Many insurance agencies are adopting digital marketing because their traditional means of selling and marketing are not leading to the growth they desire for their agencies. Digital marketing presents many opportunities for growth in the insurance sector yet only few are gaining real results with their marketing efforts. But just jumping in, is not enough to get results.
Your digital strategy is your business’s blueprint to building your digital success. Without one you will likely find yourself and/or your team confused, scrambling, randomly trying different ideas, and lacking results. Creating a digital strategy will help you tie all the pieces of your digital puzzle together with your agency’s business goals.
Today, we are going to cover everything you need to create a digital strategy for your insurance agency.
Before you create your Digital Strategy there are 2 very important steps you must first complete.
1. Create Your Personas
In order to create a digital strategy you must know your personas. Personas are fictionalized characters used to represent one of your buyer types. These personas are the ideal clients you want to sell and market to.
Here is an example of a persona:
So why do we need these personas?
When creating marketing content you need to know who you are talking to. Just like you would face to face. Also, each persona will be reached differently. Not only that, but you already know that each persona is looking for something different. Grouping everyone together and marketing to them the same way is not an effective way of implementing digital marketing.
By creating personas we are able to reach the right audiences with the right message at the right time in a way that adds value to their life.
How many do we need to create?
Don’t just create 1 or 2 personas, it is ideal to create a new persona for every client you want to attract. Here’s why.
For starters, every persona may buy differently. Some of your ideal customers like to look for someone to talk to while others like to research heavily online before speaking with an adviser.
In addition to that, think about their busy seasons. A charter boat company in a tourist area is likely going to shop insurance in winter or early spring because their business thrives in late spring, summer and fall. While a CPA likely shops for insurance during the summer or fall when they are coming out of tax season.
Creating personas will help you get insights into what your target buyer wants, how they buy, and other helpful information. This will provide a clear focus when creating your digital strategy and will ultimately provide better results for your marketing efforts.
2. Create Your Customer Journeys
Next, you will want to create a customer journey for any of the personas you want to market to. A customer journey is the process that a customer goes through to buy your service.
By creating a customer journey, you are putting yourself in the shoes of your buyer. You are able to see all the interactions they make with businesses and web presences along the way to their purchases. This allows you to identify opportunities to connect with your personas in the buying process, create the right strategies to reach them and to create the right marketing message at the right part of the buying process.
Here are 2 very simplified versions of a customer journey of a young couple buying home owners insurance:
- After looking at houses their realtor says they need to find insurance
- They go to Google and research homeowner’s insurance.
- Once they have a decent understanding of the need for homeowners insurance they will look at local agents online. They will view their Google profiles, visit their websites and possibly their social media accounts.
- After deliberation, they will choose who to contact.
- Agency can be called or contact form filled out.
- If agency can satisfy needs, then customer purchases.
- Post purchase journey:
- Satisfaction leads to renewal
- Dissatisfaction will lead to restart of customer journey starting at step 2.
A simple text based customer journey is a quick and easy way to organize your thoughts and explore how a customer comes to buy your services. If you like writing in notebooks like I do, this is a great way to get started.
To get the most out of this style, it's beneficial to make notes at each step highlighting opportunities for a digital tactic.
Here is another version of the customer journey. This time I will introduce some more detail, but keep the information relatively simplified.
Example 2:Again, it is important to make notes or highlight the activities where your agency can add value using digital strategies.
These are two very simple examples that you can build right now using a pen and paper or Microsoft Word. There are infinite ways to create a customer journey. It doesn't matter how you do it, just as long as you are able to see the journey your personas take because this will be a foundational aspect of building your insurance agency's digital strategy.
Depending on the solution and your persona, you may also have many more steps.
If you would like to see a more detailed customer journey or see one live, then reach out to me. I can help build one with your agency or write a blog/video diving deeper into the topic.
A few things to keep in mind when creating a customer journey:
- Customer journeys may be different for each persona and for each product you offer. For example, a customer’s journey to life insurance may be more complex then when they bought for their first auto policy.
- Your customer’s journey does not end at purchase.
- When creating your customer journey map, feel free to color code or use special character for different stages/activities to help your team see opportunities or marketing initiative placement.
- If this is your first time creating a customer journey, keep it simple. You can always go back and recreate your customer journey.
Remember, the customer journey is all about the steps your customer takes to buy your product. Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes will provide great insights into your marketing strategies.
Is all this REALLY necessary?
You may be thinking, “Zach, just tell us how to create a strategy that makes marketing clear and we can get tons of clients. We don’t need all this persona and customer journey stuff.” I get that, you want someone to give you the XYZ of creating an effective digital strategy.
But here’s the thing, your digital strategy needs to be unique to your ideal client, your goals and your agency.
Sure you can copy someone else’s strategy or do what they are doing but you may not necessarily get the same results. Even if you do get the same results it may not be the results you are after.
By creating a persona and customer journey you are setting the foundation for your digital strategy to see real results.
And besides, you need them for your digital strategy so there’s that too.
Now that you know how to create personas and their journeys I can now show you how to create a digital strategy for your insurance agency.
Steps to Creating a Digital Strategy for Your Insurance Agency
First things first. If you skimmed the blog to get to this point, just know that you are going to have to go back and create your personas and customer journey! That is an important aspect of creating your strategy.
So now that you know who your personas are, and the journeys they take to becoming your customers, your next step is creating the actual digital strategy.
In a moment, I will show you how to create a strategy, but before I do, know that there is more than one way to do this. Below is a very simple 4 step process to building a digital strategy. It's simple enough that you can get started right away. Minimal expertise necessary. Once you know what you are doing, I encourage you to adopt your own steps for your agency's strategy.
OK, so on to the good stuff.
Here are steps to creating your digital marketing strategy:
Section A: The digital strategy overview
Step 1: What are your goals/purpose for marketing? What do you want to achieve with your digital marketing efforts? Do you want to Generate leads? Increase Retention? These goals will shape how we use our digital strategies.
Step 2: Using the customer’s journey, identify areas of opportunities to meet your goals. For example: if your goal is lead generation, then identify the areas of digital marketing within the customer journey where an insurance buyer could become a lead.
Opportunity A: Someone searches online, they find our blog/website and request contact.
Opportunity B: Using Digital Ads, we entice viewers to download our offer and/or contact us becoming leads.
Opportunity C: At live events, shows, and expos that our sales people attend, have a specialty website offering where attendees can visit and download.
Step 3: Identify the marketing initiatives, platforms and software items you will need. For example, to generate leads from SEO, we will need a blog, analytics for our website, editable webpages, and contact forms. Before implementing your digital strategy you will need to have the right tools in place.
Step 4: Draw out a plan of attack and create a timeline. Now that you have a refined look at what you need to do to and what items you need, you can now begin to look at the implementation process of your digital strategy. What tactics do you need to employ? How will each strategy be integrated? How are you going to execute your strategy? Who is going to do what? What’s the expected timeline of all this? -these are a few questions you need to answer to formulate your plan of attack.
This step is a powerful one in which most agencies miss. This is the step that is going to make your digital efforts all come together in a cohesive manner. Implementation still has some difficulties but now the confusion of "what do we do and who’s doing what" has been eliminated. You now have a clear path to a successful digital implementation.
Section B: Individual Digital Strategies
The digital strategy overview will give you an overview of what needs to happen, while this section will provide the nitty gritty in how to achieve each strategy's goal.
For each of the opportunities you've listed in Section A, you will need to create specific strategies for how you intend on . For instance, if you want to generate leads from Google then you will need an SEO strategy. In section A you may be able to say "we will use blogging as a tool to generate leads on Google." But in order to see results we need to explain exactly how we intend to use blogging to generate leads.
Here are some examples of the individual strategies you will need to create:
- SEO strategy
- Local SEO strategy
- Content strategy
- Advertisement strategy
- Social media strategy
Once you have your digital strategy overview complete, then you can begin building these specific strategies one at a time as needed.
Final thoughts on Creating Digital Insurance Strategies
Creating a digital strategy can be hard work, but it is so important to the success of your digital efforts. Like I mentioned before, having a clear strategy will help keep your initiatives on track and clear up the confusion that most insurance agencies struggle with.
When creating your digital strategy, you don’t necessarily have all the answers right away. Your agency’s strategy will likely change and grow as you learn more, do more, and find more opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to try something! One of the things that holds insurance agencies back is trying to overthink everything at once. We often run into agencies who are thinking about digital marketing for months before they even try something. If your strategy makes sense go for it! If you run into road blocks you can always adjust your strategy to meet the new demands. In fact, you will likely run into unexpected roadblocks that will require adjusting.
And my final piece of advice for you if you have struggled to make sense of digital marketing or creating a strategy for your insurance agency is to get help. Sometimes you just need a new set of eyes to look at what you are doing and to make sense of it.
(Note: Not sure how to put this information together or want to speed up the process? Request a free strategy session with us to build a strategy together or attend an upcoming workshop. We have lots of free resources on our website but sometimes it helps to have a real live person provide a helping hand!)