If you’ve been following this blog long enough (and hopefully you have!) you know that there are a lot of different variables that go into having a successful agency website and digital presence.
For your insurance agency to be successful in generating leads in the digital space we exist in today, you have to posses a variety of different skills.
Managing social media accounts, blogging, SEO, link building, guest blogging, podcasting — these are all part of a well rounded digital insurance marketing strategy.
Sometimes as agency owners and producers, we become so entrenched in the day-to-day grind of managing relationships in the physical here-and-now, that we pay little to no attention to much else, let alone our online brand.
Aside from being in the web design business, I’ve been in the insurance industry both as a principal, producer and marketer for 10+ years.
I’ve been the chief cook and bottle washer just like you.
Answering phone calls, taking out the trash, scanning documents, talking to claims adjusters, talking to mortgage companies, talking clients off a cliff, and everything else in between.
It’s hard work. I get it.
Be where your prospects and customers are
Here’s the thing you need to realize though— the same opportunities and relationships that exist in the physical world, exist in the digital world as well.
If you’re like me, a non-salaried, commission compensated producer in an industry fighting a daily battle against commoditization, you need to make time for those opportunities and relationships as well.
There is a certain algorithm of sorts that you need to adhere to in order to create and nurture these digital relationships. Some of the skills and strategies I mentioned earlier are essential to this advanced relationship equation.
There are two common denominators in every successful digital marketing strategy.
There is absolutely no way you can execute on any of these strategies without them. They are quite literally the foundation of your entire digital existence.
The first one is the foundation of your entire digital existence — your insurance agency website.
Your insurance agency website should be the hub of not only your digital marketing efforts, but your local community
In the year 2015 I’m quite frankly surprised at how many local small business owners (not just insurance agency owners) are still putting their websites on the back burner.
There are normally two reasons for this: business owners either lack the digital wherewithal to manage their own website, or, they don’t want to invest any money into one.
Or worse — both.
I’ve consulted insurance agency owners and other small business owners who have told me, “Well Chris, we don’t really get any leads from our website, so why would we put more money into it or learn how to use it?” It’s like, what came first, the chicken or the egg?
I look at their website, and it’s the equivalent of a dusty, 1980 wood panel Chevy Citation.
I then look at their blog and see their last post was 150 words and published in 2012. Their social media accounts are like barren wastelands if they even exist.
They’re not even trying.
I saw someone on Facebook the other day talking about their brand new agency website, and how they were hoping it would generate some new business for them.
Question for you before I address this:
What do you tell customers who complain that their auto insurance rate increased, even though their car is now another year older? I get this question at least twice a week and personally, I explain to them that there are hundreds of other variables that go into the rate, and other coverages that make up an auto insurance policy.
Their car is only one of those variables.
The same thing applies to your online presence and website.
There are so many other variables that go into generating leads online. Your website is only one cog in that wheel, albeit a big one. It’s not the only reason for your online successes or failures.
The content on your site, local citations, SEO, on page SEO, link building, and of course, design, all go into it.
Let’s talk web design for a second
A well designed insurance agency website is extremely important.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a web designer, it’s that great design will make you more money — period.
I see agencies spending thousands of dollars per month on Pay-Per-Click, Facebook ads, SEO, and referral services like Dave Ramsey’s ELP program, only to then complain about the lack of R.O.I..
It’s because they’re driving traffic back to a website that looks abandoned and out-dated. If you’re driving leads, or even your own customers to an out-dated website that lacks a clear pathway to a solution, you’re not going to be very successful online.
With all this talk about design, it’s important to note that no matter how pretty or optimized your website is, assuming that it will just hand you leads by itself is simply not realistic.
You still need to apply yourself.
You are a licensed expert and that needs to shine through in the content on your website.
You get out of your website what you put into it.
A Lamborghini is one of the worlds fastest cars, but unless someone is inside pushing the pedal, it won’t even go 1mph.
You have to put some effort into it whether with your time or your money. Your website is much more likely to get a lot of eyeballs on it than your physical office location (unless you’re in downtown Manhattan).
What’s more, you to understand how to your website like the tool that it is.
Understanding online buyer personas
There are normally 2 buyer personas who are visiting your website:
- Someone who already knows who you are like a current customer looking for customer service or info.
- Someone who doesn’t know who you are looking for a quote, or trying to kick the tires and learn more about you.
To have any success with the latter, you need to be able to attract people to your brand, typically via a search engine or social media search query.
In order for that to happen, you need to have quality content on your website that will rank your agency website in Google. That’s what Google wants, and that’s what they will rank your website for. You need to feed Google more of what they want — quality long form content.
Use it or lose it
Let’s talk about crawl rate for a second. Crawl rate is the speed and frequency at which Google crawls and indexes the content on your website. One of the ways to significantly increase Google’s crawl rate is to publish content consistently.
The more frequently you produce content, the more frequently Google will send it’s spiders to index that content on your site. If you aren’t creating any content, you aren’t giving Google a good reason to come crawl your site more frequently.
That’s how it works. It’s very much a use it or lose it type of deal.
Don’t get me wrong though, quantity isn’t always better than quality.
Have you ever searched Google for something and found a search result from 2002? Your first thought is usually, “How helpful could this be if it’s over 10 years old?” To Google though it’s very important. They’re still displaying that information in their results because it is quality information, and even though it’s older content, it’s still relevant to the searcher.
That’s how Google works. They’re job is to display the most relevant and quality content possible.
Give search engines what they want and you win
Google’s search engine spiders crawl text and follow links. This means your website should have a great amount of text content and links. Links to other articles within your site like this, and links to other relevant articles outside of your website.
Carefully crafted, original blog articles (never copy and paste content from another site) are an absolute necessity if you want your website to do anything in search.
What’s more, you need to point that content and those links at your local community by focusing your keywords and content around your geographical location.
Want more leads? Become a trusted voice in your community
I said a minute ago that your agency website should be the hub of your local community. What I mean by that is you need to tailor your content for people who are local to your agency since you are far more likely to close a local lead than you are someone who is 500 miles away from your agency.
This is part of what’s called a “Hyper Local” marketing strategy.
This means that you shouldn’t just create content about insurance.
There are people in your local community who are looking for a ton of other things that could be driving traffic and creating ranking opportunities for your agency website.
Here are some examples of content topics you can blog about on your agency website that will drive some local search engine traffic:
- Business profiles
- Parenting tips
- Kids activities
There. Now you have no excuse that you don’t know what to write about on your blog 🙂
But seriously, ranking a website isn’t rocket science. Sure there are a lot of variables that go into it, but in the end, there’s one thing that virtually guarantees you traffic and conversions — producing quality content consistently. There’s no excuse folks.
If you can think, you can blog.
Speaking of excuses, this leads me to the second common denominator in having a successful agency website.
I recently read an awesome book, authored by this guy named Ryan Hanley, maybe you’ve heard of him. It was seriously a great book.
You want to know how I know that?
I literally have the attention span of a flea with A.D.H.D. and I couldn’t put his book down. If you can make me pay attention to something for more than a few minutes, chances are, it’s pretty impactful stuff.
One of the key take aways from this book for me was that in order to be successful, not just online, but in life in general is you have to out-work your competition.
I fully understand there are only 24 hours in a day. Trust me I do. I have a 3 and 6 year old (both boys) who quite literally bounce off the walls on a daily basis.
When I walk through the door after work, I have no other choice but to give them my undivided attention for the rest of the night.
My 3 year old is still in that “I don’t understand bodily harm yet” phase, so I literally have to follow him around my house to ensure he doesn’t try a backflip off my coffee table onto my couch (<— actually successfully landed one once which is why he keeps trying it).
I understand that it can be hard to produce content sometimes and be active on social media, but as Charles Buxton once said, “You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”
The point is, you’re never going to survive online (or offline) using the time excuse.
I’m sitting here writing this post at 11:48pm. I was up this morning at 5:45am. I’m making time.
I don’t say this to brag, because trust me I could very much use the sleep. I say this to show you this is what it takes.
And honestly, it’s not digging ditches. It’s spending 45 minutes a few times a month to create some content for your site, or hell, even get something off your chest. You can do that right?
I would say that approximately 90% of the agency sites I personally have seen online are still doing it all wrong. Sometimes it’s not the agency owners’ fault. Sometimes, people just don’t know, what they don’t know.
I get it — we’re in an old-school industry that up until about eight years ago was still relying on phone book ads to generate leads. Eight years is a long time ago though. There’s really no excuse for not having a strong digital presence in 2015.
This one thing I can promise you — if you invest in your digital footprint a little bit more, both with your time and money, you can easily be in the 10% of agencies who are doing it right, and actually seeing R.O.I.
P.S. If you are in the camp that doesn’t have the design or technical chops to manage your site, and you need a little handholding, or maybe you already have an agency site, but just aren’t getting any results from your current marketing game plan, this company could be a good fit for your agency.
Shameless plug? You can say that, but only because I’m confident in what we do 🙂