How An Insurance Agency Can Successfully Run A Home Based Business

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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 single bedroom and a huge walk-in closet downstairs. 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.

Insurance Agency Marketing Scams

Watch Out For These Common Internet Marketing Scams

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Watch Out For These Common Internet Marketing Scams

Unfortunately, there isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t talk to a client about common marketing scams that exist online. Whether it is received through your website contact form (most common), email or even by phone, protecting yourself from these common marketing scams can save you a huge headache. Here are 4 of the most common ones that seem to be recurring:

  1. Domain SEO Service

If you receive an unsolicited piece of mail listing your domain with a heading, “EXPIRATION OFFER NOTICE” or something like that and also mentions, “SEO REGISTATION” this is a scam and not something that you need.

Why is this a scam? You do not need to submit your domain to search engines. Additionally, this makes it appear that your domain is expiring. If you don’t remember who your domain is registered with, simply go to: https://whois.net and type it in. It will tell you your domain registrar as well as reference your domain renewal date. Not sure? Forward us a copy of the mail you received and we’ll help you out.

  1. Domain Renewal Scam

While this sounds like the first one, it is entirely different. When your domain is nearing its expiration (or not sometimes) you may receive a letter telling you to renew now! While this letter may be legitimate, it is always best to verify who your domain is registered with currently before filling out the renewal. Use the same tool: https://whois.net to verify your domain.

Why is this a scam? You do not want to transfer your domain away from where it is at. Doing so can interrupt your email and website as well as ruin your SEO. It is possible this new registrar will hold your domain name hostage too unless you pay them a fee to release it.

  1. Guest Blogging – “I’d like to share an article with you.”

If you receive an unsolicited email asking you to post an article written by someone you don’t know because they feel it is related to your website, this is completely self-serving. They’re looking for a link from your site.

Why is this a scam? Adding links to your website that go to off-page sources such as their website only benefit them. This takes away some of your page authority and sends it to them which can adversely impact your SEO. It is also highly unlikely that this blog will generate traffic on your website or that your audience would be interested in what their article is about.

  1. “I Visited Your Website and You’re not On Google” Email

Be wary of anyone saying they visited your website and have some suggestions or claim that you’re not listed in Google.

Why is this a scam? No reputable companies are searching the internet looking for websites that are not ranking well – in fact, if they found you online, then you’re probably doing okay! Additionally, insurance is the single most competitive keyword on the internet, so unless they understand insurance in the United States, how do you think they are going to help you?

The internet is full of scams. Your internet presence is critically important to your livelihood so don’t risk it by assuming someone is trying to help you out. If something doesn’t feel right, simply reach out to us to review it.

Insurance Agency Website Design

8 Pillars of Amazing Insurance Agency Websites

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Great insurance agency websites can mean the difference between people looking for insurance and people buying insurance. There are no quick tricks left when it comes to marketing your insurance agency, just great work so you stand out in a crowded industry (the single most competitive online).

If you’re in the process of designing a new website, or working on an existing one, be sure to include these eight foolproof ways to improve your customer and prospective customer experiences.

  1. Visualization & Personalization

Your website has to look good and most professional website designers can make you a great looking site. First impressions are important and cheesy stock photos may not be your best option. Personalize your site with staff photos taken by a professional photographer and share some stories about why you’re in the business.  Be sure that your site gets your message across immediately. Tell that customer why you should be the choice for insurance within the first few seconds of them arriving to your site.

  1. Content

Without good content the search engines won’t find you. Write great landing page content for your site, explain coverages, and discuss different types of insurance and deductible options.

Feeling like you want to get more advanced? Learn basic SEO and optimize your website for search keywords to improve your search engine rankings.

  1. Easy to Navigate

Great insurance agency websites need great navigation. Be sure to organize your menu in ways that customers can find what they’re looking for. Also, be sure you have a search function on your site so people can type in what they’re looking for.

  1. Do-It-Yourself Options

Some people want to do things themselves and your website should allow them to do that. From quote options with comparative raters to Service Centers where they can get claims & payment information to requesting policy changes and proof of insurance cards. Be sure that your site has these basic features.

  1. Clear and Many Calls To Action

I still see a lot of websites that don’t have quote buttons. You really have to search the sites for how to get in touch with the agency. This is turning people away. Be sure that your website has three basic options:

  1. Quote Button
  2. Clearly displayed phone number (clickable to call on mobile)
  3. Text Us (or Chat feature)

6. Blog

Blogging is a hard thing to do consistently, but I promise it makes a huge difference in your search engine rankings if you do it correctly. Even if done poorly, the search engines will still reward you because your site has new content for it to index.

  1. Responsive Design

If you’re working on a new site, pretty much any design at this point will be responsive to different devices like mobile and tablets. If you’re working on an existing site, be sure that it is, if not it is time to consider a redesign. Because of mobile first indexing, avoid separate mobile versions of your website at all costs.

  1. Speed Optimization

Nobody likes slow websites and your abandon rate will increase tremendously with every second of additional load time. If your site loads slowly, people who visit your site will leave. Furthermore, it is a widely known fact that Google and other search engines use desktop and mobile speed in their search engine algorithms. Some quick tips on this are: compress images, eliminate flash, avoid sliders and excessive animation.

There is a lot that goes into making your insurance agency website stand out from the pack. By following these tips you’ll be in a great position to do well. If you’d like help creating your new site, we’d love to help. Our programs are designed to be automated and will include what is above as well as more items we didn’t discuss so you know everything is done right the first time.

 

Insurance Marketing Strategies to gain new internet leads

When It Comes To Online Leads, Simply Having A Website Isn’t Enough Anymore For Online Success

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Insurance Marketing Strategies to gain new internet leadsDid you know that the category “Insurance” is the most competitive category on the internet? In fact, it is more competitive than the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th categories combined. This is why you not only need a great website, but you need additional marketing strategies in place to be successful online.

Would you be surprised if I told you that according to Statista.com there are 1.135 million insurance agents, brokers & service employees in the US? This number is up nearly 250,000 since 2010 alone. You’re in a competitive industry that is only going to get more competitive as more agents invest in their websites, SEO and digital marketing spaces.

So, what are some things that you can do to stand out in this space?

Create Video: Video isn’t something new or revolutionary, but you don’t see many agency websites using video. Video is a great way to meet the staff, showcase community involvement or explain coverages or create video proposals on more complex risks.

Write Funny Blogs Or Address Common Questions: Insurance can be boring. By creating a funny blog you cannot only get traffic, but you can receive backlinks from other websites. If you’re looking for traffic, writing a blog on commonly asked questions can be a gold mine. Keep a notepad at your desk and after a week of jotting down clients questions, you’ll have a pile of great blog articles. If they’re asking it, chances are other are looking them up online.

Run Paid Search Campaigns: Paid search is a great complimentary source for all of your digital marketing. Avoid running ads for things like “Auto Insurance” or “Home Insurance” as you’ll be competing with companies with national carriers who have much larger budgets. Look for niche opportunities to get the most bang for your buck.

Solicit Reviews for Google My Business: Google My Business (GMB) is equally important to having a great website. Have you ever looked at your GMB pages analytics? You’d be surprised at how much traffic, views and clicks they get. Be sure to send all of your happy customers directly to your GMB page to leave a review. I find that it is the single most impactful thing an agency owner can do for themselves online.

Participate In Your Community: Community involvement isn’t just good for others, it is good for your business. There isn’t anything self-serving about participating in your community and letting people know you did it. Share pictures of your team on social media and update your about us page showcasing your efforts to help out your community.

Complete Online Directory Listings: Creating online directory listings are a huge pain. Be smart about it and either focus on the aggregators or utilize a service like WhiteSpark or MozLocal to help you create and manage these listings.

Online marketing is tough and competitive, but by using the tools above you can stand out from the crowd. Differentiating yourself online and getting leads from the internet is all possible, but you can’t expect that your website will work for you, if you’re not doing things to work for it.

Good luck out there.

What to Do When Insurance Quotes Are Slow For Your Insurance Agency

When New Business Quotes Are Slow, Shift The Focus To Your Existing Book Of Business

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What to Do When Insurance Quotes Are Slow For Your Insurance AgencyFor some reason or another, insurance has slow periods. Whether this is during the holidays, or simply on and off during the month, insurance quotes and new business seem to come in chunks. We can’t explain it, but perhaps someone at Google could let us in on the secret.

Until you break the algorithm code, when it gets slow one thing every insurance agency should be doing is focusing on retention and cross-selling their book.

Perhaps you got busy and your agents didn’t cross-sell everyone they could. Perhaps you were short staffed and just wrote the customers requested policy. Regardless of what occurs in your office, there are things you can do. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Revisit business quoted and review every policy written in the last month
    • If you didn’t write someone, review it and see why. Perhaps a simple phone call can generate the business.
    • Set a reminder to follow up with that lead in 5 months to see if you can requote them. Perhaps they now have prior insurance or a ticket or accident fell off the record.
  2. Create and send out a newsletter to your existing clients
    • Newsletters are invaluable when it comes to retaining your clients. Every agent should be trying to touch base with their clients at minimum 5 times per year. Newsletters can quickly be created in systems like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Share some agency news, some personal agent news and mention some cross sell pieces like umbrella or talk about a hot topic like Rideshare Insurance
  3. Policy Reviews
    • I love it when my agent calls us to review our policy every year. It shows me that they care and they check in to see if anything changed. It is also a great opportunity to mention your referral program or to ask them to like your social media pages.
  4. Look for Low-Hanging Fruit
    • If you have an agency management system, run a report for monoline home or renters insurance.
    • Run a report for monoline motorcycle insurance. Did you know that over 50% of motorcycle owners are homeowners?
    • Cross-sell umbrella to your high limit homeowners.

There are many things you can do when it gets slow at your agency. Working your existing book of business is the simplest way to generate new policies and make more money when things are slow. Don’t sit there waiting for the phone to ring when you already likely have more leads than you could possibly work that are already your customers.