Having an online presence is a critical part of building connections with prospects and maintaining relationships with existing customers. Many financial services professionals are now promoting their businesses online via social media and other digital channels to stay top of mind.

But changing up an existing routine isn’t always easy. Adding another channel to your marketing mix takes time to establish and grow, and figuring out how to incorporate a new communication outlet into an existing workflow or process of doing things may be a challenge initially.

Once established, though, leveraging digital marketing channels as part of your sales process can reap considerable benefits. Robert Edgin, who represents American National Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates, has integrated digital channels into his day-to-day in a meaningful way that drives real business results.

Here are five strategies that Robert and several other agents at American National have successfully implemented to optimize their digital presence.

1. Start With a Clear Goal
Think about your overall goals for your practice. Your social profiles and websites should enhance the activities you are already doing to meet those goals. Robert says that “95% to 98% of all new business is referral based.” He is at the point in his practice where almost all of his business comes from existing customers in the form of referrals or additional products and services. He uses social media as a way to connect with his current clients and foster productive relationships with them.

2. Have One Message Across Multiple Channels
There are a lot of approaches to getting in front of people, but none resonate stronger than a unified message. It’s important to participate in a variety of channels because your customers and prospects like to consume information in different ways. If you are promoting an upcoming event on social media, refer contacts on your email and newsletter distribution lists to it. All of the communication that you do should work together. Robert uses a combination of newsletters, social media, email and video messages to enable multiple communication touch points with his customers and partners.

3. Leverage Centers of Influence
Centers of influence (COIs) can come in many forms – look to your clients, colleagues, experts in your industry or even other professionals. Amplify your message through your existing network by posting engaging content online. Build a mutually beneficial referral network with complementary local businesses. Distribute print materials to your partners that point to your digital presences and make it easier for interested prospects to find you!

4. Get Help
If digital marketing isn’t in your wheelhouse, delegate the responsibility of managing that aspect of your business-building efforts to other colleagues in your practice. Many social media sites and social media management tools have the functionality to invite other users to help manage your pages. If you work with a carrier that offers tools to help you operationalize your marketing efforts, evaluate how these tools can be helpful to you.

5. Be Consistent
Make planning and scheduling your social media and digital content a part of your regular routine. This may take a bit of time at first, but thinking ahead gives you the opportunity to effectively deliver a strong and consistent message. For example, if you are planning a local event, point print collateral and emails to your social sites and or/website for more information on how to participate.