Insurance Marketing HQ

Wal-Mart and Insurance: How Can The Local Agency Compete?

Posted on Jul 7, 2014

By Jake Bissaro

Owning an independent insurance agency isn’t what it used to be; you already have to compete with major carriers like Allstate and Progressive, but some recent news indicates Insurance coveragethat the competition is going to heat up even more.

Walmart, already the world’s biggest retailer by a huge margin, has plans to get into the auto insurance business, through an alliance with autoinsurance.com. 200 stores already have a partnership with Metlife selling term life policies, and they want to expand their insurance interests. But this could only be the beginning as new research shows that this may soon become a trend for big business. According to a study published earlier this year by Accenture, 67 percent of insurance customers are open to buying insurance from places other than insurers, and 23 percent say they would seriously consider buying from a non-traditional source like Google or Amazon.

With these new developments, it’s become more important than ever to highlight the advantages of your independent agency. Here are some tips to retain current clients and garner new business.

  1. Highlight the personal touch- This seems like an obvious thing, but it’s one of the things that sets you apart!  It’s simple, but remember to always answer the phone or respond to email requests promptly. An independent agency is the only place you can talk to a real person about insurance that’s not in a call center.
  2. Explain the difference an independent provider can make – chances are corporate giants like Walmart and Amazon don’t have the choice of providers that your agency does. You can find different combinations of coverage and price and save customers money, so let them know!
  3. Review your customer’s coverage from time to time. When a few years have gone by, many of your customers may need an update, so periodically go through and make sure everyone is up –to-date. This will show your customers that you’re constantly looking out for their best interests.
  4. Make the most of every interaction. Think of everyone you talk to as a potential new client and share your experience with them. Everyone who walks in should be able to experience the difference made by an independent agency.

With huge corporations controlling more and more of the business landscape, it’s going to be increasingly more difficult for companies without billions of dollars behind them. As an independent agency, you’ve got to recognize the added competition and prepare for it. There are still lots of consumers out there who want the personalized service and local feel that you have to offer, so it’s time to show them what you can do!

About The Author
Jake Bissaro is the newest Inbound Marketing Specialist at Astonish, and strives to translate the personality of clients into first-rate web pages. He graduated from UMass Amherst last year, and previously worked as a technical writer before joining the team at Astonish. In addition to web writing, he works as a journalist, writing about local arts in Rhode Island.

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How To Drive Traffic To Your Website

Posted on Jun 30, 2014

By: Allie Viau

When it comes to your agency’s website, the “if you build it, they will come” optimism simply does not apply. Unless you work hard to market your site and entice online visitors, chances are you will not find the reach you are hoping for.

So, how can your agency drive traffic to your website? While paid advertisements are always an option, many agents today do not realize the true value of organic, or unpaid, marketing. Inbound marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media, blogging, and others all work together to market in a way that is attractive to your audience, not disruptive.

computer with graph on screen

Independent insurance agencies that adopt a holistic inbound marketing strategy can achieve increased traffic, among other benefits. In order to see the maximum results from these efforts, the strategy needs to be an agency-wide initiative. Each and every team member should be on board and contributing. By doing so, your agency can leverage inbound marketing to create new customer opportunities, improve client retention, and increase the number of referrals your agency receives.

So, how can you use inbound marketing, specifically SEO, social media, blogs, and press releases to drive traffic to your website?

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is the process of improving and promoting a website in order to increase web traffic received via search engines. Since between 50 and 60-percent of web traffic is driven by search engines today, it is crucial to make sure that your agency is following up to date SEO best practices (which are, unfortunately, changing constantly). Today, search engine optimization is not just about pleasing search engines, but web visitors as well. By working to “optimize” your site, you will help drive traffic to your website over time since you are making it easier for users to find you through online search.

Since the insurance industry is one of the most competitive in terms of search traffic, if your agency is not on board with SEO yet, you will have a difficult time competing in the future. Not only will SEO help bring in more traffic, but it can bring in higher quality traffic. Studies show that on average, SEO leads have a 14.6% sales close rate. This blows away the 1.7% close rate for outbound leads such as print ads, direct mailing, etc.

Social Media

As a local agency, one great benefit of social media is to differentiate your agency from its competitors, especially from the major carriers, and driving traffic to your site instead of theirs. For example, by engaging with customers and prospects through social media, your agency can interact with consumers on a more personal, human level. By sharing information about your agency, products, and brand via social media, you can build long-term customers and also drive traffic to your site. Everyone you connect with on social media has easy access to your site to learn more about your products, fill out a quote form, or give your agency a call.

Modern consumers now consider user-generated content, such as reviews or testimonials, to be more reliable than advertisements or other forms of content. This user-generated content is what social media sites are made of. Taking advantage of these platforms can result in increased opportunities, referrals, and in turn, traffic.

Still don’t believe in the business powers of social media? 80% of Facebook users prefer to connect with brands on Facebook, and 50% of twitter users say they are more likely to become a customer of a business that they follow.

Blogging

More than half of consumers state that blogs impact their purchase decisions. What does this mean for agencies? Your prospects and customers are using blogs to find information, so if you are not blogging, you are missing out. Maintaining a blog that contains relevant, unique, and compelling content is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your agency’s website. Regular blogging can improve your SEO, since it works to develop the credibility and reliability of your site in the eyes of the search engines. And, search engines are not the only ones to correlate blogging with credibility. Studies have shown that blogs are considered to be more trustworthy than Google+, online forums, online magazines, branded sites, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Improving your SEO will indirectly increase your site traffic, but blogging also provides significant direct traffic to your website. Businesses that blog 20 times per month have 5 times more traffic than those that do not. Blogging about your insurance products, your local community, your team members, and other relevant topics will increase your agency’s reach and drive more people to your site.

Customers are looking online for product and company information more than ever. However, it is not enough to simply have a website. Insurance agencies that work together as a team to implement an integrated inbound marketing strategy will be more successful in terms of traffic, retention, opportunities, and referrals than agencies that do not.

About The Author

Allie Viau is an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Astonish. She creates a variety of content including website landing pages, blogs, and press releases. Allie is passionate about helping small businesses build their brand equity online through quality content and other inbound marketing strategies. She spends her free time baking, painting, and traveling as much as possible. 

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Engage and Convert Clients With a “Call to Action” in Your Posts

Posted on Jun 2, 2014

By Coburn Childs

Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “call to action,” but you’re not sure what it means. Well, did you know that marketing success for your business usually starts with a call to action? How about that 70% of small businesses are regrettably not even employing a call to action on the homepage of their sites? Let’s explore some of the ways you can be taking advantage of this, whether on your agency’s website, Facebook page, or other social media profiles.

magician (focus on hat)

What is a call to action?

There is no specific call to action definition, aside from the fact that it is simply what it sounds like: a command or instructive sentence that urges your website landing page visitor—or a viewer of your social media page—to answer that call with a certain action. Believe it or not, the wording in what your company posts in blogging and social media efforts really does matter when it comes to converting customers in your content marketing strategy.

In short, a call to action—whether in a blog post, on a product or service page on your website, in a tweet on Twitter, or even on a post through Facebook or another social media outlet—is essential for your business marketing to be effective.

Call to action examples

Many small businesses do not prioritize calls to action in their marketing efforts, meaning they do not bother to implore potential clients to even so much as “read more.” However, this may be hurting their success. The goal of marketing is to get customers to engage with your business and convert. Hence, it’s time to provide the instruction to yield a conversion.

For example, if your business offers an auto insurance quote form, end the paragraph with a compelling phrase, such as, “Fill out our quote form for information today.” Similarly, if you want a visitor to your social media network profile to click to your website from a simple Facebook post, include something like, “Visit our website now for more information about this service.” You can get creative, but stay basic in how you’re asking your potential customer to convert.

When instituting a call to action, be sure to prioritize what that action will be. Evaluate what will require a conversion, and then craft a simple statement. Just be sure to not overload your pages and posts with calls to action that are not genuine or do not make sense. After all, the very point of a call to action is to engage your visitors and get them interested in learning more and converting. With just a little strategy, your agency can be well on its way to increased inbound marketing success.

About the Author
Coburn Childs is a creative mind and young professional based in Providence, RI. In recent years, he’s blogged on a number of topics, from the insurance industry to Hollywood’s box office trends, from communication theories to religious topics, from food to movies, and everything in between. He’s also a self-described social media nut! Currently, he works as an Inbound Marketing Specialist for Astonish.

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Insurance Marketing: How Agencies Should Be Competing

Posted on May 19, 2014

By Allie Viau

It’s no secret that the insurance industry is extremely competitive. The competition is even more brutal for independent agencies, which find themselves up against not only other local agencies, but major insurance carriers and captive agents as well. For years, large carriers with endless budgets have been building brands based on catchy slogans and humorous fictional characters. Let’s face it- every time we turn on our TVs we see Flo or Geico’s gecko. This leaves many independent agencies worried, wondering how their local insurance agency’s marketing efforts could ever compete with the large marketing and advertising budgets that carriers have.Branding

The bottom line is this: No, independent agencies cannot compete with major carriers when it comes to mass advertising and branding. But, they don’t have to compete on this level. In fact, they shouldn’t.

Modern independent insurance agencies are beginning to realize that they have other options and other ways to not only compete, but “win” against their opponents. While the carriers surely have assets that local agencies do not have in terms of reach, resources, etc; local agencies offer their own benefits to consumers that the carriers cannot.

The key to successful independent insurance agency marketing today seems to lie in the ability for the agencies to realize the unique value they can offer to consumers that carriers cannot, and to highlight these features in a modern sales and marketing strategy. Independent agencies can capitalize on a variety of strengths, including their local presence, personalized service, and other factors.

So, which digital marketing strategies should independent agencies use to successfully compete in the industry? And, more specifically, how can agencies utilize an integrated inbound marketing strategy to increase their return on investment (ROI)?

By utilizing an integrated inbound marketing strategy that includes blogging, social media, email marketing, website content, and more, agencies can compete and win against their opponents and achieve return on investment through these five main “levers”:

Retention: Keeping current customers by staying in front of them and connecting with them on a level that carriers cannot.
Conversion: Turning more prospects into customers by providing modern consumers with the type of information that is important to them and their purchase decision.
Round-outs: Taking advantage of the agency’s current customers by actively engaging with them and allowing them to learn more about the agency over time.
Referrals: Understanding and benefiting from the power of inbound marketing activities when it comes to referring new customers.
Opportunities: Reaching a newer, wider audience of local consumers and businesses.

The key is for agencies to understand that their relationship with customers is different than the one between carriers and customers. That is not only how it should be, but it is something they can capitalize on to help them grow and succeed over time.

For more information about insurance marketing, be sure to check out this Astonish blog that goes more in-depth into how independent insurance agencies can compete in the industry and achieve return on investment from inbound marketing.

About the Author
Allie Viau is an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Astonish. She creates a variety of content including website landing pages, blogs, and press releases. Allie is passionate about helping small businesses build their brand equity online through quality content and other inbound marketing strategies. She spends her free time baking, painting, and traveling as much as possible. 

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Examples of Social Media Branding For Your Agency

Posted on Jan 20, 2014

By Coburn Childs

Have you ever seen examples of social media branding that you want to emulate? Did you know that 83% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business? However, growing companies face a road block when it comes to building their business through social media. Specifically, many managers find it difficult to maintain a consistent branding strategy that resonates with consumers across multiple social media platforms. Why is this? Unfortunately, the reason is often because a specific “brand” hasn’t been established for the business in the first place, thus making it much harder to get the company’s message and standpoint across to an ever-increasing network of users on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. However, with just a little bit of strategy and effort, your business can learn from some of these examples of social media branding and move on to bigger and better things.

Worlwide business

Establish Your Brand

The first step that your business should take, even before diving into social media,  is establishing a vision for how you want to be perceived: Your brand. Branding is essential when it comes to marketing your business, as it is how your consumers will recognize you and understand what your company values, promotes, stands for, creates, and is generally “all about.” Your brand does not have to be limited to one specific item. For example, a company like Apple has branded itself as helpful, essential, friendly, easy-to-use, diverse, and innovative world-changers. These are just a few key traits that company has adopted as part of its brand, and look how well it has worked for them!

Grow Your Influence

Once the brand of your business has been established, it is important to recognize which social media networks you should be engaging with. Facebook and Twitter are just two examples of social media outlets, but there are many others. For instance, Vine or Instagram can be a great way to share pictures and videos of community events and local service and engagement, if that is how your company is positioning itself. Or maybe you can utilize LinkedIn to recruit top talent, if you want to be seen as professionals. Whatever your focus, have a strategy to it, and be sure to grow your influence by involving your business in more than just one social network.

Stay Consistent

A brand will do nothing for your business if you do not adhere to it. Consistency is key, as your market is more likely to engage with you if you have a determined focus on a specific form of branding. If your company wants to be seen as fair and non-partisan, it may be a good idea to avoid tweeting or posting politically slanted or religiously skewed posts. Similarly, if your business is all about professionalism, you may want to stick to posting and tweeting engaging posts that professionals will find helpful and engaging.

You simply have to sign onto Twitter or Facebook to recognize that examples of social media branding are numerous. What sort of brand will your business be promoting, and how can you grow it? With some strategy, consistency, and the right engagement, branding can take you far!

About the Author
Coburn Childs is a creative mind and young professional based in Providence, RI. In recent years, he’s blogged on a number of topics, from the insurance industry to Hollywood’s box office trends, from communication theories to religious topics, from food to movies, and everything in between. He’s also a self-described social media nut! Currently, he works as an Inbound Marketing Specialist for Astonish.

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How to Effectively Utilize Social Media Best Practices

Posted on Dec 2, 2013

By Coburn Childs

The chances are high that, like many businesses, you’ve joined the world of online social networking. Whether you’ve gotten onto Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or some other network, there are many benefits for your business in utilizing these tools. But is your business actually taking advantage of the benefits these outlets can offer? And are you even aware of social media best practices that you and other businesses should implement? Let’s take a look at a few of the best practices you can start to utilize through your social networking usage.

Add as Friend

Be Proactive

If you are going to go through the trouble of signing up for social media accounts, then you should take the time to remain active on those networks. Engage your customers through scheduled posts that are useful to them and relevant to your brand. Also, it will benefit you to be proactive in driving web users to visit your business’ site or other relevant resources; you can do this through blogs, links, videos, and articles that you post across multiple social networks. Lastly, it is highly recommended you always maintain professionalism online, even when showing the “fun side” of your agency or business.

Be Interactive

To engage your market base through social networking, it is important to be as interactive as you are proactive. Social media is a great tool for customers to feel their voice is heard, so if you receive a comment or a tweet, it is very important for your business to respond to it. Regardless if the feedback of the comment is negative or positive, it is still essential for you to show that you are listening and you care. Indeed, social media sites can be some of the best platforms for you to demonstrate customer service for the whole world to see.

Be Attractive

In order to get other social media users—and potential customers—to engage and interact with you, you need to make yourself a reputable, useful, and unique presence. Nowadays, countless outlets fight for your Twitter followers’ extremely-short attention span, so do what you can to make your posts relevant to your brand, while standing out amongst the white noise. If you’re tweeting tips or featured products you offer, get yourself on a routine and dependable schedule. The same goes for other networks, too! If you’re posting pictures to Instagram, make them unique, or if you’re running a contest on Facebook, make it worthwhile.

As an agency or small business, it may initially seem tough to grow your brand and expand your field of customers. However, with easy social networking tools like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, you now have the entire world at your fingertips with the click of a button. Take advantage of these social media best practices, make them a routine, and you will start seeing results in no time!

About the AuthorCoburn Childs is a creative mind and young professional based in Providence, RI. In recent years, he’s blogged on a number of topics, from the insurance industry to Hollywood’s box office trends, from communication theories to religious topics, from food to movies, and everything in between. He’s also a self-described social media nut! Currently, he works as an Inbound Marketing Specialist for Astonish.

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