Digital transformation is at the forefront of the insurance industry right now. This topic has made its way into just about every convention and insurance industry meeting. Agents are clamoring to discover the validity of digital strategy and if this is the next phase of the industry. Many think that this is all phooey while others swear that those who do not jump on the boat will slowly wither away.
There are a lot of discussions and view points about this topic, but one this is for certain. Most agents and companies alike, have no idea how to implement a digital strategy within an agency.
This is why I am here writing this article today. To help insurance agencies, no matter what size, implement a digital strategy.
Before you get started....
There are a few things you need to know about digital strategy before you can start on your journey of digital transformation.
- This will take time. It will take time to plan, to organize your efforts, to get resources together, to make changes and to see results from your effort.
- This will not be easy. I would be lying if I told you implementing a digital strategy was like flipping a light switch. The deeper you dive into digital strategy the more topics come up and the more changes you try to make the more your staff will resist.
- You might get things wrong at first. Your digital knowledge will determine what you decide to do. You may have a really cool idea that simply fails and that is O.K. As the industry shifts and as technology changes you will find things that work and things that don't work, but you have to try.
I wanted to include this section because I see too many insurance agencies go gung ho into a digital strategy and they quickly lose grip of it because their expectations were not in alignment with realistic transformation. This information will help make you aware of the realistic expectations of digital transformation but also give you encouragement if things get difficult or go sideways during your transformation.
Three aspects of digital strategy in insurance
I know I know I know.... You are waiting for me to just give you the steps to transform your agency into a digital powerhouse but it is not that simple. The cool thing about technology that also makes things really annoying is that digital strategy is different for everyone.
The implementation of it, the methods you use, and the items you decide to do digitally will look different for every insurance agency out there.
I will show you what I mean with this list of three different areas within your agency that may undergo a digital change.
- Insurance sales
- Insurance marketing
- Agency operations
What did you have in mind when you originally thought of digital transformation in your agency? Was it changing the way you sold insurance? Was it your marketing and advertising efforts? Or were you thinking about transforming aspects of your operations into consumer driven digital operations?
In order to give you the steps to implementing a new digital strategy you have to be aware of what you are changing or else you will be quickly overwhelmed.
Steps to implement a digital strategy in your insurance agency
Finally, we get to what you came for. These steps are going to be extremely simple and easy for you to understand but realize that implementation is going to take time and effort.
Here are 5 easy steps that will help you implement any digital strategy in your insurance agency:
- Determine your goals and purpose for implementing a digital strategy. Why do you want to go digital? Increase sales? Be relevant? Utilize the cost saving benefits of digital tools? Every agency will have a different purpose for going digital and this will ultimately shape what you will want to do. One example is if you want to increase revenue. You may want to implement a digital prospecting strategy. A second example is if you want to cut costs. Instead of utilizing so much postage you can instead send digital copies of information.
- Determine what strategies and tools will best meet your goals. You don't have to do it all. So many agents go wrong because they go 0 to 100 and can't keep up with all the new items they have to deal with. Most digital strategies will not meet your goals to begin with, so it is important to find which strategies you need to invest in.
- Create a plan and timeline of events. This is hardly the highlight of anyone's day/week but a plan is such a necessity to the successful implementation of your digital strategy. Without a plan to keep you on course it will cause you to forget things or to pick up another initiative that does not fit your goals. It also helps you establish realistic views of the process and ensures the right things get done. We find that many agents who do not create a plan and timeline will either expect results much faster than they can feasibly come, or they will continually put off what needs done and delay their results.
- Start and stick to the plan. This is such a simple phrase yet so many insurance agents fail to do it. Whether it is old habits, busyness or the lack of faith in the digital strategies they have chosen, many agencies fall away from the plan.
- Adjust as necessary but don't give up early. If you see things going sideways you need to adjust, but not at week 2. We don't want to keep beating a dead horse if a new digital effort is not working. We want to watch and examine it so if it needs adjusting we can catch it before it is too late but realize don't jump the gun. If you try to implement something new every week because the last one did not work then you will never see success in any of your efforts.
These steps seem super simple, but you will be surprised at how easily our agency will fall off these steps. Many agencies want to jump into new digital tools without assessing how they relate to the agencies goals. Then of course you may have the digital efforts in place but get anxious and diverge from the plan before things come to fruition.
Tips to ensure your digital strategy implementation is successful
I have seen many agencies attempt digital transformations and often times it fails within a couple of months. In some cases I have even seen it fail within a couple of weeks.
Preparation is a big part in ensuring any digital strategy is successfully implemented. It is what separates those who are successful in their efforts to those who simply want to be. So, as your agency tackles these digital transformations, use these tips to ensure it is implementation is successful:
- Have a digital lead. You need someone who is going to hold the reins and ensure things continue to move forward. If digital marketing is your play, then hire a marketer who knows what they are doing. If it is operations, then have a manager ensure procedures are being done appropriately. Without a lead, many of your staff. as hard of workers as they are, will let your new found digital efforts slip.
- Hire a consultant. I know agents do not like to spend money when they do not have to. But if you are going to invest in new tools and efforts you want to make sure that those resources are not wasted by a staff who does not know how to properly implement them.
- Stay focused on your initial plan. Many agents I have worked with try to jump ship shortly after they begin working on their plan. Don't second guess yourself. Results and changes will not take place immediately so you have to guard yourself from all the other shiny initiatives out there. If the plan was to do XYZ for 60 days, then don't abandon the plan 2 weeks in.
- Be patient. Anything new takes time.
Unfortunately there is no magic pill in making digital strategy work for your insurance agency. It is something you must put the time and effort into because it is not just something you are adding to your agency, it is a transformation your agency will undergo.
Did we help answer your questions on digital strategy in the insurance industry? Let us know if you would like us to dive deeper into this topic.