes. The metrics Hearsay Social provides are fabulous. New connections made on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are provided on the application's home page, as are social signals from all our existing connections, friends and followers. We can review and respond to any changes in our followers' lives.
In many cases, we can be the first to contact our clients about significant personal changes they've shared on social media. Once we're notified of an important event, we then get in front of our connections with real-world reach-outs, by phone or email. So Hearsay Social has raised our ability to communicate empathetically and compassionately with our network.
Why do you think it's important for advisors to have a social media presence?
Putnam Investment's 2015 Social Advisor study reveals that over 80% of advisors use social media, and approximately 79% acquire new clients via social media. Social media still offers a competitive advantage for those who use it the right way, but my best guess is that, as the adoption rate increases, that advantage will become a necessity, not a differentiator.
Being on social media is a gateway for your clients, referrals and prospects to understand who you are, what your brand is and how you differentiate. It's your unique face for the world to see, and your unique voice for the world to listen to. And it provides your clients with 24/7 access to you. Thinking locally and acting globally—that's what your social media presence can provide.