Businesses not tech-ready to attract vital millennial talent

How COVID-19 Changed Client Experiences For Good

 

 


 

A year ago, hosting a big client event online, instead of in-person, seemed like an idea with no upside. How would a professional services firm replicate the networking, the information flow, or the business development opportunities found in face-to-face interactions?

 

This spring, professional services businesses, like so many others, were forced to try to answer those questions. Under shelter-in-place orders, firms pivoted hard to bring events online. We saw email sends more than double between February and March—and many of these emails were event invitations. During some weeks in March, email volume was five times that of February’s weekly volume.

 

More recently, as firms have gained more experience with webinars, the expectations of what makes a great client experience—and how to create one—are beginning to shift. And, thankfully for clients, it’s a shift that will long outlive concerns about COVID-19. Crucial to taking advantage of this new world of client experience: the right technology platform, and the ability to leverage the data that technology can provide.

 

Coming Up the Learning Curve

Most firms started pivoting their strategy by producing one or two webinars to stay top-of-mind with clients. We soon saw them shift to offering webinars in a regular cadence. Some of those programs offered thought leadership, but firms saw another angle. They saw great value in providing practical updates, showing that they were looking out for their clients.

 

As firms gained more experience with webinars and digital marketing, many shifted away from larger webinars. Instead, they started offering smaller events and taking more of a VIP-style approach. From our email data, we saw that unsubscribe rates increased and open rates dropped throughout the spring. Given the sudden burst in email volume, that’s expected. But click-through rates were strong. That leads us to believe that relevant content was getting to the right people. Those who were engaged with firms’ communications were fully engaged.

 

For firms committed to holding regular webinars, the next phase is to use the data generated by invitations, RSVPs, and other emails to create a multi-channel strategy. If a client or prospect hasn’t responded to multiple invitations, one more email might not help. Instead, the firm might arrange a personal contact from a member of the business development team. The goal: To reach the most important decision-makers—15 or 20 attendees—provide them with some guidance, and keep them close.

 

Achieving Webinar Greatness

Many firms have scaled the learning curve, finding that it’s surprisingly easy to produce online client experiences with impact. Here’s how they’re making their webinars into compelling opportunities for both firms and attendees.

 

  • Engagement. You want your attendees to feel special during a virtual event, just as they would at an in-person event. Some firms are using breakout rooms, which help facilitate informal conversations. Another tactic: sending special packages–wine, cheese, or other goodies—to registered attendees before an event.
  • Data integration. To get the most out of online events, marketers need the ability to analyze data about attendees and contacts with them. On the most basic level, you want to track attendance.

 

But there’s so much more you can do with data. How much persuasion did it take to get each person to show up? Have they attended other webinars recently? Did someone from the firm reach out in person? If the attendee is a client, how much business do they do with the firm?

 

A customer relationship management (CRM) system will help you bring all this information together. A CRM will store your data in a central location. Then you can use segmentation strategies to market to and communicate with attendees, boosting engagement and opportunities for business development.

 

Playing the long game

For firms that are already tech- and marketing-savvy, the increase in webinar popularity creates a whole new world of opportunity. But even if you're not already using this technology, it's easy to implement and can be extremely helpful to your business. Here's how to make the most of it. 

 

  • More data brings more insights. With more email activity, marketers have the chance to collect more data and to learn from it. Use segmentation strategies to better engage clients. Or you might see that someone who only works with your firm’s real estate department has started to attend webinars about employment law. It could be that their responsibilities have changed, or a matter has become unexpectedly complicated. Either way, there is an opportunity for cross-selling.
  • Doubling-down on digital marketing. Virtual events have highlighted the value of digital marketing. That trend is accelerating as more firms move events online and see the value they provide.
  • According to law firm Jackson Lewis, a client who signs themselves up to receive information from the firm is likely to sign up for eight times more material than if an attorney signed them up. That could be because the client signs up through a preference center, and sees that they can unsubscribe at any time. It could be because few attorneys are going to read 20 subscription options to a client over the phone. Either way, the value of digital marketing has never been more clear.
  • Leveraging automated features. As the number of events increases, automation help you get the most out of the data you’re collecting. If a client visits a topic page on your web site, and you have a related webinar coming up, that visit could trigger an invitation to the webinar. With email automation, it’s simple to scale communications as the number of events increases, and improve your targeting. The result: better attendance, from the people you most want to reach.

 

During the next year, we expect to see firms continue to experiment with different online formats, and maybe even start tip-toeing back into in-person events. But we expect online events to remain popular, because they’re easy to produce, inexpensive, and drive results. No matter what combination of in-person and virtual events proves to be a winner, there’s no doubt that virtual events—and the benefits of the technology to support them—are here to stay.

 

Vuture’s email platform ensures that professional services teams can deliver campaigns that provide excellence in customer experience. To see how it can work for your team, schedule a demo.

 

 

To learn more about Generation Y and Z, and why now is the time to embrace these vital groups for business success, download your copy of the report 

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