The Value of Video Marketing

video marketing

The value of incorporating video into your overall marketing strategy cannot be understated. No matter the platform, video outperforms every other advertising medium by a longshot. The answer to why video marketing is so effective can be summarized in one word – psychology. Televised messages have become commonplace. We tend to look for those connections that might exist between ourselves and the person we see on the screen. This level of emotional engagement isn’t as easily or quickly found with other mediums. A good video marketing strategy will help you tap into the audience’s emotions and establish that sense of trust and credibility.

Why Advisors Need Video Marketing

Video marketing is becoming increasingly more prevalent for advisors. According to a study by Wibbitz, those working in the financial industry are leveraging video marketing more than those in any other industry but manufacturing. So, have you jumped on the bandwagon yet?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth far more. According to a report from Forrester Research, one video is worth about 1.8 million words. This doesn’t mean the articles and emails you draft aren’t important parts of the overall process. However, a short video message is a more effective way to capture attention. This is especially true for those who love faster-paced, “time-is-money” lifestyles, like the 65% of senior executives (a.k.a. high-end clients) who stated they visited a website related to a video they had watched (Impact).

Delivering Your Video Message

Not only is video a powerful tool by itself, it adds value to most other digital marketing tools you have at your disposal. Your emails, social media engagement, and website can all benefit by being utilized as delivery methods for your video. Look at the insights below to determine how to best connect your audience with your message.

Email

Social Media

Website

As we move farther into the age of streaming media, advisors who utilize video can expect increased engagement, interaction, and conversion rates. And, with that, more business.

LinkedIn as a Prospecting Tool

Robot professor explains the essence of the concept of social media. Robotic artificial intelligence and modern learning system. Cyborg teacher pointer at black chalkboard. blue wall background

The term “social media” is often thought to be interchangeable with Facebook. The association is for good reason. Facebook is arguably the most popular social platform out there and used by businesses across every industry imaginable. But that doesn’t mean it holds the most value. Advisors casting their nets for bigger fish would be wise to invest some marketing resources into LinkedIn.

The social network for professionals offers ideal opportunities for prospecting and lead generation. LinkedIn has been named the most used social media network by Fortune 500 companies. This could be related to the fact that the platform hosts more than half-billion professional users worldwide. Broken down into smaller categories, this equates to:

  • 90 million senior-level influencers
  • 63 million decision-makers
  • 40 million mass affluent professionals
  • 17 million opinion leaders
  • 10 million C-level executives
  • 6 million IT decision-makers
  • 3 million MBA graduates

As you can see, LinkedIn is ripe with high-value and qualified prospects. All you need to do is connect with them.

Targeting LinkedIn Users

LinkedIn offers a robust and detailed targeting system. The platform allows you to build audiences from several metrics no longer available through Facebook. These include metrics like the industry in which they work, details about their company, education, interests, and job information (function, title, seniority, etc.). Use these in tandem with location (the only required targeting field) and demographic data, such as age and gender, for a more focused campaign.

Keep in mind that a narrowly focused campaign will be limited in reach. LinkedIn recommends avoiding using more than three targeting fields when building your audience. The size of your audience depends on the type of post you’re promoting.

  • 50,000 + for sponsored content and text ads
  • 15,000 + for message ads

Experimenting with your targeting criteria can lead to more successful campaigns over time. Try performing A/B tests when getting started with your campaign. Do this by duplicating your campaign and switching out one or two metrics to see which yields better results.

Posting to LinkedIn

The type of content you post will depend on the results you want from the campaign. Like any other content-based marketing effort, relevancy is key. Your content should be tailored to the intended audience. Sharing articles that your audience might find useful or informative is a good engagement tactic. If the shared content isn’t your own, offer a bit of analysis to add a personal touch to the post. Using images, infographics, and videos will increase organic engagement.

Keep these best practices in mind when posting to linked in:

  • Keep ad headlines under 150 characters
  • The descriptive text you use should be under 100 characters to avoid truncation
  • Larger images catch more eyes than thumbnails. LinkedIn recommends images that are 1200 x 627 pixels
  • Include a Call-to-Action that entices the audience to engage with your content

LinkedIn Marketing Stats

Numbers don’t lie. The stats below speak to the value LinkedIn can add to your marketing efforts.

  • LinkedIn is used by:
    • 50% of Americans with a college degree
    • 45% of professionals earning more than $75k a year
    • 33% of adults aged 30 – 49
    • 24% of adults aged 50 – 64
  • 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to publish content
  • LinkedIn users post 2 million articles, videos, and other pieces of content on a daily basis
  • Posts with images get twice as many comments as those without
  • Video posts earn five times as many comments
  • 80% of B2B leads on social media come from LinkedIn
  • InMail (LinkedIn’s messaging system) has a 300% higher response rate than email

Digital vs. Traditional Marketing

Marketing is a necessity for agents and advisors. If consumers don’t know you exist, you aren’t going to get their business. Those of you who have been in business long enough probably remember when your options were limited to what we now call “traditional” marketing methods. For years, we had to rely upon TV, radio, print, and direct mail to get our messages out to consumers.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case. The digital era has opened us up to a wide variety of ways to get in front of prospects and communicate with consumers. But that doesn’t mean digital is the be-all-end-all of marketing your business. Traditional methods are still viable and, in many cases, necessary. A good marketing strategy requires balance. And balance, in turn, requires insight. To help agents and advisors make the most of their marketing efforts, we look at some the key difference between digital and traditional marketing.

Cost

Traditional:

The money you spend on traditional methods will depend on the medium used and the frequency of the campaign. For TV or radio ads to be effective, they need to run multiple times a day and during times when more people are tuned in. This can get expensive as most outlets charge more for peak air time. When you factor in production costs (or layout, print and postage fees for direct mail), these campaigns can quickly consume your marketing budget.

Digital:

By comparison, digital marketing and advertising is very cost-friendly and flexible. Social media platforms allow you to set a budget before launching the campaign and make adjustments as needed. While it will cost more to run an extended and high-frequency campaign, you have the ability to dial things back and change course mid-stream if the campaign isn’t going as well as expected. This is where the benefits of analytics come into play. You can get real-time results on the performance of your campaign, measure ROI, and gain valuable, data-driven insights so you know what’s working and (more importantly) what isn’t working.

Reach, Control & Presence

Traditional:

Unless you buy ad space/air time with an outlet that caters to a niche audience, you have little to no control over who might (or might not) be exposed to your message. Even then, there’s no guarantee that your target market will be actively watching or listening when your ad runs. The same concerns apply to print and direct mail. Will the consumer stick your mailer on the fridge so they can come back to it later? Or will it land in the recycling bin?

Digital:

Digital ads and sponsored posts follow the consumer and can be shared across multiple channels. Social media, Google AdWords, email services all provide the benefits of segmentation, customized audiences, and geo-targeting. This hyper-focused delivery allows you to target specific demographics, regions, and markets. Digital also comes with an inherent “always on” factor. This means that anytime a consumer is online, they could potentially come across your content.

Interactivity

Traditional:

Traditional methods of content delivery are a one-sided conversation. There is little to no opportunity for active participation or engagement from consumers. Basically, once you launch the campaign, it’s up to the consumer to respond and start the conversation.

Digital:

Consumer experience is a key ingredient to a successful marketing campaign. Digital content provides an opportunity for businesses and consumers to interact and communicate with one another. This is a great way to build credibility and foster real relationships with your prospects before they sit down for the first appointment.

These comparisons aside, traditional marketing still has a place at the table. Print and radio ads are great for brand awareness and can help boost your professional status within your community. But this is the digital era. With more and more people abandoning print and broadcast in favor of their online and streaming counterparts, you need to consider how many eggs to put in each basket. That balance largely depends on your services, target market, budget, and other factors. This can be a difficult, but important decision to make.

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Did these points speak to you? Stay tuned for information on how we can help turn you into a digital marketing rockstar.

 

 

 

Secrets for Successful Video Marketing

Video cameraThe value of incorporating video into your overall marketing strategy cannot be understated. No matter the platform, video outperforms every other advertising medium by a longshot. In fact, simply including the word “video” in the subject line of an email has been proven to increase open rates. Using video on social media and websites is far more effective than text or images.

Overall, video marketing is becoming increasingly more prevalent for advisors. According to a study by Wibbitz, those working in the financial industry are leveraging video marketing more than those in any other industry but manufacturing. So, have you jumped on the bandwagon yet?

The Value of Video

You don’t have to look hard to find an endless list of stats and surveys that support the hype surrounding video marketing. However, the answer to why video is so effective can be summarized in one word – psychology. Televised messages have become commonplace. We tend to look for those connections that might exist between ourselves and the person we see on the screen. This is a level of emotional engagement that isn’t as easily or quickly found with other mediums. And when targeting people with services that relate to their finances, retirement, and families, trust and confidence are key elements to conversion. If you think about it, one of the goals during any one-on-one interaction with a prospect is to earn their trust, isn’t it? Why should your marketing approach be any different?

If a picture is worth a thousand word, then a video is worth far more. Actually, according to Forrester Research, video is worth about 1.8 million words. This doesn’t mean the articles you write aren’t an important part of the overall process. However, a short, but sweet video message can be a much more effective way of capturing consumer attention. This is especially true for those living faster-paced, “time-is-money” lifestyles, like the nearly 60% of executives (a.k.a. high-end clients) who stated they prefer video over text, when given the option (Forbes).

Your Video Budget

Those working with a limited marketing budget might think that video production is too elaborate and expensive of an endeavor to attempt. In fact, producing a decent online video is much easier than you think. Most mobile devices today come with cameras that can hold their own against those used by pros. The rest of the equipment needed – a tripod, mobile device mount, and clip-on microphone – can all be purchased for $100 or less. Set it all up in a well-lit, professional setting, and you’re ready to roll.

Lights, Camera, Action!

If you’re a little shy about stepping in front of a camera, don’t feel bad. Some of you might take it right away, but many people are intimidated by the thought of being on a video that’s blasted out across social media. It might sound cliché, but pretending that you’re in front of a client, not a camera, is a great way to relax and present yourself as the same well-spoken and knowledgeable advisor you are in the “real world.” Composure and confidence are the two of the most important elements to delivering a good performance.

he third piece of this puzzle is practice (practice, practice). If you’re not the type who can memorize lines verbatim, you should at least have a good grasp of your talking points before shooting. Using cue cards or reading from a script while shooting might be necessary but doing so can make your performance seem unnatural and distracted. A video of an obviously nervous person uncomfortably reading from a script while their eyes dart back and forth is a video nobody wants to watch. Run through the spot a few times, critique each take, make note what worked, and identify where you need to improve.

Quality Content > Quality Production

While you want to put your best and cleanest take out there, it’s the quality of your content that matters most. Great content makes up for average production every time. As popular as live streaming media has become, the “DIY” vibe is becoming the trend to follow. If you’re comfortable going out there without a net, Facebook Live is the way to go. By the end of 2017, 20% of all videos on Facebook were live streams. Those videos were watched as much as three times longer and received around 10 times as many likes and comments as uploaded videos. With a little promotion and planning, a lengthy Facebook Live Q&A session can be a great way to drive traffic to your social media pages, while giving you the chance to strut your stuff in front of an engaged audience.

As we move farther into the age of streaming media, advisors who utilize video can expect increased engagement, interaction, and conversion rates. And, of course, with all that, more business. So, are you ready to roll? It’s time for your close up.

Think Locally Part 2: Hyper-localize Your Online Presence

You’ve probably heard the buzzword “hyperlocal marketing” trending as of late. While the concept is nothing new, the use of hyperlocal marketing is growing rapidly.

Our last Marketing Corner post looked at how Nextdoor.com is expanding its neighborhood-based social networking hub into a hyperlocal marketing tool for businesses and service providers. But one social platform is merely the tip of a much bigger hyperlocal iceberg.

In a nutshell, hyperlocal marketing involves targeting prospects within a specific geographic area. Geotargeting your ads and sponsored social media posts are popular forms of hyperlocal marketing in action. However, those are most effective when you reach a consumer who is willing to engage with the post/ad and answer your call to action. In spaces oversaturated with ads, such as Facebook, this can be a challenge.

Be There When They Want You

People are busy. They have places to go and things to do. Yes, they’re probably scrolling through Facebook or Twitter along the way. But that sort of multitasking leaves little room for them to engage with the ads that pop up in their newsfeed. While it’s important they at least see your content scroll by, it’s even more important that they can easily find it when they’re ready.

According to Google, “near me,” or location-based searches have increased by as much as 150% over the last two years. These might include “financial planners near me” or “advisors in [city or zip code].” Google now lists local results over organic when returning the results of a search, just below the list of paid results. The higher a site ranks on these search results, the more traffic the site will receive.

So, how can you boost your site’s ranking? Because Google’s algorithm is in a constant state of change, there is no clear-cut answer to that question. However, there are several ways to optimize your page for better local results.

Best Practices for Local SEO

Claim Your Business Page

Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business page is a crucial part of boosting your SEO ranking. Setting up your page is free and fairly simple, but does require you to complete a verification process. Once you are verified, add relevant information to your page. Include your address, business hours, website URL, phone number, and business description. This information needs to be accurate, consistent, and honest. Google has cracked down on businesses that give false or misleading information. Any violations of these guidelines could result in your page being suspended.

Images can help drive search engine traffic, so you’ll want to include a handful of quality photos of your business. Use a good shot of the front exterior of your office as your cover photo. You should also include your logo, professional headshots of you and your team, and a few interior photos as well.

The slug and meta description for the very article you reading right now.

Keywords & Content

Your address should be included in the sitewide footer section on your website, as well as on your “Contact” page. If you post original content to your site (which you should be doing), localizing some of that content can also help boost local SEO rankings.

Incorporating localized meta descriptions, tags, and keywords into your pages and photos can also help your site’s local rankings. Just be aware that Google frowns upon “keyword stuffing,” so make sure to keep things relevant. You will also want to include a clearly and concisely written snippet of anchor text (the blurb that appears underneath your link on a search result), such as “[Insert business name], a certified financial planner in [insert city], specializing in retirement planning.”

Be Mobile Friendly

This almost goes without saying. Mobile searches account for roughly 60% of all online inquiries and that trend is expected to grow in the years to come. Additionally, Google and other search engines favor sites that are optimized for mobile over those that are not. Simply put, if your site is not mobile friendly, you’re going to lose business.

Local Review Directories

While the reviews and feedback posted to your Google business page will appear first and foremost in search results, there are several alternative review sites that you should look into. While these are geared more toward retailers and service industry businesses, they also have value for those working in the financial industry. Customer feedback, be it from these or any site, can be leveraged to help your overall search ranking. Just remember to be responsive and transparent when a client shares their feedback.

Overall, local SEO is more of an art than a science. This is especially true when it comes to maximizing your online presence to prospects in your area. Having read through the tips listed above now might be a good time to conduct a few localized online searches of your own. Whose business ranks higher? Yours, or the competition?

What You Need To Know About Facebook’s New Ad Policies

“Your Facebook ad has been disapproved”

Facebook Ad Not Authorized

Those six words have been throwing a wrench in the works for more and more business owners as of late. If you haven’t encountered them yet, the chances will be even greater you will in the coming weeks. In response to the ongoing data, privacy, and “fake news” scandals, the world’s most popular social media platform is making some changes. These changes could have a direct impact on your marketing strategy.

Politically-Motivated Policies

In the interest of transparency, Facebook is tightening the belt on ads pertaining to elections and political issues. The new rules include new verification requirements for advertisers and “paid for by” disclosures on their ads. While the move is intended to slow the spread of “fake news,” there are a few kinks left to be worked out of the screening process. There have numerous reports of ads/sponsored posts being incorrectly flagged as “political.” The flagged ads won’t be approved until the advertiser submits certain personal information.

The policy itself was written with politicians, lobbyists, and election campaigns in mind. However, content from a variety of businesses has also been caught in the crossfire of Facebook’s increased scrutiny. Facebook launched the new political ad rules in late May. The rollout included a list of 20 initial issues that would be used to determine whether an ad was political in nature. A few topics that appear on that list might help us understand why your post about a retirement planning seminar was disapproved:

  • Budget
  • Economy
  • Health
  • Social Security
  • Taxes

Sure, it might seem silly to draw any sort of connection between the November elections and a post about how a tax-deferred annuity can supplement Social Security benefits. But, with a screening process that’s based on a combination of human judgment and a still-evolving algorithm, it’s happening. Has it happened to you? If so, don’t expect much help from Facebook. The company is passing the issue off as growing pains and claims it will straighten itself out over time. This forces non-political advertisers whose content has been flagged to appeal the decision and/or complete the authentication process. Both of these require more time and energy than most of us would rather spend on clients and prospects.

But wait, there’s more…

Dislike Button

The content of your Facebook ad isn’t the only thing under the gun these days. The ways in which you target your audience is also undergoing a major overhaul. The end of June will introduce the first step in Facebook’s move to eliminate “Partner Categories” from the available ad targeting audience. Partner categories consist of consumer data provided by third-party companies that advertisers use when fine-tuning their customized audience. This means that several behavioral and demographic parameters advertisers used to better reach those consumers who would benefit most from their products/services will no longer exist on Facebook’s advertising platform.

What does this mean for you?

Advisors often used income-based targeting options to find qualified prospects. Net worth, homeownership, and financial behaviors have long been used by advertisers when customizing an audience. Beginning June 30, those parameters will no longer be able to be used for creating new or editing existing campaigns. On October 1, any ads using data gleaned from partner categories will no longer be delivered.

Does this spell the end of Facebook advertising? No, absolutely not. Facebook will still remain one of the most valuable ad platforms available. Even after the third-party data is gone, the remaining demographic, behavioral and interest categories will remain. You’ll just have to be a little more creative when doing so. Here are a few tips that can help you work around the changes to Facebook’s advertising platform:

Geotarget Affluent Communities

You can no longer use Facebook to specifically target homeowners who make at least $75,000 a year. However, you can use what you know about your own city to geo-target consumers who live or work in a specific area. This is a good tactic that can be used to create a customized audience of potential prospects.

Replace Behaviors with Similar/Relevant Interests

While Facebook ditched third-party data, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped learning everything they can about its users. The social media giant uses a variety of online activity to create comprehensive profiles of its users. This includes visited websites and Page “likes.” If you ever expressed an interest in clog dancing, Facebook thinks you might be receptive to an ad about clog shoes. The same goes for those who have searched for things like annuities, retirement, and life insurance. This approach might take some experimentation but can be an effective workaround in the absence of third-party data.

DIY

Facebook’s targeting policies apply to info compiled by third-party data mining companies. But the rules do not prohibit businesses from targeting people based on data they’ve collected themselves. Consider using surveys, forms, or landing pages to help build an audience of consumers who want to see your ad.

In all likelihood, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Facebook’s ad overhaul. This means we should expect the “formula” for a successful ad campaign to change with the seasons. Keeping up with it all can take more time than most of you have to spare, but you also can’t afford to waste resources on ineffective advertising.

This is where we can help. If you’d like to learn more about how to keep ahead of the curve, call us today.

Marketing Corner – Five Ways to Deal With The Summer Slump

Five Ways to Deal With The Summer Slump

The summer months are often a down period for many advisors and agents. Reaching prospects, booking appointments, and clearing production can be difficult when large segments of your target market are on vacation or are otherwise disposed. Maybe this isn’t a problem for you; maybe you enjoy a little R+R in the summermiddle of the year. For many advisors this summer slowdown is what separates the business year into two distinct halves. Summer essentially serves as halftime, and who wouldn’t want a little breather between two busy periods, especially when prospecting is much harder at this time of the year?

You can beat the summer slump, however, and roll up new opportunities. Through alternative marketing strategies and a little refocusing, you can effectively engage your target market, boost production, and rejuvenate your practice during this down period. Here are five ways to do so.

Off-Holiday Marketing

americanWhen you think of holiday marketing, you probably think of the big three–Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. These are certainly prime opportunities to engage with prospects. However, many advisors forget about off-holiday marketing opportunities, holidays and occasions that don’t have quite the visibility of something like Christmas. The summer period is full of these off-holidays—Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and so forth. These give you something to market around, an excuse to engage consumers, and a way to stand out against your competitors, since many advisors don’t off-holiday marketing.

Supplement Marketing With Digital Components

Many advisors rely on direct mail for marketing, and with good reason—direct mail still works. However, you can enhance your physical marketing efforts with digital advertising, often with a minimal uptick in budget. This can be particularly effective at dealing with the lower response rates and decreased seminar attendance you may experience during the summer.

Online Lead-Gen

onlineDirect lead-gen programs have become a big part of financial marketing. While you should not solely rely on online lead-gen programs for your prospecting, they can be a great boost in a down period. We advocate “eat later” marketing strategies because they pay off more in the long run, but to get through a short-term dry spell, a lead-gen program may give you some of the immediate results you desire.

Community Events

One of the reasons there’s a slump in the summer is because your target market is more active and focused on other things. The summer often brings a wide array of public/community events, some aimed at keeping the kids busy, some designed to take advantage of nice weather. This gives you many opportunities to engage directly with your target market. This could be through sponsorship of a regular event in your area, participation in an event, or even just attending and striking up a conversation.

Evaluate Your Marketing Plan/Create a Marketing Plan

Halfway through the year is a good time to evaluate your marketing plan. Consider your successes, your failures, and what you can improve immediately. Hopefully you took time in December to make a marketing plan; if not, the downturn of the summer is a good time to create one. A good marketing plan outlines your vision for the year (and beyond) and holds you and your team accountable. This does not mean, however, that it is a static document. Rather it is a living process, hence why the summer is good time to make appropriate adjustments.

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