Do you own a Smartphone? How about a tablet? If you are like most people, these devices are an important part of your everyday life. We rely on our phones for a lot more than making calls. In fact, more and more people stay connected to email, surf the web, and shop using their Internet-connected devices.
For years we have been hearing how mobile phones are going to overtake PCs as the main way people get online. We haven’t reached that point yet, but the recent mobile statistics are staggering. When it comes to consumer behavior, we see some pretty remarkable trends:
• 47% of consumers use their Smartphone to search for local information such as a local storefront they want to visit.
• Nearly two out of three shoppers use a Smartphone to research and purchase while shopping.
• 80% of mobile users prefer locally relevant advertising and are more likely to take an action after seeing a location-specific message.
• 65% of mobile users used their mobile device to find a business to make an in-store purchase.
• By 2015, it is predicted that mobile shopping will account for $163 billion in sales worldwide.
So, what does this mean for insurance agency owners and advertisers? For many, it means a total shift in how they approach advertising on the Internet. As more people choose their phone or tablet as their primary way to search for goods and services, more attention must be paid to how ads are presented to them.
Mobile device advertising allows agencies to dramatically extend the reach of their online SEM (pay-per-click) campaigns. Recently Google created a new type of ad campaign called “Enhanced.” The new campaigns let SEM managers manage complex targeting, bidding, and ads for different platforms. You can now run a single campaign that targets computers, tablets, and Smartphones. Along with the Enhanced campaigns, Google has just announced the rollout of their new mobile adjustments for AdWords accounts.
This new system allows SEM managers to adjust bidding at the ad group level within the campaign. You will now be able to set bulk bid adjustments for locations, day-parts, and devices. This ultimately saves time and provides more control and precision over bids within a campaign. This is a huge upgrade, since originally mobile bids adjustments were only available at the campaign level.
As mobile search becomes more prevalent, it’s important not to overlook your mobile ad campaigns. This is true for businesses selling goods, but also applies the service industry. Businesses such as insurance agencies need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to advertising. Many agencies have only recently started advertising online and may feel that what they are doing with paid search is enough. Those are the agencies that will ultimately be left behind and leave revenue on the table.
With the new Google updates, agency owners and their SEM managers are being given the right tools and greater flexibility to analyze mobile search data and make quick changes when warranted. Ad group mobile bid adjustments should be available to all users sometime in May.Continue Reading »
You may have heard about the latest social network out there and available to iPhone users – Vine. The app has been making huge moves in the industry. Compared to other apps of its kind, it has made a huge impact. Increasingly, users of the social media are downloading and “vining” their lives.
Right now, you may be thinking what is Vine? Initially, you may be picturing Tarzan swinging through the trees in the jungle – and while this would make a great USE of the app, it is not an actual “vine” at all. Here is what we know about Vine.
• The mobile app is owned by Twitter
• It allows you to capture and share short, looping videos
• The videos are 6 seconds long – or less
• It allows you to capture motion and sound
• Hashtags can be used
• You can “follow,” “like” and “comment” on other users’ videos
• The application can be linked to a Twitter account
Similar to the idea of only being able to use 140 characters on Twitter, the creators of Vine hope to inspire creativity in users. Vine makers hope users can see and share life in a “fun, simple way.” It is available for free in the app store for Apple users, and soon, the creators hope to bring it to other platforms and android devices.
Is Vine Popular?
We all remember MySpace – it was immensely popular, and then Facebook took over the social networking sphere. The thing about Vine is this: it wasn’t the first mover. There were several other video apps available prior to its creation. Actually, several of those apps had many users as well. However, since January, when Vine was introduced by Twitter, the tides have been changing for social media.
According to industry statistics, Vine has grown its users by 50% in one month alone.
How can an insurance company use Vine?
Similar to many other social media networks, insurance agencies across the United States may be wondering how they can actually use Vine. Insurance is a service – it is not a tangible product. However, there are many ways you can get creative with Vine and use it to promote your brand!
Here are some tactics that seem to work well with Vine:
1. Sneak Peaks: You have six seconds – this works perfectly for showing teasers and sneak peaks. Is your agency about to unveil a new service option? Use your six seconds to show some aspect of it, and have your clients guess what it might be!
2. Humanize Your Agency: Vine is a great way to show the character of your agents. Use your videos to let your clients get to know the funny, exciting, and creative things you do in your office as a team!
3. Show New Offerings: Have you changed or updated a policy offering? Use Vine to show the bullet points and contact information for more info!
Remember, these are videos that everyone will be able to see. You want to use Vine to demonstrate what makes your agency great and show people who you are!Continue Reading »
By now, you have already taken the time to master the craft of creating engaging, relevant content for your website and audience. However, this is not the only reason your clients should be reading your blogs, landing pages, and even social media posts. As you know, strong and interesting content should convert to sales. But the one element that connects everything together is a call to action.
Just as you would naturally include keywords into your content, you should do the same with your calls to action. This is the whole reason you have a website, to sell your products, right? Even if you receive lots of traffic on certain pages, that is only half the battle. You need your readers to respond and complete an action in order to remain in business.
So how can you encourage your community to act in addition to read? Trigger their wants and needs in every way so they will click the button to do business with your company. Ultimately, your call to action should encourage readers to engage with you further. The phrase you select must provide focus to your site and direct your customers seamlessly.
You also need to communicate the benefits of responding. What will the clients receive from completing the call to action? Some good words to include in your call to action are “buy,” “subscribe,” “register,” “call,” and “donate.” In addition, create a sense of urgency by telling the reader they need to act now and by a particular deadline to get the most out of the products.
For insurance agencies, some effective calls to action include:
- Get a Quote Now
- Bundle Your Policies & Save
- Call Us Today for a Free Quote
- Only 2 Days Left to Get a Special Discount
- Just 10 Minutes Could Lead to Better Coverage for Less
The position of your call to action on the page will also play a big role in the success of your strategy. You can place the statement in many different spaces, including high on the page, in the center, or at the bottom. Its placement depends on the message you want to send to your readers. The space around it may also draw more or less attention to the action. Finally, not only should your homepage include a call to action, but every page of your site should have some form of one.
Since you are already involved in content marketing, you have an understanding and appreciation for the written word. Now you must enhance the context of your language by engaging readers further through calls to action. These tips may help you become more confident in your strategy, finalize sales, and gain the success you desire.Continue Reading »
Twitter feed is rolling, headlines are posted, and follower count is going up – looks like everything is going according to plan, right? Well, not always. Sure, you may have posted that great blog post that you wrote about Insurance Awareness Day, but how do you know that people are ACTUALLY clicking and reading it? According to some studies, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will actually click and read the content. What gives?
Let’s talk about writing great headlines and how to come up with the best Twitter headlines. This week, we will begin with a discussion about the length.
Yes, you have 140 characters but that DOES NOT mean that you have to use all 140! In fact, studies have proven again and again that headlines that are 8 words or less have the greatest success. Also, what if people want to RT and add commentary to your tweet? You want to allow them enough room to do so, right? Even if the title of your blog post is longer than average, it is important that you maneuver and change it on Twitter. The longer the headline, the more time it takes a reader to lose interest and continue to scroll. In “short,” SHORT HEADLINES ARE POWERFUL!
Keep in mind that your short and sweet headlines should also be:
Now that you are aware of the most effective length of a Twitter headline, you may want to learn about your GOALS when writing a headline. Be sure to check back for Part 2 in the coming weeks. You will not want to miss out on these headline writing tips!Continue Reading »
If you’re privy to the changes Google’s Penguin update brought to online best practices as we know it, you know that stuffing your blog posts with product-specific keywords (such as “Ohio auto insurance”) is no longer a best practice, unless the topic is highly relevant to the keywords you’re using (such as “Ohio’s Office of Insurance Changes State Limits for Auto Insurance”).
What you may not know is that keywords are still a very important part of your blogging strategy. And there are ways to use keywords to supercharge your blogging efforts to reach broader audiences online. One of the tactics is the use of non-product related keywords in blogging.
What do I mean by that? Here’s the breakdown of one way to do this effectively:
1. You can search for blog topics using tools like Ubersuggest, which scrapes popular searches via Google’s auto suggest feature.
2. All you need to do is go to the site and type in a topic you want to write about. For example, say you want to write about spring cleaning. Type the words “spring cleaning” in the query box at the top. You’ll have to fill out the captcha field as well (this just tells the site that you’re a person, not a spam bot).
3. Scroll down and you’ll see several types of popular searches people make regarding “spring cleaning.” Click on any of the options and it will show you more search phrases.
4. You can use this tactic to discover ways to write about spring cleaning that you maybe hadn’t thought of before. For example, there’s one search called “spring cleaning hazards.” Have you ever thought about writing about the safety hazards involving spring cleaning? That would make an interesting blog post that you could tie to the importance of home insurance, especially if you hire a friend to do your spring cleaning.
5. Make sure you use the phrase “spring cleaning hazards” in the TITLE of the blog post. Why? Because we’ve found this type of tactic can increase the number of visitors the blog post brings in. For this example the blog title might read: “3 Spring Cleaning Hazards You Need to Watch Out For.”
Tactics like these can help you incorporate traffic-generating blog posts into your strategy to help boost your insurance agency’s online presence.Continue Reading »
It’s a tactic all independent insurance agencies should be using: cross-selling to the consumer. Any agency can repeatedly practice this act as a way to ensure they’re doing their best to offer all the varying services they have to their customers. While many insurance agents may see this as a way to just sell additional policies, we at Barber Insurance view it as an opportunity to sustain lasting connections with our customers.
To successfully cross-sell, or “pivot” as we say, to your customers, you need to know the two main objectives:
• Protect the relationship with your client.
• Make sure you put the needs of your client first. Don’t focus so much on trying to sell additional policies.
Pivoting is a way for you to ease into approaching your customer as you go about offering them a secondary product from your agency. For example, when discussing a homeowner’s policy with the intent to ask a customer about their auto coverage, you can bridge that gap with a single question: Really? What kind of car do you have? This way, as the agent, you’re able to counteract any question or objection your customer may have! By doing this, you’ll then have the confidence to get them the info they need and present them with a better auto policy from you.
Go ahead – test this theory out right now within your own office! Just by having a casual conversation with one of your fellow agents you’ll be able to experience firsthand how this method really works.
I’ve had Allstate Auto Insurance for a while and I’ve been pretty happy with my coverage.
Really? What kind of car do you have?
I’m ok with the payments I’ve been making and am not sure I could find a better price right now.
Really? What kind of car do you have?
I’ve been working with the same, great agent for over 20 years. I wouldn’t want to leave him.
Really? What kind of car do you have?
There are so many driving discounts I already get with my current agency.
Really? What kind of car do you have?
You can see how you’re able to take control of the conversation and steer it toward the services your agency can offer and then show your customer why going with you is the best option for them. Remember: The initial objection (without them coming out and saying it) is around the length of time they imagine it will take for us to shop it. This could have been someone just calling to correct their zip code or something, and we are suddenly asking them for another line of business.
They don’t have their declaration sheets in front of them, and weren’t in that mind set. So by asking that one simple question, they are easily drawn in to the remaining questions, realizing it can be just a few simple questions to start a fairly simple process.
Trying out this technique lets you sustain that relationship with your customer that you wanted to keep all along. You’re not coming off as demanding, nor are you being obvious that all you care about is selling another policy. Playing it this way makes it very clear that you’re interested in the needs of your customer and providing them with the absolute best coverage for whatever kind of policy they could need from your agency.
Who would have thought that such a simple question could help you become a master at cross-selling?
About the Author: Cheryl Fessenden is CFO of Barber Insurance, a California-based insurance agency that offers a number of personal and business insurance solutions to residents throughout Santa Rosa, Sand Francisco, Berkley, Napa, and all of Northern California.Continue Reading »
By David Siekman
No matter what type of company you are managing, the importance of shared goals and teamwork is imperative to success. As an independent insurance agency, Encharter Insurance has worked diligently to embrace technological advances and innovation in way that works well for our team here. However, without communication, shared goals and a sense of comradery amongst our team here, we would not be able to do all of that successfully. Without a focused and charged team, our efforts to serve our customers would be worse off.
How do we work to build that? Annually, we have a company meeting. The purpose is simple: we want to re-focus and re-charge our team. In this day and age, the importance of blending sales and marketing is imperative. Customers are looking online for their insurance, and without a blended strategy, we would be missing the mark on how to best service these consumers.
We spent a day and a half out of the office – our belief is that in order to re-focus, our team should be off-site and away from the daily grind of work. We want people to really get in tune with our purpose for the meeting, and let go of the other stuff.
Here’s what we focus on:
• The direction of the agency and each department: Is everyone on the same page?
• The vision and goals for each department: Do we all understand what everyone else is doing to contribute to the greater direction?
• The process: Are the procedures clear? Do we want to make changes to the process at our agency?
• Team building: An important foundation to working cohesively is trust. Cohesion is what drives success, and we want that at our agency – and so should you!
In addition to that agenda, we also have guest speakers come to the meetings with varying views. It is important to get outside perspectives from different companies. This helps us generate ideas on how to implement innovative strategies for our agency, and continue to do what is best for the customer.
Overall, the point is to get everyone interacting and sharing ideas. Although not everyone interacts on a daily basis, we are all part of a team working towards a goal. It is great for team members to get an understanding and perspective of everyone else’s role in the company and how that works towards our common goals. Holding annual meetings such as this are a great way to build morale and get everyone focused on the mission of your agency. We highly recommend it! Just look at what our team said about it if you don’t believe us!
About the Author: David Siekman runs the Sales & Marketing Departments at Encharter Insurance, an insurance agency with offices in Massachusetts and Connecticut.Continue Reading »
Recently, Google quietly announced that they would be making a change to their pay-per-click advertising policy regarding text ads. Starting in April 2013, Google will no longer be allowing publishers to manually insert their phone number into their paid search text ads. Practically speaking, Google is trying to eliminate ads that appear in search results that look like this (note the included phone number in the pizza ad):
There are a lot of marketers out there whose strategy is to deliver a high volume of phone-based SEM leads by including each client’s SEM-specific phone number in their AdWords advertisement. Since Google has stated that these types of ads will be disapproved in the near future, this could affect marketers significantly unless a change in strategy is executed.
A good SEM team will adjust to the changing landscape of paid search ads, and have a plan in place.
In order to be in full compliance with Google policies, all SEM campaigns will need to remove/pause all campaigns that include a phone number in their text (description, headline). In addition to that, marketers will want to utilize an AdWords function called “Call Extensions” in order to display phone numbers associated with each ad. In this case, your SEM phone number will be eligible to show up in Google sponsored search results next to your text copy, like this:
In addition, this feature will allow your phone number to be displayed as a “click to call” option on mobile devices. Google has recently begun treating desktop computers and mobile devices as similar entities when it comes to paid search (because the ever-increasing capabilities of mobile devices has blurred the lines in terms of usability), so this is an important development. One of the features of this change will allow mobile search users who find your PPC ad to simply click on your phone number to be connected to your agency. With mobile paid search growing rapidly, this is a great development for your campaigns as you prepare to field potential leads from those on the go.
The bottom line is this – Google PPC advertising is always changing, which is why it is important to have your internet marketing team working hard on your behalf to help adjust to these changes, and identify new areas of opportunity for your agency.
By Wayne Partee
As an independent insurance agency, it should always be a priority to staff your team properly. Having the right salespeople on board is half of the battle! Without a team of strong salespeople, you may be missing out on business left and right. Today, let’s talk about finding the ultimate sales ninja for your agency. Everybody wants one, but they are not the easiest thing to find!
How do you go about finding these ninjas in a sea of applicants? You must ask the RIGHT interview questions and look for the RIGHT answers. Go ahead and outright ask this simple question: “So tell me, why do you think you are the best?” This is a way to challenge a perspective sales person to SELL THEMSELVES to YOU. You may get a couple different answers…
If you get a wishy-washy answer and are not hearing superstar or top producer right off the bat, this candidate may not be the best choice. A ninja sales person will take over the room. Many times, an applicant will not have a commanding presence. If the candidate cannot sell themselves to you, they certainly cannot sell insurance to the public.
On another note, a candidate may seem fairly self assured but when challenged, he or she may back down. The person that you hire HAS to believe that they can bring home the bacon. They HAVE to believe that they are the person who is going to make your agency whole.
If a candidate comes off as indecisive or unassertive, they are most likely NOT a good fit for your agency. You may wonder: How can improve and truly find those who will complete my agency? I have a few books that are MUST READS in the industry.
#1: Selling 101 by Zig Ziglar. Ziglar is one of the best mentors of all time. This is a small book. Make sure you read it!
#2: No BS Ruthless Management for People and Profits by Dan Kennedy. This book addresses one of the many mistakes that we tend to make. We hire people TOO FAST and we fire them TOO SLOW. You cannot make this mistake when you are looking for a ninja producer. If he or she cannot produce and show you that they are the right candidate in a short period of time, you must let them go.
#3: Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. Strongly recommend you read this book and have your sales ninjas read it, too.
#4: Question Based Selling by Thomas A. Freese. This book is a must read! It touches a variety of issues. For one, if your people are talking too much, they’re not going to make sales. They need to ask questions to find out what the buying points are in the public’s mind.
Grab these books off the shelf or on your Kindle to expand your mind and business!
I hope that you have found these tips helpful and find the sales ninja that you are searching for. Just remember: Unless you challenge candidates or unless they’ll stand up, they are not the person for the job. Best of luck!
About the Author: Wayne Partee is President/CEO of Partee Insurance, an independent insurance agency located in Covina, CA, proudly serving the entire state!Continue Reading »
How Can I Be Credible?
Remember, you are an insurance agency, so you already have credibility in the sense that you live and work this stuff all day long. However, if you want your content to be shareable, you are going to need to demonstrate your credibility through your content.
- Be sure to cite all of your information: If possible, use the primary source. For example, if you found a statistic in an article, try to go and find where that author got the information from.
- Link to industry experts: Your own VIO certainly counts in this situation if you are referring to types of insurance, but avoid making it look like promotion – web readers are hypersensitive to marketing.
- Link AFTER the point: Linking is a fantastic way to gain credibility, but remember, get the point across first. For example, “Distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to cause a car accident, according to The Virginia Tech Transpiration Institute.
- Avoid exaggerations: Anything that looks like marketing might turn your readers off. Try to keep things as unbiased as possible and offer accurate and objective information.
How Can I Make My Content Actionable?
- Creative and useful writing will be content that your readers can actually use
- Think about this: what do I want the reader to think, feel and do? Convert these points into action in your content
- Use your main points to convey actionable situations – for example, if you were writing an article on winterizing your home, and you had 3 main tips, make those your subheadings… your actions.
Now that you understand how to brainstorm the topics, structure the content, and write in a way that is actionable and credible, you are definitely well on your way to being a content master! Get out there and get to work on your unique, credible, and valuable content… and let us know what works for you!
This is the end of our multi-part content marketing series. If you’d like to see the other parts, here they are in order:
How to Create a Unique, Credible and Valuable Content Strategy – Part 1
Researching Content Topics for Your Content Strategy – Part 2
Unique, Credible and Valuable Content: Structuring Your Writing — Part 3
When You Are Writing: Content That’s Scan-able – Part 4