You started then stopped. You dove into digital but your staff did not follow through. You started paying for things but it doesn't seem to bring any results. You intend on starting but the everyday upkeep of your agency keeps delaying your start.
I get it. Getting started is hard. Doing it consistently and getting results is even harder. That is why I'm writing this blog. To help you go from spinning your wheels to having a successful digital presence.
Tips to Successfully Implementing Digital Marketing
Before your insurance agency decides to take on digital marketing, there are a few things you need to know. For starters, this is a team effort. It's not something you can just hand off to a lowly intern or CSR. You may also need to shift your agency's culture from traditional thinking to digitally and growth focused. Lastly you will need to know why you want to implement digital marketing and what it takes to successfully implement. Take the time to learn and educate your staff.
The rest of this article is going to tackle the process of rolling out marketing so that it will successful launch. And in order to have success each department is going to need to do their part. So in hopes to make this a little easy, you can jump from section to section using the links below.
Ownership and Management plays a vital role in the roll out of a marketing strategy. If management is not solid in their approach the whole thing falls apart. So what should owners and managers be doing?
- Casting the vision
- Providing the freedom and budget for marketing to work
- Establishing a culture of digital
- Leading by example
Agency owners and the management team already have their hands full. I get that. But if they have not painted the picture, established the importance of going digital and given the staff the time, budget and freedom to implement then everyone goes back to business as usual.
So what will these four areas look like?
Casting the vision - Your staff, your marketing team, your sales people will never adapt a fad that you don't back. If you are not all in on the vision your staff will not adapt. But it is more than that, you also have to paint the vision (in some way) of what this will look like so that your staff can know how to prepare themselves and how it will affect their jobs.
Providing the freedom to do work - Nothing kills a marketing launch quicker than an overbearing boss or a lack of resources to do the job. Many marketing people become suffocated because they need their boss to sign off on every Facebook post and blog article they write. I understand in some regards this is necessary. But does your staff have the ability to try new things, and to work on projects they feel will be impactful for the marketing efforts? We've worked with agencies who have had the blog process stopped for months simply because the owner needed to micro mange the process and it shut down all of the digital marketing momentum.
Establishing a culture of digital - One of the hardest aspects of implementing digital marketing within insurance agencies is the culture of traditional means of business. If an agency has been functioning the same way for 20+ years, it is going to be very difficult for the staff (and sometimes the customers) to accept and adapt it. This is where you as the owner need to step up and begin creating the culture necessary to implement digital marketing strategies in your insurance agency. This means setting the standard, establishing accountability and making it known that this is where the agency is transitioning.
Leading by example - If the boss doesn't have to do it. No one has to do it. When implementing digital, it is not enough to throw it on the marketing team's lap and expecting the rest of the agency to just fall into digital practices. The owner must back the efforts, but also do their part. This may mean writing blog posts, or doing a video. You will need to use the tools and communicate in a way that you expect others to communicate.
At our agency (back when it was Diversified Insurance Service) Mark Reilly was adamant that digital was where the agency needed to go. He fought for it, he had conversations with ownership, management and staff. He pushed until we broke through. But he also encouraged and supported those who were doing the work that needed to be done.
Your insurance agency's digital efforts will rise and fall on its leadership. Every agency who is implementing digital successfully, has an agency owner who is leading the charge and taking ownership.
In your office, operations may be the same as management, or it may be different. I have kept this a separate function because 1) it was a separate function in our agency and 2) it has its own vital pieces to the puzzle.
The operations team is there to lay the framework (who, what, when, where, how) of the digital implementation and also to ensure the follow through is there and successful.
Without our operations person, our marketing would have fallen flat many times. Operations is vital before marketing launch and in the midst of the digital building process. Here is what they should be doing:
- Beta Test- Sample Study, Evaluation, Adjustments
- Launch Platforms involved
- Measurement Reports
- Follow up
Development - What needs to be in place in order for this to work? What tools, programs, software, systems, policies, procedures, etc... Need to be in place BEFORE you can launch an effective digital marketing strategy? You might not know everything you will need down the road, but make sure you have purchased the immediate needs for your team to be successful in their launch.
Implementation and process - Who is doing what and when. How often? What are the deadlines? Where many businesses fail, is that they say they want to start blogging (for example). So they start blogging, but because there is no deadline and the specifics are unclear the blogging is short lived or never even makes it to the table. Determine who is going to do what and when. You may have to change specifics but at least start with a standard of some kind.
Communications - Everyone should understand the messaging that will be going out and have a shared place where they can see it. We had a shared marketing calendar. Without clear communication everyone just does their own thing. This is frustrating for staff and becomes even more frustrating for the customer once it bleeds into their business dealings with the agency.
Also make sure that everyone knows when a new campaign is going out and what it is all about. Make the internal announcement before the launch providing the date and time set for launch and what is expected. Once the launch is sent plan a follow up date for the measurement of engagement.
Beta Test- Sample Study, Evaluation, Adjustments - Don't just guess your way through digital marketing. Send out test campaigns to your staff to evaluate and find errors. Then do a test campaign with a small percentage of your customers or prospects. As you go through the process and build your digital marketing strategy out make sure to constantly evaluate and make adjustments.
Measurement Reports - Operations needs to have an understanding of what is happening overall and within each segment of a campaign. Make sure you know what platform was used and run reports as to the clicks, reviews, results, request for information and or follow up. How else can you evaluate what is working and how to make adjustments?
The Hand Off - What is the procedure for handing off prospects, leads, clients, etc...? If marketing gets a lead does it always go to sales? After a lead is won or lost does the hand off go back to marketing? Without a clear cut definition of who does what marketing will continually send bad leads to sales claiming sales is not doing their job and sales will claim marketing is not doing their job and may "forget" to put data back in the system for marketing to re-market.
Follow up - Who follows up and when is the right time to follow up? If someone is reading all your marketing emails when and how should someone follow up?
Much of the operation team's job is to set the standards, policies and procedures so that the digital marketing campaigns can run smoothly and that opportunities are met. Their job however, continues throughout the marketing campaigns constantly updating the processes based on the analytics and feedback of the team.
They are the wheel that keeps things running smoothly.
Ultimately the marketing team is going to be the ones driving this machine. Much of the work is going to fall into their hands so they need to be prepared and know what to expect when the time comes. Here's what they will need to do pre, during and post marketing launch:
- Educate themselves
- Create content and creative pieces
- Take control
- Continually learn
- Review Analytics/campaigns
- Suggest changes
Educate themselves - As a marketing person, if your boss is wants to roll out digital marketing for the insurance agency, then it's time for you to start educating yourself. Find out what digital marketing is, discover best practices, look into successes, etc.. This work is going to fall on you, you have to have an idea of what you are doing even before you start.
Take control - The moment an insurance agency decides to launch a marketing campaign, 90% of the work will fall into marketing's hands. The marketing team needs to be able to take control of the efforts and do what's required. If marketing waits for the owner to learn blogging then teach them and walk through the blogging process, then you'll never start blogging, or posting, or creating videos.
Strategize and plan - Don't just start posting on Facebook because your boss said we should post on Facebook. Take initiative and think of ways to utilize the tools you have at your disposal. What should the agency be doing in general? What should the agency be doing on each social channel? What should you be blogging about? And why. Not everything you come up with is going to be cleared by the boss, but you are the expert so you need to determine what needs done.
Create the marketing pieces - Obviously creating the actual marketing pieces falls into marketing's lap. As you begin this process, familiarize yourself with tools to help you do your job better. Find ways to do your job better. Don't just wait for someone else in the agency (or at the carrier level) to provide the imagery and content to post. You will have to get creative and start creating.
Review analytics and campaigns - The insurance agency's owner is going to want to know whether the digital marketing efforts are successful and why or why not. Even for those who think they can slide under the radar because their work looks pretty will have to be accountable for what is successful or not. So, it is your job to review the analytics and take a look at finished campaigns to understand why something worked, or why it didn't. Then you can do your job better and also report to your boss what is happening with your marketing efforts.
Continually learn - There is a lot involved with digital marketing plus sites such as Facebook and Google are constantly changing their platforms and algorithms. What works one day may not work the next. It is up to the marketing team to continually learn in order to make the marketing strategies of their agencies more effective. If we are being honest, your boss likely knows a little bit about digital marketing, but no one else has the time (or interest) into studying to make marketing successful. That's why you are there.
Suggest changes - Every insurance agency that steps into Digital Marketing is doing things that they've always done, or doing things that someone suggested. It is up to marketing to look at different areas and examine whether they should be changed or done away with completely. You may not always get the go ahead to make changes but you need to be the marketing eyes and brain of the agency.
Digital marketing is not just for marketing and ownership to know what's going on. While sales and the rest of the staff does not have to know about every tiny detail that goes into marketing they do have a major role in the success of the digital marketing build.
- Follow ups
- Using tools
- Data input
- Giving input and insight
Following up - The entire agency must understand and be prepared to follow up with marketing campaigns, prospects and leads handed over to the agency. It looks really bad on the agency's behalf when a staff member says, "I don't know what article you're talking about" or "I'm sorry, we don't have Trusted Choice." (these are real examples by the way)
The entire agency must be prepared and willing to follow up with marketing leads and those looking for more information from marketing campaigns.
Using tools - Many agencies make the mistake of thinking Digital Marketing is only for the back corner of the office known as marketing. However, the entire agency staff must know what tools they should be using and inputting data so that there can be a smooth back and forth process.
Data input - "Crap in, Crap out." If data is not properly input into your management system or conversations put into the CRM then your potential for success in digital marketing will be greatly limited. Once your digital marketing initiatives are launched, all staff members needs to be ready to put the right data in the right places.
Give input and insight - A shift into digital marketing is a shift in the culture of an insurance agency. It's uncomfortable at times and sometimes marketing and management makes mistakes. Just like marketing needs to catch errors they see, you also need to provide feedback. Maybe marketing is attracting bad leads or you have an idea that could improve what is happening. Speak up, give your insights from your desk and it will help the agency as a whole when it comes to implementing digital strategies.
Digital marketing success is not just dependent on what marketing does or the policies put in place by management. The rest of the staff plays a part. Every department must work well together to create a seamless process for the customer experience.
Rolling out your Insurance Digital Marketing Strategy
Your assignments and processes may look different based on your agency. You may unfortunately be the one tasked with most of this work.
Regardless of who is doing what, the process, assignments and hand off still need to be in sync.
The most important thing when rolling out a marketing strategy is that everyone knows what they are doing, why they need to do it, and how it fits into the bigger picture.
Trying to process this all right now may seem like a lot, and while it may take some time, it is not extremely difficult to implement. You just have to put in the work.
Marketing is hard I get it. If you need an ear to run ideas by or need a little help getting started then feel free to reach out. Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org