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So, your clients are online. Are you?

How digital marketing can help power your business.

From apples to yoga, any business today needs digital marketing to grow. Canadians are some of the most engaged internet users in the world, with almost half (46 per cent) of the population shopping online.1 And as people turn to the internet to research businesses, products and services, first impressions are often made there. To ensure you’re putting your best foot forward online, concentrate first on developing a great website – the foundation of digital marketing. Then get active on social media to help drive people to that website. 

“Digital marketing and social media play a key role in your success and ability to build and sustain brand loyalty. It’s advertising, marketing, communications and selling all wrapped up into one effective and efficient medium,” explains Mandy Habermehl, Manager of Digital Programs, Advisor Experience, Manulife Securities. “With a carefully planned and intentional strategy guided by the right expertise, advisors can now meet their clients in the social space to shape the conversation around their brand.” 

How does digital marketing work?

“Digital marketing incorporates various channels such as email, text messaging, social media, podcasts and the web, including search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). Unlike with traditional marketing, organizations can analyze and evaluate their digital campaigns in real time. Digital marketers can monitor what is being viewed, how often and for how long, as well as what content leads to sales and what content falls flat. 

Evaluating these consumer activities can help organizations better understand their audiences so that they can communicate with them where and when they are most receptive. A consolidated view of client preferences across all channels increases the likelihood of engaging them in rewarding interactions and can potentially move customers along in the buying cycle.2

A quality website is paramount

It starts with a great website. Websites are the most common way that Canadians engage with businesses online. In fact, 30 per cent of Canadians interact with companies via their websites.3 So when you hang out your online shingle, make sure it is polished. A website should be visually appealing in all browsers, easy to navigate on all devices and motivate a visitor to do business with you.4

A survey by the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals and Ignite Digital found that the number one activity contributing to online marketing success is the design, development and maintenance of a website.5

Social media

If digital marketing is the "parent" category, social media represents just one channel – but it’s the golden child. Social media consists of platforms that bring people together for the exchange of information. They have changed the way we socialize, interact and shop. The most popular social media platform in Canada is Facebook, followed by YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter.6 Social media can point people to your website, which can help boost SEO and, in turn, help you connect with prospects. 

“Social media has given enormous power over brands to their consumers. Businesses are no longer able to simply state what their brand is, but rather build their brand through engagement and positive customer experience. Staying engaged on social media can truly make all the difference to gaining followers who will act as your brand ambassadors,” says Habermehl.

The secret ingredient – content marketing

Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but stimulates interest in products or services. The secret of content marketing is to freely offer valuable information without expecting something in return. Quality is more important than quantity, in order to rise above the “noise” and provide real value. Even adding a few of your own comments as to the merits or flaws of an article you share can make a difference. 

Advisors can create blogs to distribute useful content online and, in so doing, position themselves as industry experts. In today’s do-it-yourself culture, whenever anyone does anything new, including buying insurance or investing, they research it first. But audiences need help to make sense of the overload of information available on the internet.

Opportunities for advisors

Social media provides an excellent opportunity to help expand businesses. Approximately 22.7 million Canadians had a social media account at the end of 2017.7 According to a study of U.S. investment professionals from Sysomos, 60 per cent of those surveyed under 40 said that they regularly consult social media as a key investment information source.8 That generation is not alone. Investors of all ages are on board: 40 per cent of all survey respondents stated they use social media to conduct research.9

The 2017 Putnam Social Advisor Survey of over 1,000 financial advisors found 84 per cent of financial advisors use social media for business. Of these “social advisors,” 86 per cent gained new clients, resulting in nearly $5 million in average asset gain directly attributable to social media use.10 More than 83 per cent said that social media helped speed up the process of turning a prospect into a client.11 For these advisors, social media is a proven means to gain clients and build closer relationships with them.

How to create preferred content 

Digital marketing is constantly evolving, so it is important to be agile. Consult a professional digital marketer to help you develop a professional marketing strategy with an online presence that engages clients and supports your business. Also, take advantage of any services that your associated companies may offer.

For example, Manulife’s newly revised Digital Advisor Program provides advisors with a professional, customized and compliant online presence in social media and on the web. Advisors have access to site-design expertise, best practices and compliance resources, as well as a content library of preapproved content, all designed to maximize the success of an advisor’s specific business. 

Some dealers, such as Manulife Securities, support their advisors with digital marketing platforms and programs that focus on how to grow a firm’s awareness and develop relationships with prospective and existing clients. Members of the program receive customized training and support from strategy to execution. Learn more about these programs and hear some Manulife advisors’ success stories on Repsource.ca.

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