Seeing results from an insurance blog can be hard work. Many agencies get started and are quickly lost in what to write about and what to do. Even those who are seasoned bloggers need to refresh their efforts as they struggle to get the results they want.
Staring at the computer screen wondering "what the heck should I do" is a tough spot to be in for anyone blogging. But the good news is that better results are usually just a tweak away.
I wanted to create this checklist to make it easier for those who are stuck or wondering how to take their insurance blog to the next level.
This post is long and has a ton of information. To make things easier we've added anchor links to take you right to where you need to be.
Or you can go ahead and read the entire blog! No need to skip ahead if you want to dot your i's and cross your t's.
Download the Pocket-Sized Blogging Checklist for Easy Reference and Use
I see many of the same problems of people who are new to the blogging world. It's actually kind of funny because as I think of my first couple of years blogging for an insurance agency I faced the same problems. So if you are relatively new, here are some of the major things to check as to see what is holding your insurance blog back.
- Have you identified goals for your blog?
Many new bloggers just jump into blogging without any true goals in mind. (FYI making more sales, or being "relevant" are not good goals for your blog. These are simply "I don't know why I'm blogging" goals.)
You really want to know what purpose your blog is going to serve within your organization.
A couple ideas could be:
• Use our blog to showcase our expertise on social media and attract visitors to our website where they can learn more and contact us.
• Use our blog to help single parents save money while teaching them how to invest so that they can secure their children's future.
When you do not create a goal or purpose for your blog you will get stuck on what to write about because there are 1000 things in your mind and you don't know what to do first. However, when you have identified your goals you will almost always know what to write about and why you are writing.
Do not write anything more until you have figured out why your insurance agency needs a blog.
- Have you posted more than a handful of blogs?
You can never get good at blogging by thinking about it. So many insurance agents have 2 blog posts on their site and they're wondering why nothing is happening.
Think about blogging like making sales calls. The first 20 may be completely terrible. But you get better, you get smoother, you find what people like, what people don't like, and what works for you.
Don't wait for perfection. The more you write the better you get. And the more blogs you put out the more you can better identify what your potential audience likes.
- Is your blogging consistent?
Getting in the groove of blogging is the best thing you can do for your blog for two reasons. The first is that it helps things go smoother on your end. The second, is that it is a much better experience for the readers.
Let's talk about the first reason for a moment. Just like anything that becomes a habit, things start clicking. If you have done anything long term you know what I mean. Blogging is the same way. If you blog every Monday and Wed your brain will be ready for it once you sit down to do it. Plus, you get better and better each time you do it consistently.
So, you get better, but it also is a better experience for your readers and those who visit your website.
Your blogging does not have to be everyday or even every week, but you it has to be consistent.
- Have you mapped out your ideal prospective reader?
Who do you want reading your blog? Moms with children? College students? Business owners? CFOs? HR managers?
I hear quite often of bad leads that come from the internet. Price shoppers, non-renews, and those shopping at the final hour often come from the internet. (Don't blame the internet. These people can also come as referrals or drop-ins but that's another blog post.)
Unless you cater content to a specific persona (fictional character of your ideal reader) you will get any and everybody. If you want to attract a specific person to your blog you need to cater the content to them.
This works in a couple different ways. First off, you will be able to create content that matters to the people you want to attract. For example, creating a blog on what is a VIN number and where to find it, is likely for a person who is buying auto insurance for the first time. Another example would be creating a generic auto insurance blog post, this could attract everyone who needs auto insurance. And you know from experience that you do not want to sell auto insurance to everyone.
The second way mapping out your ideal reader helps is by writing to the reader's pain points. Let's take commercial insurance for example. The owner likely wants to read about finding the right coverage because the business is his baby, while a CFO may care more about price or the Total Cost of Risk. Same topic, different pain points and needs.
Below is a sample of how to map out a persona or ideal prospective reader for your insurance blog:
By mapping out your ideal reader/persona, you will be able to truly provide the content they need and will have a much higher chance of engaging them with your blog.
- Is your blog content unique?
In other words are you adding value? Does the world need another insurance blog that talks about auto insurance limits and deductibles?
If you have the same blog posts as 1000 other agents in your state who will read yours? Why will they want to? If you want people to read your blog because it can help you achieve your goals then you may not be creating value for your readers.
When writing blog posts, think about how your unique perspective will help readers meet their goals.
- Is your blog formatted and readable
No one is going to want to read your blog if it is a big block of text. How your blog is laid out matters.
Make sure to include headers, sub-headers, bullet points, and breaks in texts so readers can easily read your blog. You also want to make sure that your blog focuses on one topic so it makes sense to the reader.
Always re-read and have someone else review your blogs. You will better be able to identify areas that need work.
- Is your blog in layman's terms?
One of the worst experiences for a consumer is to read something in an expert's voice. Insurance is especially complicated. There are many terms and acronyms only used in insurance which are completely foreign to those outside of the industry.
I believe our insurance blog was successful because I wrote in a way that made sense to me and my non insurance background. By helping the reader understand your content better, they can make more informed decisions on the spot.
- Have you posted your blogs on social media?
What good is a blog if no one knows about it? Many insurance agencies start blogging and just expect the world to begin reading it. How will they know you have a blog?
Posting to your social media channels opens up your blog to your followers and allows your blog to be read and shared.
Of course there are many ways to spread your blog, but social media is essential (and it's free!)
- Are all the technical aspects of your blog up to par?
Like all web based efforts there are technical aspects that need to be in place for your insurance blog to function properly.
Is your blog mobile friendly? Does it load quickly? Can Google crawl your pages? Readers and Google will not come to your blog if things are not properly setup.
If a blog loads slow or can't be read on a phone, then most people will just leave and not read it. Make sure things are up to par so it is a smooth experience for the reader.
The thing I have noticed when it comes to blogging is there are varying levels. We have people getting started which we addressed above but when you get into blogging consistently then you begin wondering how to get actual results from it. In this section I am going to provide some some tips for your insurance blog which will help you begin getting better results.
- Do you use visuals or videos?
Visuals such as images, infographics, screenshots, videos, etc... help readers stay engaged and also helps conversion rates (the number of people who contact you from your blog).
Visuals can help demonstrate the information better so readers understand better, it breaks up text so people can refocus on what you're writing about, and it gives them more to engage with which better the learning experience for them.
- Are your headlines something worth clicking on?
You may be doing everything right but boring, irrelevant or poorly written headlines can keep people away.
Your potential readers judge whether they want to read your blog post or not based on the headline. It first has to be relevant, secondly it has to be intriguing enough for people to want to read it. A blog titled " Life insurance policies" is not very intriguing to anyone. You can add a little intrigue by adding urgency or important to the title. Something such as "The 2 life insurance policies you must consider" or "What you need to know about buying life insurance policies" are easy upgrades.
Don't just stop there though. Make the blog titles specific to your ideal reader. Something like: "What young parents need to know when choosing life insurance policies." Or "The 2 life insurance policies you must consider before turning 50."
Writing headlines for your insurance blog is half the battle when it comes to getting people to read it.
If you need help then try Hubspot's Blog Topic Generator: https://www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator Below is what it looks like when using it.
- Is all your meta data intact?
Secondary to headlines but nearly as important is your meta data. Your meta data is your meta description, tags and topics. All the information that tells readers what your blog is about.
Whether on social media or on Google, people will likely look at the meta description after the headline to decide whether the blog will relay the information they are looking for. This has to help them decide at a glance if this is what they need. However a blog post with no meta data looks sort of iffy on social media. With so much spam it's hard to trust content you are not familiar with.
Using tags or topic filters in your blog also make it easier for readers to find more of the same type of content. If someone is reading about a complex topic such as employee benefits you do not want them to read a blog then leave your site. You want them to be able to read multiple blogs on that topic so they are better educated and are pulled further into the marketing funnel.
- Are you using different blog formats?
Believe it or not but the type of blog you write matters. People will be in a different mental space based on the format you use.
For example, a list blog will more likely be skimmed through than thoroughly read. Another example is if you wrote a guide. People will expect meatier content from a guide and may bookmark it for later if they are at work and do not have time to fully consume the guide.
The reason why it matters what head space they are in is because they will respond differently. It may also help answer why you get readers but no conversions or why people are subscribing but not calling.
Not sure what I mean by formats? Check out this post on formats insurance agents should use while blogging.
So try different formats and see the results. If you are used to just writing straight forward blogs then try lists or step by step guides.
- Are you linking to other pieces of content on your website/blog?
Can you effectively explain an insurance concept completely in one blog? Probably not. There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to buying insurance.
By adding links to blog content you can keep the reader engaged on your site but more importantly you can provide them more value within your posts.
- Are you using keywords in your posts (if necessary)?
Do you want Google to rank your blog? If so, then you need to utilize keywords.
Keywords are the terms people type into search engines. Things like "whole life insurance" "restaurant insurance" etc... So if you want to be on the first page of Google when someone searches "final expense life insurance 50+" then you have to use keywords very similar to that in your blog title and within the post.
While they are not as important as they used to be, they still are a key to helping Google know what your content is about.
If you've never heard about keywords you can check out this intro post on the topic.
- Are you using Call-to-actions in and around your blog?
Do you want people who come to your blog to do certain things or simply read the information and leave? Of course you want them to take some type of action! It may be to read another blog, subscribe, call you, download a guide, or request a quote but you have to help guide them.
For your reader to take an action you must add call to actions. Now, call to actions can be just about anything. A button that says "click for more information," plain text that says "click here," or a form that says "contact us for more information."
Think about places that make sense to offer a call-to-action. An end of a blog post works, on the side of your blog works as well. Even including a button in the middle of your blog (if appropriate) works as well.
(CTA Example. ↑ Use it and ask a question)
Just put yourself in their shoes. If there is a logical place where they would want to do something, then provide the outlet for them to.
- Are you using your blog in conjunction with other marketing efforts?
Blogging is one piece of the puzzle. Like how social media can be a tool to extend your blog's reach, many marketing efforts should work together and build upon each other.
One example of this is using your blog as a part of your newsletter or email drip campaign. Here is the latest newsletter I received from Animoto. They have included 2 blog posts in the newsletter (1 of them is cut off).
Another example would be to use blogs to encourage people to read more on a topic you created a video on. So let's say you did a mini video series for restaurants and for each video you used a blog post as a document they could read more on the topics you brushed over in your video. Or vice versa.
By intertwining your blogs with your other marketing efforts you extend your blog reach, better engage your followers and add value to the other marketing efforts.
- Are your blogs getting more in-depth?
Surface level blogs are not ones that cause people to buy. Creating more in-depth blogs allow you to create more value with your blog. By doing this you are building trust with your audience and showcasing your expertise. You can also bring people further down the marketing funnel and closer to talking to sales the more in-depth you go with your blogs.
As you blog more, your blogs need to be more in depth. Generic information is not enough and we do not need any more generic insurance blog posts in the world.
- Have you spent money to grow your blog/reach?
Spend money on blogging!? This seems like a weird concept but you likely spend money on ads already right? Why not spend money on something that provides more value than a name and a phone number?
Boosting your blog on Facebook or utilizing social ads is a great (and affordable) way to promote your blog. You can also pay other bloggers or businesses to promote your blog for you (maybe a realtor friend with a large list of potential clients?).
You don't have to spend much money (if you're still figuring out blogging I really do not suggest spending much) on growing your blog or its reach. For every additional person you reach, that is an additional subscriber or follower who can help you promote your blog for free.
I'm not big on spending a lot of money things you can do for free (just my opinion) but if you are stuck, spending a little bit of money can help things begin to move forward again.
- Have you re-tooled old pieces of content?
Why reinvent the wheel over and over? If you have written good blogs in the past then reuse the information in a more in-depth post on the subject or write a blog that coincides with the information and link back and forth between the two posts.
Depending on how things have changed since you wrote the old blogs you might not have to do much at all. For example, maybe you have 200 more LinkedIn connections, more blog subscribers and a much larger audience across the board then you did when you wrote the original piece. Simply re-post it since many of those people have never seen it to begin with.
Now that you have more experience and a deeper understanding of blogging, you can go back and dust off some of those blogs and create better results with the content you have already created.
After blogging for awhile and getting good results, there is this point where the blog gets stuck or you wonder how much further you can push. Your monthly growth may teeter off and it feels like you are doing everything right but nothing is working as well as it should. At this point in your blogging, you need to try some more advanced strategies. But let me warn you, these take work. Let's explore.
- Have you created a guide for your readers
Some of the best performing pieces of content are guides. Search Google for a topic you want to learn about and chances are there is something titled "ultimate guide to _______" "beginner's guide to ________" or "step by step guide to _______." These do not just perform well on Google, they also perform much better than traditional pieces of content because of their depth.
Here is a search Google search on email marketing:
To put together one of these guides takes work. Depending on the guide, you will need to gather data, collect relevant images, organize and lay out each chapter in a way that makes sense. Some put the guide as a blog post which would step up your blog game while others create a guide and use it as an upgrade to the blog post someone read.
You can create a guide by creating separate blog topics then fine tuning them when you bring them together to make a guide. Or simply do it all at once creating a PDF file.
Like anything, plan ahead how you are going to create it and how you will utilize it.
- Do you have additional offers to give readers
1000 blog readers is great, but only if some of those people turn into leads and customers. While some may call right from the blog, the best way to get traction from your blog is to create additional offers.
By offers, I'm talking about meaty downloadable items. Ebooks, tools, checklists, etc... Valuable items that people would be willing to give you their contact information for.
When you create offers you allow readers to identify themselves and what they are interested in. Someone reads your blog then downloads your ebook on risk management then you know what that person sees as value. You now have a lead with an identified interested which you can sell to.
You can create these tools yourself or utilize company created offers. That's right, some of your carriers likely have downloadable ebooks and guides that you can put on your website to convert visitors.
Without offers you miss the 80% of people who are interested but not yet ready to call you.
- Are you putting your insurance blog in places to increase your audience?
Are you reaching anyone new or just the same couple hundred people? One major reason blog growth gets stagnant is because your blogs reach the same people. How many times can you send the same message to the same people and expect a different response? At some point you need to increase your audience and you can do this by getting your blog into new places.
A good place to start is social media. But not just your normal pages that you are already posting to. Find groups to join where you can slip in the occasional blog post, use your personal page (or create one) and start connecting with more people while you share your posts, and you can even reach out to influencers on social media by tagging them in posts (or asking them to share) which will allow you to reach a whole new audience.
There are also other channels you can utilize such as medium.com or sharing your blog on other blogs (as long as it is relevant and valuable to the blogger and their audience).
Here is an example of Gary Vaynerchuk using medium.com. Within the post he shares other content from his personal sites.
The math is simple. The bigger the audience, the more likely you are to increase your readers. Just keep in mind that each channel has its own feel and expectations. Don't just spam your blog across the online world. Find ways to integrate your blog content with content on other channels.
- Are you attempting to increase your subscribers?
Wouldn't it be great if more people read your blog the moment you published? By being intentional with your subscriber growth you can build trust, have more weekly blog readers and can even get more shares.
Before we talk about increasing subscribers, you need to first reflect on what type of blog you have. Is it a blog that discusses contractor's insurance one day, trucking the next, restaurants next week, etc... Or is it one where you focus on the same subject each post such as risk management, saving money or employee practices? It's important to reflect on this because the type of subscribers will be different depending on the type of blog you have.
For example, if you focus on saving money for parents, you can easily gain parents as subscribers. But if you have a blog that discusses trucks, restaurants, contractors, etc... and a trucker subscribers then 90% of the information they receive will likely not be relevant. You may decide not to gain subscribers if this is the case or you can attract subscribers who will not be your client but who can share the information with their followers who may be your client.
To increase your subscribers you first have to ask. Make sure you make it easy for people to know how to subscribe. You can tell people who visit your blog to subscribe, make a social post to subscribe or even shoot your clients an email asking them to subscribe.
Here's one example of how Agency Nation does so for their newsletter, but you can do the same with your blog.
You can also leverage the audience of others to grow your subscriber base. If you are posting good content and others share it, you will grow your subscribers organically.
Subscribers can be invaluable. It keeps your blogs from having to reach people from square one every time you hit publish.
- Have you written blogs for all parts of the buyer's journey?
After blogging for awhile, we realized that all of our blogs were for those in the awareness stage which means they were not ready to buy. The types of blogs you write will attract people at different places in the buyer's journey.
It's wise for insurance agencies to write for all stages in their blog because you can grab people's attention early in their journey and also have content that helps convert readers into leads or customers.
If you do not write for all stages you may get people who visit the blog but never convert, or you may not reach enough people early on in the buyer's journey to build trust.
Think of your blog as a salesperson or a sales funnel. Let your blog attract visitors and walk them through the buying process.
- Have you guest blogged?
We talked about reaching another audience and what better way than leveraging someone else's audience. Guest blogging is a great way to reach a new audience, showcase your expertise and build authority to your own blog.
Before you guest blog, do your research. Do your research on the blog you want to write for and their audience. You do not want to simply guest blog just so more people come to your blog. You will need to add value to the other blog and the audience giving them a reason to want to check out your blog.
- Have you gotten guest bloggers on your site?
Have you thought about what a fresh perspective would do for your blog. As people, we have specific viewpoints, focuses and habits that come out in our blogs. By having guest bloggers on your blog it will provide a fresh view and maybe even a topic you are not necessarily an expert in but that can provide value to your readers.
Not only can this fresh viewpoint re-engage your current audience and subscriber base, but the guest blogger will likely share the blog with their community.
After their audience reads the blog, they may check out some of the blogs you've written as well.
Plus, having a community of other bloggers is great for sharing each other's content and growing together. :-)
- Have you fine tuned your SEO skills?
If you're blogging for SEO and have been at it awhile, then chances are things have changed. If you have been doing SEO the same way you were last year then your results are likely hindered.
Don't expect that you can master blogging and now you never have to learn again because things change. As technology advances and consumer behaviors change, search engines will also adapt to provide a better experience for their searchers.
When was the last time you re-explored your SEO skills? If it's a year ago then what you are doing is not relevant to current search engine expectations.
- Have you considered hiring a consultant?
What better way to get your blog to the next level than having someone come in and show you what you need to do. Sometimes we are so close to our blogs we miss the little things we need to do in order to get to the next level. Even top bloggers like Neil Patel have used consultants for specific aspects of their blogs.
Hiring consultants is not for everyone. As a matter of fact, it is not for most people. For starters, you need to have put in the work already. If you think hiring a consultant is going to work when you are not willing to then you are mistaken.
You also need to determine what you want to hire a consultant for. Want better conversions? Increased traffic? Better SEO? Many consultants specialize in specific areas so if you know what you want you can know what to look for.
Once you know what you want to do then you must do your own research on the topic before hiring an expert. I have seen blog "experts" who say a lot of fancy words and charge businesses but do not truly bring lasting results to the business's blog. If you do the research and understand the topic then you will have a good idea when speaking with a consultant to see if they will be able to get the necessary results you seek.
Again, consultants are not for everyone, but they can be a great asset when it comes to getting your blog out of a rut or taking things to the next level.
What to do Now
We covered A LOT in this post. Depending where you are in your blogging journey, some of these strategies may seem overwhelming. Like with anything worth doing, it will take work but also gets easier as you dive into it.
The first thing you want to do is make sure you grabbed the pocket sized version of this checklist. (Go here to download it) It makes viewing and checking things off the list easier. Download it here. You may want to print it off and leave it near your blogging space.
Next, go through and identify all the things you are doing and check them off the list.
Once you've done that, go through the blogging checklist and identify all of the things you can likely do right away. These are going to be your to-do items for the next few weeks. We are going to knock out the easy wins first.
Now, take note of all the items you can not do right now. Figure out what it is going to take to implement them. Do you need more information? Do you need a plan? Do you need a different tool? Etc...
At this point you should not have a pathway to blogging success. It may still be challenging for your insurance blog to see results, but I believe you can do it!
Oh yeah, there is one more step. Shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a comment on where you are right now in your blogging journey. I'm here to answer any questions you might have in regards to your insurance blog or marketing.