There’s a good chance you already have a LinkedIn profile (and if you don’t, what are you waiting for?!), but there’s also a good chance you aren’t taking advantage of everything this great networking platform has to offer. After you’ve tweaked your profile to perfection, added a professional looking picture and received a few recommendations from colleagues and clients, what else is there to do?
You need to think of LinkedIn like an after-hours networking event: you show up in your nice suit, grab a drink, put some of your business cards out on a table…and then sit in the corner all night.
No! You work the room and meet everyone that you can. You want folks to get to know you and understand what you bring to the table. The same method of thinking needs to be applied to your LinkedIn profile; don’t show up to the party and then sit alone for the entire evening.
One of the most valuable parts of LinkedIn is their “Answers” feature. LinkedIn Answers allows users to post questions and also answer questions that other users ask. If you log on to your LinkedIn profile, click on “More” in the top navigation and then “Answers” in that drop-down menu, you will be directed to the Answers portion of the website. I recommend just clicking around as a way to really see what Answers is capable of, but here are a few reasons why I think it’s so great:
1) You can position yourself as an expert. People are able to ask their questions in very specific categories. Click on categories you feel that you are very knowledgeable about and if you think you can provide a great answer, go for it! If the person asking the question thinks you had the best answer, you will begin to earn expertise. Experts are featured on the Answers homepage and in each category of questions. This is your way of showing what you know rather than telling people what you know.
2) Increase your blog traffic. If someone asks a question and you think a blog post you have written can be used as a resource, feel free to share your thoughts and your link. Obviously you shouldn’t do this if it has nothing to do with the question at-hand (don’t be that guy) but if you can work your post in to your answer in a seamless way, you definitely should.
3) Target potential clients. Think about what kind of clients you are trying to attract – small business owners? Technology companies? Auto enthusiasts? Think up a question your ideal customer might want to answer and put it out there. Once people begin to answer your question, be sure to message them individually and thank them. Don’t try to sell them anything; just be genuine! This is a nice way to slowly build a relationship with someone who has the potential to bring a lot of money in to your agency.
LinkedIn Answers is a fantastic networking tool if used correctly. Just remember to only ask and answer relevant questions; don’t waste your time trying to answer a million questions every day. Good relationship building takes time, but the ROI is often well worth the wait.
The world of Internet Marketing is always changing, so Astonish Results makes it a priority to provide employees with opportunities to educate themselves and stay on top of the latest trends. On April 2, I was lucky enough to attend Distilled’s LinkLove conference in Boston.
LinkLove is the ultimate gathering of the web’s top link builders. We met at the Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School (I like to think spending the day at Harvard made me smarter by osmosis) and had the honor of listening to nine speakers, each with their own area of expertise. The presenters were the best of the best in our field. If there was a king of SEO, Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz would be the reigning monarch…and he was there! Other presenters included Justin Briggs, Ross Hudgens, Rhea Drysdale, Wil Reynolds, John Doherty, Adam Audette, Colby Almond and Tom Critchlow – all AWESOME.
I learned a ton and look forward to implementing some things I learned in to Astonish’s link building tactics, but there are also some things I learned that are great for you as a business owner to keep in mind:
- Focus on good, quality content. When you invest in top-notch content, you can target multiple marketing channels all at once resulting in stronger social following, more brand visibility, higher organic search rankings, more direct traffic, bigger fan base and more referring links.
- Discover what your audience shares. Although insurance is a necessity, it is not necessarily the most interesting of subject matters for your target audience. Think about what kind of people buy insurance from you, and then think about what those folks are interested in in their daily lives. You want them to find some kind of value in the content you post so they like it enough to share with their friends and family. They may not be shopping for insurance right now…but they will be eventually and they will remember that fun little agency that posts interesting content. Tip: Check out Followerwonk- you can browse the profiles of your Twitter followers and analyze them. It gives great insight in to what your followers like!
- Thinking of trying Pinterest? There’s a lot of buzz around the 3rd most popular social media website. When is the best time to “Pin” your content? Colby Almond says that you should submit your content at 5AM or 5PM. Why? Because traffic is highest at 6AM and 6PM.
I want to thank Distilled for hosting such an outstanding conference and Astonish Results for giving me the opportunity to attend. I can’t wait to put all of the speakers’ great tips and tricks in to action for our clients!
Link building plays a significant part in how high your website ranks in the search engines. There are a variety of different ways to get links back to your website, but one of the most effective methods is to step away from the computer and out in to your community.
1) Sponsor an Event. Nearly every city or town has a few popular events that happen every year – music festivals, 5k runs, county fairs and restaurant weeks. What better opportunity to get your name in front of a big chunk of the local population? Check to see if any of these events have websites and if so, whether or not they link to their sponsors. If you find an event that makes sense for your business to sponsor and it seems like they will link to your website, go for it.
2) Be a Speaker. If you have a special talent for public speaking, you may have some great link building opportunities. Investigate your options to speak at local and national conferences and events. Finding knowledgeable, charismatic orators can be a challenge, so jumping on board with a relevant conference will usually be a mutually beneficial relationship. Bonus points if you can get a gig speaking at a college or university; their .edu URL holds extra authority and link juice.
3) Host Your Own Networking Event. Everyone loves free food and good company, but not everyone likes to play host. Put together a small (or large, if you’re feeling ambitious) networking event and hold it at your office or a more spacious venue. You could invite local artists to display their work, plan to have a guest speaker or maybe offer some kind of door prize or raffle. Whatever you choose, you need to give the attendees a reason to show up. Once you have decided the logistics of the event, use social media to spread the news. Write a post for your blog, Tweet your Followers and update your Facebook Fans; hopefully, those who follow you will begin to re-purpose your content and alert their followers about the event as well. The goal is to not just throw a great party, but get a nice amount of back links in the process.
These are just a few ways to get started with link building in your community. Don’t be afraid to get out there and network in person – you never know what kind of back link you might be able to secure!
So, who are you anyway? If you don’t know what your business is all about, your clients certainly won’t either. This goes beyond “My company is XYZ Insurance and we specialize in home insurance and employee benefits.” Plenty of businesses do what you do, so why should someone choose your agency to take care of their insurance needs? What makes you special? It’s time to consider your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Your UVP is just like it sounds – it is what sets you apart from your competition and what you can do for the customer that no one else can. No one goes in to business hoping to be mediocre and just like everyone else, so it’s important to pinpoint what you do, why you’re good at it and what kind of value you can bring to the table. Before you start to brainstorm ideas, keep this point in mind: UVPs should be short. Really short. You need to tell people in about 2 sentences or less why you rock and why you’re unique. Popular examples are M&Ms’ “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand” and Domino’s old UVP, “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less – or it’s free.” This may seem easy, but there are a few questions you need to ask yourself and answer before you formulate the perfect Unique Value Proposition.
- What does your agency do well? Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn; you’ve earned it. Forget being humble and write down every single thing you think your company excels at.
- What makes your different from your competitors? You may have a ton in common with a lot of the local insurance agents, and that is totally normal, but there has to be at least one thing you have that they don’t. Figure out what that is and make it work to your advantage.
- What do my customers value? Step outside of your world where you understand insurance and the important part it plays in helping folks secure their assets. Now, pretend you are one of your potential clients. What do you think matters the most to them? Your agency’s reputation? Your ability to get them the lowest rates? Outstanding customer service?
Now that you’ve answered all of these questions, it’s time to put your thoughts together in to a successful Unique Value Proposition. If your agency already has a UVP, please feel free to share it in the comments section of this blog!
You’ve probably heard time and time again that it’s important to get other websites to link back to your website. When you hear this, you smile and nod…but you have no clue why any of it matters. Don’t worry! The whole concept of link building is actually really easy to understand; when other people link to your website, it’s telling search engines that you matter. When pages with a little more authority (media, government, education or just all around popular sites) link back to you, that’s even better. It’s kind of the difference between a random 5-year old child telling you that a specific restaurant is great and an influential celebrity saying the same thing. They both said the restaurant was great, but who do you think more people are going to listen to?
The most important thing to remember when piecing together your link building strategy is that authenticity goes a long way. Many people try to get tons of links in a short amount of time using black hat techniques and this is very much frowned upon. You have to remind yourself that like most things in life, good links are worth waiting for. You need to produce quality content, build meaningful relationships and the great links will slowly start populating and boosting your search engine rankings. We already do a lot of this leg work for your business here at Astonish Results, but sometimes there are great opportunities for link building in your office and community that we’re not always going to be aware of. Here are 3 tips for easy, fun link building:
1. Come up with something fun that people want to link to. Get creative! Have a photo contest and encourage folks to submit their best photos of the areas you write insurance in. You could use the angle that there are so many beautiful things in your area worth protecting and insuring. Film some fun videos and post them on your own YouTube channel. Set aside a time each week to have a creative meeting at your office. You would be amazed at the great ideas you can come up with in a group brainstorm and it’s a nice break to just let loose and have fun.
2. Volunteer to be a guest speaker at a local college or university. Aside from influencing the future insurance buyers of America, you’ll probably have the opportunity to earn a few good links. The most important link you’re looking for will come from the college itself; that .edu URL puts some major authority behind your website link. You could also consider sponsoring a scholarship for the college or local university/high school students in general. Along with presenting yourself in a positive light, it’s likely that information about your scholarship (and links to your website) will be posted on other education websites as a reference for students.
3. If you are interviewed for a story that will be released in a non-Internet form of media (like a print publication or television), don’t be shy about asking for a link! Most newspapers, magazines and TV stations also have websites, so although their website isn’t the primary way they will be distributing your story, there’s a good chance it will be going up there, too. Don’t let a reporter walk away without your website’s URL.
Link building is just a small part of insurance marketing, but can be very valuable if you do it correctly. Always keep your eyes and ears open for a great link building opportunity!