To a large extent, the SEM department strives to drive qualified traffic to your VIO, with the ultimate goal of converting that traffic into “quotable” opportunities (i.e. a visitor who is looking to obtain an insurance quote from your agency). I use many different methods and tactics to drive as much qualified traffic as possible to your agency, so that you aren’t wasting SEM budget on clicks that aren’t valuable to your agency – specific keyword research (at the very least, we are advertising on specific insurance products, not informational keywords), geographic targeting (so that you aren’t wasting budget on clicks from outside of your target area), and “day-parting” (the practice of showing your ads in search results primarily when your agency is open and able to handle quote inquiries). Of course, you’re liable to receive traffic and lead inquiries (calls or quote request forms) from people who are less qualified, but these are the methods that we employ to limit those instances.
But what happens after you’ve received a quote inquiry from SEM? You’re highly visible in search results for your target keywords, you’ve enticed someone to click on your specific ad, and you’ve given the user enough information that they’ve decide that they want more information from your agency via form or phone. Now what?
Here are three tips to take advantage of the leads that come through your SEM, giving you the best chance to turn leads into customers:
SEM can be a very valuable source of qualified leads for your agency — the person that tries to contact you via SEM has already performed a keyword search, seen your agency’s advertisement, and clicked through to your site. At this point, you’ve got a very interested audience – wouldn’t YOU want to take advantage of these leads?Continue Reading »
So, everyone is talking about “Pinterest” these days. If you haven’t checked it out already and you are a woman – you definitely should. If you are a guy, you should also jump on the bandwagon and upload as many “manly” pins as possible – just to try to balance things out.
People who use Pinterest know that probably 80% of the site ends up dedicated to finger nail polish, hair styles, shoes, and cute baby animals. It is almost the online version of magazines like “First for Women” that my wife buys at the grocery store. It doesn’t have many articles, but there are always weight-loss miracles, hair styles, shoes, and of course those cute baby animals.
The premise is that you have virtual corkboards and when you find things you like on the web, you “pin” them to your board. You organize your boards by topics, and people can then follow what you pin, re-pin your pins, like your pins, and discuss them. You can also search and sort pins by topics, and find gift ideas. It is very easy to use, and easy to set up. The interface is clean and well organized.
Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing websites of all time, and has reached the 10 million monthly visitors milestone faster than Twitter and even Facebook. The unusual aspect to this meteoric growth is that it has been fueled mainly by women. In most cases, internet start-up sites become popular with users who are men under 35. According to comScore, 65% of Pinterest users are women, and these women drive 85% of the traffic on the site. More than half of the women using Pinterest are 35 or older.
Pinterest seems poised to be a huge player in the social media game. As a guy, I find it cool to be able to pin the things I find on the internet and to keep them organized. I do realize that nobody on Pinterest is probably going to follow my psychedelic poster art board, but I like having the collection in one place, and adding to it when I come across more. I don’t have much use for fingernails that look like the solar system, motivational slogans, cute shoes, or wedding ideas – but there are evidently a BUNCH of women who do.
It will be interesting to see how companies embrace Pinterest. I mean if I had a craft or jewelry business, I would be pinning my work all the time, with links to where people can buy my creations. This can also be applied to a larger scale business model. I would think Pinterest will become another tool for businesses, just like Facebook and Twitter.
So guys, head on over to Pinterest and see what the women are up to. Once you get an “invite”, don’t forget to pin your favorite motorcycle, cars, rock and roll music, sports teams, tech toys, grills, and even your favorite BBQ recipes. Of course someone has already come up with “Manteresting.com” where you nail instead of pin, and it’s mostly beer, guns, and lingerie models. Hopefully Pinterest can become a little more balanced and we can all pin what we love together!Continue Reading »
You can’t deny it anymore; marketing is not what it used to be. Using traditional tactics like placing print ads in newspapers won’t get you very far these days and certainly is not the most cost-effective way for small businesses to reach potential customers. Where are the majority of consumers looking for products and services? Online, of course! So, if you’re looking for insurance marketing ideas or strategies for any small business, the answer is only a click away.
Press releases have been a staple of marketing and PR for what seems like forever, but the strategies behind crafting press releases have evolved quite a bit. With the advent of PR 2.0, small businesses don’t have to wait until they win an award to send out a press release. Writing for the Web is a whole new ball game, which centers on creating engaging, informative and shareable content. For this reason, new-age press releases may look more like blogs in the sense that they can be about timely tips, a quirky characteristic of your small business or simply a “cutest pet” contest that your business is hosting on Facebook.
As your company begins to navigate the new terrain of PR 2.0, keep these things in mind when it comes to submitting press releases:
- While the focus should be on making content engaging, be sure to answer the key questions who, what, where, when and why.
- Get local by mentioning the city in which your company is located and other surrounding towns. This will help you reach your target audience.
- Include a press release section on your company website so that you can archive copies of your press releases and also help them maintain their SEO value.
- Promote your press releases via your social media accounts.
In order to keep up with the changes in marketing and public relations, small businesses must be flexible with their strategies. Even if you need a little help along the way with Facebook training or a rundown of new PR techniques, you will be successful as long as you stay open-minded!Continue Reading »
Having an offsite blog in addition to your insurance website has many advantages. Not only can you increase traffic to your Virtual Insurance Office, but you also have the ability to draw in readers and create conversations through comments. Utilizing this tool will help you learn more about your customers and help them better understand all of the products you have to offer.
According to SocialMediaToday, receiving comments provides insight into the readers’ thought processes, which will help you better understand their needs as well as challenges. This advantage is why it is crucial for you to write value-driven content in order to better relate to your audience. In addition, the more honest and quality content your produce, the more trust and credibility you build with your customers.
Therefore, by increasing the number of comments on your blog, the more viewers will take notice. This is because you will be showing you have the ability to engage and have a conversation with your audience. The following are three tips on how you can increase your comments on your offsite blog:
Tip #1: Make it easy for the reader to comment
People who are new to blogging often forget to turn on their comment feature. Is the comment section large enough for the reader to find it? Do you require only minimum information from the viewer before they can comment, such as their name and e-mail address? If it’s technically difficult to leave a comment, readers will leave the page. Therefore, make it easy for them to start a conversation on your offsite blog!
Tip #2: Ask Questions!
Remind your readers that you want their comments and opinions by asking them a question at the end of the blog post. Ask them directly to share their response in the comment section. You can mention a direct call to action like “Let me hear your thoughts by writing in the comments below”. The more specific the request is, the more likely the reader is to leave a comment. So encourage your reader to take action by leaving a comment and participating in the conversation!
Tip #3: Always respond to people who comment
People don’t want to feel like they’re ignored. This is why taking the time to respond to readers who write a comment shows that you are paying attention to them. This creates an opportunity to further engage with that reader. When other readers see that you are interacting with the people commenting on your blog, they will feel more encouraged to join the conversation!
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Once you learn to master the art of writing strong, unique content, you can watch the comments roll in! Always pay attention to how your audience reacts to certain posts or what they seem to enjoy about what you have to offer. By focusing on the audience, you will increase the success of your onsite and offsite blogs!
Social Media isn’t just for Twitter and Facebook anymore. More people are utilizing Foursquare to let their friends and family know what they’re up to. This application is a location-based check-in system allows customers to boost your business’s status in the community.
“Foursquare unlocks your city and makes your world a more interesting place,” writes Carmine Gallo, author of ‘The Power of Foursquare’. He continues, “It informs, illuminates, and inspires. For small businesses, it can help attract, reward and engage customers in ways that were never possible.” Gallo’s book give seven tips that educate business owners how the application can help them.
- Connect your brand
- Harness new fans
- Engage your followers
- Create rewards
- Knock out the competition
- Incentivize your customers
- Never stop entertaining
With the November 15, 2011 revamp of Foursquare.com, your business has the opportunity to get noticed without a customer “check in”. Users who sign onto Foursquare via the web at certain times the website will suggest places they should visit. For instance, sign in at 11:30am and they will suggest great lunch spots near their office. The same will occur later in the day around dinnertime. Foursquare is committed to helping your business connect with your customers.
Compatible with other Social Media tools, when your customers “check-in” they are able to notify not only their friends who utilize Foursquare, but Facebook and Twitter. For every check-in, Foursquare users have the ability to “unlock” different achievements:
- Reward points
Foursquare helps your business connect with your customers in a new way. It also brings attention to your business and community. “Unlock” the possibilities.
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Everyone knows that good public relations is essential for any business, regardless of how large or small it may be. Public relations plays a role in how the public perceives your company, whether or not people find your business to be reputable and the level of expertise your employees are believed to possess. While big corporations may have an entire team of PR experts working on their behalf, smaller companies do not have to forgo some of the most effective PR and insurance marketing strategies just because they think that they do not have room in their budget.
Here are some of the low-cost, yet highly effective PR tips for small businesses:
- Write articles on industry-related topics and submit them to online services like ezinearticles.com. This will help establish your credibility as an expert and help drive traffic to your company’s website if you use back links within the article.
- Submit press releases on new initiatives that your business has taken on, charities that you are involved with or simple current events that relate to your company.
- Profile your company on Wikipedia so that when potential customers want to get more information on your company, they can find it on multiple sites.
- Get active within your industry by attending trade shows. This can be a great opportunity for networking.
- Use social media to help brand your company and reach out to other businesses and potential customers. Not only is it free, but it gives companies the chance to show their office culture and make their employees more relatable.
Good PR doesn’t require a fancy agency or lots of money. Whether you just want to get your company’s name out there or put your insurance marketing ideas into action, it’s all possible with a little dedication and with the power of the internet. Take some time today to think of creative ways to execute PR strategies for your small business and you may be surprised by the results!
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Normally, when you think of customer service, you visualize a person talking with someone else in a face to face conversation. However, with so much social media and technology being used in the business, it has become increasingly difficult to recreate an in-person meeting between client and agent. Yet, this doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
In order to keep your customers invested in what you have to offer, you need to utilize different methods to add the human factor back into your services. According to the blog ErnestBarbaric, where marketers often go wrong on their social media sites is they create no conversations, no relationships, and no questions are being asked or answered.
One tactic you can use to make sure you are reaching your audience is by logging out of your account, opening a new window, and reading it the same way a new visitor would. You don’t want it to lack personality or read as a self promotional site. Instead, it should be inviting and relatable to your audience.
In addition, each network you have needs to have a clear reason as to what purpose it serves. Clarifying the purpose of any specific channel helps define strategic objectives, measurements, and tactics you may use. You should be educating, reaching out to new audiences, spreading your ideas, and providing customer service.
The most important method you should use to connect with your clients is by putting people first and the brand later. Rather than having your audience talk to an automated entity, put a face to your account and have them speak with a real person so they can identify with your services.
This component of insurance social networking is important to understand. It is hard for someone to have a conversation with your agency as a whole when they find you on the internet. However, having someone running and conversing with the clients one on one will benefit your business greatly and make your audience feel more comfortable. Listen, converse, and be human to create personal relationships with the people you care about most.Continue Reading »
Every industry has its own language – the Internet Marketing world is no different. For those of us who work in the industry, it can be so easy to get swept up in the jargon that we forget not everyone uses these terms on a daily basis. At Astonish Results, we’re constantly communicating with clients who do not have backgrounds in Internet Marketing, so it’s important that we stay away from the lingo we’ve become accustomed to and speak in plain English.
My goal for this post is to translate some of the terms we throw around most often into basic English. Here we go…
The practice of marketing products or services over the internet. It is also referred to as online marketing, web marketing, or digital marketing. Internet marketing includes websites, email marketing, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and social media.
Search Engine Optimization – The practice of helping a website show up in the search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search engine optimization is an internet marketing strategy that analyzes web searches – from determining how the search engines are ranking websites in the search results to figuring out what people are searching for and what specific terms (or keywords) are being used.
Search Engine Marketing – also known as Paid Search – is the practice of increasing a website’s exposure through paid search tactics such as PPC (pay per click). In a very general overview, SEM involves paying to have a search result appear when a search is done for a certain keyword term. If someone clicks on your ad, you pay an agreed upon price. The goals are in line with those of an SEO strategy, but SEO involves organic results and SEM involves paid results.
Link building is the practice of getting other websites to link to your site in order to boost rankings in the search engines. Having a relevant, quality website link to your site is like getting a vote. If the search engines see that other websites want to share your information and promote your website, then they are more likely to deem your site worthy of a higher search ranking.
When we refer to search spiders, or web crawlers, we’re referring to the computer program that can browse the web to find search results. The search engines use search spiders to come up with a quick, up-to-date, organized list of what’s available on the web so the search engine can then determine how relevant the content is – this turns into the search results you see on Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
We all know about plagiarism and the negative consequences associated with it – providing unique content for your website and blog will keep you out of trouble. The search engines love fresh, honest, helpful content – doing so will make your site seem more useful. Every page on your website and every blog post should say something different. You cannot copy content from your website and post it on your blog – the search engines will recognize this as duplicate content and you could be punished. The best way to stay in the search engines’ good graces is to create unique content every time you write.
Search volume is the number of times a certain term is typed into the search engines on a monthly basis. When we decide which keywords should be used in your SEO strategy, we are comparing the search volume for hundreds of terms to determine which are the best fit. In addition to the search volume, we need to look at a term’s search competition before we decide to select it as one of your keywords.
A term’s search competition lets us know how many other sites are trying to be found for the term. If we find that a term has a search competition of 100% then we know it will be very difficult to rank for that keyword because a lot of other sites are also trying to rank for it. We want to find a term that has a high search volume and a low search competition when we are selecting your keywords.
There is much more internet jargon that we use on a daily basis, this was a peak at the topics we reference most often. What are some of the Internet Marketing terms you hear on a regular basis? Let us know if there are any terms you need clarification on and we can feature them in a future post!Continue Reading »
In Malcolm Gladwell’s renowned national best-seller, The Tipping Point, the author describes countless examples in which small, seemingly insignificant occurrences in the world caused dramatic change. In the most famous example, he describes how New York City reduced its crime rate suddenly and significantly beginning in the early 90s. How did this happen? By focusing entirely on small, seemingly insignificant things. The city began strictly enforcing laws against petty crimes like subway fare-dodging and public drinking. Graffiti and litter removal city-wide was made a top priority. The city did not suddenly hire thousands more policemen nor make any significant changes to policing methods. Yet, a 2001 study proved that those “small” changes they did make caused a dramatic, immediate, and sustained drop in both petty and felony crimes. Today, the FBI reports that New York City is the safest large city in America, by a long-shot.
The story of New York City’s sudden, drastic reduction in crime serves as an important real-world example of how making small changes can produce a huge difference. Consider the “Request for Insurance Quote” form on your company’s web site. To many, the design of this element is an afterthought. The logic goes, if a potential customer wants a quote, they will fill it out and if not, they won’t. Not so. A web visitor who wants a quote still must be convinced that filling out your form is worth their time, and that their information will be treated respectfully. Does your form look professionally designed? Does it give a positive first impression?
Try this: Show your Request a Quote page to a few folks who have no vested interest in you or your company and ask them for their candid first impression. Their opinions very likely reflect those of every other visitor to your site. If the reaction is not positive, it’s time for a redesign.
This same concept applies to many other elements of your online marketing campaign. Take your Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on Google, for example. A title and two lines of 35 characters each is all you are given to convince the user to click on your ad – that is half as long as this sentence. It’s shorter than an elevator pitch, so you had better make it count. The right ad copy is the difference between very little traffic and noticeable traffic. It is the difference between a high conversion rate and a complete waste of money. Our team at Astonish Results has over 10 years of experience writing ad copy for PPC campaigns and the results truly deliver.
Does your staff answer the phone with a friendly, upbeat tone? If not, you could be losing customers. It has been proven time and time again that people buy from those they like – even if you do not have the best price. If your front-line people answering the phone sound miserable or give the impression that the caller is bothering them, you have already put a huge dent in your firm’s likeability and the customer has not even spoken to you yet. It is absolutely critical that potential customers get a positive first impression, and it starts with the initial phone call to your firm. It costs nothing to answer calls in a friendly, upbeat voice and yet it can set the tone for entire conversation.
Sure, you’ve heard a real-world example of how sweating the small stuff can make a difference in big-city crime reduction, but what about a real-world business example? Look no further than America’s most valuable company, Apple. The maker of the most popular MP3 player, smartphone, and tablet computer got to their position by worrying tirelessly about tiny seemingly-inconsequential details that their competition completely overlooked. By concentrating not only on the product itself, but things as rudimentary as the product packaging, Apple developed a reputation for not just cool products, but high-quality products. Apple not only sells the most of their latest gadget, but they charge the most, too. The perceived value they have created by focusing on the finest details makes this possible. The same concept can be applied to your insurance agency. By focusing on the little things that your competition ignores, you will not only have an edge in landing new customers, but you will realize benefits in reduced churn, higher margins, and a healthier bottom line.
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Most users flock to the internet’s search engines for one thing: to find help. Help in finding the answer to a question. Help in solving a problem that they have. Help in purchasing the right car at their local dealership.
Being visible on a variety of keyword searches in Google is applicable and valuable for businesses in every industry. The world’s largest companies use their websites as the best (and most accessible) source of information about their brand, products, or services. At the same time the world’s smallest companies have established a web presence as a vital lifeline to previously inaccessible markets.
In the end, search engines pull them all together: the smallest companies can compete right next to the largest. Search engines are the great equalizer of digital marketing.
Or are they?
Not all markets are the same. The search “landscape” for certain industries are more competitive than others. The big box electronics chains are fighting tooth and nail for top position on keywords like“blu ray dvd player” and “flat screen tv”.
The insurance industry, both personal and commercial products, is no different. In fact, one leading industry blog just proclaimed the search landscape for insurance-related searches to be the most competitive amongst all PPC keywords. A study conducted on the average cost-per-click (CPC) across millions of keywords found that insurance-related terms were the most expensive, ahead of keyword groups such as “mortgage” and “loans”.
Does that mean that this search landscape is inaccessible and cost-inefficient for the smaller agencies in the industry? I would offer an emphatic “NO”. In fact, I believe just the opposite: the high competition in this particular realm indicates the sheer demand for insurance information that potential customers are looking for. Does that mean that smaller agencies should focus their PPC marketing dollars into bids for high-dollar keywords like “car insurance”? No. It simply means that these agencies need to have their paid search campaigns strategies modified to get the biggest “bang” for their marketing buck. There is room in this competitive space to be active…and profitable! After all, if 80% of all insurance customers are beginning their search for their policy online, can you afford to ignore this marketing tactic?
Here are some strategies to be competitive in a competitive paid search marketplace:
With these simple steps, you are well on your way to becoming effective in a competitive advertising space. Companies of any size can be active in this marketing medium, and capitalize on all of those people who are saying “HELP!” to their search engines.
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