Digital marketing is poised to truly come of age in 2015. No longer a marketing nice-to-have or a trendy add-on, digital marketing moves into the necessary category for businesses of all sizes in the New Year.
Driving this change is the growing attraction of the Internet for all things consumer- and business-oriented, plus the increasing access by mobile devices. Traditional mediums are becoming passé and dollars and attention are now shifting towards digital marketing. Indeed, it’s no longer just us marketing types who are pointing at the power of the Internet; now, many leading c-suite execs are seeing the value as well.
While you may not have the resources the mega companies of the world can use, you do have the ability to realign your marketing dollars to better focus on digital marketing. Plus, unlike those huge companies, you know your clients and prospects really well so you can better target your efforts.
To keep pace with this growing phenomenon, apply these top 2015 digital marketing trends to your business:
Customer experience—The giving doesn’t stop after the holiday season! Focus on giving rather than getting in 2015 to put the needs of your clients and prospects at the forefront of your digital marketing. The inbound marketing approach that began to gain momentum in 2014 will explode in 2015 as businesses really turn their attention on the customer and the customer experience.
Write and write some more—Yes, this sounds simple, but good, crisp writing is becoming an increasingly important marketing tool. Your clients and prospects want to know what you think; they want you to help them understand the issues and news that affects them most. Stale website content, old blogs, and minimal social postings are now viewed with disdain. Learn how to write engaging content and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Storytelling—Your followers also want content that is relatable interesting, and personal. The secret to storytelling is getting your readers to picture themselves right in the midst of your tale. This means your words need to address their interests, concerns, and fears— and do so in a friendly and understanding tone.
Visuals—The saying may be old, but it’s still applicable: a picture is worth a thousand words. Alongside your compelling content, include photos, graphs, illustrations, videos and infographics to help better communicate your points. Sometimes, the best way to tell a story is without any traditional copy; check out my infographic on ERISA. It provides a historical perspective on a complex subject that could easily have become overwhelming with just words alone.
Podcasts and videos—Round out your digital marketing reach by pursuing voice and video, particularly if you feel comfortable in this environment. Every morning I listen to podcasts and obtain information that I would frankly not get otherwise. Just this month I launched my Women Rocking Wall Street podcast series, and I plan to continue my live and recorded webcasts as well.
Analytics—Track your digital marketing efforts on the leading social media sites. Services such as Google Analytics help you understand what platforms work best with your followers, plus what types of posts and campaigns drive the most traffic back to your website to help you book business.
Mobile communication—Smart phones and tablets are now the norm for many people using the Internet, so make sure your sites and postings are mobile-friendly. This is particularly important with websites, which if not designed to accommodate mobile devices, can be hard to load or show strange layouts and make page access difficult (use your phone to check out your website). Granted, you may have to hire some pros to update your website, but it’s well worth the resources.
Have you been standing at the edge of the social media pool waiting for the water to get just a wee bit warmer? Are you now ready to take the plunge? Well, before you throw off your towel and jump in, take a moment to outline your social media goals.
Goals? Yes, goals. Sure, everyone (including me) keeps telling you to add social media to your marketing efforts, but the nagging comes with a caveat: you need a plan!
Your goals should take several key factors into account, and all of them should align with your overall marketing objectives.
7 Keys to Establishing Your Social Media Goals
- Brand perception. What do you want to say about yourself and your services? What makes you special among other advisors in the industry? Your social media brand message goal must be consistent with all your other communication formats so you don’t confuse your customers.
- Brand awareness. Social media provides multiple touch points and opportunities for showcasing your brand, so what sites best meet your needs? Consider your clients and prospects and the platforms they use, and how they use them. For many business people today, the two most popular channels are Twitter and LinkedIn, but do a quick analysis of your customer usage. If your goal is to increase awareness, you need to be present on the right sites.
- Public Relations. Think only big companies need public relations? Think again. You can use social media for PR; just make sure you have something to say (see Thought Leadership below). Industry news is always more interesting for your followers and local media with a personal, real-world perspective. If you do issue press releases, promote them on your social media sites and provide a “why should someone care” introduction in addition to the link.
- Thought Leadership. Social media is one of the best ways to establish your “give” or value-add. What type of thought leadership can you provide? Customers can easily delete your emails, posts, and updates, so you need to offer something worthwhile. If your goal is to establish yourself as an “expert” be sure you are giving, not selling.
- Lead Generation. Will you take advantage of the search capabilities on LinkedIn to help drive leads? As a LinkedIn member you have access to an incredible database where you can view your connections’ connections and look for new opportunities. You can also follow your clients and prospects to keep up on their news and identify possible changes or needs that could become business opportunities.
- Competitive Intelligence. Do you want to use social media to keep an eye on the competition? If this is one of your goals, check out your competitors’ social media sites to see what they are saying about themselves and their brands. Likewise, investigate their connections. Don’t forget to look at both personal profiles and company pages.
- Engagement and Time Management. Here’s the biggie: Just how much time are you willing to devote to social media? You need to set up a realistic goal for yourself. Social media is invaluable, but only if you can make a strong commitment and be consistent with your effort. Consider your resources and the resources of those who might help you, and then map out a plan and calendar.
Once you consider these key factors, you should be able to identify your key goals for social media. Maybe you want to clarify and differentiate your brand while amplifying your public relations. Or, perhaps, your goals center on providing more thought leadership with blogs and social media posts.
Social media is now a must for business; don’t be afraid to make the jump. Do it with forethought and a plan, so you know your goals and can reach for them with ease!
A strong online presence starts with a well-designed website, especially for financial advisors as more and more people are turning to the web for financial advice and information about firms.
You may already have a website, but it is working as well as it could to effectively market you and your firm? Are you wondering if your site is ready for a refresh? Here’s a good checklist to help determine if it’s time for an upgrade.
Your website doesn’t reflect that you’re keeping up with best practices in web design.
We’ve all seen those websites—outdated fonts, broken images, and confusing navigations. Make sure your site showcases that your firm is equipped to handle the modern-day needs of your clients.
You’re not seeing results from your website. Ever.
Your website should be a tool where you effectively market your business. Whether it’s placing easy call-to-action forms for prospects to get in touch with you, or simply having easy-to-find contact information, your website should help you drive new business and retain existing clients.
Clients can’t find the information they need on your site.
If visitors of your website can’t find what they are looking for quickly, they will become frustrated and ultimately leave your site before contacting you. Ensure your site’s navigation is well thought out and allows users to quickly and efficiently find what they are looking for.
Site optimization is low – meaning your organization is left in the dust when potential clients are searching for providers.
Is your site SEO-friendly? Can you create searchable URLs? If not, you may be missing out on major potential for business growth. For example, a Pew Internet survey found that 91% of online adults use search engines to find information on the web.
Your website lacks valuable tools for your readers.
Are you providing as much value as possible to your readers with tools like financial calculators? Giving your audience helpful tools will keep them on your site longer, increasing the opportunities for conversion.
When viewing on a mobile device or tablet, your website is a mess.
More than 1.2 billion people access the web from their mobile devices, and 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile to give visitors a seamless experience.
Social media is still something you’re considering.
Stop considering—your firm is falling behind if you’re not on social media, and you should be connecting the digital experience for your clients on your website, too. Now that social media can be archived to meet compliance expectations, there is no excuse not to have a social strategy.
You have social media in place, but can’t push your website content to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Financial website platforms make publishing the content from your website to your social networks as easy as the click of a button. Keep your readers engaged and draw in new users with instant social push.
The content on your website is outdated.
Your website should constantly be refreshed with new, relevant content, including videos. Ensure your website platform allows you to have ready-access to fresh content.
Making updates to your website is challenging and time consuming.
Making updates to your website should be a painless process. Consider investing in a website with drag-and-drop functionalities that don’t require complicated coding to make simple updates.
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these scenarios, it may be time to consider updating your website!