August 16, 2021
Agencies Turn to Networks for Growth
by Holly Herron
Networks of agencies understand how important it is to provide expert guidance and resources throughout the digital journey.
To meet customers and prospects in the new virtual world over the past year, independent agencies scrambled to find ways to connect that felt personal and retained the “human touch.” Networks of agencies that care about their members understand how important it is to provide expert guidance and resources throughout this digital journey.
Independent agencies come in all sizes and with different levels of resources, but they all require cost-effective strategies to ensure current clients are happy and attract new prospects. They join networks looking for collective strength and bargaining power and to get support with professional development and technology. Networks can level the playing field for independent agents by equipping them with the kind of advanced marketing tools those at the largest corporations have at their fingertips.
Independent insurance agents are continually researching a multitude of options in service to their clients while managing every aspect of their business. Adding marketing on top of this load can be overwhelming. Access to resources, such as a marketing library with timely content that can be customized, simplifies communication with clients.
A recent independent survey asked insurance professionals their perception of marketing. According to those surveyed, enhanced marketing strategies improved client retention, acquisition and revenue growth. Virtually all the respondents agreed that marketing is a competitive advantage (98%), and 96% reported that more effective marketing would grow their business. The survey also revealed that agents would switch networks to gain better technology platforms.
Networks that support their members’ client-retention initiatives can expect higher member retention and profitability for their own organizations. Because it can cost seven to nine times more for an agency to bring in a new customer than to retain a client, active engagement with the current client base is one of the strongest foundations for sales growth.
Agents look to networks to fill the gaps in their marketing. The past year’s rush to a digital platform, while challenging, gave agents opportunities to strengthen their relationships with clients and prospects. The personal attention that smaller agencies provide is a powerful competitive advantage, in contrast with how clients can feel when dealing with a large, impersonal corporation.
A 2020 IBM survey that found only 56% of consumers are satisfied with their insurance provider’s personal attention. The same survey found that, in response, 84% of insurance organizations adding artificial intelligence (AI) tools are doing so to improve customer satisfaction.
People need insurance policies for every stage of life, and they’re an emotional as well as financial investment. Agents who understand this make sure their clients know they are always advocating for them. One way to do this is to take the time to build authentic relationships based on personal details — providing useful information and offering help when clients need it, identifying pain points, alerting them to renewal deadlines and celebrating milestones like birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and more. But time is a valuable resource. This is where networks can step up and be a true partner in relationship-building by offering technological tools that simplify content development.
See also: NPS Scores Provide 3 Keys to Growth
A library with insurance-specific, relevant email and social media content, personalized greeting cards, as well as copy for virtual and in-person events makes engagement easy and efficient. AI technologies within a marketing suite can quickly sort and identify content that will resonate with clients by being precisely tailored to their interests, saving agents’ time. With these sophisticated tools added to their marketing arsenal, agents can increase cross- and up-sell opportunities.
Automation in marketing helps agents manage a larger customer base while making the customer interactions more meaningful and relevant. Insurance agents are evolving to be consumer educators and partners in the lifelong journey of buying insurance for protection at every stage. Agents use multiple touchpoints to nurture, inspire and inform their clients, who respond to genuine interactions with trust and loyalty.
Networks can serve as partners and facilitators for these agent-customer journeys, by serving as a resource that supports agents as they manage these relationships. As the industry continues to recover from the past year’s challenges, networks that are responsive to agency members’ technological and professional growth will remain strong for the inevitable changes to come.