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 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 has free and premium versions and the difference between this and Teams is just really user preference.
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)
- (free and premium versions)
- Free and premium versions.
- Data & history
- Subscription required
- Popular with insurance agencies
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.
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 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:
- Constant Contact (https://www.constantcontact.com)
- MailChimp (my personal favorite) (https://mailchimp.com)
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).
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Quote Button
- Clearly displayed phone number (clickable to call on mobile)
- Text Us (or Chat feature)
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.
- 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.
- 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.
What if I told you that even though you hadn’t invested a penny into marketing your business in the past 3 years that with a little effort you could dominate results in search engines like Google? You’d probably be interested, right? When it comes to marketing your agency through your website, there is a lot to discuss. Often the most overlooked starting point is how valuable your outdated website is to the future successes you’ll have online marketing your agency.
It seems backwards that your obsolete, non-mobile-responsive website could somehow benefit you, but it’s true. And in a big way.
When it comes to a website and the success you have online, two of the most important factors are domain age AND search history (whether or not a website has existed and has been indexed by the search engines).
We wrote about brand new insurance agency websites and the challenges they face in a blog post about 5 years ago. Much of that still holds true today. The difference here is this blog article addresses agencies that purchase brand new domains and build out a new website.
If you’re considering building a new website where one already exists here are couple big pointers:
- Do not change your domain. By using your existing domain for your new site, your results can come lightning fast. (If you must change your domain, there are ways to transfer your domain authority to the new domain, but it gets complex). Google and other search engines should reward your new website, content and SEO work as soon as they stop by to index your information (usually every few days).
- Spend some time optimizing your content by following SEO best practices. Even basic SEO like page titles, meta descriptions and word count make a big difference. If your new website content and optimization is good, you can go from not ranking at all, to being top of search for many of your targeted keywords. That old indexed domain and website will allow your new site and content to be reindexed immediately and rank well if done correctly.
A Word on Domain Authority
Domain authority is basically a grade for your domain based on several web-based factors. Your domain authority is ranked on a scale of 100. The higher the domain authority, typically, the higher your site will rank in the search engines. There are many factors that come into play with domain authority grading that include links, age of your domain and others, but mostly it is related to how many other sites link to yours as well as how good your internal link structure is. Improving your domain authority is extremely difficult on a large scale. In fact, the highest domain authority I’ve seen for an insurance agent is about a 40/100. That old website you have has been around for a long time, so chances are you have some good links pointing to it like your insurance carriers, review sites and directory listings. Even if you haven’t made a concerted effort to get them, you’d be surprised how many there are.
Use Caution When Changing Your Sitelinks
If you have an existing website and are going to build out a new one, it is important to redirect the old pages to new pages if you change your sitelinks. If your site is old, chances are there isn’t much information there, or pages to redirect so this effort could take just a few minutes. If your new website pages generate 404 error pages because you didn’t recreate your sitelinks and redirect them, Google and other search engines may penalize you. Additionally, it is possible that your old pages are bookmarked or are linked to by other sites, so you’ll want them to redirect to the new page on your website so you don’t lose valuable domain authority. You don’t want your website visitors getting to a 404 page, so put in the effort to update this.
Content & SEO
Your new site will require some new content and SEO to do well. Updating your website to a new look and feel won’t do you any good if the search engines can’t understand your content. Remember, when a search engine looks at your website, it isn’t actually seeing your design, it is looking at your source code which, unless you’re a web developer, looks Greek. Working with a website developer and someone knowledgeable in your industry for SEO can reap you quick rewards when you launch your new site. But, do your homework when hiring a SEO. I can’t tell you how many times throughout the years I’ve heard an agent say, “I’ve been burned by this before.” There are some great SEOs for insurance out there, so be sure to get someone who specializes in insurance and is not a marketing generalist.
By having your old website simply existing online will catapult your digital marketing going forward when you design a new website. Taking a few additional steps to ensure that you preserve what was working well with your existing site before you change it can greatly impact your results. While it may be a costly change to get a new website up and running for your agency, the results should pay for themselves through new client acquisition and user experience when they get to your shiny new website. Enjoy the process and let your brand shine online!
If we can be of help, we’d love the opportunity to show you some of our website designs for insurance agents.
Back in March 2018, Google began moving to their “mobile first” ranking platform. The function is actually quite simple. Essentially Google is rendering their crawls, indexing and rankings based off of what is visible on a mobile device instead of your desktop version. Because Google only has one index and not separate indexes for mobile and desktop, you should check and see what is displaying.
Since 2013 we’ve been designing mobile responsive insurance agency websites. This means that your entire website is shrunk down to fit onto a mobile device. This also means that your entire website is indexed by either desktop or mobile versions. This was important in 2013 and is even more important now that Google has moved to “mobile first” indexing.
This could be bad news for insurance agents who have an aged website or who have a separate desktop and mobile website. If your web designer built you out a mobile site that was smaller than your existing website or was not optimized in the same way as your desktop version, this could mean you’re missing out on a lot of website traffic because only a few pages of your site would be indexed.
Try this test. Go to google and type in the search field: site:yourwebsite.com (see image below). This will produce a list of indexed pages of your website. Are any missing?
The good news is that any current web designer should be incorporating a mobile responsive website layout instead of having separate platforms for both. If it has been over 3 years since you had your website built out, you may want to check with another designer to see if you’re compliant. If not, it may be time for a website redesign.
- Mobile first indexing is rolling out now.
- Having mobile friendly content is more important than ever.
- Having a website that loads quickly (faster than 3 seconds is a good target) is more important than ever.
- Redesigning your website to be mobile responsive is an easy, quick project for most designers.
- You can utilize free services like Google Webmaster tools to test your website and look for ways to improve overall.
If you need help with your existing insurance agency website or if you have questions about whether or not your site is mobile-first index ready, please feel free to contact us. We’ve worked with hundreds of insurance agents across the country to improve their position in search results. Our insurance agency SEO programs are designed to be cost-effective and produce results.
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