Top Social and Digital Trends for Financial Services in 2013

January 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Each year brings a time to look forward to new trends and areas of focus. As I continue to work at the intersection of customer experience and technology (mostly with financial institutions), the following is my hit list for 2013. I fully recognize this is not a comprehensive list and in no particular order, but I would love to hear what should be added, what I might be getting wrong, and whether anyone agrees or disagrees with the following:

  • Front-line Social Enablement: Over the last 2 years, I have paid a lot of attention to how front-line workers will use social media to engage with customers, prospects and referral sources, especially in wealth management and insurance. The last 2-years saw a crop of vendors such as Hearsay Social, Actiance, and Socialware bring products to market that help FIs manage these interactions and help front-line workers use social networks safely for marketing, customer service, and sales. With many major FIs picking vendors last year, this year we will see FIs try to scale front-line enablement across their sales and distribution workforces and integrate multiple vendor relationships into a cohesive ecosystem.
    • What to look for: A steady increase in how insurance agents and wealth managers incorporate social networking into their daily activities to connect with customer, prospects, and referral sources. For this to be effective, multiple vendors (compliance, CRM, social media monitoring, etc.) will need to come together, content will need some serious consideration, and analytics will be the glue.
    • The big questions: How will FIs support these front-line employees? To what degree are customers and prospects ready for FIs to network with them on social properties? Will we start to see some PR hiccups as more front-line employees get social? « Read the rest of this entry »

Google+ Pushing Further onto Search Results Page

March 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

3.22.12 Today, for the first time, I noticed Google+ integrating much deeper into the Google search experience. Backing up, the first level of integration included a small area above the search results pointing out connections with a search query to people or pages within an individual’s Google+.  Nothing too crazy, but a subtle reminder that the people or pages you follow might have some relevance to your search.

However, Google is now taking it the next level:

Google+ Integration with Search Results

In the image above (double click to enlarge if difficult to see), Google is bringing in results from all peoples and pages. Also, note the prominence of its location. It sits right next to the top 3 sponsored results and above the right hand column of sponsored ads. Furthermore, the Google+ results are much more visually compelling. What does this all mean? Here are a couple of thoughts: « Read the rest of this entry »

How BzzAgent is Reinvigorating its BzzAgents

September 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

9.7.11. I have to open up this post with the fact that I am hoping to join the the BzzAgent campaign for the Kindle 3. However, for a company that does word-of-mouth marketing, they seem to have found another nifty way to create buzz – earning your way in.

Let’s start at the beginning, for those of you that don’t know BzzAgent, they are a word-of-mouth marketing organization. They have a database of BzzAgents, who are everyday consumers, but ones with a penchant for talking about the brands they use. To be a BzzAgent you simply sign up to the site, take some surveys to develop a baseline of preferences, and start providing opinions on products and concepts being tested within the BzzAgent world. Once you complete these activities you become eligible to be invited to campaigns.

This is where the other side of the business comes in. The BzzAgent campaign managers work with brands trying to learn what people like (or don’t) in their products, while trying to create buzz at the same time. The campaigns are pushed out to individuals based on likelihood to  use a product, and if they sign up, they are given access to the product (mostly free or heavily discounted), along with some direction on what to do (host a party, share samples, etc). In doing all of this BzzAgents create social interactions and impressions that influence awareness, sales, product development, etc.

However, BzzAgent just decided to change the game a little. Instead of BzzAgents passively waiting for an invitation, BzzAgent will now be promoting upcoming campaigns and asking people to earn a spot through creating content, sharing a video, etc. If this campaign is good enough…will people do it? I say yes…using this as a case and point.

So…let’s replay the last 25 minutes:

  • I see the link on Facebook and its explanation to WOW them (and “like” it).
  • I follow the link and sign-up for consideration
  • I check out for more details on the Kindle 3
  • I write this post
  • I post to Twitter with a hashtag (imabzzagent)

As for the so-what…this campaign approach is creating great buzz well before the campaign hits the ground. I think it is an inventive way to get people excited about a campaign, insure you get the right people involved, and stretch the limits of when word-of-mouth gets started.

Nice job BzzAgent and Amazon on creating great buzz and stirring the BzzAgent community to act early, and socially, to win a spot.

Now…pick me too!


Will HTML5 Kill Apple’s App Store?

June 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

6.13.11  Imagine if HTML5 killed the app store? The question is inspired by a simple example of the Financial Times deciding to use HTML5 to publish a mobile site instead of publishing an app through Apple. The publisher, which was recently discussed in Econsultancy, brings up a couple of key points. First, the Financial Times was able to create an experience that is relatively on par with what could be delivered through an app and secondly, the Financial Times is able to avoid the 30% cut that Apple takes.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing Speak: Channels v. Ecosystem

February 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

February 2, 2011

I recently got into a conversation with some colleagues about how the terms “channels” and “ecosystem” should be used. The conversation got started around how they are mostly synonymous as it relates to communication with customers. I agree that in many cases they can be used interchangeably, but here is a quick perspective on the topic:

Channels: These are are the individual methods that companies use to communicate with customers. Examples of channels include stores, call centers, Websites, social media tactics (i.e. blogs, Facebook, etc), Mobile Applications, and the other various means companies have to communicate. « Read the rest of this entry »

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