Insurance Agency Marketing
A recent article over at SEOMoz discussed the importance of diversity in your SEO strategy and it really got us thinking. The idea of diversity is important for your entire digital marketing strategy, from SEO to social media to email marketing. SEOMoz calls it diversity, but here at Astonish, we call it a blended strategy!
Blending your digital marketing strategies may be easier than you think. When looking to diversify, pay attention to your:
Not only is it important to diversify your links to keep things fresh, but it’s also important to stay on the up-and-up with Google. You want to make sure that there is a variety of ways for visitors to get to you and you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. If you’re getting the majority of your links from directories, try grabbing opportunities to guest blog with a local newspaper (Patch.com is great for this) or a local organization / chamber of commerce. Even the highest quality of link building tactic (PR, guest blogging, directories, etc.) can become low quality if you abuse it. Spread the link love and build your backlink portfolio.
Similarly to the places you have links back to your site, you want to make sure you have a variety of outside sources bringing traffic to your site. Whether you’re bringing people in from email marketing or social media, make sure you keep it diverse. If your agency is really strong on Facebook and you’re bringing visitors to your website from there, try integrating more focus on Twitter and Google+ and pushing visitors from those sites.
Point of View
Diversifying your point of view may be a little trickier than your links and traffic sources. For the most part, your point of view is who you are as an agency. But it also has to do with your attitude. You don’t have to change who you are and the message you send by changing your point of view, but rather just change your attitude. The insurance industry can be a tough market for content generation whether it is through email, blogging, or social media. One rut you don’t want to get into is thinking your industry is too boring for creativity – that is the WRONG idea to have! You have to approach your marketing efforts with a fresh perspective and passion for your subject matter. If you’re bored with your content, then your readers, customers, and potential customers will feel that way too. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to come up with new ideas – look at your agency as an outsider, go through some of your sales processes as if you’re a new customer, have one of your staff members explain to you why your agency is different and better than all the rest. Consider the things you’re doing within your community or for charitable organizations. A renewed positive attitude can do just the trick in triggering content ideas.
If you adjust anything in your digital marketing efforts for 2013, let it be the diversity in what you’re doing – make sure you’re using a blended strategy. The change up will pay off, giving you a new gusto for your marketing efforts, improved attitude, and in turn better interaction and engagement for your audience!Continue Reading »
In honor of the holiday season and the end of another astonishing year, the insurance marketing bloggers at Insurance Marketing HQ would like to wish you all Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas!
As you can see, YouTube was a hot topic this year for insurance marketers, followed by Search Engine Optimization and linking strategies. We all know how the Google Penguin and Panda updates rocked the internet marketing world, and that’s certainly evident in our top 10.
If you haven’t had time to check out our multi-part series on the importance of leadership in insurance agencies, please check out blog post #3. Start with part one, Leadership’s Role in the Success of the Modern Insurance Agency. This series was written by our very own Tim Sawyer, President and Co-Founder of Astonish. It’s highly insightful and a MUST READ for insurance agencies looking to get results in the digital marketing world.
We look forward to an even more astonishing 2013. In the meantime, we write for you — our audience. If there are any topics you’d like us to cover in 2013, please leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!
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This is a multi-part leadership series written by Tim Sawyer, President and Director of Client Services at Astonish. The goal is to give your insurance agency the tools necessary for effective leadership from a man who’s helped thousands of insurance professionals succeed in marketing their insurance agencies to the modern consumer.
As the head of client services for the largest digital marketing company in the insurance industry, I have worked with thousands of insurance professionals over the past 5 years. Through our work with these professionals we have discovered specific characteristics that must exist in order for an individual agency to successfully implement strategies to meet the growing demands of the modern consumer.
First and foremost, successful execution and implementation of any marketing strategy, whether digital or traditional, requires the active presence of a dedicated, passionate leader. Having installed training and marketing systems into several thousand businesses, we have determined that leadership is the number one reason for success or failure.
Practically speaking, because most leaders are not the implementers of the actual strategy, there is a natural tendency to pass the responsibility on to the “go to” person in the office. Typically this person is a seasoned insurance professional with little or no insurance marketing expertise, whose primary function is not related to the success of the initiative. In fact, this new initiative may actually be perceived as an impediment to their ability to perform their primary unrelated tasks. This dynamic can pose serious risks to the desired outcome of the marketing initiative.
In the worst case scenario, the implementers may actually, unknowingly undermine the initiative altogether. When questioned by the agency principal as to the progress of the initiative, the lack of success is often blamed on the process, perceived added workload, lack of training, lack of quality, etc.
For this reason it is imperative that someone other than the actual implementers be held responsible for the success of the initiative. In other words, the outcome requires the active participation of a strong leader.Continue Reading »
When is the last time you cleaned up your social media accounts? My guess: never! Many times, we often forget about cleaning or updating our accounts because we are too busy blogging, or for some, running the entire business. However, it’s a good idea. Fall is approaching. Why not head into the new season with a fresh approach on your social media networks?
The next time you have some free time, you should consider doing the following:
#1: Go through your Twitter followers. When is the last time you looked through your followers? Many of them may not even be using their accounts anymore. Now is the time to delete those who have not tweeted in at least a year or so. Don’t worry about the number of followers you have; aim for quality!
#2: Update your profile picture. When is the last time you jazzed up your page? A new profile picture may be just what you need on Facebook and Twitter.
#3: Follow back those you may have missed. Have you followed all of your followers back? If you are interested in connecting with someone, go for it! If you never follow back, you will most likely never build connections and relationships.
#4: Update your biography. Spice up your bio with new and exciting information or accomplishments. You don’t want your page to get stale. It is important to change things up every once in a while; your bio is an easy way to do this.
Staying on top of your social media accounts is an important part of your internet marketing social media strategy. Find the time this month to follow these tips and you are sure to feel refreshed and ready for the season!Continue Reading »
The Google Penguin update has come and gone, but many websites are still feeling the after effects (e.g. dropping keyword rankings and traffic). It has not been confirmed by Google whether or not Penguin will continue to roll out updates as Panda did, but many industry experts are expecting it will. Regardless of whether or not your site was negatively hit by Penguin, there are a number of things you should be doing to help make sure that never happens. One place to start your focus is on your link building efforts.
The key to building links in the wake of Penguin is to keep things natural and relevant. You want to post links to your site within websites that are both high quality and relevant to your industry and/or community. Here are a couple of great examples to get you started…
Submitting press releases online provide a great opportunity to obtain a high quality link back to your website and get your business some exposure. Typically, when you write and submit a press release through an online wire service, they will allow you to place at least one link back to your site within the content of your release. However, you want to make sure that you are only putting one link in your release content. Many online PR sites will refuse to post releases that have excessive links – it’s better to stick to one link back to your website. Remember, not only do you want to follow the guidelines of the particular PR service you use, but you also want to link naturally to your site – that means not stuffing the content of your release with links!
Writing and posting guest blogs is another great way to get natural and relevant links back to your website. Guest blogging will require a little more work as you’ll need to build relationships and content partnerships with websites and blogs that pertain to your industry, niche specialty, or local community. The days of blog commenting any place you can to get links are over – this is considered a “spammy” practice. Reach out to local community sites (e.g. your local Patch.com site), industry related sites (e.g. PIA), and other relevant websites. Ask if these sites would like to begin a content partnership; you can guest blog on their site, they can guest blog on yours. Not only will it provide you with a chance to post content and a link back to your site on a quality website, it will also allow for guest posting on your site which provides an added value to your customers and prospects.
The important thing to remember in building links post-Penguin is to ensure that your links are always natural and relevant – do not link to excess. With link building, it’s about quality over quantity, always. How are you obtaining links? Tweet me at @Astonish_Shawna with your ideas!Continue Reading »
As your agency continues to grow its presence on the web it’s important to look into every area to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the digital possibilities around you. When it comes to social networking, your social sites can work in tandem to help your agency deliver the best information, news and content to subscribers which is why having a YouTube account is beneficial.
After getting acclimated with Facebook and Twitter, it may be time for you to get your hands messy with a YouTube if you haven’t already done so. You’ve probably have experience posting viral or popular videos on your Facebook and Twitter accounts, but with your own YouTube page you can create and share videos specifically about your agency. Whether it’s agency information, local events or anything miscellaneous, your YouTube channel can be a gateway for potential customers.
While Facebook and Twitter seem to dominate the social media landscape, YouTube cannot and should not be ignored. For instance, in 2011 there were over one trillion playbacks on YouTube, a staggering number. Additionally, 82% of the U.S. internet audience viewed video online. And, believe it or not, the most viewed video in 2011 was Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”
While you’re putting your YouTube page together, it’s not enough to simply fill out basic information and leave it at that. Just like a Facebook or Twitter profile, you need to optimize it so users see the legitimacy of your page and, as a result, the legitimacy of your agency. To get the best results from your YouTube account, try following these guidelines for success:
- Increase subscribers: Similar to how you ask users to “like” your Facebook page and follow you on Twitter, include a call to action at the end of each of your videos. You can also use what is called an “annotation” asking viewers to subscribe to your page
- Add widgets to your website/blog: Soon after you create your own YouTube page you should add a widget to your website to customers can easily access your account and watch your videos.
- Always interact: Just like you would on other social networking sites, take the time to view and leave comments for videos on other channels, preferably ones that are close to you in subject matter or location. If you interact with others, they’ll be more likely to interact back!
Once you get your YouTube page set up, you’ll be able to share your agency videos on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media sited you’re registered with. It’s important to treat YouTube like any other site so make sure you follow our guidelines to better your insurance marketing efforts!
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Has your agency been locked into the social media game for a while? Now that the initial phase is over—getting acclimated with different platforms, setting up profiles, etc.—you may be ready to begin taking a more serious approach to your social media efforts. Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, there’s always room for improvement, especially for the latter.
Using Twitter effectively to help grow your business is a more daunting task than you probably initially thought. Because there are hundreds of millions of users with just as many interests, getting mentions and retweets isn’t always a walk in the park—it’s more like a slow jog up a mountain. However, if you take the necessary steps and stay patient you’ll be sticking your flag at the summit in no time. But how is this done exactly? Let’s find out!
Growing traction on your Twitter account is all about making your profile more credible to users. As your profile slowly builds credibility, you’ll see an increase in your followers and the amount of mentions and retweets you receive. Take a look at some advice on how to improve your fledgling Twitter profile:
- Make Your Profile Stronger: Do you have a dull profile photo? You should consider using a picture of your face because research has shown that people are more likely to trust a face that they have seen multiple times. Additionally, your bio should be persuasive and informative. Don’t just simply state what your agency offers; let users know why they should be following you.
- Tweet links to content that mentions you: If any online content such as a news article or press release mentions your agency, always, always post it on Twitter. This will show followers that your business is legitimate!
- Retweet news: Tweeting about news and current events—local and national—will provide information to users looking for that sort of information. Twitter is all about sharing and spreading information and if users like what you’re sharing they’ll be more inclined to follow your account.
- Send Facebook Posts to Your Twitter Profile: When you have multiple social media profiles, it’s always a good idea to tell your respective friends/followers about your other accounts. Take the time to remind your Facebook friends about your Twitter and vice versa.
- Don’t forget your #hashtags! Part of being on Twitter is engaging in what is currently being discussed on the platform. If you’re tweeting about a trending topic, always remember your hashtags. Don’t be afraid to start your own topics as well!
Many small businesses that begin using Twitter sometimes get immediately dissatisfied with the lack of traffic they’re bringing in. But what they don’t realize is that social media strategies not only take a lot of effort, but a lot of time and patience as well. It’s like Morgan Freeman’s famous quote in The Shawshank Redemption, “That’s all it takes, really. Pressure and time.” That’s how a social media strategy works: pressure and time. The more you keep clawing away at it, the more success you will see with your insurance website.Continue Reading »
It’s something we hear all the time: how do I know if my social media efforts are working? If this is a question you’ve asked yourself, you’ll first need to start by deciding what “success” means to you and your agency.
Social media success can come in many forms, and only you can decide what success looks like for you. For instance, is it a high level of engagement on your Facebook page? Is it valuable conversations on Twitter? It is referrals to your website, or is it a high level of lead conversion? Most likely, it will be a combination of all of these. Once you set goals, you’ll know what to measure!
- Forget about hard numbers. You may be used to looking at charts and spreadsheets telling you exactly how successful your other insurance marketing efforts have been. Understand that you will not have such cut and dry information when it comes to social media. People will read your posts, but they may not always call you to get a quote. Remember that brand awareness is a success, and the more people interact with you online, the more aware they are of your company.
- Examine engagement. When an individual has a meaningful interaction with your agency, they will remember it. Take a look at all your social profiles to see how many interactions you’re getting, but remember that it’s not all about the numbers. It’s quality over quantity when it comes to engagement! Facebook’s insights feature has some great tools to see which types of posts are most popular with your fans, and a quick Google search for “Twitter analytics” will provide you with hundreds of options for looking at engagement on Twitter. As time goes on and you manage your social media sites, you’ll know which types of content get you the best interactions.
- Are people talking about you? One of the best things about social media is that it’s so easy to share information with others. Count it as a huge success if your name is coming up in positive online conversations! It can be difficult to catch every single mention of your company online, but you can start by setting up Google alerts and using some other free tools to monitor these conversations.
One of the most difficult things to understand is the idea that social media success is not easily measured with metrics. But don’t worry; once you focus on creating value and interacting with your customers, you will absolutely see results!Continue Reading »
Have you ever done a Google search, looked at the paid search advertisements on the top and right side of the search results, and thought … “What does that advertisement have anything to do with my search?”
Obviously, this is a poorly placed PPC advertisement. The advertiser didn’t want to appear in results for the highly competitive and highly searched term “insurance”. The obvious mistake is that the advertiser (either intentionally or not) targeted the misspelling of their brand name “Assurance”. The advertiser will not be happy when it realizes that a large percentage of their paid search budget is eaten up by clicks that come from a keyword that isn’t relevant to their business at all. Inevitably, search engine users will see this ad, click through (perhaps by mistake) to the advertiser’s site, and quickly exit, obviously with a poor user experience. The advertiser has potentially just paid $25-$30 for each click on this mistakenly placed advertisement. That is an expensive mistake.
This is an extreme example of poor ad copy construction, but it got me thinking about three common PPC ad copy mistakes that advertisers often make.
Mistake #1: Using your brand name in the ad’s headline
The “headline” in a PPC advertisement is the blue bolded line at the top of every text ad. It is the attention-grabber, the first thing that your audience sees when your ad comes up in search results. One hint: don’t waste that space on introducing your company’s name. Chances are (and I’m sorry to break the news), your small company doesn’t carry enough brand recognition to become an asset in text-based advertisements. If someone searches on the term “auto insurance quote”, they’re not necessarily looking for a specific company (like yours), they’re just looking to get a quote. So, instead of mentioning your company in the headline, why not focus on what is going to be most effective in drawing in the audience? The first thing that searchers should see is the benefits of your “product” — such as “Free Auto Insurance Quote”. Don’t waste valuable space on your company’s brand, unless you’re a company with strong brand recognition (like Geico). Besides, if someone is actually looking for your company by name, you’ll show up in search results regardless (because you ARE advertising for your company’s name … aren’t you??).
Mistake #2: Don’t be too broad in your ad copy
Make sure that your ad is as close to the search query (the term that search users choose in Google) as possible. Be as specific as possible. In keeping with the insurance example from above, imagine that you are an agency looking to attract new customers for home insurance, auto insurance, and flood insurance. Make sure that your ads for each category are specific to that search as possible. When someone searches for “flood insurance”, make sure that the ad they are served doesn’t reference a broad and generalized “insurance company”. Instead, make sure that you include language specific to “flood insurance”, otherwise your competition will have a leg up on you.
So, tailor your ad copy to each type of keyword search that you are targeting – don’t run a homogenized “insurance”-based ad copy for each type of insurance, make sure you speak to the search engine user’s intent with specific language in your ad.
Mistake #3: Target the audience that is at the end of the buying cycle
In other words, we want to attract search engine users who are ready to perform a specific action – such as “get an insurance quote” or “buy auto insurance”. These people are the most qualified audience out there, those who have signaled their intent to purchase with their keyword search. Not only do we want to show up on keywords like those I just mentioned, but we want to emphasize those behaviors in our ad copy.
Too many advertisers use broad language in their ads, with the hope of attracting as many users as possible. I’ve actually seen some ads with the headline “Curious about insurance?” – an attempt at generating visits to the advertiser’s web site, no matter what the user is looking for. Instead, make sure that you don’t waste your PPC budget on people at the top of the sales funnel (those who are just browsing, or are curious) by offering ad copy that speaks specifically to those who are close to purchasing. Use language like “Buying auto insurance?”, “Need a home insurance quote?” , or “Get a fast and free business insurance quote now”. Not only will you appeal to those who are near the end of their search, but you’ll actually dissuade those who are just browsing (and thus saving your PPC budget for more serious shoppers!).
The lesson, when constructing paid search advertisements, is to speak to your audience as specifically as possible. It will benefit your campaign by providing just the traffic that you are searching for.
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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!Continue Reading »