Time to Move On

2nd
Aug. × ’14

You may have noticed a drop off in new posts here at InsuranceAgentWebPower.  It’s not for lack of interest or things to talk about, rather we have moved on to a different publishing platform, Google+.  To be sure, we will miss many of the advantages using a stand-alone website for the Confluency Solutions blog.  Before we made the decision to ‘blog’ on G+, we also considered moving our company blog to our own website at www.confluencysolutions.com.  But in the end, there were two reasons why we made the decision to move to G+:

  1. It’s easier to connect directly with relevant communities and followers; and
  2. Let’s face it, Google loves Google.

While readership on this blog has been good, and posts often surface in important search results, we just thought we could do better on G+.  Time will tell, and who knows?  We may be back.  Meanwhile, posts from the last six years will continue to live on here.  It’s been a good run, thanks for your readership, and thanks InsuranceAgentWebpower.com

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Google Now – Another Reason to Update Your Insurance Agency Website

27th
Mar. × ’14

Those of us with Android phones or tablets are probably familiar with Cards, little snippets of information that Google presents through its Google Now service.  Now and Cards were introduced with Jellybean 4.1 version of the Android OS.  Basically, Google anticipates information that it thinks you would be interested in based on a number of factors such as location history, web search history, information culled from your Gmail emails or Google Calendar, to name a few.*

Google Card Showing Insurance Agency Blog Post  The service is evolving, so what you might see in your Cards today – traffic and time to work, your next appointment, sports scores, weather – might be a little different tomorrow.

One of those changes caught our attention recently when one of Confluency’s support techs noticed a Card for an insurance agency blog post pop up.  He had visited the website during the preceding week, but the Card popped up the day the agency added a new blog post.  Anyone who knows anything about SEO has long known that regularly updated website content is a factor in Google’s Page Rank algorithm and leads to better search visibility.  For that reason, Confluency Solutions has always advocated adding regular activities to insurance agency job descriptions like adding new blog posts to insurance agency websites or updating product pages.  Now it seems like there is yet another reason for doing those updates, courtesy of Google Now and Cards.

*For a more in-depth explanation of Google Now and Cards, check out the Digital Trends blog post, How to Get the Best Out of Google Now.

Posted in Content Marketing, insurance agency website, Mobility, Search Engines | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Your Community, Your Insurance Agency Brand

5th
Mar. × ’14

What is it that distinguishes your insurance agency from alternatives like direct marketer GEICO?  One answer, for most independent insurance agencies, is that your business is part of the fabric of the community in which you are located.  Whether or not you think about it, for most agencies, this locality and community membership is an important brand component.  The economic and psychic health of your community affects the fortunes and quality of life of all community residents and businesses.  But how do you show the concern your agency business has for your community, and how do you demonstrate what your agency is doing to further the well-being of your town or neighborhood?  Many agencies contribute to charitable causes or volunteer employee time to Habitat for Humanity.  But there are other, more creative and impactful opportunities to show clients, partners and others how your business is dedicated to making your community a better place.

Several years ago, I attended a conference that featured Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind Dilbert, as a speaker.  Mr. Adams wasn’t always a cartoonist and spent a few minutes talking about

GoFundMe Tanya Ellis-Poss

how he was able to leave his cubicle and desk-bound office job and fashion a successful career as a cartoonist.  He talked about the role of luck in making that transition, noticing a few seconds of a TV commercial or picking a post card out of a pile of junk mail that was relevant to launching a career as a cartoonist.  And then he completely dispelled the role of luck in recognizing his opportunity.  His point, which I think is a valid one for all of us, is that he was simply more aware of opportunities because he wanted to make a career transition.  And awareness of opportunities to demonstrate your insurance agency’s dedication to your community is the first step to a more forceful agency brand.

An example of just such an opportunity presented itself to me just a few days ago.  A friend posted a link to her Facebook page about a fire that burned to the ground  a childhood friends’ parents’ home.  They carried insurance, but not enough to make them whole after the fire.  My friend’s friend started a GoFundMe  account to raise money to help indemnify her parents (donate if you are inclined).  In one respect, GoFundMe is functioning like insurance – pooling many small donations to make a larger payment to someone who has suffered a loss.  The knee jerk reaction for an insurance provider might be so dismiss this whole story with a ‘they should have bought more insurance’ comment.  But that doesn’t really seize the opportunity to do something positive for the community and make that community commitment tangible.

What if your insurance agency promoted this fund with your insurance agency clients through the several communication channels available to you, like social media and email?  What if your agency actually started the fund, made a meaningful seed donation and then promoted the fund?  Such an act would not only help the family, but it would also accrue to your agency’s brand identity as a vital member of your community.

Posted in Brand, Insurance Agency Communications | Comments closed

Your Insurance Agency Website Isn’t Computer Science (it’s about marketing)

17th
Feb. × ’14

There are a lot of moving parts to operating an independent insurance agency and often delegating tasks to individual managers, producers and CSRs is a decision made based on available time, not necessarily skills.  When work is meted out based on skills, often that match is somewhat superficial, and this often happens when it comes to insurance agency websites (or social media for that matter).

It is tempting to hand decisions about digital marketing and, website development and use, over to agency employees because they are younger or are the designated technology support for the agency.  Printing presses, the telephone, and for that matter, pen and paper, are technology.  But we don’t abdicate our use of those tools to the young or tech centric.  We recognize that those items are just tools for communicating with clients and getting our insurance agency value proposition out to prospective clients.

The same is true of any digital marketing, websites included – they are just tools used to help market our insurance services and products to clients and others.  As such decisions about content, who we want to communicate with, which digital channels – like email, social or web – we choose to use to further our marketing initiatives – should be made by the same people who do the marketing planning and management in your insurance agency.

There is nothing wrong with engaging tech employees and younger employees in your digital marketing and website projects, in fact you absolutely should.  They just may not be the best choices to lead those projects and make important decisions related to them.

 

 

Posted in Customer Development, insurance agency website, insurance digital marketing, insurance management, insurance web marketing | Tagged , | Comments closed

Bridging Your Insurance Agency’s Brand Gap

21st
Nov. × ’13

How many times have I asked this question:  ‘What makes your insurance agency different and better than the alternative?’  How many times did the answer come back, at least in part, something like this:  ‘ We provide superior personal service.’  I don’t know the how often the foregoing question has been asked, but it’s a big number, and most often the ‘we provide great service’ has been a component in the answer.  But do we really offer great service or is it just good enough to be better than the consumer’s most recent dissatisfaction?

In my past, I worked for a company that, like all businesses, had to grapple with budget, skill and time constraints.  In any project, it seemed we could never deliver excellence.  And we had good, talented people working on these projects.  A running joke within our project teams went something like this:  ‘We suck.  But so does our competition.  In order to win, we just have to suck less.’  It was an inside joke but it based on the reality of our experiences.  It also betrayed a common mistake we make when deciding who we want to be and what we want to deliver – we leave what the customer wants and thinks out of the equation.

How you want your agency to be perceived, and how it is actually perceived by others, is your brand gap.  Since brand encompasses several things such as name, logo, communications, product, service and people and what you stand for, it can be a challenge to actually measure that gap.  But a good starting point is to gauge service satisfaction, something that can be accomplished with simple surveys.

Old Scale

How does your brand measure up? Start by asking how your service measures up.

Confluency Solutions’ hosted insurance agency websites include a survey that is emailed to a consumer whenever a quote or service request is submitted through an insurance agency website.*  The survey, called the Insurance Service Report Card, asks just five simple questions:

  • Have we clearly explained or offered to explain your insurance protection to you?
  • Was your request fulfilled in a timely, professional manner?
  • Did you find the program or policy quote we provided to be competitive and a good value for the level of protection and peace of mind?
  • How would you rate your overall experience with our insurance agency?
  • Would you be comfortable referring a friend or family member to us for their insurance needs?

Each question has two or three possible answers, with responses ranging from extremely positive to very dissatisfied. Confluency recently reviewed over 2,700 responses submitted to about 160 different insurance agencies and compiled scores based on actual answers as compared to the best possible answers.  Here’s how the score distribution breaks down:

Grade                    Score Range                  Percent of Agencies

  A                            90% – 100%                               14%

  B                            80% – 89%                                 22%

  C                            70% – 79%                                  24%

  D                           60% – 69%                                  18%

  F                           below 60%                                  22%

You have to ask if there are external factors affecting satisfaction, such as volatility in the marketplace accompanied by large rate increases and negative underwriting action.  But that seems not to be the case, as the A group of agents are situated in much the same regulatory environments as the F group.

There was a mix of large and small agencies within the A and B group, but no agencies with more than 30 employees.  The D and F groups had a similar mix of agency sizes; however each included a few agencies with over 30 employees.  So if it isn’t size or location that creates differences in consumer satisfaction, what is it?

Not surprisingly, the A group tend to have more regular, proactive communication with their clients.  That communication usually includes some kind of print or e-newsletter and consistent offers to perform annual reviews.  Several of the A group also have large Facebook networks with regular postings of other than hardcore insurance content.  The same cannot be said for agents in the F group.  Again, this is not surprising, data compiled over the years draws a strong correlation between regular communication and customer satisfaction – and it should be noted – high retention, account development and referral rates.  It’s just that the communication channels are a little different today than in years gone by.

There are no absolutes within the A and F groups.  Rather, there are what I would call commonalities.  Commonalities within the A group have already been noted.  There is one commonality within the F group that I think is significant, though I admit to a bit of conjecture in this.  Several of the F group included agencies that are commercial lines focused and tend to have outside producers.

70% – 75% of website quote and service requests are related to personal insurance and small business insurance.  Mid-sized and large commercial accounts are usually handled differently, with more face-to-face and phone communications.   When the revenue stream for personal insurance is less important it seems to be less likely that agency management has proactive communication processes in place for those clients.  In a sense, there are two tracks for service – and satisfaction – the one delivered by individual producers (good or bad) and the one delivered by the ‘agency’.

What to make of all this?  In this survey, only 36% of insurance agents get a grade of A or B.  And these are agencies that have put some effort into providing broader service options.  I don’t think this data set is necessarily representative of the independent insurance agency universe – I think the A/B group is probably a smaller proportion than the 36% suggested in this sample.  Those agencies have a good story to tell and can quantify their value proposition, for example, ‘Our customer satisfaction is 96%’ vs. ‘We provide great service.’  The first value proposition has more teeth and there is data that suggests quantifiable value propositions motivates consumers to action, never mind the correlation between client satisfaction and agency profitability.

Those agencies in the C, D and F groups need find out why customers are unhappy.  Is it one employee?  Or maybe it is a raft of problems created by one or two of your carriers?  Step one is identifying dissatisfaction, step two is identifying the cause, step three is correcting the situation – and bridging the gap.  And if you don’t know which group your agency falls into, it’s easy to find out.  Just ask your customers.

* You can test drive the survey here:  http://demo.cfluent.com/survey/agency-report-card

 

 

 

Posted in Customer Development, Insurance Agency Communications, insurance management | Tagged , | Comments closed

Chemistry in the Insurance Agency Workplace

12th
Nov. × ’13

Chemistry in the band and in the insurance agency“When we kicked Topper out of the band for being unhealthy, we spoiled the chemistry of the band.” – Clash frontman Joe Strummer on the ripple effect of firing drummer Topper Headon.

All too often, we hire to fill a job opening with a focus only on the skills and experience necessary to fulfill job duties.  Sometimes, if we have had our corn flakes as part of our balanced breakfast, we might feel a little visionary and look to the long-term developmental potential of a candidate.  But each addition or reduction in head count also profoundly impacts team and insurance agency performance.

I was reminded of this recently during a fascinating presentation by LifeCourse Associates‘ Warren Wright.  The presentation, ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Those Generations’, was part of the excellent agenda at the Aartrijk hosted Brand Camp 2013.  As the title suggests, Brand Campers were treated to an overview of generational attitudes and expectations.  During 2011-2012, LifeCourse conducted a study on generations* within independent insurance agencies sponsored by Assurex Global.  The findings are sobering.  For instance:

  • Full time employees who perceive that generational differences ‘sometimes/often pose challenges’:  72% within insurance agencies as compared to 54% across all industries.
  • Favorable perception of the insurance industry by generation:  Boomers – 43%, Gen X – 31%, Millenials – 24%.
  • 19% of Millenials see Boomers with a ‘very favorable view’, while only 5% of Boomers can say the same about Millenials.
  • 72% of Millenials would like hands-on supervisory guidance; only 44% of Boomers and Gen X-ers want that kind of intervention.

There’s more, so much more that I stopped taking notes in the midst of the presentation.  And upon reflection my mind has wandered back to a book I read years ago called Feed Your Eagles (Building and Maintaining a Top Flight Sales Force).  That book made the first real impression on me about the importance of sales team composition and chemistry, but from a different angle, suggesting that employers and managers needed to pay attention to the mix of producers and employees age groups.  The book leaned heavily on studies and publications from the mid-70’s that, for the first time, suggested there is an adult life cycle, much like the child development life cycle we are all familiar with (the terrible two’s, know-it-all teens, e.g.).

“Adults hope that life begins at 40–but the great anxiety is that it ends there.” – Daniel Levinson

A sales team composed of twenty somethings – invincible, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound and quickly recover from hang-overs – is going to function and perform quite differently than a predominance of ultra-serious thirty somethings, who just have to make their mark on the world right now and become vice president of something no later than the third quarter of this year.  Just to round out a few decades (and over simplify):  40-somethings are more likely to be dealing with their mid-life crises while 50-somethings just have to have someone to mentor.  And what would the ideal mix of these age groupings look like?  You would want a 50-something or two to mentor all the groups, a few twenty-somethings for the sheer energy, sprinkle in some 40’s for experience and 30-ish employees to get the work done.  But wait, there’s more…

We can’t overlook that whole Venus and Mars thing.  I don’t think any of us, man or woman, needs to be told that the sexes approach business and relationships entirely differently and have to be managed accordingly.  Nobody ever said people  management was going to easy and now we have this generational cold cup of coffee staring us down on top of the life cycles and sexes.  But the first step in any 12 step program is recognizing and admitting you have a problem.  And if we can just start there, I think there is hope for independent insurance agencies to ace chemistry class.

 

*LifeCourse’s Generation Definitions by Year of Birth

  • Boomers – b. 1946 – 1960 (This definition of the Boomer generation moves me closer to the Gen X cut-off and makes me feel younger.  Thank you, LifeCourse!)
  • Gen X – b. 1961 – 1981
  • Millenials – b. 1982 – 2004

 

 

 

Posted in insurance agency management | Comments closed

6 Digital Marketing Boosters for Your Insurance Agency

8th
Oct. × ’13

When insurance agents think about digital marketing, and most of the rest of us for that matter, terms like SEO, PPC and drip email spring to mind immediately.  All of those tactics are important weapons in any insurance agent’s marketing arsenal, but there are many other tools that allow us to get more even more client touches and do it in a way that personalizes those contacts.  As a bonus, many of these services help insurance agents gain efficiencies and save time.  These tools are often overlooked, so I thought it would be a good time to run down some of my favorites, many of which we use day-to-day at Confluency Solutions.IMG_7487

Get it on the calendar

Setting up meetings and synchronizing calendars can be a time-consuming game of voice mail tag.  Then, just as you finally get an email response from a prospect about a suitable meeting day and time, you find that the delayed response has resulted in your calendar filling up with other, conflicting appointments.  And so begins another round of voice mail and email tag, as you try to rearrange your schedule to accommodate everyone and still find a minute in between for a snack, a cup of coffee and a bio break.  Fortunately there are cloud services available that allow you to share available time on your calendar with others who can set appointments and update your calendar in real-time.  Most commonly used calendars such as Outlook and Google Calendar support.  One caveat:  keep your calendar updated.  If you forget to update your own appointments and obligations, those time slots will appear as open on your calendar.

Favorite:  Time Trade

Robots for email

Bulk email services, also called Email Service Providers or ESPs, have been around for a long time; there are several good services and a lot of competition in this area.  Recently, a few providers have begun adding CRM-like features that allow you to better segment lists and set up simple mailing rules.  But regardless of which service you use, you can easily set up scheduled emails to large lists of clients and prospects as well as auto-responders that ‘drip’ a sequence of emails on a client or prospect.  One caveat:  be sure to follow the CAN-SPAM opt-in rules.  Fortunately, all the services have a process that makes it difficult to run afoul of anti-spam laws.

Favorites:  Constant Contact, Mail Chimp

Sit across the desk…digitally

Time constraints and traffic  bottlenecks mean that more and more business is conducted by phone and email.  It can be difficult to walk a client through complex coverage options without charts, tables and other illustrations.  Most of us have attended large group webinars at one time or another, but the most common use for web conferencing is one-on-one meetings that are launched on the spot.  Once launched, using one of these services is as easy as flipping a piece of paper across your desk for review by a client and meetings become much more impactful when you can show, as well as say.

Favorites:  GoToMeeting, Join.me

Make your email memorable with video

Nothing makes a personal connection like meeting someone face-to-face.  Unfortunately that isn’t always possible or practical.  The next best thing is video.  Several services make sending a video email nearly as quick and easy as sending a plain old, boring text email.  Launch your web cam for an impromptu message or use a previously recorded video to thank a new client for placing their business with your agency, wish a happy birthday or…well, use your imagination and video email and make a lasting impression.

Favorite:  Eyejot

Save time and postage with e-signatures

Many insurance companies have approved the use of e-signature services for documenting insurance applications.  Gone is the messy process of printing, scanning and emailing.  All open and signed documents are stored in an archive for easy search and can be quickly exported to PDF for storage in agency management systems.

Favorites:  Echosign, Docusign

Insurance advice, accident help, home inventory and service…is there an app for that?

A huge and growing base of people have shifted their daily digital interactions from the desk top computer to smart phones, and often apps are the preferred method for using the internet.  Many insurance companies have quality apps available, but those apps brand the agent first, and open a new communication channel between the company and the end-customer, leaving agents somewhat on the sideline.  What independent agents need is an app that brands their agency and reinforces the agency-customer relationship first and foremost.

Favorite:  Insurance Agent Mobile App from Blue I Mobile

 

 

 

Posted in Insurance Agency Communications, insurance digital marketing | Tagged , | Comments closed

Your Agency’s Future in Personal Lines Depends on Content Marketing.

30th
Jul. × ’13

What one skill does your insurance agency need to ensure a future in personal lines?  As the title of this posts suggests, the answer is content marketing.  You may differ with me on this point, but bear with me for a few paragraphs before rushing to judgement.

Almost two years ago now, I attended an industry gathering at which the keynote speaker was the industry journalist/analyst Brian Sullivan.  During the Q&A someone asked him if he thought independent agents had a future in personal lines.  I won’t go into detail on that here – I did a post at the time if you want to get my two-year old take on that –  basically, Mr. Sullivan said that agents with a personal lines future would do so with fewer clients, but would deliver more value-added services to them and have more product relationships with those clients.

run down motel image

Charming, yes. But a relic of the past, or prepared for the future?

Last month, McKinsey & Co. published their own take on the same topic and it’s a sobering read, probably worthy of several blog posts.  For now, I’m going to concentrate on just one facet of the report, having to do with expertise and communication channels, and the relationship of those things to content marketing.  McKinsey cites an increasing unwillingness on the part of consumers to pay for generalist advice that they can find on their own.  If you are prone to respond with ‘we are a generalist insurance agency’ when asked if you can define your target markets, and a significant proportion of your agency revenue comes from personal lines, then it’s probably time to put on your thinking cap.

Perhaps you and your insurance agency colleagues possess a wealth of expertise.  But expertise not shared is like a football receiver with Olympic sprinter speed that can’t run routes and doesn’t know the playbook.  Expertise not shared is wasted potential.

To be sure, the extra services Brian Sullivan alluded to in his talk would include more than just delivering expertise, but I would submit that expertise is the most significant subset of value added services an insurance agent can deliver.  Before your agency can develop and deliver value added expertise, you need to clearly define your target customer in other than line-of-business and geographic terms (homeowners and drivers in River City).  Agencies who have built a practice serving high net worth clients recognize this already.  McKinsey notes that consumers are already seeking more tailored and customized insurance products, which “translates into a demand for more tailored and deep expertise from their insurance advisors. (Consumers) will turn to agents for advice on holistic insurance packages for their personal needs.”  Defining your target market allows you to identify specific challenges faced by the consumer, risk management oriented solutions and model product portfolios – both traditional and non-traditional.

You probably see  a lot of talk about communication channels.  Let me mention a few leading ones here, and as you run down the list, honestly answer how many these you use to communicate with your agency clients on anything more than a one-off basis:  email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, website blog, mobile app.  If you are like most agencies, you probably aren’t doing anything much more than the occasional post for a sparse Facebook audience.

One of the reasons most agents cite for not using these channels is lack of time to develop content for them.  But your expertise is your content, and  once you have clearly defined your target market(s) you can start to assemble an educational inventory for those markets that includes information about risk management, safety and insurance products.  But your content – your expertise – needs to be shared to realize the potential of that asset and that’s where channels come in.  Since you have already defined your target market(s), you will have a better idea about which channels your targets use.

Personal lines distribution has already started to change in terms of consumer behavior and perception, particularly as regards auto insurance.  How far will those distribution changes go and what’s the timeline?  It’s hard to know for sure, but it seems clear to me that those insurance agencies that are honing their content marketing chops today will do alright tomorrow.

 

Posted in blogging, Content Marketing, Insurance Agency Communications, insurance web marketing, Uncategorized | Comments closed

What? SEO Isn’t for Insurance Agencies? It’s Just Part of the Mix

22nd
Apr. × ’13

Web Analytics World* added a provocative blog post a few days ago, suggesting that SEO is not a good tactic for small businesses, a category into which most insurance agencies would fit.  Why?  Because SEO today has become very complex – it has evolved way beyond just keyword density and cheap back links – in fact that sort of approach can hurt far more than it will help.  Another point the post makes is that many small businesses and insurance agencies are competing with larger businesses, who have large SEO budgets, staff devoted to SEO, and several years head start optimizing for search.  Their point here:  “it takes real money to displace real money”.

On the one hand, I agree with what they are saying, I have been saying the same thing for years now.  On the other hand, I think many independent insurance agents are in much better position than other small businesses in that they do not have big, well funded competition in all cases.  Also, if you accept that you are a local business, geographically modified keywords can be optimized without breaking the bank and local search listings give you a leg up for many keyword searches.  However, keywords like ‘save money on auto insurance’ or ‘free car insurance quotes’ are going to pit any local agency head-to-head with the direct marketing insurance companies.

The way to think about optimization today isn’t narrowly, in terms of SEO, but more broadly, in terms digital visibility, of which SEO is only part;  SEO isn’t the whole meal, it’s just the sauce.

The Sauce Line Up

“SEO isn’t the whole meal, it’s just the sauce.”

For instance, Google can’t see inside of Facebook, so SEO is of no use there.  Building a network and engaging with that network via interesting content is the key to visibility there.  Likewise with Linkedin and Twitter.   Content, as has been pointed out here and in other places, is the key to most digital marketing, including e-newsletters, white papers, and to some extent, even local search optimization.**

Most insurance agents don’t produce much in the way of original content, but that isn’t strictly necessary.  Blog posts, news items, photos, and infographics produced by others, can be shared through your insurance agency’s digital channels and editorialized upon.  There are numerous services that provide generic articles and freelance writers abound if you need custom content for blog posts, social media, or email.  What is missing in most agencies is an editor-in-chief.  Someone, probably the agency principal or marketing executive, needs to be thinking like a publisher.

Behind most traditional and digital publications is an editorial schedule that sketches out content monthly content at least several months in advance.  Editorial schedules also assign content development to different people, something that insurance agencies may need to think of including in job performance requirements for CSRs and producers.  Schedules are also flexible, so that if a really good or topical news item presents an opportunity, it can easily be folded into the monthly schedule.  A good example of this might include two pre-planned blog posts (and Facebook posts and Twitter tweets), both scheduled for May, about boat insurance, one discussing when a separate policy is necessary, the other covering some boating safety tips.  If April storms spawn tornadoes, hail, and damage across a large part of the nation, you might push back one of the boat articles in favor of an opportunity to post some content explaining how large storms, and storm patterns affect rates and coverage options over time.

Another important consideration, as pointed out in an earlier blog post here, is who you are communicating with (commercial clients? personal clients?  prospective clients?).  Each will  match up with different digital channels.  But the important thing is not to think of your content as purely for SEO, even though it will help with that.  If you can train yourself to think in terms of digital visibility, instead of search engine optimization, you will begin to realize that SEO, while important, isn’t the be-all-end-all proposition we sometimes let it become – it’s just another ingredient in an insurance agents marketing mix..

 

 

*For the complete post, see http://www.webanalyticsworld.net/2013/04/here-is-why-seo-is-not-for-small-business-owners.html

**Some local search content consists of the categories and information with which you update your local search listing, but customer reviews also include content that helps your local ranking and also improves click-through-rates.

 

Posted in Search Engines, seo, Uncategorized | Comments closed

Social Media? SEO? Yellowpages.com? What’s an Insurance Agent to Do?

20th
Mar. × ’13

I know very well that as an insurance agent, you get inundated by people offering to make you number one in search results, or to relieve you of the burden of social media marketing and Facebook updates…or something similar.  I know because the insurance agents we work with tell us about it.  And not coincidentally, we get the same kind of offers and promises.  Some of the offers are from legitimate digital marketing practitioners but most are scams in varying degrees.

At the same time, articles in the Insurance Journal, and other trade periodicals, discuss the growth in new digital communication options like smart phone apps and social media (to name just two) and the major insurance agent associations offer educational resources related to a variety of digital media.  Very few of us are equipped to implement a cultural sea change and implement every conceivable digital tactic at once, though you may find a vendor or two who will tell you otherwise.  So how do you pick and choose which digital marketing tactics are right for your agency?

There are really only four areas where you can finesse profit growth (a bit of an oversimplification, but hey – indulge me a little):

  • Revenue from customer development 
  • Revenue from new account acquisition
  • Expense management 
  • Sales management

You might fairly argue that sales management is a subset of expense management – and you would be right.  But I think it is important enough that it deserves to be broken out separately.  If you don’t agree at this point, hang in there for the last graphic in this post.

If you know what lever you are trying to manage, choosing the right program and digital communication medium becomes a lot easier.  Consider the table below.

Insurance agency revenue sources matched with appropriate internet marketing

Internet Marketing Options and Revenue Sources

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So obviously, if you were concerned with shoring up retention, or improving your insurance agency’s policy-per-account ratio, PPC (pay per click) and SEO would not be the right choices.  But there is another consideration:  cost and ramp up time.  But even if your objective is to increase new account sales – to get new clients – SEO and PPC still may not be the best places to start because they both require a greater investment than the other tactics; and in the case of SEO, results may not materialize for several months.  For a more complete conversation about internet marketing cost and time frames, see Internet Marketing – Long and Short Term Objectives).

And because some marketing initiatives can be truly expensive, you will want to make sure you are maximizing sales results.  That is, you want to make sure you have the processes and support in place to achieve the highest possible sales conversion rates.  Take a look at the table below which itemizes some representative insurance policy close ratios with, and without, good lead management.

Insurance sales conversions with and without lead management

Insurance sales conversions with and without lead management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, SEO and PPC may address the revenue sources you are trying to manage and the required investment may even fit your insurance agencies marketing budget.  But before you spend your hard earned marketing dollars, you should make sure you are managing the sales process to get your best ROI.

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