Do you know what digital marketing initiatives are going to lead to the increased success for your insurance agency next year? Do you know what steps or actions your team needs to take in order to meet your goals? Have you dismissed digital marketing thinking you will come back to it again next year?
If you are thinking that your insurance agency's digital marketing efforts will all of a sudden be successful without planning, then you are in for a surprise next year. Digital marketing has gotten even harder to successfully execute over the past few years and in order for your agency to reap the benefits of it, you need to plan for your digital efforts NOW.
The Purpose of Planning your Digital Marketing Efforts
I don't always do thinks right the first time. And by that I mean RARELY do I know what I am doing right the first time around. Unfortunately I am just not gifted that way.
In our time marketing, for the insurance agency and then transitioning into inBuzz, we have found that strategic planning is always central to any success we have had.
There has never been a time where we "fell" into a successful digital strategy. I mean sure, there were times when the results were unexpected and things worked out differently then how we planned. But everything we did always started with an idea, which was communicated to the team during a planning meeting, then executed.
The purpose of planning for your digital marketing efforts into the next year is to set yourself up for success. Digital Marketing (especially now more than ever) is not something that we can just guess our way to success. We have to know what we are doing or at least be working on the process.
In order to adequately execute you must have a vision for what you are doing and a plan to follow through. If you expect to just "figure it out" in 2019 you may be looking at a repeat of 2018. Take the time to sit down and determine what you want to do, how you are going to do it and why, by planning ahead.
As frustrating, boring or unproductive another meeting sounds, it is a necessary evil in order to move forward. We have always had end of the year marketing retreats which were half day or full day sessions dedicated to planning our insurance agency's (or now inbuzz's) marketing efforts for the following year. This allows us to regroup and move forward.
In order for our meetings to be productive, we did not go in blind. We always had a number of things in place before the meeting started and we suggest you do to:
- An agenda for what should be covered.
- The right people. Everyone who is a part of the execution or decision making aspects of marketing needs to be in this meeting.
- Come prepared with data, thoughts, ideas, and resources to review.
Treat the meeting as if someone's job depends on it. This was easy for me because my job did depend on it!
Even if you have laid the ground work with the items from above, it is easy to go into a 100 different directions. So to help you keep focused we have laid out 6 questions that your team needs to cover for your agency's marketing planning.
What should be covered in your agency's 2019 planning meeting
Where is your insurance agency's marketing at a glance?
First things first. You need to lay the foundation as to where you are at currently. Take a 1000 ft view of where your agency's marketing currently is so that by the end of the planning session you can take the next step.
Collect all the data if necessary and put it into a simplified statement. Something like this "We are getting small amounts of visits from the blog, social media and email but hardly any business is being generated from the web."
Remember in the beginning of the planning stage we are just trying to take a realistic view of where we are at.
What do you want to achieve and why?
In other words; What's the purpose of your marketing?
Why is your agency engaging in digital marketing? What are you hoping to accomplish with your efforts? What do you need your marketing to do for you in 2019 and beyond and what effects will it have on your agency?
Often times agents don't really spend as much time on this as necessary. If we hear "We want to build a brand or we want to better our business" to me, it translates to "we have no idea why we are marketing but someone said we should so here we are."
You have to know whether you are trying to grow your business by selling more policies, increasing retention, getting more referrals, etc.. And then even taking it a step further and asking yourself what type of policies do we want to sell more of and why? What type of people do we want to receive our message and respond?
I know it seems like a lot, but the purpose of this is to lazer focus your digital marketing's goals so that you can focus and not be distracted by the 100's of unproductive ways you can spend your time.
So, what is your purpose for digital marketing? What are do you expect the result will be for your insurance agency?
What worked this year?
Once we have established where we are and why we are doing what we are doing, then we can dive into the meat of this all. So now, we need to look at is what is working so far.
Did you increase website visitors? Did a certain blog or video bring in business? Did a specific ad seem to bring in inquires?
Celebrate even the small wins here. When our insurance agency got our first 200 website visitors, the owner rejoiced because it meant what we were doing was working. We were on the verge of success and we could keep pushing forward.
So what worked for you this year? Where did you see success? What are some small wins you can celebrate?
*At this point in your planning, you will be able to compare where you are with your purpose to see if you are in alignment. For example, if your goal is to increase new business and you have been able to generate more website visitors from Google then you very well could be at the beginning stages of hitting your marketing goals!
What did you try that did not work?
Now that we can ensure our efforts are aligned with what we want to achieve we can address what did not work and why.
Take a look at your marketing efforts that did not work and dive into why. If it was an effort that was not in alignment with what you want to become or is addressing a market you don't want to address you may want to just ditch it. If it is in alignment and seems to make sense but is simply not working, then finding out why can be the key to success in 2019.
Is it that people are seeing your content but not converting? Or are the right people not seeing your content? Could it be the message is not attractive to your target marketing?
Once you begin figuring out why your marketing efforts are not working you will be able to say "If we can just _____ our marketing will begin working better."
And with this you will be able to find opportunities to jump start your marketing.
What should you be doing for 2019?
At this point you will have gathered and reviewed a lot of information and you will begin to see the missing pieces to your marketing puzzle. You can use this information to identify what actions you should be taking for next year.
Look at your marketing's purpose. What do you want to achieve?
Now assess where you are. Take what is working and what is not working and find what key pieces are missing that can help you transform these into achieving your expectations for marketing.
As an example, an agency could be in this position. "We want to use marketing to reach people online who are searching for insurance in a certain niche. We are seeing success in our website views from blog posts but we are not converting into sales. If we could just convert the people who are looking at our blogs, we would be able to hit our marketing's goal."
The theoretical agency has found the missing puzzle. They need to find out what is keeping the blog readers from taking the next step.
Whatever the agency finds to solve the missing piece will be the basis for their action plan for 2019. You could have 5 things to work on, or 3 or 27. The steps required to solve your problem(s) depends entirely on your agency.
How to successfully execute?
It's not enough to just say "we need to do more with Facebook." or "We need to do more video." You need to determine your action plan and how you will execute.
How are you going to execute? What are some time frames? Who's going to do what? Do you have the resources to do what is required? If not, how can we get it done?
Give jobs, homework, and assignments. Set up a shared calendar to keep track of how things are moving along.
You also need to set up a time to touch base again. It is too easy to go back to business as usual and push the work aside. Having established another time to meet with provide accountability for the team and will keep the momentum going.
Anything on paper is going to be easier than executing it in real time, especially if we are not all that sure how to do it. Without the accountability everything you planned can easily be a distant memory come Feb 1st 2019.
Will you win in 2019!?
Everyone in business wants to win. No one wants their business or their marketing to tank. While there are an abundance of people to be reached with digital marketing, some will not succeed in reaching them. Here are a couple types of people that I believe will win and achieve their goals:
- Those who are creating a custom experience for their clients and prospects. You don't have to be a digital expert to do this. If you are utilizing digital marketing in a way that better shapes the customer experience then you will win.
- Those who are utilizing digital to its fullest. Those who dive in fully will reap the opportunities digital has laid before us. There are thousands of agents dipping their toes into digital which is good. But then there are those who are diving in and fully immersing themselves in it. These people will win.
- Those who are willing to put in the work. Some people don't know what to do but are willing to go full speed ahead and put in the work. They may not know exactly what they need to do today, but they are researching, listening, investing and trying new things. At some point, it is going to come all together for them.
Sure, those who have their video A game on and who have cracked the Facebook Ad code and have fully functioning chat bots are going to win big in 2019. But don't think that those who are not there yet cannot win.
Those who make sound plans and can execute on them will win. Even if your plan is small or simple. If you know what you want to do, why you want to do it, and you can execute what you have planned, then you have a solid chance of growing in 2019.
Remember, it is not just about technology. In 2019 technology is going to change. And again in 2020. Those who continually watch, plan and execute are going to stay on top.
Thanks for Reading & I hope this takes you one step closer to digital marketing success!
Digital marketing planning is not easy. It can be a challenge knowing where to start or how to determine what your next steps should be. If you have any questions feel free to ask!
Until next time, keep on learning!