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.
Keep 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.
Not 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.