At this point in time, digital marketing is no longer a "new" concept for insurance agents. Yet many insurance agencies are still struggling to adapt, implement and see worthwhile results from their efforts.
After a few years of coaching, talking, instructing, and simply watching, I have found that many insurance agencies face very similar problems.
I'm here to help you solve these problems.
In this blog I am going to lay out the no B.S. solutions for your agency to solve their digital marketing problems. However, before you read this blog, you need to decide whether you will commit or not. There is no "magic pill" when it comes to digital marketing. I can provide you with the answers, but your agency needs to be the one who implements the solutions.
Digital Marketing Problems & Their Solutions
I don’t know where to get started
One of the major issues for the industry in general is where to get started. It's a challenge for agencies who have no knowledge of digital to step into this space and it's a challenge for companies to work with their agents who are all over the map.
Even when an agency final decides that they want to commit to the process it can be an overwhelming feat. "Do we start with a new website? Should we jump into social media and start posting? Or should we start with more digital communication tools like desktop texting and email marketing?"
This is new to everyone so of course it feels very foreign. However, there are many ways to solve this problem.
Be willing to step into the digital world. Everyone is going to have a different starting point, but you are just going to have to get uncomfortable and just start trying things. Here are a few ideas to help you step into the digital world:
1) Become a digital consumer. Think about it from the consumer's point of view. How do you like doing business digitally with other companies? Do you bank digitally? Do you use social media? Do you receive text reminders? Just take how you like doing business and recreate it for your business.
2) Ask your top customers what would benefit them.
3) Just dive in. The BIGGEST problem is that everyone is trying to figure out digital without actually doing it. It's like talking about the mechanics of riding a bike without ever sitting down and peddling. To learn how to ride a bike you have to sit on the bike and try it out. Get a feel for it. After awhile you learn how to keep yourself moving forward.
Once you have a taste of the digital world then decide on a starting point and try it out. The more you do, the more you will become aware of and the most everything will begin to make sense.
I don’t know what digital marketing strategies to use
"Should I be on social media? Video? Blogs? What about Instagram? I heard Youtube ads were a great idea right now." Many agencies I've spoken with are either paralyzed by the options they have before them. Everything sounds good so they don't know which strategies will work for them and which to avoid.
Chances are this confusion is coming from 1) the enormous amount of digital strategies available and 2) the fact that every event speaker, podcast and video is telling you to try a different strategy.
As digital marketing becomes more complex and mature, there are becoming many more ways to utilize digital and you're hearing so many different opinions because so many different people are having success in different areas.
Believe it or not, but it's actually somewhat simple to figure out which strategies to use.
Your agency has to realize that every strategy has its place and will accomplish a specific purpose. You don't need to do every strategy, just the ones that help you accomplish your goals.
Knowing how the strategies work and what they do will help you understand which ones you need and which ones you don't.
Also, once you begin your journey you will get a better feel for what strategies will be a slam dunk for your agency.
You don't have to do everything at once, just find a couple of strategies that can help you meet your goals and get started! Once you have a strong digital presence you will start to discover how more and more strategies can fit into your agency.
I don’t know which digital marketing strategy activity to do first
Now this brings another challenge. You don't need every digital strategy.... but of the 6 you do need, which do you dive into first?
I've seen quite a few agencies fired up and ready to begin their digital journey only to be shut down at this stage. They know they need digital, they even have created a list of what they want to accomplish with digital, but now they are looking at an overwhelming list of strategies and have no idea where to get started.
There are actually a number of different ways you can attack this. This is a great place to have a guide (hint hint) to help create a timeline of actions for your team to follow.
Here are a few ways to attack this.
1) What's the easiest strategy to implement? - Most agencies can start posting on social media right away so it's a great place to start. Also, many of them have an email marketing platform or blog platform which came with their AMS platform and website. If there's something you can get started with right away and other strategies still need research, then get started where you can and implement the rest in the near future.
2) What's the most impactful strategy to implement? This is the $$ strategy. Sure Facebook is easy, but will simply posting on Facebook help you achieve your agencies top goals? Of all the strategies you want to use and all the goals you want to accomplish, what will have the biggest impact on your agency? This may take some time to implement, but at the end of the year you will be glad you dove in did what's most impactful.
3) Do what's best for your clients. What is going to create a better experience for your top clients? This is another area that can have a dramatic impact on your business. Start your digital processes around your top client's immediate needs.
4) What needs done first? While this is not always the "funnest" or most impactful place to start, you gotta do what you gotta do. For many, having a controllable website is the first thing that needs to happen. For others, it could be create a blog or video strategy to feed the email marketing and social media efforts.
Really take the time to sit down and walk through the digital strategies. It's going to take more than an hour conversation among your agency's owners. Every year we had a marketing retreat which would help us shape our marketing efforts.
I don’t know what to post
This is another giant roadblock for agencies who have made the decision to start their digital journey. Agencies get on social media, sit down to blog, and then nothing. They quickly realize that even though they want to be active with digital marketing they simply don't know what to say.
Because digital marketing is really about communicating digitally with consumers, knowing what to say is important.
But believe it or not you have a lot to say you just need to figure out how to say it. And here are some ways to do so.
The solution for not knowing what to post is to stop thinking about your content (i.e. what you are posting) as a way to trick consumers into doing business with you. When it comes to posting, post what you want to communicate with the consumer.
You should be posting things about how you help clients. You should be answering questions. You should post anything that will help a stranger find you and see you as their ideal agent.
I don’t have the time
I don't have the time for digital marketing. If there's an excuse I've heard more than any, it's this one. I get it, you're an agency owner wearing 100 hats already. Your agency already has a full workload. Everyone is already behind as it is.
Believe it or not, but you can break through your busy schedule to make time for digital in your insurance agency. Here are a few ways to find the time.
1) Get rid of what's not a priority. If digital is a priority, then lesser priorities need to go. Things like walking down to the post office to get the mail. We all have things on our desks that are not as big of a priority as we think.
2) Staying on the subject of prioritization, you need to realize that your agency is a business and not just a service center. If your agency is bogged down with nothing but service requests such as reporting claims, making payments and changes, then you're running a service center. Many of these activities can be done cheaper and more efficiently by outsourcing, leaving time for digital implementation.
3) Make digital part of your every day process. One of the things that is hard for agencies to grasp at first is that digital will eventually become a part of your everyday process. When it comes to digitization in your insurance agency, some processes will be replaced with digital processes and other digital aspects just become part of the everyday business you're used to.
4) Hire someone. If it is a 100% fact that no one in your insurance agency has the time for this then you need to hire someone to be your digital champion.
If digital is the key to relevance, growth, and continued success for your agency then you can't let time be the factor that keeps you down.
I don’t have the money
Much like time, money is another huge factor keeping agencies from succeeding with digital marketing.
Let's be honest here, digital marketing takes some money. Sure there are zero budget initiatives but depending where you are in the journey, there may be quite a few things that you need to invest in.
So how do you implement digital strategies when your agency doesn't have the funds? Here are a few ways:
Find the money. As ridiculous as that seems, it's the truth. If digital is the key to your agency's success then you need to make it happen.
- Look to your companies. Who is willing to give you money for this instead of golf balls?
- Another options is to stop spending money on dumb stuff. No judgement here, we all do it. But take a look at your expenses. Where are you spending money that has 0 return or value?
- Look for ways to become flexible with your money. When our insurance agency started the digital journey, we did not have to come up with anymore money for digital marketing. When an account manager left, instead of replacing them ownership hired marketing. We stopped spending money on newspaper ads and billboards and instead put that money towards digital means.
If the well is completely dry and you've already squeezed any potential money out then you need to utilize your man power. There are many zero budget ways to implement digital marketing.
Regardless, you will need money and man power. However, using one over the other can help tip the scale.
I don’t know who’s advice to follow
Many insurance agencies are overwhelmed and confused by all the talking heads of the industry. So and so said to do this, but at a conference so and so said I should do this.
We have experts telling us it's all about data. Others are saying video should be the #1 focus of your agency. Others say it's all about an optimized website. AAHHHH!
If you're confused by whose advice to follow then we have some
First, you must realize that your insurance agency's digital presence is one big puzzle. Each tactic is just one piece of the puzzle. So we need to look at your digital presence as a whole then we can input each piece of advice in its appropriate place. This allows us to be receptive to each expert's advice put we are able to put it in it's place.
Second, you need someone who can filter all of these different voices and provide you with an actionable output. You can do this a couple different ways.
- Hire someone like inbuzz who can help you filter all the noise, helping you understand what each expert is saying and providing you with a roadmap of how to put it all together in a way that makes sense.
- Have a digital champion in-house who can filter through all the noise. Someone like Dani Kimble at the O'Neil who has done some amazing digital marketing feats. When you have someone like this they can take one piece of information and build on it. Then take another expert's advice and build on to it. Then another's. And they can build your presence one piece of advice at a time.
You must realize that most expert's are speaking their truth. They speak on what's working for them, and what they see is the answer. Many are right and you are good to follow their advice, but understand that what they are saying is only PART of your solution.
One last thing I want to caution you on. If the person you are speaking with can't explain how something works or how it will achieve your desired results, then their advice may not be worth following.
I don’t know marketing
Many insurance agents are stuck because they know insurance but they don't know marketing. Not only do they struggle understanding marketing but mixing digital properties into the mix and they are at a complete loss.
I get it. All this insurance digital marketing stuff can be confusing, and overwhelming but not knowing is not a good excuse not to take advantage of the opportunities in front of us.
Here is what you need to do.
We have to look at digital marketing like any other aspect of your business. You weren't born knowing how to read policies, examine risks, hire employees, or fight a claim for a client. All the functions of your business you had to learn and digital marketing is just another function.
No one is born with an understanding of marketing and just because someone is young and uses social media, doesn't mean they know how to turn it into a business application.
Like you had to study and learn to become an insurance agent you must do the same. You must study, try, and learn from your mistakes.
Of course there are always people like us at inBuzz who can help the process along.
We can’t stay consistent
Start. Stop. Start. Stop. We see many agents who blogged for a few weeks and stopped. Or tried social media then their marketing person left. And it seems like every time they get back on board, something happens in the agency that causes them to stop.
I get it, running a business and trying to stay consistent with marketing can be a challenge. But with a little organization and foresight you can get this thing snowballing.
First things first. You need to do some planning. Create a digital marketing plan. It doesn't have to be a large complex document that no one reads. You can create a simple plan that says, "We are going to do XYZ. Here is the deadline for X. Here is the deadline for Y&Z. Here's who needs to do what. And here are the publish days." Having a plan and a process makes it much easier to stay consistent when you know what needs done that week.
The next thing you need to do with your plan, is to put it in the calendar. If you wait for the right time to sit down and write that next blog post it will never happen. A few claims will arise, a few extra service calls will come in, the client you've had for 30 years will want to come in and talk for an hour. And before you know it, your week has been filled. Put it in your calendar every week just like an important meeting.
The final thing you need to do is to have a digital champion. You need someone is going to keep everyone accountable and who is going to keep pushing everyone and everything forward. This could be an owner, an in-house marketing person, a manager, or a consultant. It doesn't matter who, but you need someone to lead the charge.
Just like a diet or new habit you want to pick up, you need to be organized and to have a force driving you forward and keeping you on task.
Our efforts are not getting results
If we are being honest. I would say 80-90% of agents are not seeing results with their digital activity. At least not the results they would like or were promised.
It's frustrating spending time and money on something that doesn't pull its weight. If you are the one leading the charge then what happens with digital marketing will likely affect your well-being one way or another.
But here's the good news. That 10-20% of agencies who are seeing results with digital marketing are proof that you can see real results, and here's how.
This really goes back to not knowing marketing. Most agencies starting their digital journey don't understand digital or marketing so they don't know the process to make it work. It's like trying to build a computer with no computer knowledge. Sure you can put some pieces together and do some things right, but you'll likely never get it to work.
So here's what you need to do:
- For starters, figure out how the marketing activities work and how they bring results. How does something like blogging bring people to your website for quotes? If you don't understand it, you won't know if you are doing it right.
- Secondly, many agents are only doing the bare minimum. Here is an example of this. Agents are blogging, but it's the same blog written by 10,000 other agencies. Very few agencies are getting good at marketing and taking it beyond the bare minimum.
In order to get results we need to get good at marketing. We don't have to master everything, but you do have to find what best fits your agency and drive it home. This starts by understanding marketing and how it works. And once you find the best route for your agency, drive it home. Study the marketing strategy, figure out how it works, try new things, maximize the effort.
There is a great book to read called "Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage and Delight Customers Online" written by the co-founders of Hubspot. This book will help you learn the different digital marketing strategies and how to effectively implement them.
We also have an assessment that helps you to see whether or not your marketing messaging is in position to bring results.
This technology I bought isn't bringing me results
I bought this software package but I'm not seeing results. I signed up with XYZ company and they created an SEO optimized website but no one is coming. This is a common cry of insurance agents.
Agents are buying technology and software with the belief that it will bring results to the agency but after a few months, it sits vacant and costly.
I believe this has happened to so many agencies for a couple of reasons.
For starters, agents have been sold a bill of goods in some regards. Some of these technology companies are selling their services like it's a magical formula which it's not.
The second reason is that agencies do not realize that they play a part in making the technology succeed. If they are not involved in the process, then nothing will happen.
Here is how to use technology to see results.
Agencies need to get more hands on in the process and understand that it is the agencies that bring the results and not the technology. It doesn't matter what technology you have if there is no one driving the results.
If you purchased an "SEO optimized website" you still need to strategically create content and keep your Google account updated. If you are purchasing a new AMS platform with new bells and whistles, then you still need to accurately input customer information and hit the send button for things like email marketing.
There is always someone lingering, waiting to make a quick buck from insurance agents. As an agency owner, you need to be involved in the process and aware of what's going on.
Overcoming your digital marketing problems
Every insurance agency is unique. Where they are in their digital journey, their needs, their questions, the solutions that fit their business, etc... Will be different for all agencies. However, all agencies will overcome their digital marketing problems the same way.
By being involved in the process!
There is no magic pill that's going to make digital marketing magically work for your agencies. No software product, no website, no cheap blogging service and not even your companies are going to be able to solve the digital marketing problems of every agencies.
That happens with you.
However, there are quite a few resources to help you get there.
- Coaching/Consulting Companies
All of these are great places for you to learn, find insights, and find solutions for your digital marketing. But the difference maker is going to be Y.O.U.
I hope these answers help you to better understand what you need to do for your insurance agency's digital success. However, I do understand that with a blog format you may still have some unanswered questions. So leave a comment below or send us a message directly so we can help you overcome what's holding you back digitally.
Until Next Time...
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