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Providing a helping hand

On any given night in Canada, over 6,000 women and children sleep in shelters because it isn’t safe for them to return home. It’s what makes the November 25th United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women so important. It’s also what led Ext. Marketing co-founders Jillian Bannister and Richard Heft to lend their support to Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter.

“It takes a lot of guts for women in situations of abuse to leave their partner and, when they do, it’s often with little more than the clothes on their backs.”

Jillian Bannister, CEO Ext. Marketing


“When we launched Ext. Marketing, we had a strong focus on three things,” says Heft: “building an industry-leading team of the best people we knew in the financial industry, doing amazing work for our valued clients, and supporting those in our community who needed that help the most. We’ve been incredibly proud to support Ernestine’s since the day we started Ext. Marketing, and plan to do so for as long as women and children need us.”


As a woman in business and financial services, Bannister says she’s particularly honoured to support an organization that, in addition to being a safe haven, provides a helping hand for women to move forward with their lives.


“It takes a lot of guts for women in situations of abuse to leave their partner and, when they do, it’s often with little more than the clothes on their backs,” added Bannister. “Ernestine’s provides counselling, a food bank, transitional housing and legal support to help these brave women successfully rebuild their lives.”


Laurie Lupton, Ext. Marketing’s General Manager, a board member at Ernestine’s, as well as a leader of Ernestine’s fundraising committee, says the holidays are a particularly difficult time of year for families who depend on Ernestine’s programs and services. It’s why Ernestine’s hosts an annual Winterfest event to recognize culturally relevant festivities during the holiday season, while also delivering items that these families could not otherwise afford.


Consider supporting the Stand up for Ernestine’s campaign by visiting the SU4E page to make your donation!

Interested in learning more? Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

How to make your marketing language inclusive

Is your language opening or closing doors?

The words you use and the way you communicate is a personal choice. Your brand voice has considerable influence on your marketing strategy. Increasingly, marketers recognize the currency of inclusive language and its power to make a positive impact on a wider range of audiences. But what is inclusive language?

At its core, inclusion is about recognizing that your potential customers comprise diverse groups of people. In content creation, inclusion respects diversity in all forms, including ethnicity, gender identity, religion/spirituality, physical/mental ability and more. If your brand doesn’t convey a sense of inclusivity, you may inadvertently exclude some audiences. Millennials and Generation Z, with their substantial spending power, have done much to accelerate the inclusive language movement.1

Why it matters

Language is powerful — it can deepen and strengthen relationships, or it can confuse or even cause avoidable harm. Inclusive language encompasses words and phrases that can spark conversations with new clients and unlock valuable doors. Deloitte, Boston Consulting Group and Harvard Business Review research shows the same truth. Is your language tapping into that relationship-building potential?

Evolve with your customers

What’s great about language is that it’s flexible, expressive and evolves over time. Ultimately, we understand the bottom-line value of keeping pace with changing demographics and preferences. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary added 370 new words in 2022 and suggested that when many people use a word in the same way over a long enough period, that word becomes eligible for inclusion.

Make it a brand practice

Everyone’s brand is unique. By considering how inclusion fits into your brand, you’ll expand your reach and visibility into the future, earning audience loyalty and trust. The key is to make inclusive content an ongoing process that adapts with your stakeholders and audiences.

Ways to make language more inclusive

You might want to start with ensuring your marketing materials, websites and all your other assets reflect the varied population and voices around us. Here are some inclusive language options to consider:

Use plain language versus jargon

  • Rather than “piece of cake,” say “straightforward,” “easy” or “simple”
  • A phrase like “in light of” turns more succinctly into “because of”
  • We are not “in the loop” but we “are aware”

Pay attention to pronouns

  • According to The Associated Press Stylebook, it’s preferable to refer to a person as “they” instead of “he” or “she”
  • Rather than “man” or “woman,” use “person” or “individual”
  • It’s not “his” or “her” document, but “their” document

Put everyone in the picture

  • Make sure your images and emojis include a wide cross-section of people and groups
  • Consider using both colours and labels in design for people who can’t distinguish hues
  • On websites, use both images and text so that everyone gets the message  

Adopt gender-neutral family labels

  • Use “parent” or “guardian” versus “mom” and “dad”
  • Replace “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” or “partner”
  • “Pibling” has become popular when referring to aunts and uncles (stands for parent’s sibling)

Be mindful of accessibility-inclusive language

  • Commonplace expressions like “turning a blind eye” could be perceived as insensitive
  • A person is “hard of hearing” rather than “hearing impaired”
  • Rather than “wheelchair bound,” a person “uses a wheelchair” to assist with mobility

It’s a good idea for companies and their brands to craft their own approach toward using inclusive language to create messages that resonate with each audience segment.

Interested in learning more? Let Ext. help you integrate inclusive language so you can connect with more people, communities and opportunities. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

How to use testimonials to boost your marketing strategy

If you’ve ever had to search for a new restaurant or book a hotel in a new city, you’ve likely read reviews (also known as testimonials) to make your decision. In the world of financial services marketing, testimonials can be just as powerful in creating a connection with your prospective customers. Studies have shown that 97% of business-to-business customers cited testimonials and peer recommendations as the most reliable type of content,1 while 72% of consumers say positive testimonials and reviews increase their trust in a business.2

Why testimonials work

When a person is faced with an uncertain decision, they naturally look to others for guidance. This “social proof” is rooted in our psychological need for validation from others who have experienced a company’s products and services.

There is a truism when it comes to marketing that says – “show, don’t tell”. You can have the best words to describe your value proposition and how you help your customers. However, there is nothing like having your own customers convey that message through their personal stories and experiences with your company.

If your purpose is to solve customers’ problems or challenges, testimonials show that you understand what they need and demonstrate how your company can help.

How to make sure your testimonials resonate

Be specific and focused

Stay away from generalities and draw on the details (metrics) that bring the reader into the story. Keep the testimonial focused on one problem or challenge and have your customer explain exactly how your company helped.

Use video

An effective testimonial is essentially a compelling narrative about how your company helped a customer. Videos are a great way to deliver that story, especially through social media.

Put a face to the name

Where possible, use a photo of the customer to create authenticity and a stronger connection to their story.

Case studies

Create a longer-form version of a testimonial with a case study, leveraging the context and complexity of the customer’s challenge to build a strong narrative.

Be credible

Avoid the perception of any conflict of interest or the notion that the customer is being compensated for their story. For U.S. investment advisors, be aware of the SEC disclosure requirements for testimonials and endorsements that came into effect in 2021 (the transition period for compliance ends on November 4, 2022).3

Need advice on how to incorporate testimonials into your marketing? Ext. Marketing can help you add this powerful tool to your digital platforms. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

How solid are your marketing personas?

Who is this for? Why are we doing this? Are you sure we’re saying the right thing? Those are just three of the many questions you may ask yourself when working on a marketing project. Finding the answers is much easier when you have robust and relevant marketing personas.

What’s a marketing persona?

A marketing persona represents a group of clients with similar profiles, personal goals and client journeys.

Personas are a powerful way of embodying not only demographics (e.g., “our clients tend to be women in their 30s) but also user needs (e.g., “needs to prioritize risk management in their portfolio”). A persona can be viewed as a composite of attitudes, motivations, pain points and goals.

(Graphic is for illustrative purposes only)

How customer personas add to your marketing strategy

The main benefit of developing personas is that they’ll help you adjust your brand messaging. Well-developed personas are powerful tools that can illuminate how a customer or prospect might interpret your offering. You can focus on marketing your messages and developing products based on those personas.

What to watch out for

Here are some pitfalls to avoid when creating your marketing personas:

  • Making the personas too broad: You want them to address your clients’ specific likes, dislikes, goals, pain points, etc.
  • Lack of research: You can build strong personas by interviewing a cross-section of your clients and prospects. Remember, it’s important to gather qualitative data to layer onto and complement quantitative data and insights.
  • Making assumptions: If you’ve identified a blind spot in your personas, resist the urge to fill it up with something that may or may not be true. For example, if you’re not sure what your persona’s pain points are, don’t invent them, as you might be flavouring your content with incorrect assumptions. Do more research until your personas are truly useful.

The list could go on, but it’s a good start and reveals that building personas takes a bit of work.

Are your personas up to date? This is important. Over the years, your business may grow, expanding into new segments and regions and serving new clients. That’s why your marketing personas should also evolve.

Personas can help you tailor your messaging to optimize your clients’ experience and provide maximum value. As such, they should be essential tools in every marketer’s toolbox.

Need help creating or updating your user personas? Ext. Marketing can help. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Start using video in your marketing campaigns!

The rise of video in marketing seems unstoppable. Worldwide, video streaming grew by 10% in the first quarter of 2022 alone.1 People are watching and sharing videos on almost every social media platform. Cisco reports that 82% of global internet traffic will come from either video streaming or downloads this year.2 While you’ve been told that video is powerful, effective and necessary for taking your marketing to the next level, several myths might be keeping you from getting on board. Let’s separate fact from fiction.

Myth #1: Video is costly to produce

Even if video is the way to go, one of the biggest misconceptions is that video production is expensive. But, in recent years, new technology has made the cost of producing simple videos more affordable than ever before. A simple yet impactful video suitable for sharing online doesn’t have to break the bank. However, costs will go up or down depending on the format and the potential need for direction, scripting, voice or acting talent and music.

Myth #2: Video only appeals to younger audiences

Gen Xers and their predecessors may not be digital natives, but that doesn’t make them old-school in their media consumption habits. From 2019 to 2021, the share of Americans ages 50 to 64 who said they ever used YouTube increased from 70% to 83%. Among those 65 and older, YouTube use increased from 38% to 49%.4 Bottom line: people of all ages are significantly more likely to watch a video than read a block of text.

Myth #3: Video ROI is hard to measure

Measuring the return on investment for video marketing goes beyond simply counting views and conversions. You need to factor in audience behaviour, such as social sharing, that can help increase brand awareness. For the best read on what’s working, consider not just quantitative but qualitative factors, including surveys and polls, anecdotal feedback and viewer comments.

Myth #4: Video content creation is daunting

Don’t know where to start? Skilled video writers can work seamlessly with creative directors and production teams to storyboard your concept and develop a video script that will bring it to life. Developing a partnership with a content agency like Ext. can be a faster, smarter and more cost-effective way to manage your video production.

Myth #5: Video doesn’t work for my industry

Once immensely popular in niche creative industries, video is now at the forefront of marketing campaigns across all industries, including financial services and B2B and B2C channels. When striving to cut through a “sea of sameness,” video can be invaluable in telling your brand story and connecting with your target market.

Videos that are on-brand and on budget are within reach. Get the cameras rolling by calling us today for a quote at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

1 www.forbes.com/sites/dbloom/2022/05/18/online-video-viewing  
2 www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/service-provider/index.html
3 https://dmakproductions.com/blog/how-much-does-video-production-cost
4www.pewresearch.org/internet/2021/04/07/social-media-use-in-2021

Why interns are good for business

How many interns get to work with billion-dollar indirect lenders, multinational banks, and life-altering non-profits, while helping with everything from design, writing, client support and project management? Here at Ext., we love exposing our interns to a diverse range of projects, giving them a chance to infuse their boundless energy and fresh ideas into our client work.

This year we welcomed five accomplished students into our four-month-long Internship Program – and they didn’t disappoint.  The 2022 team was our largest contingent and most diverse group of interns yet.

If you’re looking to fuel innovation and raise productivity, consider an internship program at your company.

Before wrapping up their time with us, we asked each intern about their ambitions, and how their experience at Ext. may help shape their future careers.

Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Ext.

Christy Chan

I just finished my undergraduate degree at TMU and now I’m doing my Master of Information degree at the University of Toronto. This summer I worked with Ext.’s Creative Studio as a graphic design intern, helping to generate original design concepts for clients.

Diksha Gattani

I graduated from Seneca College in August of 2021, having studied marketing and project management. During my time at Ext., I interned as a coordinator in the Project Management Office.

Selin Cinemre

I am going into my fourth year at the University of Toronto, Rotman Commerce. I am specializing in marketing and strategy with a minor in economics. I worked with the Ext. Communications department as the marketing, investment and communications intern.

Ella Stoyan

I am going into my fourth year at Queens University, majoring in sociology and minoring in social studies. I have also completed a certificate in law. This summer, I  worked for Ext.’s Account Management team.

Matthew Drumonde

I attend Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) and I am in my third year in the Business Technology Management program. My program brings communications and technology together to help solve business-related problems by analyzing large sets of market data. During my internship, I worked on two projects that involved gathering client and prospect insights.

How did your role at Ext. align with your future goals?

Selin Cinemre

Exposure to financial services marketing and working on many different projects in communications helped me learn about the broad range of essential marketing skills that can be applied to offer the best solutions for clients. It reaffirmed my passion for every aspect of marketing. Furthermore, my biggest gain was the opportunity to test, discover and hone my marketing skills.

Ella Stoyan

The opportunity to be an intern at Ext. gave me the chance to be more visible and vocal, building both my profile and relationships with clients. It allowed me to see what the professional services world is like. Being exposed to clients helped me better understand customer needs and preferences, which is essential for delivering the right product or service.

Diksha Gattani

My goal is to have a career in project management and this internship was a perfect steppingstone. The management pros at Ext. taught me about the various responsibilities tied to this role. I learned that for better execution and client outcomes, sound management of the project cycle is essential.

Matthew Drumonde

My role at Ext. was sales focused, which gave me the opportunity to better understand the company, as well as potential customers we were targeting. I got to see what it takes to sell and how to problem solve through effective communication. Seeing the ins and outs of how a successful business operates has helped me shape my own path.

Christy Chan

As the graphic design intern, I loved brainstorming and coming up with creative concepts for projects. I also got to see the end-to-end design process, from initial client briefs to completion. Ext. included me in client interactions and the exposure helped grow my professional experience.

What was your favourite part about working at Ext.?

Ella Stoyan

The people at Ext. have strong backgrounds in marketing and are eager to teach and impart their knowledge. Being able to shadow everybody and learn about all aspects that go into B2B marketing was very stimulating. Seeing the organizational structure, communication and collaboration that happens between departments was invaluable.

Selin Cinemre

Working directly with the directors and getting that exposure and knowledge from people who have been in the industry for a long time was my favourite part. Receiving support and feedback from my team made me feel very accomplished.

Diksha Gattani

Ext. has the charm and strength of a family. Everyone is very supportive; I had a lot to learn as an intern and all the teams were very helpful and friendly throughout the process.

Christy Chan

I liked working with different departments and getting to know a lot of people. I enjoyed the weekly meetings where I could get creative and hear other people’s insights, while also having fun.

Matthew Drumonde

The whole team is incredibly close-knit. When someone needs support, everyone pitches in to solve the problem at hand and get stuff done. People share the same goals and the genuine desire to help each other grow.


We thank our talented interns for joining us at Ext. for the 2022 Summer Internship Program. You were an amazing cohort. We hope you valued your experience as much as we valued your contributions!

Looking for support with your marketing initiatives? Ext. has the innovative and creative expertise to take your marketing to the next level. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

What your tone says about your brand

Your company’s tone of voice is an essential component of your brand strategy, so how do you communicate it? Achieving brand recognition isn’t simply about visual representations, logos or even targeted messaging. It’s also about the way you speak and deliver your message. Have you developed a recognizable tone of voice?

If you’re talking to your customers in digital spaces, you have likely already embraced the power of your website. It’s your conversation tool. But how well does it convey your brand? Don’t underestimate the emotive appeal your tone can deliver. Many of us might think tone of voice is intuitively addressed in our messaging. But more often, it’s an approach not fully explored.

Why tone is important

Tone of voice is essentially the way you express your feelings or mood to your readers. It is not just about the words you use; it’s how you weave in your personality. It reveals the way you think about a subject, and the better you are at exuding your personality, the more you can influence readers and help them deepen their relationship with your brand. Ultimately, the goal is to connect with your reader based on a shared and receptive understanding of who you are and the value you represent.

Breaking it down

On a superficial level, discussions about tone tend to recommend the obvious. Try to avoid obligatory terms, use power words, convey vulnerability and demonstrate warmth. But to do those things, you need to dig deeper. First, you have to decide what impression you want the leave with the reader. That is your tone strategy. Here’s a list of four main approaches that can help frame your tone of voice:

  • Funny or serious – do you want to add humour, or must you speak deliberately?
  • Formal or casual – can you communicate casually, or is it necessary to use precise language?
  • Respectful or boldly sarcastic – should you speak courteously, or is it okay to be cheeky at times?
  • Enthusiastic or plainspoken – do you want to elicit excitement, or must you be more stoic?

Differences in tone

Financial institutions or financial technology companies are in a unique position. If you are a financial services marketer, you typically communicate complex concepts, technical data and sensitive investment details that demand clear messaging and formal language. That doesn’t mean your tone always has to follow a rigid approach. In fact, it can adapt according to the medium or content.

Tone of voice can be intricate and meaningful. Often your brand might embody multiple tones in different contexts. Here are a few examples to show how you can vary tone – even in the same communication.

Inflationary pressures and market volatility are hot topics that can worry readers. The central message is usually about current conditions and how to navigate them. Whether you want to inform, reassure, or explain, there are various ways to communicate the details people need. Consider this news statement:

“Attention homeowners: the value of what is probably the biggest single investment you will ever make is falling.”1

The comment is not trying to make people feel good. It plays on valuation concerns to communicate the gravity of declining home prices. It is a serious, formal, bold, and matter-of-fact warning. But the title of the article in which the statement appears is a little more casual and reassuring:

“Market corrections are just part of life — embrace the correction.” 1

That statement is direct, serious, and respectful. If it were edited slightly to read “let’s embrace the correction,” the shift to a plural first-person pronoun would convey “we” are in it together, and the message becomes even more casual and conversational. Now take a look at how the author changes the tone with a more enthusiastic, positive mood further on in the article:

The good news is owning a home probably remains the best investment you will ever make over the long term.” 1

Again, consider how a few minor changes, more reassuring words or even a metaphorical statement could change the way a reader aligns with the message and how they view its personality:

“Don’t sweat cooling housing prices. Owning a home is still the best long-term investment you can make.”

It’s all about the brand

Deciding what tone works best for your company’s brand strategy always comes back to the personality you want to convey. In financial contexts, it is probably not a good idea to be overly exuberant or cheeky because it could diminish your credibility or seem disingenuous. Consider what you want your audience to feel when they read your message. How do you want them to perceive you? If you’re not sure which tone strategy you should pursue, try A/B testing a few in a controlled setting.  

Don’t forget the contractions!

Yes, contractions play a vital role. It used to be that writers frowned on the use of contractions as overtly casual and not appropriate for formal contexts. The fact is contractions (e.g., merging “it is” to “it’s” or “we are” to “we’re”) are conversational and their use can add the relatable tone you need to convey your personality. You will want to determine if they work for you.

Remember, your personality should be consistent but flexible enough to adapt to the subject and align with your reader’s needs. For example, you might adopt a conversational tone across your website but avoid adding colloquial or humorous references except where you want to showcase your culture, people or social settings. Since design and graphics are a big part of any brand strategy, you should consider how they can best support your chosen tone. Imagery needs to complement, not compete with, your brand personality. If your tone is clear and direct, you’ll want to match it with a design system and elements that aren’t in stark contrast. If you’re focused on conveying trust, warmth and reassurance, consider design attributes that support that aim. Above all, be consistent and authentic. Readers will notice contradictions.   

Need help defining your brand voice? Ext. Marketing can help you create effective brand appeal by identifying the tone strategy that works best for you. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

1www.bnnbloomberg.ca/market-corrections-are-just-part-of-life

10 web metrics you should monitor (infographic)

Chances are you put a lot of time and effort into creating your website’s text and design. But even if you’ve developed an amazing-looking website, there’s only one way to know how it is performing. You need to track the following key metrics:

Infographic

Tracking web metrics is an essential first step in determining the performance of your website. It can help guide you on the most effective ways to improve your content and conversion rates.

Looking to improve your web metrics? Ext. can help you develop targeted web content to help boost your conversion rates. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

1 https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/bounce-rate
2 https://www.business2community.com/infographics/14-important-metrics
3 https://webolutions.com/10-key-metrics-effective-website/

Make your website’s hero banner a conversion superhero

Your website’s hero banner is the area between the navigation and the start of your content. It does a lot of heavy lifting by setting the tone for your site, encouraging visitors to engage with your brand and helping to establish trust. The hero banner’s effectiveness could mean the difference between high bounce rates and high conversion rates.

If your hero banner is doing its job, you’ll be well on your way to conversion – whether that’s getting a prospective client to reach out to your sales team or sending them to discover your product and service pages.

Remember, website visitors tend to form judgements quickly: it takes approximately 50 milliseconds for users to cement an opinion about your brand.1

It’s no wonder that marketers are always looking to optimize their hero banners and above-the-fold content.

Here are some tips to help give your hero banner super strength:

1. Streamline

Keep your hero banner’s message simple. You want to inspire your visitors, not overwhelm them. Squeezing too many messages into the hero will inevitably dilute its superpowers. It’s been proven that less cluttered homepages are more likely to convert.2

2. Tell a story

The story in your hero banner needs to be told in your brand voice – reinforced by strong visuals and copy. Your website is your storefront, and you’ll want to “greet” users with an on-brand experience that showcases how you solve your clients’ problems and your unique selling proposition (or “USP”).

3. Use video and motion graphics

Video converts. About 84% of people have been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video.2 It’s no wonder that video and motion graphics are popular choices for hero images. There are caveats: loop your content and keep it crisp, so you don’t bog down your website’s load speed. The ideal length is one or two seconds – content that is over five seconds in length is going to need optimizing.

4. Include calls to action

A call to action is usually placed in your hero banner for good reason – it’s a great way to lead visitors down the funnel. Try to be creative but concise with your calls to action. Remember, there’s more to life than “Learn more.” Use powerful imperative verbs that create a sense of urgency. “Watch,” “discover,” “read,” “subscribe,” “schedule.” Choose specific verbs that tee up a promise and give strong, direct instructions on what to do next.

5. Make it responsive

With mobile often being a user’s first interaction with your brand these days, it’s important to make sure your website is responsive (meaning it will “respond” to the screen size it’s appearing in). For hero banner content, you’ll want to ensure you engage visitors immediately and keep your objectives limited to a single goal or desired action.

To carousel or not to carousel?

There is much debate about whether you should use a carousel in the hero banner position. While many prefer the simplicity of a single message, others need to balance multiple messages. If you decide to adopt a carousel, put the visitor in the driver’s seat: avoid the auto-play feature as it may not give users time to digest the content before it advances. You will also want to make sure your carousel is optimized for mobile, including facilitating optional behaviours such as pinching, tapping and swiping to ensure a mobile user’s journey is seamless.

A/B testing can help

If you are deciding between multiple messages and creative executions, A/B testing can help shed light on what resonates best with real users. You can use this strategy to make sure your hero banner content is a true hero: saving the day and delivering new leads.

Is your conversion rate not where it should be? Ext. and our team of digital, content and UX experts can help optimize your hero banner and all your web content. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

1https://www.academia.edu/534960/Attention_web_designers_You_have_50_milliseconds_to_make_a_good_first_impression
2135 Video Marketing Stats You Can’t Ignore in 2022

Five tips for creating mobile-optimized content

Scroll through any website on your mobile device and it’s easy to see how a small screen size can be challenging for a visitor to navigate and absorb your content. With nearly 55% of all web traffic in the fourth quarter of 2021 coming from a mobile device,1 you should keep your mobile visitors front and centre when you create web content.

A mobile-friendly site can be especially helpful for those who use screen readers. A screen reader crawls through a web page to help someone with a visibility impairment understand what is on their screen. Optimizing your content for mobile can also help screen readers translate the structure and content on your page.

Here are five tips on how to create better content for mobile users:

1. Use an inverted triangle to organize your page

Use an inverted triangle to place your most important content at the top of the page, including the key message(s) you want your visitor to know. If there is a specific action you want a reader to take after they visit your page, place that near the top. This structure helps the reader to quickly understand why they should keep reading. If there’s interest, they’ll keep scrolling. If not, they’ll exit the page – but not before they see your key message.

2. Write short headlines and meaningful subheads

Your headline should be six words or less to make it easier to read on a mobile device. Use meaningful subheads that allow a visitor to scan the page and understand if they should keep scrolling. These headlines and subheads also allow a screen reader to convey the page structure.

3. Write concisely

Reading large blocks of text in any format is daunting, but it’s even harder on a small screen. Use short sentences and paragraphs to help mobile visitors digest your content quickly. If you’re listing items in a series, use short bullets.

A few numbers to aim for:
• 20 words or less for sentences
• Two to three sentences for each paragraph
• One idea for each paragraph

4. Use plain language

Avoid unnecessary filler words and modifiers, interjections and clauses and technical jargon. These create unnecessary noise and muddy your content. To help simplify your writing, use a readability program, such as Grammarly or Flesch-Kincaid, and aim for a grade 8 or 9 score.

5. Add images and videos

Give your visitor’s eyes a break and use images and videos to make your content more digestible. People absorb visuals 600 times faster than text;2 while 68% would rather watch a video than read text.3 TIP: remember to add subtitles for those using a screen reader and for those watching in silent mode.

Looking to improve the user experience for your mobile audiences? Ext. can help you optimize your web content for mobile. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

1 Mobile internet usage worldwide – statistics & facts, statista, L. Ceci, February 22, 2022
2 Research: Is A Picture Worth 1,000 Words or 60,000 Words in Marketing, Matthew Dunn, Email Audience, November 12, 2021
3 Video Marketing Statistics, Wyzowl, December 2021

The ongoing power of email marketing

Many individuals have long predicted the fall of email as a marketing channel, but email marketing continues to be an important component of any marketing strategy.

A well-executed email campaign can be very effective at helping you achieve your business and marketing objectives. Here are three ways to optimize this important channel and achieve the measurable performance you’re looking for.   

Strategy first

Email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention, delivering an impressive return on investment (ROI) of US$36 for every $1 spent. To achieve that level of ROI, however, companies need to have a strategy in place to maximize any investment they make in this channel. Organizations need to consider relevance, experience, messaging, benefits and customer needs.

The bottom line is that having a tool is not enough. The most sophisticated strategies will fall flat without a well-planned content marketing plan to feed them. If you have answers to the 5 questions below, you are well on your way to building your strategy:

  • How well do you know your customers?
  • Do you have a good understanding of their needs and pain points?
  • How well do you know your organization’s brand promise?
  • Do you know what you want to say and how you want to say it?
  • Have you determined what success means to your organization?


The next step is to focus your content strategy in a credible and meaningful way. Only at this point, are you equipped to partner with your email platform and data colleagues. They will thank you for the guidance and insight and be more motivated and engaged to help you execute strategic and effective email communications.

Relevance is king

“Relevance is king” can be a useful adaptation of the traditional mantra “content is king” to level up your use of the email channel. One of the most common quandaries organizations face is how many emails to send. Often, companies are surprised when research suggests customers want to hear more from them, not less.

The secret to answering this question is relevance. Customers’ perception of an email as spam is highly correlated with relevance, meaning a hard-and-fast number will not suffice. Customers who receive few emails with very little relevance will have low engagement compared to those who receive frequent and relevant communications.

Find your target

Relevancy is achieved by segmenting your audience based on their client profile. Whether you are at the crawl, walk, or run stage of your use of the email channel, you should always aim for maximum personalization. An email recipient is 50 percent more likely to click on a link in a segmented email.

For many, this means targeting your email distribution using, at a minimum, basic segmentation based on a foundational data strategy. No more mass messaging with information relevant to only a small section of the distribution list. This old batch-and-blast approach is well past its expiration date.

For others, this means more advanced behavioral-based and customized segments. This requires a true understanding of the customer experience and profile to provide the right content at the right time under the right circumstance.

Email marketing should always start with developing your strategy to set your goals and find the best way to achieve them. Once you have your strategy in place, support it with relevant messages that target audiences that want to receive them. Do that and you can watch your customers’ engagement grow!

Looking for help developing an effective email marketing strategy? Ext. has the expertise you need. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com

The golden rule of ESG investment marketing

As the landscape and regulatory environment around environmental, social and governance (ESG) continues to evolve, the question marketers of financial investments must answer is not if they need to factor ESG into their products and messaging, but how to do it. Whatever approach you take, it needs to be accurate and credible if you want to deliver a convincing story to your stakeholders to assure them you understand ESG and are taking it seriously. That was a key takeaway from the Gramercy Institute’s 2022 ESG Marketing & Communications Awards in New York this past June.

New risks and new opportunities

The shift to ESG has created fresh opportunities for investment marketers, but it has also introduced new risks. The lack of common ground between how different regulatory bodies measure ESG and set benchmarks are some of the biggest challenges marketers need to overcome. Despite the ambiguities around some of these core elements, misleading stakeholders by making an investment sound more environmentally friendly than it actually is could be construed as “greenwashing,” which will quickly attract the ire of regulators and erode the trust of key stakeholders.  

At the Gramercy event, there was broad consensus that financial marketers need to take more time to understand what story they are trying to tell around ESG and why it matters, rather than using ESG as a marketing tactic.

Even amid the market uncertainty sparked by high inflation and rising geopolitical tensions, ESG isn’t about to fade from the conversation. Investors are concerned about returns, but, as many event panelists pointed out, ESG has become an important part of risk analysis and the due diligence process, even if it isn’t core to a strategy.

ESG is HTS (here to stay)

Institutional investors and other sophisticated allocators are increasingly asking ESG-related questions about non-ESG-labeled strategies. Measurement will be critical. Firms will be held accountable for measuring their progress to back up their messaging.

The best advice we can offer is to be authentic. Unlike the famous story of a large home improvement retailer that stocked its shelves with empty boxes in its early days to create the illusion they had lots of merchandise, fake-it-till-you-make-it won’t fly when it comes to marketing ESG.

Having supported a number of multinational financial firms with their ESG messaging, we can attest to this. How you message ESG can reveal a lot about how much an organization understands this issue. And never underestimate your audiences and stakeholders.

If you don’t have any ESG metrics you’re striving to achieve, don’t claim you do. It’s better to say you are developing your ESG strategy to set clear goals and benchmarks to track your progress than to get caught exaggerating your progress on the ESG front.

Don’t go it alone

As we noted in Five ESG trends every marketer should know, strong ESG reporting can offer an important competitive advantage in addition to being a powerful tool to mitigate reputational risk.

Just remember the golden rule of ESG marketing: If you want your messaging to be successful, it has to be authentic.

Looking for support in refining your ESG messaging? Ext. has the expertise you need. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Are you following the social media rule of thirds?

We’ve all heard the social media advice: Post often. Post regularly. Be engaging. These can be tough practices to follow, especially if you’re a marketer managing multiple priorities and platforms or lack the resources to create original posts on a regular basis.

There are many methods by which you can curate your social media feeds. One formula is known as the rule of thirds, and it provides an important formula that allows you to balance your time between creating content about your business and engaging with your community. The rule generally states that one-third of your content should focus on promoting business, one-third on sharing other posts and one-third on interacting with others.

So, to commemorate Social Media Day (June 30), here’s our take on the rule and some helpful tips to consider when pulling together your editorial calendar.

1/3: Promote business, but keep it real 

Talking about your products, market opportunities or strategy often comes easiest. It can also become the part that fails to inspire and engage, particularly if it consists of repetitive, one-way conversations.

TIP: Boast about business, personally: When sharing company successes, don’t forget to profile the human side of your business by telling stories about staff achievements and milestones, new personnel or your involvement in the community. Promote culture while inviting dialogue. Showcase your thought leadership and financial expertise thoughtfully and creatively, including through short quotes and videos. Remember to keep content focused on client needs.

1/3: Share other posts, with a broad lens

Curating third-party content is essential because it helps you to build community and engagement. It also shows you’re in touch with your industry and issues beyond your brand.

TIP: Use sources you support:  When sharing industry-related posts, news or events, make sure you’re using content from brands you feel align well with your own. Sharing surveys or reports on financial trends or developments relevant to your clients is a great way to engage in meaningful conversations. When reposting, it’s good practice to tag the owner or provide attribution in a caption. And when sharing original content (photos/videos) created by someone else, be sure to obtain permission and to provide the creator with credit.

1/3: Reach out and interact

The final rule of thirds is about being as social as possible. In fact, it intersects all parts of your curation plan because every post is a chance to interact and foster further peer-to-peer engagement.

TIP: Work the room often: One of the simplest ways to connect with your followers on social media is to like and share their posts and respond when they reach out to you. Talking directly to followers, answering their questions and saying thank you allows you to expand your reach in new and exciting ways.

While we believe the rule of thirds is a great guide, these tips aren’t written in stone. Every business is different. You’ll benefit from a little tinkering and looking back at your analytics to see what worked best – ultimately helping you develop a content calendar that consistently engages and inspires.

Looking to boost your social media profile? Ext. can help you develop a targeted social media strategy and content plan to enhance your presence. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Five signs your key messaging may need a refresh

A strong set of key messages is essential to any effective communications strategy. Robust messaging frameworks consist of memorable key messages that are illustrated by proof points, facts and figures. These are more than just another set of talking points; they encapsulate the most important ideas you want your stakeholders to know about your organization.

Strong messages have lasting benefits, like building client trust and long-lasting relationships, as well as heightening your brand loyalty, which, in turn, can lower client acquisition costs and increase sales.

Since organizations and the clients they serve evolve over time, key messages tend to have a modest lifespan and should be reviewed consistently and revised as necessary. When your key messaging starts to sound like elevator music – still recognizable but not quite true to the original – it is probably time for a refresh.

How can you tell when your messaging goes from mighty to meandering? Here are some signs:

1. Your organization has grown or transformed
Large business transformations, acquisitions, strategic pivots – any of these are likely to render your current messages stale and in need of a touch-up or complete overhaul. As you work on your change-management communications, make sure to carve out time to bring your broader corporate key messages up to date.

2. The market has changed
New opportunities, competitive pressures, regulatory forces and technological advances can all have profound impacts on your businesses and customers. Your messaging needs to keep pace with changes in your industry, the economy and/or across our broader society.

3. Lack of resonance
You can’t put your finger on it, but your messages aren’t landing with the same force that they used to. Whether a by-product of innovation, inertia or inactivity, your messages just aren’t working for you or your brand ambassadors, such as your salesforce or employees. This is a sure sign they need re-energizing.

4. Recall notice
The best messaging frameworks are built around key messages and proof points that are strategic, succinct and sticky. If consumers can’t quite remember or summarize your key points after reading or hearing them, consider exchanging them for something punchier and more memorable.

5. Here, there, everywhere
Good messages translate well from the written page to the spoken word and into your other communications collateral. This is even more important in the age of social media. If your messages don’t work across different media and audiences, it may be time to explore different approaches that allow you to leverage your messages more effectively.  

Maintaining your messages  
Like any good relationship, a bit of upkeep will go a long way toward keeping your messages evergreen.

Audit each touchpoint along your customer journey to make sure that your branding and messaging are on point. Speak regularly to your employees, customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders to help ensure that you are addressing their needs and concerns while conveying your messages of choice. Once you’ve settled on the core concepts you wish to include, experiment with sentence structure, word choices and proof points for maximum effectiveness. 

Many businesses find it difficult to translate their ideas, activities and proprietary jargon into powerful, accessible messages that resonate with stakeholders. This is where it pays to partner with a company whose communications and marketing experts can help you develop and maintain messaging with true staying power.

Looking for support in refining your key messaging? Ext. has the expertise you need. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Strengthen your brand with a style guide

A style guide helps to bring clarity to a company’s brand voice. It ensures all your writing has quality and consistency and can reinforce your brand. This is particularly essential when you are scaling your content and marketing efforts beyond just one author or content team. And it doesn’t stop at printed materials. If you plan to publish copy across digital media formats, it’s important to include some of the unique considerations for those platforms.

A brand is a living entity with a personality and values. As a company, you want to exude those values, not only through the exceptional products and services you offer but also through a distinctly creative and consistent depiction of the same. While it’s important to craft your logos and graphics carefully, you shouldn’t neglect your copy.

Implementing a defined writing style shows who you are and what you stand for by the way you express yourself. Setting your tone and style helps nurture and enlighten your audience so that readers can clearly and confidently align their needs with your solutions.

A style guide is useful not only for writers in the marketing department, but also for the web team, client relations, media relations, the sales team and more – basically anyone who creates marketing materials, web copy, letters, emails, and other types of content. They are all ambassadors of your brand.

How to get started

Start by determining which style conventions need to be included. What mistakes or style missteps do you often see? What style questions do others frequently ask? Seek input from colleagues across the company. Review marketing materials, email messages, advertising and web copy for inspiration. Consider how you want to be perceived. Do you want to communicate conversationally, or should you take a more formal approach? What do you want the reader to remember about you? Come up with keywords that characterize your brand values. Use them to help structure your brand voice.

A few tips

Editorial style guides can be simple or comprehensive. Often, they don’t just delve into style conventions, but provide guidance on how to represent your brand to the world. Some are a single-page style sheet (for example, a quick reference on web conventions), others run 30 pages or more (if you are putting together a comprehensive style guide for a large corporation).

Consider including some or all of the following in your style guide:

  • Common grammar rules
  • Capitalization
  • Punctuation
  • Contractions
  • Preferred spelling of words and terms
  • Frequently misused words and terms
  • Spelling of fund/product names, index names, etc.
  • Glossary of common terms, defined
  • Explanation of industry-related acronyms and abbreviations
  • Best practices of style –address formats, font preferences, how to express numbers, bulleted list styles, Canadian vs. U.S. spelling, active vs. passive voice, serial comma
  • How to write a letter or email (e.g., salutation, body copy construction, call to action, signature line)
  • Guidance on the use of inclusive, non-biased language
  • Style standards that are unique to your company
  • A link to a general reference guide such as the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, the Canadian Press (CP) Stylebook or another based on your industry, such as the American Medical Association (AMA) Manual of Style


A thoughtful and comprehensive style guide helps ensure brand consistency. It is a living document that should be updated when rules, preferences, and other circumstances change. Refresh it every year and store a digital version that’s easy to access and edit.

Looking to strengthen your brand with a style guide? Ext. can help you create a style guide that adds clarity and structure to your voice. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Are you applying the five Cs of effective digital communications?

The next time you question the value of digital marketing, post “free baseball tickets” on your social media feed and watch what happens. We guarantee you’ll be overwhelmed with a response. Why? Your message is short, direct and conveys something people want.

At a time when everyone struggles to cope with information overload, digital marketing needs to be able to cut through the noise and deliver something that will make the audience feel it was worth their time. And short is best – according to a study by Microsoft Corp., people today generally lose concentration after eight seconds.

To consistently craft those messages, remember the five Cs:

  • Clarity
  • Creativity
  • Connection
  • Customization
  • Consistency

1. Clarity

Digital copy needs to be clear, concise and easy to understand. It starts by knowing what you want to say. Start by referring to your key messaging (if you don’t have that in place, then consider developing that first) and then build your concept around that idea.

Once you have a crisp idea what your message, find a succinct way to say it. You lose clarity when you pack words into a sentence. Avoid long words and unnecessary adverbs or adjectives (e.g., actually, really, very etc.)

And keep it scannable. Short sentences and single-sentence paragraphs – often called snackable content – are usually the most effective.

2. Creativity

Digital marketing allows you to give your brand some personality. Keep it authentic. Whether your brand is fun or serious, there are many creative ways to tell your story.

Push yourself to capture the audience’s curiosity with a smartly crafted message. Pair that copy with innovative insights, strong images, animations, and videos to add more interest to your story.

The digital space is a visual medium so think graphically. Support your message with an infographic to tell a complete story.

3. Connection

Connection is about understanding what your audience needs and offering a solution. Done effectively, it results in that “aha moment”  by creating a relatable, emotional connection with the reader.

Being authentic and solving challenges helps you build trust. Remember, people tend to share content they can relate to.

4. Customization

It’s not about you; your content has to resonate with your audience. Successful client relationships are built on generating genuine rapport and respect.

Engage your audience by encouraging collaboration and getting familiar with their goals and pain points. When you treat your clients as partners by inviting them to participate in your message, you’ve started a conversation that’s more likely to last.

5. Consistency

Maintaining a regular distribution schedule for your content can help build customer loyalty. They can come to rely on you as a source of information. But consistency isn’t just about providing structure; it also refers to the type of content you are offering. Are you always communicating valued information? That’s the key.

Whether you publish two blogs a week or send an email newsletter once a month, stick with it by sharing relevant content that your audience can count on. Remember, you can use metrics to figure out what resonates best with your audiences and refine your strategy from there.

Looking to elevate your digital content? Ext can help you execute effective communication campaigns with a focus on the five C’s. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Why thought leadership should be a part of your brand strategy

The ability to generate rapport, build trust and nurture genuine relationships is an important part of your brand strategy. And now more than ever, that needs to be reflected in your digital marketing. By offering your audience unique insights, you can hook readers and keep them coming back for more. It’s called thought leadership and it’s a lot easier than you might think.

Thought leadership

Are you a market leader? Do your customers think of you as a trusted provider of products, services and/or insights? If you are an expert in your field, demonstrate that by changing the way people think. Thought leadership isn’t simply about having the answers that your readers seek. It’s also about taking a step further by offering new ways of thinking or innovative approaches to solving problems. Thought leadership might sound like a self-serving marketing label but, in fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s about understanding your audience’s needs in a way that sets you apart from your competitors. When executed properly, being a thought leader strengthens your reputation and forms the basis for solid brand recognition.

Why it’s important

The purpose of any thought leadership content is to engage with readers by offering direct access to relevant and timely information derived from your unique expertise and experience. In the case of a financial services company, for example, this could be sharing the latest information on the markets. But it is not enough to publish material with the goal of just educating the reader. You need to talk about a challenge, how you would overcome it and what the outcome of solving that challenge would mean for your audience. By revealing your pioneering opinion or insight, you provoke your reader and invite them to consider your distinct approach. If they can identify themselves and their challenges in your story, you have created value.

The hook

It used to be that people associated thought leadership with dense white papers or lengthy proclamations, but that’s no longer the case. Indeed, some of the most effective thought leadership today is online microcontent shared via video, blogging and social media. As long as you have a unique point of view and avoid an overtly promotional tone, thought leadership content can be a highly effective engagement tool.  

Financial institutions are in a unique position to demonstrate thought leadership. By sharing market observations through daily commentaries, you can display your expertise and provide value that people come to expect. The information can be shared across multiple channels, including social media, to generate stimulating conversations. Whatever channel you choose, you want to communicate thought-provoking ideas. Challenge your audience, reveal your passion for particular concepts and draw your audience into the narrative.

Keep them coming back

Thought leadership has an enduring component. Bold statements can be powerful on their own, but readers will keep coming back if you have offered kernels of wisdom that they find useful and appealing. Once you’ve planted the seed, your role as a trusted leader can give a voice to your brand.

Looking to develop your own thought leadership? Ext. Marketing can help you create and manage an effective thought leadership campaign with a focus on the content your audience is looking for. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Playbook for communicating with clients during times of volatility

Communicating with your clients is essential and, when done well, builds loyalty and resilient relationships. This is especially true during times of heightened financial market volatility.

Here’s a communications playbook to help you efficiently and effectively navigate client relationships in uncertain environments.

1. Create your communications plan

Before you reach out to clients, get your plan in order so that you are as efficient as possible. Randomly producing articles or sending emails just won’t cut it these days – communications need to be consistent and sustainable.

Some important questions to ask yourself when building your strategy:

  • What are the main challenges my clients are facing?
  • What key messages/proof points do I want to focus on?
  • What channels are appropriate – email, website, social media, etc.?
  • Who will be involved in producing this content?

As you put your strategy together and start executing on it, always keep in mind that you are trying to build trust with your clients. That means addressing the current environment honestly and with empathy.

2. Provide context for the situation

When markets decline, so does investor sentiment – your clients’ included. Investors often want to “fix” whatever it is that caused their portfolio to decline. When it comes to broad market downturns based on macroeconomic events, there’s often nothing to fix.

We recommend you reiterate that market downturns are common and temporary. They’ve happened since markets first opened, and they will continue to until markets no longer exist. Support your points with well-designed visuals, bringing data to life with elegant charts and infographics.

3. Refer clients back to their financial/wealth plan

Building on the point above, does anything really need to be fixed? Are your clients’ plans still suitable and accurate? Unless something dramatic has occurred in their life, such as a job loss, the plan is probably fine and clients are likely still on track to reach their goals.

Focusing on goals-based investing is supported by behavioral finance insights, and is an excellent way to manage your clients’ biases. Herding and loss aversion are key biases to watch out for during periods of market declines.

4. Don’t disappear when things settle down

It’s always a smart move to revisit your client communications strategy at times like these.

We recommend you create a long-term communications plan that considers both your team’s ability to communicate consistently, as well as with a cadence that keeps your firm top of mind. This is not always easy, but we know from experience that every business can find its sweet spot when it comes to communicating regularly – without burning your team out.

Short on time and resources? Contact us today at info@ext-marketing.com or 1.844.243.1830 to upgrade, broaden and focus your marketing communications during this – and any – challenging market environment.

Auditing isn’t just for accountants. Marketers, we’re talking to you.

“Set it and forget it” is a thing of the past for financial marketers. Market volatility is spurring the need for more investor education, mounting investor demand is challenging marketers to create new and better environmental, social and governance (ESG) materials, and there’s a growing imperative for your messaging to be aligned with corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. The list goes on.

It’s no surprise that what once was considered an “evergreen” marketing mix is no longer as timeless as it once seemed. That’s why it’s important to audit your marketing content to ensure your messaging is aligned with your strategic marketing goals. If anything is off-kilter, it can compromise your brand story and put your hard-earned brand equity at risk.

Whether you are analyzing your marketing materials to identify stale messages, pinpointing gaps in your sales funnel, revising outdated figures or taking your marketing initiatives in a more digital direction, this five-step process will help you optimize your marketing and sales efforts.

Step 1: Analyze your marketing materials in relation to your priorities

Instead of a reactive approach to updating your materials, we recommend you be proactive to ensure your current marketing aligns with your firm’s strategic goals. Ask yourself what you want your marketing materials to achieve. Are there any risks or gaps? Have your goals evolved, and are your marketing materials keeping pace? The answers to such questions will likely be multi-faceted, so you will need an approach that takes a look at your key priorities and examines your marketing ecosystem through those diverse lenses. Here are examples of goals to guide your marketing audit:

  • “We want our marketing materials to be on-message.”
  • “We want to lower our marketing costs by amplifying our existing marketing materials.”
  • “We want our language to reflect our ESG and DEI policies.”
  • “We want our communications to be free of gender bias.”
  • “We want to produce targeted materials that support our sales funnel.”

Step 2: Create a content map

Now that you’ve clearly defined your goals, it’s time to categorize, prioritize and map your marketing materials to identify opportunities, risks and gaps.

Start by using the goals you defined in Step 1 to determine how you prioritize your marketing efforts. You can group materials by client journey, theme, product or campaign. For example, if your goal is to target a specific demographic segment, such as Millennials or Gen Z, you could create a list of all the materials that apply to this segment and take stock of the touch points and assets you could use to communicate with them.

You might find that you have lots of content targeted at generating leads and awareness, but you need to fine-tune the messaging and value proposition on your website to drive conversions.

Step 3: Think digital first

While recent events have accelerated the transition away from print materials to digital assets, you may still have a library of strong materials that are only available in hard copy. And there’s an even better chance that your firm wants to take many of them in new digital directions. You can use a matrix or client journey map to help you identify where high-performing materials can be leveraged across all mediums. Digital is no longer an afterthought, because in many cases that’s how your audiences are accustomed to interreacting with your brand.

Over 50% of consumers believe that online experiences will be more important than in-person experiences.1 All the more reason to ensure your digital experience is on point. You likely have a wealth of marketing content that can be repurposed and optimized to create engaging and sharable infographics, videos, microsites and blogs.

Step 4: Line up your resources

Is your team big enough and scalable enough to handle the updates and fill in the gaps that you identified? Are there any talent or capacity gaps? If the thought of auditing or updating your marketing strategy and materials seems daunting, think about hiring a marketing and content partner who can help create a strategy and optimize your content. For best results, look for a partner that knows what resonates with key audiences in the financial services ecosystem. It’s important they understand how to produce desired outcomes that align with your business objectives – whether that’s reinforcing your brand, driving conversions, retaining clients or all of the above.

If you need additional resources, make sure that your content partner has the product and industry knowledge to complement and round out your team. Culture, collaboration and fit are key to a productive partner relationship.

Step 5: Execute, test and optimize

Now that you know what marketing materials you have and which ones you want to refresh, retire, optimize or create from the ground up, it’s time for your writers, designers and developers to get to work. Develop a strategic project plan that allows you to prioritize your marketing initiatives. That can help you think ahead, budget wisely and make large projects more manageable. It’s no longer a set-it-and-forget-it world. You’ll want to allow room in your budget for A/B testing so that you can course-correct and make micro-adjustments to ensure your content is performing at its best.

Next steps

Is your marketing strategy positioned to withstand the forces of change? Following the five steps above will help make sure your marketing plan is resilient and moves in lockstep as your markets, consumers, stakeholders and corporate guidelines evolve. The result? A marketing department with perennial value-add.

Ready to audit your marketing strategy? Ext. has the expertise you need. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

1The Digital Consumer Appnovation Research Report

The ABCs of A/B testing

If you are not regularly A/B testing your website and digital marketing materials, you could be overlooking valuable client insights. The only way to truly test how your digital assets are performing is to create several versions of these assets and pit them against one another.

Get to know your target audience

Whether you’re selling a product or an idea, you want to communicate with your target audience in a way that demonstrates you understand their needs. You can design what you believe to be the most appealing ad or draft what you think is truly compelling copy, but how can you be sure it resonates with your readers? What you might not realize when you hit the “Send” or “Publish” button is that if you had made a small change, your conversion rates could have jumped dramatically.

A/B testing simply refers to the comparison of two versions of an ad, landing page or email to see which one results in higher engagement. Here’s how it works:

• Create your control version (with headline, copy, call to action and graphics)
• Create a second version (or several) selecting one element of each to be the variant
• Post each version (or, in the case of an e-newsletter, divide your audience and send one version to each group)
• Measure and compare the interaction levels between the control version and the variants (click-through rates, open rates, time on pages, page sessions, etc.)

Test, test and test again

Remember, your audience decides what works and what doesn’t. Effective marketing campaigns are the ones that keep building on their own insights. Ext. Digital Activation Manager Shane Hersco recommends constant vigilance. “You need to A/B test as many different variations as possible. It never ends. You will never have a campaign that stands the test of time – that’s evergreen; after a while, even the best creative will fatigue. And to minimize fatiguing, we constantly test different variants,” he says.

Hersco adds that it’s important to test variants because you don’t intuitively know how the audience will interpret the creative and which one will work best. “We have a standing ad for example, and we test a small variation to it. We don’t typically change an entire ad or test two wildly different versions of the creative, otherwise we wouldn’t know what works and what doesn’t,” he explains.

Break it down

Anytime you A/B test, you need to test either a call to action, an image or copy – just one thing. For example, you’d have all those components in campaign A, and in campaign B you’d change only one of those elements.

It’s best practice to give each campaign asset a couple of days and to use a large enough sample size to deliver accurate results. It’s rather scientific, when you think about it. You control one variable at a time to reveal the main driver for success.

A/B testing provides insights into what creative elements are the most effective. Once you get an idea of which ones are the most appealing and effective for a particular audience or customer persona, you can use those insights to build a marketing library of different samples you can leverage for future campaigns.

Looking to boost your digital metrics and conversion rates? Learn how Ext. can help you create and manage effective marketing campaigns that incorporate A/B testing. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.