Many insurance agencies are starting to become more and more intrigued by the thought of marketing automation. How can you ignore its promises of growth through scalability and better time usage?
However, I think that there is still some skepticism as well as a lack of understanding of how marketing automation works.
If you are thinking about marketing automation and wondering if it can truly bring you more time in the day then we wrote this blog for you.
We get that theoretical knowledge is only a fraction of truth. So, for this blog, we will take you through the real features of the marketing automation platform that we use at inBuzz. This way you can be certain of real ways software can actually help.
Before we begin…
This is NOT an advertisement for Sharpspring
Like I mentioned a moment ago, we are going to use examples from the marketing automation platform we use (SharpSpring). So, throughout this blog, you will see tools that may be specific to Sharpspring.
We have used other marketing automation tools such as Hubspot, Salesforce, MailChimp, Constant Contact and probably more along the way and many have these or similar ways of helping you save time.
So, with this blog, we are not saying other marketing automation platforms don’t offer similar solutions for your time, we just believe that in order to understand something, real experiences matter.
If at any point you need some help let us know, but for now, on with the time saving tactics!
1) Saving time by limiting the number of platforms used.
A big problem with digital marketing is that you find yourself jumping from place to place. You are on social media, but then you realize you need to do ads so you have an ads account, and then begin blogging and realize you need Google analytics, then you jump into email marketing and so you sign up with Constant Contact. Eventually, you find your marketing team must sign into half a dozen different sites just to do their daily tasks.
One of the main ways that your marketing staff will save time is by adopting an all in one marketing automation platform. Sharpspring, the platform we use, includes most of the platforms into one. Here’s a list of just the marketing software that’s included in which your team may be signing into separately daily:
- Marketing Automation tools
- Email marketing tool
- Social media publishing tool
- Landing page builder
- Form builder
- Analytics program
- Reporting tool
- Google adwords
How much time could your staff save if they could avoid going through constant onboarding and product trainings? What if they could sign into one place and most of what they need for their job functions are there? How much time is spent jumping back and forth between browser tabs bouncing from program to program?
My guess, probably a lot. (And we won’t even get into how many variations of the same password do you have to create and remember!)
When we started inBuzz we had to duct tape our systems together and boy was it a headache. Things really start going smoothly when all of your marketing can be done in one place.
2) Save time by automating follow up communications and tasks.
Do you ever feel like half of your day is just checking in with people and sending them tasks? “Did you get that email I sent earlier?” “Whose job was it to post the blog this week?” “I got your quote request I’m working on it now.” As businesses, in general, we spend far too much time just following up with basic communications and tasks.
I’m not anti-communications, but you have to admit, some communications are only necessary because we haven’t automated them yet.
If someone comes to your website and fills out a form, are the right people immediately sent a notification with a task to follow up?
If someone requests more information from your site do they receive an automated email with the information they requested?
Are employees missing deadlines and missing opportunities because they forgot to follow up because the sales manager is on vacation and didn’t send them a reminder email?
Do you spend time chasing down prospects who you’ve sent quotes to, but haven’t yet responded?
Many of these types of communications can be automated based on activity or time. Most marketing automation software, including SharpSpring’s platform, uses workflows that automatically send responses and schedule tasks based on actions and timing.
Here are some examples of how insurance agencies could use this:
- Client onboarding emails.
- Automate follow up conversations with prospects who were given quotes but never gave you an answer.
- Automate tasks for your team as well as automate reminders for the completion of tasks based on timing.
- Automate lead nurturing campaigns for prospects who were interested in a product but are not ready to buy at this time.
- Automate notifications when it’s time for a salesperson to follow up or reach out to a specific contact based on their lead status. And can even go the next step and actually send the follow-up email on their behalf.
Not every communication point needs to be automated, but if we have a batch of emails that are practically the same week to week, then why not automate the process?
3) Save sales time with Smarter Mail
How often does sales have a conversation with a prospect who requests more information on a product? When a prospect or even a client hears about sewer backup, replacement cost, professional liability insurance or business interruption insurance for the first time they need time to think about it and will request that you send them more information.
So, what happens at this point? Do you have to dig through files or blogs on your website until you find it, dig up the contact’s email address again then type up the email to send?
SharpSpring’s Smart Mail allows you to prebuild emails and then send them with the touch of a button. So, if you constantly get requests about different products or different questions in which you send the same response or document, then save yourself some time by using Smart Mail.
4) Save time with an online meeting scheduler
Does this sound familiar? “What day works for you?” “Tuesday” “well Tuesday doesn’t work for me. I have Wed at 10 open.” “Wednesday is open but not until 3pm.” And back and forth you go.
We all fall victim of this and it has just become a norm at this point. But we have a meeting link we can send in which our contact can select an open time in our calendar which works for them. This has been a game changer for me personally. I just need to send my calendar link and say pick whichever available time works best for you.
No more wasted time going back and forth from the calendar view to email to revisiting my calendar because the time didn’t work. One email and done.
5) Save time with accurate and actionable data
Most software systems now allow you to generate reports with the touch of a button. That’s nothing new. But there is still the challenge of turning that information into actionable data.
How much time do you or your managers spend looking at reports and digging through data trying to understand whether sales or marketing campaigns are working, which ones are performing the best and most importantly why they are performing so well?
Many businesses struggle to fully understand the full picture of their sales and marketing data. How well are your different salespeople performing? What are the top performers doing that others aren’t? What are the sales numbers, conversions, etc.. Can you see that at a glance?
In addition to that if you want to prove marketing ROI then normally you would need to create different reports and try to piece together data to see what really happened with different campaigns.
SharpSpring has a full CRM and sales dashboard plus marketing ROI campaign tracking. The Campaign ROI tool tracks contacts from their initial connection point with you through the sale to identify the ROI of your campaigns at a glance.
This allows you in an instant to see exactly what you need to see.
Indirect ways marketing automation save time
The above points showcase ways marketing automation directly impacts how much time you put into daily processes. Marketing automation takes all the repetitive tasks out of your day job helping you be more efficient with your time.
However, there are indirect ways that marketing automation allows you to get more time back or which allows you to more productively use your time.
Spend less time with people who are not ready to buy
As salespeople, we often waste a lot of time and effort spending time with prospects that aren’t ready to buy or that are not a good fit for our business. If you have the data, you will find that there are certain behaviors that people have which indicates they are closer to the decision stage than those who are not ready to buy.
A simple example of this is page views on your website. Let’s say you have 2 prospects. One has visited your about us page, has read multiple blog posts on a specific topic, and has even looked at your testimonials page. The other prospect has never looked at your website. Where should you spend your time? With the prospect that is engaged with your website and trying to learn more about you, or the disengaged prospect who may not even really know who your agency is?
Spend less time focusing on things that don’t work
This is sort of part B for number 5. This might not necessarily give you more time back in the day, but it can help your time be spent more effectively.
Many of the agencies that attend events and workshops are struggling to grow yet they can’t seem to find the time to implement the things they’ve learned at the workshops. We have these people dig deep and take a real look at their situation.
If what you are currently doing is not working, and you believe digital is the key to reigniting growth then it’s simple. Spend less time doing what you are working on and more time on things you believe will make a difference.
That’s a hard switch for agents because they feel what they are doing is important and they don’t have a tangible way to measure otherwise. Until now.
When you aren’t assuming and you have cold hard numbers to look at, it makes it easier to know where to put your time and energy. Having the campaign reporting capabilities of Sharpspring for sales and marketing can help you make that distinction.
A few precautions of marketing automation
Before you run out and buy the most popular marketing automation platform realize that there are some cons and learning curves involved. It is not likely that you can flip the marketing automation switch making your life easier and more profitable.
Here are some precautions to consider before adopting marketing automation in your agency:
Marketing automation is not a magic pill
Too often do agencies adopt some type of software thinking that it will be the difference-maker in their agency on its own. It doesn’t matter how advanced the technology is, it takes you and your team to make it work.
There is a learning curve
Marketing automation can save you time and energy in the long run but you still have to go through the learning process. A tool is only as good as the person using it. When you do sign onto a marketing automation platform you will need to learn the tool so that you can use it, and you will also need to set up custom workflows that fit your insurance agency.
There’s sometimes a thin line between investment and cost
Your initial investment can easily become a cost if you forget about it. We see it happen to agencies with good intentions all the time. They purchase their marketing automation software with full intentions of making something happen but then 12 months into the contract and nothing has happened.
In order to see a return on your investment, you will need to be active in the process. If you allow it to fall by the wayside then the money invested will fall by the wayside as well.
Not all marketing automation is the same
Do your research when picking an automation software. Not any and every product is going to fit your needs. Be open to having conversations with sales and doing a little research before making your purchase to make sure the platform has the features you need.
What are your thoughts?
Do you think marketing automation is worth your time and investment?
We were a Hubspot client and partner for years, then recently we found SharpSpring as a great alternative. We believe marketing automation is worth it, but what about you?
Do you believe the investment in time, energy and resources is worth it? Do you believe it can help save your agency time and become more efficient? We want to know your thoughts about marketing automation.
And If you’re not sure how you feel or have questions, then don’t hesitate to reach out and pick our brain.