Keeping up with the latest local search optimization tactics in addition to maintaining your overall insurance agency marketing focus can be a formidable, but worthwhile task. Changes to the Google algorithm can occur without warning and effect how local search results are shown; there has never been a better but more difficult time to rank for high volume, local keywords.
Over the past 12 months, there have been changes in Google Places with tags, check-ins, deals and other extraneous but relevant information pulled into your Places listing. More information than ever was used to determine rankings for local search. Even third party citation sites like Yelp, Insider Pages and CitySearch were all pulled into a Google Places listing and given weight in rankings.
As of late, it has been suspected that Google has placed less emphasis on the third party review sites with the appearance of the RED “write a review” button on listings. Also, Google displaying reviews from Google users exclusively and placing links to the third party sites under the listing.
Your first thought might be to only go after the Google listings. But rather than putting all of your eggs in the “Google Reviews only” basket, a more robust and natural approach would involve a review strategy that is more diverse and includes several different local citation sites.
That all sounds great, but how will you execute this new plan?
Encourage your customers to leave reviews for your business on their preferred site. Google may be a place that many people start their search but it won’t be the only place users will go to find information out about a business. Give your customers a nudge. Incorporate review buttons in a conspicuous location on your site to direct traffic to review sites directly from your site.
Point Your Customers in the Right Direction.
Develop a one-sheet to hand to customers or e-mailed along with your products or services confirmation e-mails. Asking for the review in the sales process will help it to become part of the culture of your agency. Utilize your e-mail list and send out a review e-mail with a link to a handful of prominent review sites to make giving your agency a review as easy and painless as possible.
DISCLAIMER: Make sure your service warrants a good review. By telling your customers to give your products or services a review, you become vulnerable for bad reviews. First and foremost, make sure that you are giving your customers the best customer service you possibly can. Typically, when you make a conscious effort to provide excellent customer service, obtaining five star reviews can become less of a chore.
People want their opinion to be heard, so when your company provides an above average customer experience, point them in the direction a review of your site. Remember also that below average or poor experiences can lead to a poor review of your business. That’s ok. Take a moment to respond to the review and offer a solution to the problem. People will see that you are actively monitoring your reviews and you have taken the time to remedy the situation and do right by your customer. Consider this…
Are Your Reviews Honest?
When you see a business with 50 reviews with five stars do you become a little suspicious? Maybe they really earned all of those five star reviews but most likely some of those reviews were not genuine. Instead of trying to get as many “perfect” reviews as you possibly can, monitor your reviews and deal with the good and bad reviews as they roll in. Thank someone for a good review and address the concerns of a bad review. Being a proactive business owner will say more about your business than 50 five star reviews can. You can also learn where you may need to improve as a business.
GET MORE LOCAL REVIEWS FOR YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!
Try this, each month select a winner from your reviews and try to get in touch with that person. Alert people to the drawing and highlight the winner on your on-site blog and social media sites. When people see that you actively monitor your local reviews and actually select a winner every month for a prize, people will be more likely to 1. Leave a review because there is something in it for them, and 2. Interact with your business on social media and blog pages. This is a great way to get people interacting with your business on a continuous basis.
Keep in mind that customers that leave positive reviews are much more likely tell people about your business. People who refer their friends and family to your business are also more likely to write a review for your business on a local review site. Connecting with the local user is the end goal and finding new and innovative ways to make that connection that will be beneficial to your business now and in the future.
As I mentioned late last week in a post on the Astonish User Group (for Astonish clients, only) – Bing has stopped allowing customers to leave reviews directly on their local business listings page. According to a post from a Microsoft representative, they will be aggregating reviews from other local search resources like CitySearch and Yelp. Why did they decide to drop this feature? We can only speculate – but it may have to do with the degree of spamming that sometimes occurs within the local review scene. Maybe they just didn’t have the man power to monitor the reviews effectively. Regardless of why the review functionality was removed, it opens up a couple of new opportunities for independent insurance agencies – CitySearch and Yelp!
Both sites have a great user interface and allow potential patrons to easily find local businesses. It’s important that your agency be listed on as many of the top ‘local search engines’ as possible – they’re the new Yellow Pages!
Trying to figure out which of the local directories to join and how to correctly setup your profile page may seem overwhelming, but don’t let that discourage you. The bottom line is, the more of these sites that you’re on – the more visible you and your agency will become.
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!
As the holidays approach the articles about Black Friday check-in’s and location based services, being harnessed by many retailers to offer customer deals, are being published hourly. The use of platforms such as Foursquare and Gowalla are becoming more popular among social media users and the new availability of Facebook Places and Deals on most Smartphone’s will result in an increase of holiday shoppers checking into stores to claim certain discounts.
For the third insurance marketing twitter chat we thought it was only appropriate to cover the topic of location based services and how they can be used to help an agency’s marketing strategy. I recently wrote a blog post about using Facebook deals in your insurance agency, but there are so many more applications and uses of location based services that many CSR’s and social media engineers do not take advantage of.
So in light of the topic’s recent popularity the Insurance Marketing HQ team would like to announce the third #INSchat scheduled for Monday November 29th at 1 p.m. EST. After the Thanksgiving holiday what better time to discuss the topic and share insights from those who participated in the Black Friday deals and those who have implemented such a strategy at their own agency.
The instructions on how to participate in the twitter chat are the same as before with the use of hashtag #INSchat of course. The IMHQ team will be compiling questions over the next week, so for any suggestions or specific topics you would like covered, feel free to email to email@example.com.
We hope to see you all there!