Internet Marketing Strategies for Insurance Agents
For independent insurance agents working with a small marketing budget, the Internet is a virtual playground of relatively inexpensive (or downright free) marketing opportunities to raise awareness about your services and build your brand.
Many agents ignore the Internet because they feel they don't have the technical know-how or the time to really get started. This is the thinking of 10 years ago, when you had to know programming code to build a web site or publish anything on the Internet. That is simply not the case any more. Now, with sites like HubPages and EzineArticles.com, anyone can get their message out online.
Internet Marketing for Insurance Agents
Double Down on Internet Marketing
In a 2008 MarketingProfs survey measuring marketers’ reactions to the economic downturn, 62 percent of respondents said they plan to increase their online marketing budget in 2009. That is in conjunction with 83 percent saying they plan to cut spending for traditional vehicles (print/television ads, direct mail, etc.).
It's time for you to start thinking like a corporation when it comes to your marketing efforts. That is, think cheap and think efficient. What is going to get your the most results for the least amount of money. Here's why professional marketers are moving more of their marketing online during the recession.
1. The Internet can deliver sales-ready leads. Generally, online marketing “pulls” prospects to you, rather than “pushing” your services out to them. If they are looking for your solution, your sales cycle will naturally be shorter.
2. It allows you to spend time, not money. Almost all Internet marketing strategies are less expensive than tradition marketing and advertising solutions. But they do often require more time to implement.
3. Everything is measurable. You can track how many visitors come to your web site. You can see how many people read your e-mail. You can keep data on how many people who came to your landing page actually signed up. Internet marketing allows you to track everything, which allows you to test different variables and settle on the approach that works best.
Here's how to get started.
10 Reasons Your Insurance Practice Needs a Web Site
1. It keeps your business open 24/7, 365 a year.
2. It’s your online brochure.
3. Reach beyond your local market.
4. Put your business in a position of distinction.
5. Sell products online.
6. Capture information for valuable leads
7. Offer instant Quotes.
8. Minimal cost.
9. It is the lynchpin of your Internet marketing efforts.
10. Your customers and prospects expect it.
Get a Web Site
Even if you do nothing else online, as a business-owner, you have to have a web site for your independent insurance practice. It’s just not an option anymore. People expect a legitimate, successful business to have a web site.
Buying decisions today are heavily influenced by online research. What happens when one of your clients mentions your name to a friend who’s looking for insurance? What happens when the prospect “Googles” you? What’s the difference between them not finding anything and finding a web site that mentions your experience, credentials and has product information they can review before meeting you?
The lack of a web site may not be a deal breaker. They may still call and you may still win their business. But a Web site would have been an excellent opportunity to reinforce your image as a professional and instill confidence in a potential client.
Think of a web site as your online brochure, which allows your business to be in front of anyone, anywhere at any time. This has become more important with the advent of online quoting and telephonic and internet enrollment options.
Now your insurance practice is no longer limited to serving only people who are within driving distance. A Web site could be your key to tapping brand new markets.
What About Cost? Aren’t web sites expensive? No—there are numerous places you can get a web site for next to nothing. Senior Market Sales is one of them.
Additional Internet Marketing Tactics
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing includes a host activities aimed at improving your web site’s ranking on search engines like Google or Yahoo!
At its most basic, SEM consists of two things: Paying for search engine placement through pay-per-click ads and producing content that will boost your placement in the natural search results.
Getting on the first page for Google’s natural search results can be very valuable and very difficult, depending on the keyword phrases you’re targeting. To rise in the search results, you need to Search Engine Optimize (SEO) your web site and produce content, such as press releases and articles, written with specific keywords in mind. Your first step is developing a content marketing strategy.
If you want people to find you through Google, but you don’t know what SEO or keyword density mean, your best bet is probably hiring outside help.
Pay-per click is much simpler, but still requires some know-how. Basically, search engines like Google allow you to create your own text-only ads, which appear only in the search results you designate for your campaign. It is called pay-per-click because you are charged each time someone clicks the ad and goes to your site.
E-mail is considered by many to be the most effective online marketing tool because it is:
· Versatile - E-mail can be great touch point for both your existing customers and any prospects you might have in your database. And it works for almost any message. Some examples include e-Newsletters, birthday cards, product marketing pieces, sales letters, etc.
· Immediate – No waiting for days for your mailers to hit peoples’ mailboxes. Responses start coming as soon as you hit the ‘send’ button.
· Inexpensive – No paying for printing and postage.
· Measurable – You know if the intended recipient actually received your e-mail, whether they opened it and whether they clicked any links in the e-mail.
A blog is a type of web site, usually maintained by an individual, that provides news or commentary on a particular subject in the form of brief entries that are displayed in reverse chronological order.
Anybody can have their own blog. All you need is expertise in a given area, some time and some writing skill. As an insurance agent, you have the expertise, but if you don’t have to time or skill, this may not be for you. Your blog needs to be updated regularly and must be interesting and relevant to keep people coming back.
You can promote your blog on the social networking sites below.
Social Media and Social Networking
You can’t really talk about Internet Marketing anymore without at least mentioning social media and social networking.Basically, Social Networking communities are sites where you can create your own profile and connect with other people. These can be great for connecting with peers for advice, information sharing and business opportunities.
Two common representations of social networking are LinkedIn and Facebook, but there are niche communities online for everyone and everything you can possibly imagine—including insurance. Two of the more popular social networking sites for insurance agents are InsuranceCampus.org and Advisor Nation.
Social Media sites vary greatly in their makeup, but basically they allow like-minded people to share content on a particular subject in a forum where everyone can play the role of both audience and author, meaning anyone can post content and comment on the content of others. If you have a blog or a web site, social media sites offer another venue for people to connect with your content.
If you’re interested in marketing your practice online, but most of this is unfamiliar to you, it’s important to start slow. With the vast amount of information that is out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Pick one topic to start with and do some research (Search some of the keywords in bold on Google to start the learning process). Just don’t try to learn it all at once.
For more information on marketing your insurance practice, download our white paper, "Recession-Proof Your Business: An Agent's Guide to Marketing During the Downturn."
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