Tips for Insurance Agents

What Every Insurance Agent Needs To Understand About Digital Marketing

Share this blog:

Marketing an insurance agency can be an arduous journey, but with effort and consistency, you can still stand out in this incredibly crowded field.

Most marketing firms won’t tell you (mostly because they don’t know or understand themselves) something that is very important to know about marketing and insurance: Insurance is the single most competitive industry to market online.

Saying It is Competitive Is An Understatement

Did you know that the term “insurance” is more competitive than the second, third an fourth categories combined? That’s right. Our industry has done this to itself, so when you’re trying to stand out in this space you need to be creative, consistent and have a clear plan for your online marketing. When you look at all the other agents around your business, how does your business differ? What do you do differently? What specialized insurance products do you offer or specialize in that other don’t want or can’t write? What tricks do you know about packaging policies and maximizing discounts? What does your brand say about your business? Does it represent you well online?  Try to stand out by being unique and different.

There Are No Magic Bullets Left

When I started this business 9 years ago I could get agents to rank locally and organically in days. A new website with proper optimization along with a claimed Google My Business profile (then called Google Places) would place them right at the top of their target market. The reason this was different then was fewer agents were embracing the digital space and it wasn’t uncommon for agency marketing budgets to still be largely going to Yellow Page advertising and even billboards.

The one exception to the magic bullet theory is Paid Search (PPC). Depending on your budget, you can still get guaranteed page one rankings and leads in as little as a day. PPC can be expensive so before you consider this, be sure you work with a marketing firm who has run ads for insurance agents before and absolutely ask to review your ads and targeted keywords before they run.

Improvement Takes Time

Some improvement can happen quickly, while other things will take more time. If you’re targeting the most competitive keywords like auto and home, it can take months or years to see improvement in these keywords – and to be honest they may never come at all. Get creative with your marketing to target these same keywords, just differently.

Some of your competitors may have started marketing their agencies online years ago. In fact, several of our very first customers are still with us and their websites are over 500 pages long. If you’re going head-to-head against of them, it is likely that your website won’t hold a candle against a site like that. However, with hard work, consistency and timeliness, you can compete with agents who have been marketing much longer than you have.

Consistency and Longevity With Your Marketing Will Make The Difference

I’m writing this blog on a Sunday night with Football on in the background. If you want to stand out and improve your marketing, this is what it likely will take. Like you, I don’t have a lot of time during my week to write blogs, plan my social media posts or produce newsletter content to get out to our customers. Much of that happens on the weekends when I’m relaxed and have time that I can set aside to get it accomplished without the distraction of phone calls and email.

Our programs can automate much of what you need to be doing. Producing content, creating social media posts, sending newsletters to your client base and much more. If you have time to do some of these things yourself, great! Just be sure that you’re doing it. Because I can assure you that if you’re not, your competitors are and you’ll never get ahead of your competition without consistency. Be disciplined or get someone to help you.

There Will Be Setbacks

Part of our program focuses on getting agents to rank higher in search engines. What agents need to understand is there are literally hundreds of algorithm changes a year and your SEO rankings will fluctuate up and down. What you want to watch for are things like algorithm penalties, black listing, malware and website loading speed to name a few. Googling yourself to see where you rank is highly inaccurate representation of your online presence and the results you see are likely not what others see (because of your search history or whether or not you’re signed into Chrome when searching).

Don’t focus on the short term setbacks. Focus on the overall improvement over time of your marketing. I promise you, if you’re consistent and do a lot of it, you will be rewarded.

Local Insurance Agency Marketing ProgramsKeep Your Focus on Local

Most of our customers are licensed in multiple states. What we make abundantly clear to all of them is you need to focus on being the best local insurance agent in your town or community first before you try and tackle larger areas like statewide results. For SEO, your physical address plays a huge part of how your agency will rank online. I always give this silly example, but it paints a great picture:

If you’re traveling to San Francisco and pull out your phone and type in “ice cream” Google or other search engines will assume you mean you’re looking for ice cream near your physical location. So, returning you a result for Ice Cream in Los Angeles would not be a good results to give back to you.

Your agency works the exact same way as the ice cream shop. If someone types in Insurance Agent the search engines will assume you want a local business so the results they will give you will be more locally focused.

Now there are exceptions to every rule here and the more niche your insurance category is, the further away you can rank for these keywords. For instance, if you are really into Equine Insurance your competition is really slim and you could easily get statewide results for such niche categories such as this.

If Your Domain (not your website) is Brand New, Hurry Up and Wait

One of the main factors with rankings is something called Domain Authority. It is a made up number that is assigned to your domain and is heavily weighted to the age of your domain (when you purchased it and if it has a search history with Google). If you just bought a new domain and are launching a website for the first time, it will be unlikely that your website will rank anywhere near the first page for month and months. In order to overcome this, you could consider doing things like paid search or really going after your Google My Business profile and posting regularly to social media.

Insurance Agency LeadsNot all leads will be coming through your website quote form

Train yourself and your staff to ask how your customers found you and keep a list. I ask every single person I speak with how they heard about Tosten Marketing and if it was a company referral I ask who at the company they spoke with so that I can personally thank that person for each and every referral. There is no rhyme or reason for how people contact your agency. One customer of ours in St. Louis gets about 90% phone calls vs. website leads. This isn’t because his website isn’t working, it is simply that people in his area prefer to call versus email. Then, in California I see quotes regularly that say “please only contact me by email” that are sent through the website. Regardless of how people contact you, ask, “how did you hear about us” to every single one and keep track of your marketing efforts.

What You Can Start Doing Now That Will Make a Difference

Agency referrals will and always should be your #1 marketing plan. Network with other agents (think Statefarm, Allstate, etc.) who don’t write certain lines of business or don’t have markets for things you do. Make a pledge to them to not poach their customers other products. Reach out to mortgage brokers and create contests on social media. Networking with car or motorcycle dealerships can be great too. For a list of many other things you can be doing to help your agency, check out this previous blog.

With patience and consistency, you can grow an agency online, but the results rarely come overnight anymore. With a strategic partnership with our marketing agency, we can guide you and handle many of these aspects of great marketing for you, but partnership and participation always yields the best results.

 

Insurance Agency Google SEO

Three Ways Insurance Agents Can Get Onto Page 1 Of Google

Share this blog:

If you’re an insurance agent, page one Google rankings can seem like an impossible task. Afterall, insurance is the single most competitive category on the internet; more than the 2nd 3rd and 4th combined.

When you’re trying to get onto page one, there are three areas you can focus on:

Organic Search: Organic search is for your website. It is when your site ranks in the normal, not paid and not maps area of search results. It is your website pages that show up here and each of your landing pages should be targeting individual products and keywords to show up here.

For search engine optimization, organic search is a crucial step to compete for your keywords in an environment that is not paid search. Paid search is incredibly effective at driving new business leads, but in our industry, insurance related keywords can be expensive. If you’re trying to target auto & home leads through paid search, you’d better have a healthy budget of $750+ per month for clicks and conversions.

  Local Search: Local search is an under-utilized part of search engine optimization. This is taking your Google My Business listing and optimizing it for search keywords in order to show up in the maps area of Google. By showing up here, you capitalize on any potential customer searching for insurance near you. The reason this is important is that it greatly improves your chances of conversion because it pings the customers IP address then shows your results to them.

For example: If someone is looking for an “Insurance Agent in Seattle” Google will return both organic and local search (Maps) results back to the user. Maps usually is displayed first as Google knows where you’re located.

Insurance Agency Google My Business

Google My Business is just as important as having a website and they speak to one another. In fact, Google will oftentimes display, “Their website mentions motorcycle insurance” or other insurance products because Google keeps all this information on-hand to reference and return relevant search results to the users.

Paid Search: Paid search for insurance agents requires patience and a healthy budget. Because of the way that Google’s algorithm works, ranking on state-level for competitive keywords is highly unlikely. In order to rank highly on the page they want you to pay for those keywords.

Paid Search is effective. It is the only way to have guaranteed page one rankings and that can happen in hours, not months or years like Organic SEO.

When running paid search ads, be sure to highly target your market. We see too many instances where agents target keywords so broadly like “insurance.” This will return irrelevant results and drive up your cost per conversion. It is advised to either take Google Ads training prior to running your own campaigns or hire a Google Ads specialist who understands and works in insurance.

When investing any marketing dollars in SEO, it is important to have reasonable expectations. Unfortunately, page one Google rankings don’t always equal leads. While the most effective strategy is a mix of all the above strategies the best and most important thing to remember about any marketing is to be consistent and keep trying.

Tosten Marketing specializes in Insurance Agency SEO. Our agency was designed from within the insurance agency channel and it is the only customer we market to. We are nationally endorsed by four major insurance carriers for our SEO programs and maintain near perfect customer retention. If you need help with your insurance agency marketing, we can help you design a website, complete your SEO and give you self-help if you like doing things yourself. We offer consultation service to all of our existing customers free of charge.

Tips For Working Remotely Insurance Agent

Technology & Strategies Every Agency Can Use For Working Remotely

Share this blog:

Working Virtually May Be Easier Than You Think.

It goes without saying that we’re in strange times. I wanted to put together some ideas to help our customers be more comfortable with working virtually and share technology and tips that have helped other agencies.

I’m confident that a physical location is not necessary to effectively run an insurance agency today. Many of our clients’ offices are closed as a safety precaution to staff and/or because of state mandates. While working from home is new for many, working in a digital world is something any business can do.

Tools for Working Remotely

Team Chat

Team chat allows your agents to communicate with each other in a very organized manner besides email. Several companies offer team chat functionality. For a couple great options, look into:

Microsoft Teams (part of Office 365) Many of you likely already have access to Teams.

  • In Windows, click Start  > Microsoft Corporation > Microsoft Teams.
  • On Mac, go to the Applications folder and click Microsoft Teams.
  • On the web, go to https://teams.microsoft.com.

Slack (https://slack.com

Slack has free and premium versions and the difference between this and Teams is just really user preference.

Website Chat

To make it easier for customers to reach you, consider adding a chat function to your website. There are many free and premium versions available. Some of my favorite are below.

Facebook Messenger (https://www.messenger.com/)

    • (Free and takes just seconds to setup)

Mylivechat (https://mylivechat.com)

      • (free and premium versions)

Tawk.to (https://tawk.to)

    • Free and premium versions.
    • Data & history

Podium (https://www.podium.com/webchat/)

    • Subscription required
    • Popular with insurance agencies

Video

There are really two different approaches you can take on video. If your customer wants a “face to face” meeting, consider using Skype or FaceTime. You can also use video for other things such as:

  • Team Meetings
    • You can hold team meetings using a group setting on your Skype or FaceTime app.
  • Video Proposals
    • We recently worked with an agency to provide their customers with video proposals. This is a very personal way to provide detailed explanation of the quote. Some companies to look into for video recording are:

Sitewide Notice on Website

Web banners are quick to implement and effective at notifying your customers of your business changes. In addition to the message, give your customers direction on other options such as using your service centers or talking to someone via chat button (Podium pictured). Adding a pop-up or web banner onto your website for your customers notifying them of changes can be helpful and quick.

Service Centers

Many agencies have a reluctance to offering service centers. I’m of the mind that your website can and should do more for you than drive new business. It can help you with workload and keep phones freed up. Here is an example of an effective service center. This can eliminate workload and allow you to work virtually easier. Offer options for claims, payments and change requests.

Email Notice

Email is still an effective tool for communication. Consider sending out an email to your entire client base. Use your management system to help you run a report of all active clients and use a mail delivery service such as:

In September of last year I wrote an article titled, “How An insurance Agency Can Successfully Run A Home Based Business.” You might find a couple tips there to help.

We are here to help implement these strategies and/or technologies. Please keep an open mind with the way you run your business – these technologies can help but you need to be open to adapting (change is hard, but sometimes necessary).

Stay healthy.

Google Analytics For Insurance Agents

Tutorial: Google Analytics For Insurance Agents

Google Analytics For Insurance Agents

Google Analytics For Insurance Agents – What to look at and how to utilize the data

It isn’t uncommon for a customer to ask for access to their Google Analytics data. While we are always happy to provide this, having access to your website data is only as good as your understandings of the data. Today I’ll cover the top 5 areas you should familiarize yourself with on your Analytics report.

Acquisition Channels – Where did the site visitor originate?

Understanding how your website is getting traffic is one of the most important parts of marketing your insurance agency website. If you know how people are getting there, it can provide great insights into how your overall marketing campaigns are performing.

Acquisition channels are broken up into 6 main categories.

  1. Organic Search – This is where your SEO campaign shines. Is your website getting organic traffic? This means you showed up in search results as a result to a search in Google or Bing and the visitor clicked through to your site.
  2. Direct Traffic – Direct traffic is when someone goes directly to your website. For instance, if you’re looking for Tosten Marketing and you just type in: https://tostenmarketing.com into a search browser.
  3. Display – Paid search traffic that gets visitors to your site by displaying an advertisement on another site. Banner ads and image ads are the most common display ads.
  4. Referral Traffic – When someone is browsing another website and sees a link to your site embedded in an article or in a listing such as a directory listing.
  5. Paid Search – Traffic to your site that is generated by running paid ads in search engines such as Google and Bing.
  6. Social – Traffic to your site that came from a social media platform like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Insurance Agency Google Analytics

How to see your acquisition channels:

From your main dashboard on the left hand side, navigate to Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels.

Audience Location – Where are the people physically located who visit your site?

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of insurance agencies. Most I’d say only look at a number in their analytics for how many people visited their website. The more important question than how many is where.

For example. If you’re a licensed independent insurance agent in Texas, getting traffic from Canada, India and Japan really doesn’t do your website any good.

If your marketing is working correctly, you should get the bulk of your website traffic from the United States and furthermore, from the state that you have a physical presence in.

Identifying your audience location can be a great sign that your SEO and other digital marketing is working correctly. If you’re seeing a lot of traffic from other countries you’ll want to identify why. Perhaps you have a paid search campaign that isn’t properly setup, or it could even be a good indicator that you site may have malware.

Audience Location Google Analytics

How to see your Audience Location:

From the main dashboard on the left hand side, navigate to: Audience -> Geo -> Location (then if you want more specific state data, click on United States).

 

Audience Device – What type device did the visitor browse your site from?: Desktop, Mobile or Tablet

 

The importance of understanding what type of device the user visited your website with is important for a few reasons.

You can measure time on site and abandon rate variances between devices. Knowing this can help you identify opportunities such as improving bounce rate or time on site. For instance, if you see mobile has a high abandon rate, it may be because your site loads slowly or displays poorly on a mobile device.

Device Usage Google Analytics

How to see your Device Usage Type:

From the main dashboard on the left hand side, navigate to: Audience -> Mobile -> Overview

Site Content Overview: What pages did the user look at on your site?

Understanding what content on your site people visited can give you great insights into where your site is performing well or understanding where it is performing poorly. However, low traffic doesn’t always indicate poor performance – it may simply indicate low search volumes.

For instance, if the auto insurance page of your website has 100 visitors a month and your funeral home insurance page of your website has 2 visitors, it is likely because not many people are searching for “funeral home insurance.”

By understanding what content on your website is performing well and what content might be standing out can give you rich insights to do more targeted content around that topic that is driving traffic to your site.

How to identify Site Content

From the main dashboard on the left hand side, navigate to: Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages

Site Speed Suggestions: How quickly is your site loading and what can be done to improve?

Because speed is an SEO factor it is important to pay attention to a slow loading website. Google Analytics gives free insight and scores each of your pages with a PageSpeed score. This quick look can help you identify issues with your site and work with your website developer to improve these metrics.

For page speed, aim for a score of 80+. Perfection is impossible so a score of 80 or higher is a good goal.

Website Page Speed Analytics

How to view your Page Speed

From the main dashboard on the left hand side, navigate to: Behavior -> Site Speed -> Speed Suggestions.

Understanding these Google Analytics measurements will not only help you understand how your site is performing, but can help you identify issues with the site, issues with your digital marketing or areas in which you can simply improve upon. Ultimately you don’t need to spend too much time overanalyzing your reports. If you’re overwhelmed, a website audit can help identify areas of opportunity.

We hope you’ve found this post on Understanding Your Insurance Agency Website Google Analytics Reports helpful. By paying attention to these reports, you can continue to improve your website with the tools that the search engines give you.

Home Based Insurance Agency

How An Insurance Agency Can Successfully Run A Home Based Business

Share this blog:

Home Based Insurance AgencyWorking remotely as an insurance agent is simple and you can absolutely run a successful insurance agency out of your home. The days of meeting with clients in person has passed and you no longer need a brick and mortar location to write business. In fact, most insurance companies today no longer require you to have a physical location and will give appointments to agents who work out of their home if they can display potential for new applications. What they care about is how much you can write and can you provide the same level of service from your home as you can from a physical location – the answer to that is yes you can.

How To Ensure Success

Set standard business hours & stick to them

When you work from your home it is easy to get distracted, work on house projects, go out to lunch, play with the dog etc. The best advice I can give on this is stay focused during business hours. Working from home has perks, but if you’re constantly doing other things because you can, this will hurt your business and your growth. Treat your business hours like you would have from a typical office.

Dedicate space in your home to your business

When we relocated our business from an office park to a home office we made sure that our dedicated space felt like work and was not multi-functional. We had some space so we actually built a detached office at our home. This space was great to keep work and home life separated. When we moved, our new home had a large flex space downstairs with a closed door and two separate work areas for a total of about 400 sqft. It is a great office and offers quiet closed door office space. It feels like work and is only used for work. Best of all, you can deduct the dedicated space from your taxes. Talk to you accountant about this.

Use Google My Business the same way just with one important change

Many people fail to utilize Google My Business when they work from home because they don’t want to display their home address on the internet. Great news: You don’t have to display your address! A single checkbox in Google My Business will hide your physical address but still provide you with all the advantages that Google My Business offers!

How to:

  1. Access your claimed Google My Business page.
  2. Go to the Info section, then the address field. Click the Pencil.
  3. Go to the bottom of the address field and click, “Clear Address”
  4. Next, go to the Service Area just below the address. If this is blank, you can specify where you service, such as within 25 miles of Redmond, WA. Remember, local search is all about being local so don’t push out your service area too far. Hyper local is better than too broad.

That’s it. You’re all set.

Have a great website & service center

Consumers will always visit insurance agency websites and look around. Whether it is to check you out or just find your phone number be sure that your website makes a great first impression. Invest in a professionally built website that looks great on desktop and mobile. Your mobile version should be a responsive version of your website, not a separate mobile site. Google’s mobile first indexing means your mobile site is indexed first, so be sure it is the same as your desktop. This is called mobile responsive design.

Now that you have a great looking site, offer your existing customers a way to service their own policy when you’re closed. Not only will this free up your time, but it offers them something that other agencies aren’t doing. These service centers can allow customer to request driver or vehicle changes, request proof of insurance or access links to make payments online. This little bit of extra service is what will help you grow your home based insurance agency from home.

If you have questions or need help with growing your home based insurance agency we’d love to help. We’ve spent years helping agents market their businesses and be successful online.