How proficient is your independent insurance agency at marketing?
Marketing is one of the largest discretionary expenses for most businesses today, including insurance organizations. Truthfully, it should be considered mission-critical for driving sales. While the industry has made strides in recent years to improve and enhance its collective marketing and communications acumen, there’s still ample room for growth.
One of the most significant areas where we see room for improvement involves targeting the right audience. Targeting the individuals, businesses and organizations that fit your profile and want to do business with you is not a matter to be handled as an afterthought or casually. The improvements the industry has taken broadly on this front provide a valuable guide for what independent agents and agencies can follow to improve their own outreach.
Historically, few independent agents received adequate marketing training at the start of their insurance careers, and the same too often holds true today. As experienced agents progress in their roles, the likelihood that they will receive refresher marketing guidance or explore new and emerging best practices remains uncommon without some prompting from outside sources. Here at SIAA, we believe training is the ideal starting point for improved marketing efforts, but there are more in-depth measures agencies should consider.
See also: 2 Overlooked Marketing Keys for Agents
The Five Marketing Musts
1. Maintain an attractive and user-friendly website.
For years, we’ve known every agency needs a website that is properly maintained. The industry has progressed here. In fact, at SIAA we’ve gone from about 30% of members with websites to today boasting around 70 to 80% of members with websites. The issue now is less about having a website and more about having a modern, user-friendly and responsive site that is updated with some frequency in terms of both content and design.
Dated-looking websites give pause to potential clients on review. Agents need a modern website to show their agency is keeping up with the latest industry trends and is intuitive and, frankly, that they are still in business.
To that end, the content on those sites needs to be both current and high-quality. Too often, we see agency blogs that haven’t been active for years or with content that is clearly out of date. While not often top of mind, agents would do well to take the time to do a full redesign every two to four years and commit to providing regular, informative content. Planning for these types of design and content updates allows for any necessary time and budgetary allotments and helps to avoid surprise expenses in the course of growing a book of business.
2. Use a branded email account.
Email is often the preferred method of contact for agencies and prospects. What agents are missing is having professional email addresses and domains. Your email domain should have your company name in it, as opposed to a generic email address. To a prospective client, a Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail account might look like fraud or simply unprofessional. Technology makes it simple to set up an email account that looks professional and can speak to your credibility.
3. Establish your agency’s brand and make it visible.
Consistent branding is key to attracting and retaining clients. Your brand doesn’t have to be fancy or overly sophisticated, but it should reflect your focus and your role in the community. Your brand should speak to or have relevance for the insurance areas you support as well as your business priorities.
For example, your agency may be the local solution for your community’s business insurance needs. In that case, your brand needs to be local and seen. Your efforts to support the community need to be demonstrated and highlighted on a regular basis, whether it’s on the agency’s website or its social media channels. Similarly, if your brand is designed to be the financial solution for a particular industry sector throughout the U.S., you need active, accurate communications to reflect that national and specialized focus.
4. Include a call to action in communications.
A call to action helps direct potential clients to the right solution to meet their needs. Whether it’s direct mail or social media and blog posts, content needs to be informational and comprehensively explain what exactly you want the recipient or reader to do. The most common answer is a call to action that leads a prospect to contact the agent or agency, but there are other avenues, as well.
For example, during the holidays, if your business is working to support the local community through charity, your article or post should reflect how you support those in need. The call to action may be to ask for help with the local food pantry or join in volunteering with a local organization. These types of calls to action are just as valid and important as linking back to your contact page or website. All content should directly pinpoint clear next steps for readers.
5. Be self-aware.
The wrong content can derail operations. Sometimes, agents may post political opinions on social media that can alienate prospects. Others may post content on LinkedIn that clearly belongs on Facebook. Before generating content, take time to discern what you want your message to be and the best methods for delivering that message in the right way to the right audience. It’s critical to make sure all communications are aligned with an agent’s broader messaging strategy.
See also: AI-Powered Chatbots: A Better Experience
Following this guide is critical to building the foundation of a strong marketing plan and book of business. While it is easy to sometimes take social media or websites for granted and not see them as part of a business growth strategy, leveraging these tools via their appearance, tone and content frequency can make a major difference for independent agents working to develop a growth strategy. Agents who can afford to go deeper will want to consider adopting more technology, like in-depth customer relationship management (CRM) systems that can integrate with agency management (AMS) systems to measure and track all activity and priorities.
The dawn of a new year is always a great opportunity for agents to branch out of their comfort zones and consider how to improve their efforts to identify and capture new business. Establishing or reexamining a content management strategy is almost always a smart way to kick off a new year. This strategy can be a valuable tool that conveys the sought-after expertise potential and existing clients want to see without a burdensome investment of time or expense.
Consider the start of 2023 as an opportunity to do something different in the year ahead. Explore how communicating your strengths, expertise and insurance knowledge can help you more effectively secure new and maintain existing clients.