When considering the current economic climate and soft insurance market, every agency and agent wants to generate the optimum number of qualified leads with the lowest possible marketing investment. There is always a tradeoff between insurance agency lead flow today versus long range marketing plans, branding and agency awareness campaigns for the future. Let’s review some of the web marketing options available and discuss the length of time necessary to generate leads for insurance agents, or at a minimum, how long it would take to complete the task. These are in a suggested order for a typical insurance agency web marketing initiative.
Insurance Agency Website:
This is the first and foremost task for every agent and agency. Today your website is your Main Street façade, the front store window which every prospect and client will view. Regardless of lead flow, it is of paramount importance that your website is up to date and professional. After all, would you want to enter a store with peeling paint, a cracked front window, a faded sign and a general look of neglect? It only takes 30 days to revitalize a website, top to bottom and a compelling website will start to pay dividends immediately.
Insurance Agency Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Now that your insurance agency website is current and compelling, we need to focus on SEO. Arguably, much of the on page optimization was already accomplished if your website was redesigned, although many agencies have found that web designers may not be conversant with SEO. Regardless, it’s time to ensure your insurance agency SEO is at an optimum level. This encompasses both on page and off page optimization initiatives and both are extremely important to your success. Insurance agency SEO projects can put your agency on Google page one in as little as 30 to 60 days, resulting in a dramatic improvement for web traffic and an increase in lead generation.
Blogging is a great way to increase website traffic, showcase agency expertise and improve insurance agency SEO. It’s fast, easy and arguably fun to do. Blog entries can be short; even two or three relevant sentences will often suffice. Blogging can also be outsourced to an insurance marketing agency or a proficient copywriter. Blog topics can often become articles, published in online magazines or article directories. Blogs can be integrated into social media marketing programs, and lead generation can be tracked through website analytics programs (including Google Analytics which is a free solution). If done correctly and consistently, blogs can increase lead flow in as little as 60 days.
Electronic publishing or epublishing offers insurance agencies another way to generate website traffic, inbound inquiries and establish a positive internet presence. These days, electronic publishing can be more beneficial to drive in profile prospects to an insurance agency website than social media marketing or bulk web lead purchases. Articles should be educationally oriented focusing on your area of expertise. For example, perhaps your agency is proficient in compliance, workers compensation or marine insurance. Articles on these topics showcase your expertise and will help drive traffic to your website. Electronic publishing can drive leads within 30 days. Articles are typically published within a week of submission.
Social Media Marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr)
Social media marketing is interesting, fun and empowering. Every agency and agent should have a presence in the major social networks, and should join relevant prospect groups on LinkedIn. Integration between social media (linking your blog to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for example), improves speed and efficacy of your content. Video offers advantages for marketing through YouTube and other social networks, and of course, makes your agency website more interesting and “stickier”. It takes time to germinate leads from social media marketing. Assume at least three or four months of effort before you see a return. However, when combining and integrating social media marketing with some of the other lead generation tools mentioned here, your return can be much faster.
Insurance Agency eMarketing
Agencies who try to use email blasts to blast out offers for cheap insurance will be sadly disappointed in the results. However, agencies who leverage eMarketing to distribute quality newsletters, white papers or educational webinar series can find this a highly effective lead generation tool, one which can dramatically help lead gen in a soft market. Campaigns can yield results very quickly, though it takes time to map out a successful eMarketing and seminar strategy, and an agency should plan on a 90 day cycle.
Insurance Agency Web Seminars
Web seminars, when combined with a professional eMarketing initiative, can be one of the most effective, long term lead generation tools available to agencies, in a soft or hard insurance market. Web seminar series build tremendous credibility, internet presence and agency awareness, and when done correctly, can virtually eliminate cold calling while adding qualified leads to the agency pipeline. It takes some time to create a successful webinar series, often up to six months to build awareness and loyalty. That said, once an agency establishes credibility, their webinar series will continue to draw impressive numbers of prospects. Agencies should assume three to six months to build an effective web seminar program.
Pay Per Click (Google PPC Campaigns)
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can be an effective way for insurance agencies to increase website traffic and generate leads. Organic SEO is superior in that there are no ongoing click based fees. However, for specific agency marketing niches, including commercial insurance, benefits insurance and personal lines. Pay Per Click marketing campaigns can offer a beneficial boost to insurance agency lead generation. Other variations on this include Pay Per Inclusion and Pay Per Impression. An important note, these campaigns need to be monitored and measured closely, as some keyword clicks can cost $5 to $15 every time someone clicks on the advertisement.
Web Lead Bulk Purchases
There are many companies which drive insurance consumer traffic to their respective websites and then parse and bundle leads, ultimately selling these to agents in their respective target areas. For example, some of these companies drive life insurance prospects to their websites, collect information, then sell these prospects to insurance agents and agencies on a per lead or lead bundle price. This can be beneficial to drive activity into and insurance agency pipeline, however, these leads are often sold to multiple agents and brokers, resulting in a pool of agents competing for the same prospect, armed with the same information. These bulk lead purchases can drive activity into a pipeline within 30 days, though the downside is that the leads are a free for all, and your agency will be one of many calling on the same leads.
These web centric activities can help drive leads to an agency, even in a challenging soft market as we have today. Your agency should focus on areas in which you have expertise. For example, perhaps one of your agents or support specialists likes to write, you could have them work on blogging and electronic publishing. Or, you may have a principal who would like to create a prominent social networking presence. However, if you lack the internal expertise or bandwidth, you can outsource all or part of these activities to a competent insurance marketing agency.