Optimizing content to capture ’shifting client needs’A new marketing study from Hearsay Systems, a leading financial services digital-communications firm, reveals how the financial services industry broke through the restraints of 2020 to engage and stay connected with its client base. Excerpts are presented below, and you can access the full report here.
COVID-19 abruptly and forcefully shifted the social selling landscape. Digital marketers, compliance teams, advisors, and agents quickly pivoted from tried-and-true approaches to test new strategies for the new normal—whether it was an expanded online presence through individual websites, or targeted campaigns based on audience segments.
Absent in-person communications, social media shouldered more of the burden of driving business growth and surfaced opportunities to deliver engaging thought leadership, in addition to sustaining existing relationships. In a year of unprecedented challenges, financial services firms found ways to break through the noise, optimize content to meet new needs, and to maintain a productive presence across the networks that mattered.
Core to that approach was advancing to the next phase of content maturity, with a diversified content mix, and a scalable framework for automating the delivery and execution of the right media on the right channels. Across the board, original content continued to drive the highest levels of engagement, but content topic was also a key influencer. In particular, principles-based content (focused on diversity & inclusion, women, and sustainability) inspired significantly more likes, comments, and shares this past year, as purpose-driven firms gained hearts and minds.
In 2020, social media cemented its role as a strategic business lever within the marketing toolkit, with a vital role to play in the post-pandemic world. We hope that this year’s Hearsay Social Selling Content Study will help you uncover insights, spark creativity and inspire new best practices as you continue to support and empower your agents and advisors to drive business outcomes.
Breaking Through The Digital Noise Was Of The Essence
A comparison of Hearsay customers’ engagement rates for social media from 2019 to 2020 highlights what so many of you have shared about your own experience: With lockdowns in full swing last March, the volume of and engagement with social media posts spiked. As more people spent time online for both business and personal pursuits (remember those weeks packed with Zoom happy hours?), digital noise across all channels increased significantly. But May foreshadowed the consequences of this uptick in sheer volume—a prolonged decrease in engagement rates, as people tuned out in the face of increased competition for eyeballs and attention.
Across the board, savvy advisors and agents stepped up to adopt a more strategic, bespoke approach to leveraging social media. They used previously unexploited features like LinkedIn’s 2nd and 3rd degree connections, InMail and Sales Navigator to expand prospecting efforts and garner new business. They showed up with thoughtful, timely and relevant content to meet customer needs for education and information. In particular, video content represented an effective means of capturing eyeballs: In 2020, 53% of Hearsay’s global customers across all lines of business published more than 247,000 videos on the platform.
They also used in-app messaging and texting to cut through the clutter and speed responses, delivering service that delighted. By carefully considering which content, mediums, and networks could satisfy client needs at the moments that mattered most, financial services firms found ways to meaningfully connect with clients and prospects, reinforcing social selling’s standing as a critical business lever.
Purpose Driven Brands Are Igniting Engagement
Beyond the turbulence wrought by COVID-19, 2020 saw the rise of grassroots activism in favor of a more equitable, sustainable world. Consumers demanded that the brands they choose demonstrate good corporate citizenship in the face of uncertainty and change. Organizations—and by extension, their advisors and agents—had to demonstrate their commitment to doing well while doing good.
A newfound attention to principles-based messaging pervaded the financial services industry. Content that focused on sustainability, diversity, and women drove higher engagement rates across all lines of business, as consumers evidenced enthusiastic support for brands that could articulate and illustrate what they stood for, and how they could serve as an agent of positive transformation. Yet, across all lines of business, the rate for publishing principles-based content was 1%, even though engagement rates were consistently within the top three best-performing categories in terms of engagement, if not the top performer.
It’s Time To Get Smart With Compliance
Part and parcel of an advanced content strategy is a right-sized approach to compliance. Having a risk-based lexicon, employing regular analysis of flagged content and making frequent updates, all help minimize false positives and improve supervision effectiveness. These best practices contribute to compliance hygiene that can make your system more
But a diversified content strategy shouldn’t—and doesn’t—impose additional administrative or supervisory burden on your support teams when it’s shaped and executed in a thoughtful manner. A firm that can leverage pre-cleared, modified and campaign content to reduce alert volume has up-leveled their compliance game. Start by analyzing and contextualizing terms that trigger frequent alerts. Are these areas that you want your advisors and agents discussing with clients? If so, then firms can focus on offering off-the-shelf, pre-approved content in that area, effectively whitelisting these terms through a pre-approved structure. In practice, this significantly reduces the volume of alerts, and frees your supervisors to focus on more critical, value-add areas.
Consider a wealth management firm that includes “tax” in its lexicon. Arming the field with “compliance-ready” modifiable posts stating that “Tax season is upon us; don’t forget to contribute to your IRA before April 15th” can minimize the laborious task of dismissing alerts while ensuring that advisors and agents can put their own personal spin on the story.