One of the most important qualities of an SEM (Pay-Per-Click) strategy is the ability to convert site visits into actual lead opportunities. After all, besides the branding lift associated with site traffic, your most valuable visit is the one that turns into an action that benefits your agency’s bottom line. When it comes to paid search traffic, the desired action is to either:
1) Complete an online quote request form, or
2) To contact your office via dedicated SEM phone number
Both have a bigger impact on your policies activated than a simple click.
Of the myriad metrics that are available to us in SEM to determine performance, the one that tracks our ability to transition clicks into leads is called conversion rate. This ratio is simply the total number of contact points over the total number of site visits, and looks like this:
Conversion rate = (SEM phone calls + SEM quote forms completed) / total SEM visits
To that end, I am always tracking the SEM department’s performance at converting traffic into leads by comparing our client’s performance to industry-specific benchmarks. A recent study shows just how effective the Astonish SEM program is at driving valuable traffic to your agency’s site.
Pay-Per-Click vendor Wordstream just finished a study on SEM spending and conversion rates amongst some of the more competitive markets in the search landscape, and it highlighted some interesting findings.
First of all, to no one’s surprise, the Finance vertical (which includes and is heavily influenced by insurance-related searches) was the most competitive landscape in paid search advertising. The top two advertisers amongst this group were State Farm and Geico (again, unsurprisingly). The costs and conversions were the highest amongst the industries, highlighting the importance of having a dedicated SEM program to help you navigate this important, but crowded, marketplace.
Second of all, and something that I found most interesting, was that this presented a couple of benchmark metrics for Astonish to use in assessing our own client’s performance. The one that sticks out to me is the average conversion rate (the % of people who completed an action after clicking on a PPC ad) across the entire industry is just over 6%. I’m pleased to say that Astonish PPC conversion rates are exceeding that industry benchmark. In 2012, 10% of all paid search visitors (to Astonish clients’ sites) are converting to a quote request form completed. This means that Astonish SEM campaigns outperform the industry by a whopping 66% when it comes to converting everyday traffic into leads.
Author: David Osowa is the Director of Search Engine Marketing at Astonish. He manages and optimizes hundreds of PPC campaigns on behalf of Astonish clients to get them the best possible lead opportunities available.
Have you ever asked yourself if you believe? Believing is one of the most important aspects your agency must have if you want to increase sales. As Astonish Results CEO Adam DeGraide says, you must believe in yourself, the place you work, and the products you offer if you want to be successful.
If you walk into work every day with a negative attitude you are already set for failure and it is going to come across that way to the people that surround you. Having self-confidence is number one. Confidence is a trait that will make you happier, and the customer happier, because people feel better about a decision you are telling them to make, if you yourself are confident in it. Next, is believing that you can help the customer. The customer doesn’t want you to sell them something; they want you to HELP them buy something. Truly wanting to help your customers is a trait that will come off in a sales call. Showing that you are there to help them get the best rate and are willing to go the extra step when they file a claim will only deepen the level of trust you have instilled.
The second thing you must believe in is the place you work. Understanding the culture of the agency in which you work will help you feel in place, and your insurance agency culture is something you can use to differentiate your agency from competitors. If you aren’t sure what the agency stands for, ask your agency principal. Why did you start this agency? What is the message we want to get across to our customers? And if you are the agency owner, I would think about these questions. As the principal, showing your agents that YOU believe will only help them on their path to success.
The third part of your agency that you must believe in is the products you sell. You can’t sell anything in any business if you do not truly believe that it is the best choice out there for your customers. When following up with a lead the customer can tell if you are insincere about the product you are offering. Believing in the insurance policy you are offering them, that it will help them and is the best possible policy they can get, will shine through in your voice and attitude.
So ask yourself again. Do you believe in yourself, your agency, and the products you sell? If you answer no to any of these questions, then take a step back and assess the situation. Look for inspiration in yourself. Ask the most optimistic person in the office what they believe in, or approach your agency principal to better understand the culture at your agency. And lastly, believe in what you’re selling. If you can’t convince yourself a product is great, how can you convince the customer?
It’s true; social media appears to be changing almost every day; the latest networking initiative—location-based services.
We have seen location-based marketing tools such as Foursquare, Gowalla and now Facebook Places and Deals take the retail industry by storm. Stores are leveraging the power of mobile marketing to attract new customers and keep their current spenders coming back for more. So how can insurance agencies take advantage of these new applications?
The third ever #INSchat focused on the evolution and importance of location-based services and how agencies can adopt and adapt thee platforms to help strengthen their social marketing strategy.
The Insurance Marketing HQ team commends all of those who participated in the fast-paced discussion; here you will find a transcript with some of the most influential questions and highlights. A copy of the full transcript is also available below:
Question 1: What LBS social media platforms are a must for agency marketers? #INSchat
@Berry_Insurance: #Foursquare #GooglePlaces #FacebookPlaces #INSchat
@PRnick: Yelp and AngiesList aren’t LBS by definition, but ppl need to be aware since customers can leave comments/reviews in real time. #INSchat
@cbanksindy: @PRnick Yelp just added checking in option to their app… #INSchat
@InsuranceMHQ: Facebook Places, foursquare and gowalla are popular ones! #INSchat
@BravuraLeads: I’m going to bet on Facebook Places to become more and more relevant #INSchat
Question 2: What is the best way to use Foursquare for your agency?
@melnazar: Get your agency employees to check in whenever they are at local events, locations, etc. #INSchat
@javerlin74: tough to offer specials for agency. Partner with client. Check in at Tim Hortons and Agency get a quote and receive free coffee. #INSchat
@PRnick: Leaving a roadmap of where we’ve been and which client’s we’ve visited. Show niches, leave tips and highlight customers. #INSchat
@InsuranceMHQ: @javerlin74 Great idea! Checking into partner venues, need to be careful with offering quotes and deals together! #INSchat
@Astonish_Kelly: Agencies have to set clear goals for #Foursquare; check out what other small businesses are doing: http://bit.ly/fxHwEq #INSchat
@EricLeist: A tip-oriented 4sq campaign works for home & auto agencies. Check into a local car dealer/real estate; get a tip from an ins agent #INSchat
@marshberrywest: be on the lookout to create your own badge when the capability becomes available #INSchat
@RitaAtNClife: Definitely RT @IWCPKevin: Checking in at your business clients and/or shout about their services. Help make your clients money! #INSchat
Question 3: How can your agency leverage Facebook deals?
@EricLeist: Fb Deals could be huge to reach GenY esp. when combined w/ Fb ads. Could give away anything just to get them in the door. #INSchat
@InsuranceMHQ: @maia_melissa Offering coffee or pizza (without mentioning quote) will get foot traffic, then pitch will be your part. #INSchat
@greggweiss: “Special Nearby” is the best way to bring someone in the door for a small biz. @InsuranceMHQ @foursquare #INSchat
@ReyInsurance: i have found, unfortunately, non-insurance related topics drive the most response/engagement. contests w/a prize w/i state regs #INSchat
Question 5: What type of information should an agency provide on these network listings?
@Berry_Insurance: website, telephone, contact person. #INSchat
@InsuranceMHQ: Customize! Different networks have different options but it?s important that you do as much as you can to build out your listing. #INSchat
Question 6: How much do you push customer reviews on your local listings (such as Google Local)?
@Berrys_Amanda: ask customers for testimonials; send them the link in an email, so they know exactly where to go! #INSchat
@astonish_alicia: Don’t put fake reviews! #INSchat Q6: How do you push customer reviews on your local listings?
@GarryInsurance: We have found that just asking works the best. Why wouldn’t we, when we know we have helped them & provided top notch service #INSchat
Eager for more insight regarding location-based services—view the full #INSchat transcript here!
Recently we held the second insurance marketing twitter chat. One of the last questions that came up was “What advice would you give to a new blogger or social media intern?” Especially in the insurance industry having the right approach at your social media strategy is an important first step. I have included some of the #INSchat comments along with some of my own tips for social media gurus in training.
1) Don’t be overwhelmed.
Leading the social media efforts at your agency can seem overwhelming at first. Social media is meant to be interactive and fun so don’t worry about having too much on your plate. Blogging, tweeting, tagging, it is all progressive. From the point about five months ago when I started until now I have learned an immense amount of knowledge about online marketing and different social media platforms. It takes time to learn everything, so don’t be overwhelmed just have a confident attitude and dive in!
2) Brand Yourself.
This is one of the most important points. No one wants to chat with an insurance agency on Facebook or twitter. If a friend suggested that I “like” an agency on Facebook and they have a picture of their logo and only tweet about how they can give me the best quote, I probably wouldn’t accept. Your job is to represent the agency as a thought leader. Showcase some of your own interests, whether you like football, fishing, or french fries, showing your personality keeps it interesting, makes it more fun for you, and allows others to see there is more to your social media efforts than generating leads. Lets face it. No one wants to hear about insurance unless they need a quote or have a question. So representing your agency as a person not just someone who is trying to sell something is key.
This one probably seems like a no brainer, but reading is important for content ideas and keeping up to date with the latest trends. There is so much information out there about social media, marketing strategy, and technology, so read it! The Alltop social media page is a great resource for finding the trending stories each day. If you have a question, someone has probably answered it in a blog post. The only way to learn about social media besides experience is to immerse yourself in the culture.
Things to keep in mind:
- Be sincere and authentic.
- Posts never go away, think long-term.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Many people on social networking sites, especially twitter, are more than happy to answer a question you may have.
- Get SOCIAL! Having good content is a positive but it isn’t the main source that will drive traffic to your post.
There are currently no insurance based chats, but we are exploring a couple options and invite others to create twitter chats about insurance. For now the chats most beneficial to helping your insurance marketing efforts are:
1. #smchat: Exploring and driving the new social media paradigm. Be ready for a discussion that’s sometimes technical but always lively.
2. #smmeasure: This chat is all about measuring your social media efforts. Others share how they see their ROI and analytics.
3. #blogchat: This chat is all about BLOGGING. Get tips from professionals on how to make your blog better, and connect with people who have similar issues.
4. #wpchat: A chat all about WordPress. Everyone has been frustrated with it before, get some quick tips and ideas!
*All chats times are EST. See the full list of twitter chats.
Along with participating in Twitter chats, you can use #hashtags in your everyday tweets when discussing insurance, local events, or anything for that matter, and create a Twitter search to monitor the #hashtags. Likewise, by using these #hashtags, people will be able to see your tweet when searching for the terms.
You can also search for terms to make connections with like-minded Twitter users, or maybe even reach out to a prospect who is having a negative, insurance-related experience (tactfully). Geographic locations also make good #hashtags because they identify people in your area that are involved with local events or business.
Lastly, some people use hashtags to inject humor into the conversation. For example, one may tweet something like, “Listening to Backstreet Boys station on @Pandora_Radio #dontjudge,” or “Seasoned hunter mauled by bear…in his back yard #irony.”
Using multiple #hashtags in one tweet happens (#car #insurance), but it’s NOT advisable to load every single post with a bevy of #s. It gives the appearance of someone not concerned with making connections but only appearing in searches, cluttering your posts while likely driving followers away. Some popular #hashtags for the industry with no specific chat time are:
• #workerscomp (Every Wednesday follow and use this #hashtag along with @WorkCompEdge for discussion of workers compensation)
• #health (#insurance)
• #car (#insurance)
• #life (#insurance)