I have known that I have had a congenital kidney disease since I was in my mid twenties. So long as I had the same job as I had then, that was not an issue. However my old boss retired and he left the company in the hands of his two sons. That seems like a recipe for failure to every one who is still here. In fact a lot of key employees have already found new jobs. Right now I have started to look for if you have a preexisting medical condition like I do. Of course the so called Obama Care health insurance markets are still open, but they are going to close down pretty soon as I understand it. The problem is that I have health insurance now, and if things went well I would be able to keep my insurance. I just do not know if I can count on the boss’ sons to keep the doors open in the office. So I am just trying to cover my butt in case it gets cold real suddenly. Read more …
Insurance Agency Websites, SEO, SEM, Social Media Marketing and Blogging – there is certainly a lot to keep up with these days in terms of staying current and reaching a given target market. Agency target markets can be horizontal (businesses between $1 Million and $10 Million in sales), vertical (transportation companies and owner operators), or extremely broad in scope (personal lines for example). Insurance agency marketing should funnel content toward a given target market. A primary step toward this goal is the creation of a quality blog. Once that is accomplished, and to ensure an agency remains ahead of the curve, agents should seriously consider vlogging as an important addition to their insurance agency web marketing strategy.
A vlog is a video blog, and vlogs are on the cutting edge when it comes to insurance agency web marketing. Vlogs can, and should, be short video clips, no more than one minute in length. They must of course look professional, with good sound quality and image, and should be posted to an insurance agency website, often in close proximity to the agency blog(s). And for agencies seeking to extend their reach, or wishing to take their vlogs to the next level, vlogs can be posted to a dedicated YouTube channel. YouTube will help with insurance agency SEO and search marketing optimization. Now, at this point, many agents might be asking themselves, “Is this really necessary?” Though vlogging is not yet requisite, it is both important and helpful for the following reasons:
1. Nothing ever seems necessary until the day that an agency realizes they are the only one not doing it. Ten years ago, many agencies scoffed at “needing” a professional website to compete. Today no agency can be without one. Soon, the same will like be said for SEO and Social Media Marketing. Vlogging will be no different, and as a younger generation of Facebook and YouTube centric buyers will soon make the buying decisions, vlogging and video will become part of the basics of any given insurance agency web marketing program.
2. Vlogging will help improve insurance agency SEO. Video content on an insurance agency website can help improve SERP rankings. This SEO boost increases proportionately if combined with an agency YouTube channel – YouTube is the 3rd most highly ranked and indexed site in the world. YouTube is increasingly used by businesses to target their prospects in the places where they spend the most time. An agency is missing a very good (and free) opportunity if they do not have video content on YouTube.
3. Vlogging and video offers a competitive edge for many agencies. In a time when it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish one agency’s offerings from another, vlogging and video can help deliver content in unique and professional way. Imagine a scenario where a producer from Agency A, and from Agency B are both after the same prospect. Agency A’s producer hands the prospect a business card and a lengthy paper brochure. Agency B’s producer pulls out an iPhone and shows the prospect a professional 30 second vlog of a current client raving about their agency solutions. Which agency has the edge?
4. Video is cool and interesting. There is no other way to put it – we live in a video obsessed culture, and no amount of print, copy, or speech can match a professional video. Generation X and Y are going to seek information in different ways than traditional marketing was targeting two decades ago. It’s critical that agencies adapt their strategies to match the wants, needs, and expectations of a new generation of buyers.
The only constant is change when it comes to marketing, and insurance agency web marketing is a logical extension for any successful agency or broker outreach program. One of the latest tools in the marketing toolbox is a vlog, it’s better to consider adding this capability sooner rather than later.
When considering the current economic climate and soft insurance market, every agency and agent wants to generate the optimum number of qualified leads with the lowest possible marketing investment. There is always a tradeoff between insurance agency lead flow today versus long range marketing plans, branding and agency awareness campaigns for the future. Let’s review some of the web marketing options available and discuss the length of time necessary to generate leads for insurance agents, or at a minimum, how long it would take to complete the task. These are in a suggested order for a typical insurance agency web marketing initiative.
Insurance Agency Website:
This is the first and foremost task for every agent and agency. Today your website is your Main Street façade, the front store window which every prospect and client will view. Regardless of lead flow, it is of paramount importance that your website is up to date and professional. After all, would you want to enter a store with peeling paint, a cracked front window, a faded sign and a general look of neglect? It only takes 30 days to revitalize a website, top to bottom and a compelling website will start to pay dividends immediately.
Insurance Agency Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Now that your insurance agency website is current and compelling, we need to focus on SEO. Arguably, much of the on page optimization was already accomplished if your website was redesigned, although many agencies have found that web designers may not be conversant with SEO. Regardless, it’s time to ensure your insurance agency SEO is at an optimum level. This encompasses both on page and off page optimization initiatives and both are extremely important to your success. Insurance agency SEO projects can put your agency on Google page one in as little as 30 to 60 days, resulting in a dramatic improvement for web traffic and an increase in lead generation.
Blogging is a great way to increase website traffic, showcase agency expertise and improve insurance agency SEO. It’s fast, easy and arguably fun to do. Blog entries can be short; even two or three relevant sentences will often suffice. Blogging can also be outsourced to an insurance marketing agency or a proficient copywriter. Blog topics can often become articles, published in online magazines or article directories. Blogs can be integrated into social media marketing programs, and lead generation can be tracked through website analytics programs (including Google Analytics which is a free solution). If done correctly and consistently, blogs can increase lead flow in as little as 60 days.
Electronic publishing or epublishing offers insurance agencies another way to generate website traffic, inbound inquiries and establish a positive internet presence. These days, electronic publishing can be more beneficial to drive in profile prospects to an insurance agency website than social media marketing or bulk web lead purchases. Articles should be educationally oriented focusing on your area of expertise. For example, perhaps your agency is proficient in compliance, workers compensation or marine insurance. Articles on these topics showcase your expertise and will help drive traffic to your website. Electronic publishing can drive leads within 30 days. Articles are typically published within a week of submission.
Social Media Marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr)
Social media marketing is interesting, fun and empowering. Every agency and agent should have a presence in the major social networks, and should join relevant prospect groups on LinkedIn. Integration between social media (linking your blog to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for example), improves speed and efficacy of your content. Video offers advantages for marketing through YouTube and other social networks, and of course, makes your agency website more interesting and “stickier”. It takes time to germinate leads from social media marketing. Assume at least three or four months of effort before you see a return. However, when combining and integrating social media marketing with some of the other lead generation tools mentioned here, your return can be much faster.
Insurance Agency eMarketing
Agencies who try to use email blasts to blast out offers for cheap insurance will be sadly disappointed in the results. However, agencies who leverage eMarketing to distribute quality newsletters, white papers or educational webinar series can find this a highly effective lead generation tool, one which can dramatically help lead gen in a soft market. Campaigns can yield results very quickly, though it takes time to map out a successful eMarketing and seminar strategy, and an agency should plan on a 90 day cycle.
Insurance Agency Web Seminars
Web seminars, when combined with a professional eMarketing initiative, can be one of the most effective, long term lead generation tools available to agencies, in a soft or hard insurance market. Web seminar series build tremendous credibility, internet presence and agency awareness, and when done correctly, can virtually eliminate cold calling while adding qualified leads to the agency pipeline. It takes some time to create a successful webinar series, often up to six months to build awareness and loyalty. That said, once an agency establishes credibility, their webinar series will continue to draw impressive numbers of prospects. Agencies should assume three to six months to build an effective web seminar program.
Pay Per Click (Google PPC Campaigns)
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can be an effective way for insurance agencies to increase website traffic and generate leads. Organic SEO is superior in that there are no ongoing click based fees. However, for specific agency marketing niches, including commercial insurance, benefits insurance and personal lines. Pay Per Click marketing campaigns can offer a beneficial boost to insurance agency lead generation. Other variations on this include Pay Per Inclusion and Pay Per Impression. An important note, these campaigns need to be monitored and measured closely, as some keyword clicks can cost $5 to $15 every time someone clicks on the advertisement.
Web Lead Bulk Purchases
There are many companies which drive insurance consumer traffic to their respective websites and then parse and bundle leads, ultimately selling these to agents in their respective target areas. For example, some of these companies drive life insurance prospects to their websites, collect information, then sell these prospects to insurance agents and agencies on a per lead or lead bundle price. This can be beneficial to drive activity into and insurance agency pipeline, however, these leads are often sold to multiple agents and brokers, resulting in a pool of agents competing for the same prospect, armed with the same information. These bulk lead purchases can drive activity into a pipeline within 30 days, though the downside is that the leads are a free for all, and your agency will be one of many calling on the same leads.
These web centric activities can help drive leads to an agency, even in a challenging soft market as we have today. Your agency should focus on areas in which you have expertise. For example, perhaps one of your agents or support specialists likes to write, you could have them work on blogging and electronic publishing. Or, you may have a principal who would like to create a prominent social networking presence. However, if you lack the internal expertise or bandwidth, you can outsource all or part of these activities to a competent insurance marketing agency.
n effective insurance agency telemarketing script is one of the key components in a successful insurance agency lead generation initiative. There are, however, many other important elements to be added to ensure continual, in profile, insurance agency leads. Beyond the telemarketing (appointment setting) script, agents should also create buyer personas, targeted prospect lists, niche marketing segmentation (verticals whenever possible), professional eCollateral and a well documented lead handling process. Let’s explore an insurance agency lead generation initiative from an appointment setting perspective.
Perhaps your insurance agency is targeting a niche like trucking, and your agency has a strong close ratio, but lacks sufficient prospects to sufficiently increase revenues. Using a baseball analogy, your trucking insurance agency might have a Ted Williams batting average but you are only playing as a pinch hitter, so you lack sufficient at bats to build your book of business. One solution to increase your pipeline activity is a targeted appointment setting campaign. This can include eMarketing and appointment setting calls, or if budget is insufficient, simply the latter. Before embarking upon your initiative, you should consider the following building blocks for your transportation insurance lead generation campaign:
Buyer Persona: A short narrative on the type of person who can and will buy your solution.
Prospect Scorecard: Create a Prospect Scorecard to quantify your approach to prospecting and pipeline building.
Targeted prospect and email list: Once your agency has clearly identified your target market, you need to build a high quality prospect list. Some refer to this as a suspect list.
Compelling Telemarketing Script with your value proposition and top 3 differentiators: You only get a short window of opportunity for you (or your outsourced appointment setters) to deliver your pitch. It should be concise, compelling and explain your value proposition.
Professional Appointment Setter: Your appointment setter (note that I didn’t refer to them as a telemarketer), needs to be professional, credible, and insurance industry knowledgeable.
Let’s begin with the Buyer Persona. A Buyer Persona is a one or two paragraph written description of your ideal buyers. A trucking insurance agency Buyer Persona might sound like this: Mike Jones is an owner or CEO of a trucking company, with a fleet size between 10 and 150 power units. He’s held this position at least three years and seeks an insurance agency that understands transportation insurance and offers both coverages and expert guidance. He does not make quick decisions, but is willing to try a new agency if they offer deep expertise and competitive pricing. He can make the decision to purchase, but may seek to validate it with other team members. Once he decides, however, the sale is very likely to move forward.
You should create Buyer Personas for each major industry you’re targeting, assuming that the key attributes of each buyer and industry are different. If you’re unsure of the key attributes for each prospective buyer, you should utilize a Prospect Scorecard to define, measure and qualify your prospective buyers, by target industry.
Prospect Scorecard & Targeted Prospect List
A Prospect Scorecard can be used to determine the five to ten ideal attributes of your most coveted prospects, and to quantify these to help determine the overall quality of your agency pipeline. This ingredient can be used to ensure you are contacting ideal suspects, thus optimizing your appointments setting campaign. More targeted suspects result in better prospects and will increase the number of prospects which ultimately close.
Once your agents have identified the ideal prospect attributes, by targeted industry, including, industry, type of business, revenues, employees, title, geography, ex-date, etc., you should then build a comprehensive, up to date suspect list. If you’re target small businesses, focus on only one or two titles (Owner, CEO, President). If your targeting large businesses, call high and wide, as the decision making process is often distributed and obtuse. A good, current list, with ex-dates whenever possible, will dramatically improve campaign results. And if you are augmenting your appointment setting with insurance agency eMarketing, ensure you have quality emails and follow all opt-in/opt-out and Can-Spam regulations.
Insurance Agency Telemarketing Script
Once the list is assembled, it’s time to create a compelling call script. A very simple example is below:
Hi (Your Prospect Name) this is Mary Smith calling with XYZ Trucking Agency. We work exclusively with trucking companies, helping insure their small fleets, providing creative approaches to optimize coverages while reducing premiums. We handle your most difficult challenges, from P&C to Benefits Compliance, and take the hassle out of your renewals and administration. With over 60 years of trucking insurance experience, we know what it takes to help ensure your success. It will only take a few minutes to get a second opinion on one your largest cost centers – do you have 10 minutes to meet with one of our trucking agents?
In this simple example, we note that you should use industry jargon to convey expertise. You should include your top 3 differentiators in your telemarketing script. Also note that effective appointment setting campaigns are uncovering companies which may be considering a change. Perhaps their current service levels are inadequate, their renewal was frustrating, or a new executive was recently hired and is seeking to improve operations. So timing is everything, and continuously casting a broad net, will help improve the odds that your producers are in the right place at the right time. Think of this from a metric standpoint. If your appointment setter is working 20 hours a week and dialing the phone 25 times an hour, they are making 500 calls per week, or about 24,000 calls per year. If your targeted prospect list is 1,500 companies, with three contacts each, that means the campaign will reach out to each contact about 6 times per year. Though they will not reach them 6 times (voice mail, out of office, in meetings, etc.), they are very likely to reach them at least once, providing an opportunity to carry your unique value proposition to thousands of prospects.
Professional Appointment Setter – In-house Vs. Outsource
Finding, training and managing a professional and effective appointment setter is somewhat more complex than most agents might perceive. It’s rare that an agency can hire one appointment setter, and be successful with that single hire. This is somewhat analogous to assuming every producer hired will succeed. It’s more likely that one of every two or three appointment setters hired will succeed. This metric is influenced by the support systems and infrastructure used and the supervision provided to support the insurance agency telemarketing initiative. Agents will need to train, manage and measure the results of each appointment setter, and every campaign. The agency also needs to create and refine their call script, and clearly document a lead handling process for both the appointment setter and producers to optimize appointment setting campaigns. Many agencies, may lack the internal resources and expertise to accomplish all the items above.
The days of relying solely on referrals or in person networking as an insurance agency lead generation strategy are coming to a close for many agents and agencies. New economies of scale offered by more efficient marketing methods are typically needed to supplement traditional marketing methods such as networking and referral generation. Producers seeking to carry their unique value proposition to targeted prospects, especially in the commercial insurance and group benefits markets, typically need an improved insurance lead generation strategy to increase the suspect and prospect pools in their respective pipelines.
The list of possible marketing and lead generation initiatives is hardly endless, though somewhat exhaustive, and can be daunting for many small to medium sized agencies and brokers. Defining the type of agency we should describe a small to medium in size is subjective, so in this case we’ll use financial parameters from $2 Million to $50 Million in commission revenues as an attempt to frame this group. Granted, though there is a major difference between a $2 Million agency and a $22 Million broker, there are also similarities when it comes to their respective marketing challenges. Once an agency exceeds $50 Million in revenues, they should be able to sufficiently staff up for most of the initiatives noted below. The skills necessary for these types of marketing initiatives are truly varied, and include all of the following:
VP Marketing (Marketing Strategist/Generalist)
Programmers for Websites (HTML, PHP, etc.)
Web Analytics Manager
Social Media Marketer
Telemarketer (Appointment Setter)
Some of these skills may be combined into one marketing position (writer, editor, blogger for example), while others are disparate and would require specific skill set staffing of that position. Even larger agencies, those with $50 Million and greater in commission revenue, outsource some of these tasks when there is not an ongoing, full time need for that skill set. Video is a good example of this, as are graphic artists and SEO specialists.
Here are 20 insurance agency marketing and insurance lead generation initiatives every agency can leverage. Some of these are modest efforts, others far more comprehensive. How many of these insurance marketing initiatives can your agency check off?
Insurance Agency Marketing Plan
Updated Insurance Agency Website
Web Visitor Identification System
Organic Insurance SEO & PPC Ads
Insurance Search Engine Marketing
Insurance Social Media Marketing
Agency Blogging & Vlogging
Insurance Agency eMarketing
Insurance Web Seminar Marketing
Contact List Generation & Email List Generation
Agent Buyer Personas by target market
Prospect ID or other Prospect Qualification Methodology
Website Video Creation & Client Testimonials
eBrochures & Client Case Studies
Newsletter Creation & Distribution
Insurance Agency Telemarketing & Lead Handling
Prominent, effective and measured Call To Actions for your website and all marketing materials
There are other marketing initiatives which can be used including snail mail marketing, traditional seminars, sponsorships, traditional advertisements, etc. Most of these leverage the skill sets discussed earlier and all of these can be considered, though a focus on digital and repeatable is usually advisable. Producers, executives and owners all seek to grow their book of business. Marketing is time and budget driven, and if done correctly, should provide an ROI driven formula to cost justify the investment.
White Hat SEO
Hopefully your insurance agency is now familiar with terms like insurance agency SEO, insurance agency search engine optimization or insurance agency search engine marketing, the process in which agents attempt to lift their websites to a top position on page one of Google or Bing’s search engine results pages (SERP). There are two basic approaches to accomplish improved search engine rankings, which can ironically (or iconically) be found in old Westerns. I’m referring to the old white hat versus black hat cowboy days featuring white hat actors like John Wayne and Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) against black hat actors like Jack Palance. For a more contemporary version, Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader comes to mind, minus the hat for Luke. Fast forward to today and we’re now referring to white hat versus black hat SEO tactics. Hopefully your agency is not engaging in black hat tactics accidentally or otherwise. As with the movies of yesteryear, the black hat represents the villain, and the villain is usually vilified. Black hat SEO tactics can get your agency in trouble with the search engines, and there is no need to resort to these methods to achieve compelling SEO results for your agency.
Long Tail Keywords and White Hat Keyword Density
Insurance Agency Search Engine Optimization begins by creating a list of preferred insurance keyword phrases, often referred to as trophy words. Examples of this may include: California Liability Insurance, Massachusetts Business Insurance, New York Truck Insurance or Group Health Insurance. These phrases are called long tail keywords and need to appear on insurance agency websites in a variety of ways. Once your agency has determined the best keyword phrases (after reviewing them in Google AdWords or other keyword analytics tool), your agency should populate your website using your preferred keywords. This needs to be accomplished with your metadata (description, meta keywords, page title, etc.) and on the actual content which appears on your web page. Your agency should also measure “on page” keyword density. Each page should be optimized for one to three phrases. Experts and empirical data varies on this, but many consider 5% to 6% to be optimum density for the major search engines. Working within the boundaries of “reasonable” keyword density, meta best practices, quality inbound links to your insurance agency website and a robust social media marketing initiative will yield positive results for your insurance agency SEO web marketing plans.
White Hat Link Building
These days, Google and Bing are trending toward quality over quantity, your insurance agency should focus on building quality links with reputable sites. These can include insurance carriers and partners with whom you work, resource sites about insurance or business topics related to your target market, reputable ePublishing sites and external blogs. Buyer beware if you’re contacted by an organization that boasts they can provide “10,000 inbound links” to your website, you must carefully assess the type and quality of these links (and the company which is contacting you) to ensure there are no improper link building tactics being employed.
Follow Search Engine Guidelines
Content should not be hidden or disguised in any way, and meta tags should be representative of your agency and the content provided on that page. Custom landing pages are appropriate and helpful, falling completely within white hat SEO tactics, as long as it is correctly optimized for your specific solution. For example, you can create a landing page for Professional Liability Insurance, featuring relevant content and appropriate keyword density exclusively for your PLI products and services.
Most agencies should leverage the old “crawl, walk, run” approach when it comes to search engine optimization, working first on relevant content with optimized meta, meta tags and keyword density, then supplementing these efforts with blogging, ePublishing, YouTube Videos and other Social Media Marketing campaigns.. And remember, no matter how pretty that big photo or image happens to be on your insurance agency website, these do nothing to help your SEO efforts. Make sure your website is balanced between graphical appeal and sufficient, relevant and “White Hat SEO” optimized content.