One of the #1 grievances insurance agents express with marketing is that they’re overwhelmed with all the options. It is challenging to find the right marketing tactics then implement them in a way that brings real growth.
You know you need to be on social media and create videos. You know you need to collect data and do more with marketing automation. You have blogging, SEO, and ads all on the agenda. But every year you either get overwhelmed with all that goes into marketing or you step into something and it’s not at all what you expected.
Look, if anyone ever said, “marketing’s easy” they lied to you. Sure, in theory, and in some practical applications marketing is easy. But if you want to see real results it will take an investment of time, energy and resources.
In order to see results with any given marketing tactic or tool, you need to understand how it works and how it fits into the marketing. In this article you will find exactly that.
Jump to the section of your choice:
- Social Media Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
- Digital Advertising
- Referral Marketing
- Traditional Tactics
Ch. 1 Understanding your Insurance Agency’s Marketing Mix
Every strategy, tactic and tool have a purpose. I’ve seen way too many insurance agencies buy software or throw money at a service because they thought it would be an automatic fix. And 9.9 times out of 10 it wasn’t the case.
All your marketing pieces are connected. If you think you’ll be able to do just blogging, or just post on Facebook then your marketing is going to fall very short of it’s potential. For example, it’s not enough to just have a blog. To get eyes on the blog post you will need to post on social media, run ads, use it in your email marketing or utilize seo tactics for it to show on Google.
The same is true for your marketing tools. Let’s take automation for example. It’s a great tool for improving marketing processes and results. But how? By automating your tactics. So, if you don’t have a marketing process in place or client data then it will do you little good. It needs to be interwoven with the rest of your marketing.
As we explore the different marketing strategies and tools, keep that in mind. Start to think about how the different tactics and tools can come together. It’s in this examination that you will start refining a successful marketing process.
Ch. 2 What are the Tactics and Best Way to Use Them?
Social Media Marketing
Marketing on social media has become one of the top marketing tactics used by insurance agencies. It makes sense, nearly 70% of U.S. adults use social media and they spend up to three hours a day there. Social media is a great way to reach people where they spend most of their time and it’s easy to get started with.
Insurance agents post on social media to get in front of their audience but aren’t really sure the best way to use it. There are actually a couple different ways you can use it for marketing purposes.
You can use it for:
The main purpose of social media for your agency will be branding. When most people interact with brands online it is to see what they are all about. Those who visit your social media accounts will have either heard of you, so they want to take a peek or you’ve posted something that intrigues them and they choose to engage further.
- Social Selling
Social media doesn’t just have to be a “look at me” for your business. In this digital world it can be a great tool for your salespeople to connect and sell. They can make connections, intrigue cold prospects to see what they have to offer and brand themselves as the go-to expert in a certain field.
If people are there, you can advertise. Social media is no different. As social media matures so do the ways you can advertise on the sites. You can use this as an opportunity to generate brand awareness, and/or promote your agency.
There are many ways to use social media for your insurance agency. If you look around, you’ll see many agencies doing it differently. However, at the end of the day, in all its different forms, social media is used to connect.
Understanding social media in the marketing mix
When used correctly, social media can be a great way to get in front of buyers. The main goal here is going to be to connect and engage. This doesn’t happen by trying to sell people something. Instead, this is where you’ll garner interest, awareness, and start the engagement.
Think about social media like a social event and your content is your conversation starters. While social media is a great connector, you may need additional marketing tactics to nurture those relationships.
If you’ve been around marketing, you’ve probably heard the term “Content is King.” That’s because we are in an era of education in which buyer’s hold most of the power. When doing business in 2020 and beyond, you need to educate not sell.
What’s the best way to educate buyers in digital formats? Through content!
And that’s why Content is King.
When you think of content marketing, it’s not a specific strategy but rather a mix of various forms of content. The types of content your content marketing strategy could include are:
- Website content
- Interactive media (quizzes, games, polls, etc.)
- Even long form social posts
As you can see there’s a number of different content types. But don’t worry, your agency won’t have to utilize every single type of content available. The content you need will be based on your ideal customer’s preferences and your own marketing strategy.
Understanding Content’s role in the marketing mix
Content is really the lifeblood of your insurance marketing strategy. It’s what you are communicating to the prospect. Think about the real world. You can’t sell an insurance policy if you never speak with a prospect. Your marketing also won’t sell any policies if you don’t say anything other than “buy from me.”
Content should be included in every one of your insurance agency’s marketing tactics. It is going to be the thing that educates and engages buyers throughout their buying journey.
Finding insurance (or really any service for that matter) from search engines has become a huge trend over the past decade. So big in fact, that Google briefly got into the insurance industry. Think about it yourself. How often do you go to your favorite search engine to research a pain point or to find a service?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the strategy that enables insurance agencies to get found online when consumers search on a search engine.
To get found online there are two different types of SEO:
Google knows that when searching for a service such as insurance, searchers are most likely looking for a local result. Insurance agents can use this to their advantage to attract searchers actively looking for a local insurance agent to call.
There are three factors that dictate which agencies show up, and which order they show up in.
- Relevance – How relevant to the search. Results for “auto insurance” will be different than “health insurance.”
- Distance – Google will consider the agencies closest to the searcher’s current location.
- Prominence – What is the authority of the site’s page and their Google reviews.
Unfortunately, you can’t fake these factors to make Google choose you over other agencies short of opening new locations. However, you can make your agency standout.
- Keep your Google profile information complete and up to date
- Get a lot of 5 star Google reviews
- Put relevant pictures of your agency on your Google profile
- Extend your office hours to attract searchers who search outside of traditional office hours
Think about when you search for a restaurant or other local business nearby. How does Google present the different listings and what makes you select the listing you did?
Search engines don’t always populate local search results. When it comes to organic SEO, Google will choose to rank the websites that it feels will best serve the searcher. In comparison these search queries will be more product based such as “garage keepers’ insurance” opposed to local searches such as “auto insurance in Cleveland, Ohio.”
Where local SEO is based more on location and business relevance, organic SEO is based on website authority and content.
With a successful organic SEO strategy, insurance agents will be able to generate a consistent amount of website traffic which can lead to a steady stream of free leads.
Getting found online can be a huge deal for your business. Many marketing tactics focus on getting in front of consumers hoping their message is timely. With SEO, consumers find you when they’re in the market.
Understanding how the two components of SEO fit in the marketing mix
SEO is one of the most effective ways to generate website traffic and leads. It’s like having a free 24/7 producer on staff who’s actively attracting interested buyers. However, SEO can require a lot of time, energy and attention.
In order to do organic SEO right, you will need a content strategy which includes your website, blogs and in some cases video.
Local SEO takes less effort than organic SEO, but in order to get the most out of it you will want other marketing strategies, such as content, to turn website visitors into leads.
Email has become a standard of communication for most and that’s especially true for professionals. To the dismay of many sales managers, email has even overtaken the phone as far as the standard of daily communication.
It makes sense. (Insert stat) 90% of people use email. Your prospects and clients are all using email. Since marketing is all about communication, email is a great tool to have in your marketing mix.
What are ways you can use email marketing:
- Client relationship building
- e. Newsletters
- Lead nurturing campaigns
- Cross selling
- Distributing content
Email marketing is a powerful tactic. Sending generic emails to cold prospects, however, doesn’t generate a very high ROI.
Email Marketing in the Marketing Mix
Email marketing has been a standard in digital marketing. It’s versatile and effective. While other marketing tactics are designed to get in front of prospects, email marketing helps build and nurture relationships. It is a middle of the funnel tactic designed to reel prospects in and help clients make insightful decisions.
Like many of the other tactics, it is very hard for email marketing to stand alone. Email marketing is going to rely heavily on content in order to add value to the conversation. In many cases you will also need to use other marketing tactics to generate leads before you can market to them via email.
Gary Vaynerchuck famously discusses how marketing isn’t about the platform but about the buyer’s attention. Over the past few years, we as human beings have begun trusting businesses less, but we trust the word of industry experts or the personalities we follow more. From this, influencer marketing was born.
Now, when I say influencer marketing for insurance agents, I’m not necessarily talking about hiring an Instagram model or your kid’s favorite Youtuber to promote your product. When we look at influencers, they are really, just a trusted voice among consumers.
This can be a podcast host, an expert in a field, a brand itself, or even just someone that your audience gains insights from. Influencer marketing is a way for you to use that voice to build trust with your ideal client.
Here are some ways insurance agents can use influencer marketing
- Sponsor a podcast. This works really well if they are a local or niche driven podcast.
- Interview experts in a field that your ideal client pays attention to. This can be on your podcast or in a video series.
- Create or sponsor an event with other well-liked businesses in the community.
- Create referral relationships with centers of influence such as real estate agents or mortgage lenders.
Be creative with influencer marketing. If you sponsor an event or podcast, don’t just sponsor it by throwing a few dollars to have your logo plastered up. Make sure your value proposition is heard by consumers.
Influencer Marketing in the marketing mix
As consumers grow numb to digital advertising and as their trust of businesses decreases, one of the best ways to grab their attention is through the voices of those they trust.
Using influencer marketing, people will hear about you, but they won’t necessarily pick up the phone and call an 800 number immediately. If your solution is in line with their pain points, they will however want to research who you are. This is where other marketing tactics come into play.
Give them content to discover, a good user experience on your website and even offer incentives for coming to check you out.
The trust is established by the influencer, let the rest of your marketing nurture them into clients.
When it comes to marketing, sometimes spending money on advertising is the best way to achieve your marketing goals. The emergence of various digital channels has allowed for many types of advertising.
The different ad formats
- Display ads – these ads show up across various websites
- Video ads – this format is one of the most engaging but limited as to where it can be done
- Text ads – this ad format uses text only to display your ad
- Native Ads – these ads are specific to each platform. I.e. Facebook displaying Sponsored content in the newsfeed.
- Search ads – these ads show up in search engines such as Google
- Retargeting ads – this ad format is only show to individuals who have engaged with you such as visiting your website or watching a previous video.
Google provides a few different ways to advertise but only a couple are relevant for most insurance agencies. The most relevant Google ads for insurance agencies are the search ads, local services ads, and display ads.
Search ads allow your site to be found when people search for specific topics or keywords.
Local service ads take this a next step forward and places your google page at the top of the local search pack for your service.
Display ads from Google allow you to advertise on Google’s partner network websites.
With Google ads, you advertise to users based on their location and what they are searching for online.
Social Media ads
Social media ads allow you to reach consumers where they spend so much of their time. Every social media site allows its users to advertise, however, ad formats, costs and expectations vary between each site.
Using social media ads your message can reach audiences in a number of ways. Reach them in their:
- And even their Inboxes
Best of all, you can target your ads to reach certain audiences.
Youtube is a unique platform because it is video based. However, not all their ads are video based. Even if your plan is to run video ads, you have different choices.
Here are the four different type of Youtube ads you can run:
- Skippable in-stream ads
- Non-skippable in-stream ads (including bumper ads)
- Video discovery ads (formerly known as in-display ads)
- Non-video ads (i.e., overlays and banners)
In addition to having unique ad sets, Youtube also has its own unique way of targeting. Your ads can reach people based on their demographics, your Youtube search history or even competing Youtube channels.
Of all the ad types, retargeting is unique in who it reaches. Retargeting doesn’t exclusively use audience traits to target like other types of ads. Instead, it targets those who have engaged with your content. It can do this a couple of ways.
- Video engagement
- Website visits
- Client lists
Essentially, if someone has engaged with you, your website, your app, your content, or anything else, you can retarget them with a relevant ad.
Using Digital Advertising in Your Marketing Mix
Digital advertising can allow insurance agencies to start producing leads almost immediately.
Ads can be a great way to get leads quickly online. They can work as a standalone marketing tactic but are much more effective if used in conjunction with other marketing tactics.
An example of an advertising strategy may include offering an e-book as an ad then using automated nurturing emails to turn those leads into sales.
Having a great mix of paid and organic marketing tactics can lead to a steady stream of new business growth for your insurance agency.
Many say that referrals are the bread and butter of insurance agencies. So, if this is true, then why shouldn’t referral generation span all departments of your agency including marketing?
Referral marketing should be part of every business’s marketing strategy. Who wouldn’t want to turn a new customer into 2 or 3 or 10?
Ways you can use marketing to garner referrals:
- Referral partners. You can use your marketing channels to connect with more referral partners but it’s also wise to Include them in your marketing (i.e. as a spotlight).
- Ask! Use automation to ask new clients for referrals.
- Create shareworthy social media content. This isn’t a direct referral but when a client shares your post, it may entice their friends to check out who you are.
- Promote your referral incentives. If you offer incentives for referrals, then make sure every client knows about it and has ample opportunities to offer referrals.
Leads from referrals are in most cases, the best leads you can get because the trust has already been established. If done right, this can be a huge source of high-quality leads for you.
Referral marketing in the marketing mix
Insurance agencies who can learn how to do referral marketing well will gain higher quality leads and a higher ROI for marketing.
Referral marketing will look very different from agency to agency. Some will use email marketing to promote their referrals, while others may use social media. For some agencies, promoting their referral incentives may be included on every piece of marketing material that goes out to customers.
The success of this tactics will rely heavily on its strategic placement and timing throughout the rest of your marketing initiatives.
Up to this point I’ve discussed the digital marketing tactics insurance agents can use and have been hearing about. These tactics are becoming the norm as they’ve become the effective way to market an insurance agency, but it’s still worth mentioning traditional tactics.
What do I mean by traditional tactics?
- Outbound mail
- Print and radio ads
- Billboard advertising
- Giving out company swag
All these marketing tactics that have been used for ages in the insurance industry and are still being used by many insurance agents.
There are many agencies have given up on these tactics because of their ineffectiveness. However, there are still many agencies who swear that these tactics bring results.
My thoughts are if it works, use it, but be sure to measure the results so you making decisions based off of facts and not assumptions.
Traditional tactics can work to get the phone to ring, but agencies need to by creative with these types of marketing tactics.
Using Traditional Marketing Tactics in Your Marketing Mix
Traditional marketing tactics still play an important role in the marketing mix. Some carriers still require a certain amount of marketing dollars to be spent in these areas for Co-op which will open more funds for you to use with your digital marketing.
In addition to co-op requirements, these marketing strategies can add value in the lead generation process but in order to get the best results they should be tied in with content and other forms of digital marketing. A simple example of this is creating a landing page specifically for a post card instead of sending them to the homepage of your website.
While traditional tactics have become less effective over the years there is still room in can still be good strategies to mix into your marketing.
Ch. 3 What are the Tools and Best Way to Use Them?
An insurance website is a great asset to an agency’s marketing. Not only does it help you do business online, but it also helps establish your credibility.
Have you ever tried to research a business only to find they didn’t have a website? What about visiting a website that was poorly created? Did it make you hesitate in doing business with that company?
Your website can be used in a number of ways:
- Attract visitors
- House content
- Gathers prospect, lead and client data
- An information epicenter for clients
- A conversion point for prospects to become leads
These are just a few examples of how a website can be used.
Your website is more than a brochure. It needs to be used strategically throughout the marketing process.
Your website in the marketing mix
Think of your website as a central point of all your marketing. Most of your marketing is going to lead prospects back to your website. Your website is going to link the different marketing tools and strategies together. It will become a focal point where all your marketing comes together.
A website is more effective when it is integrated with the rest of the marketing channels
Over the past few years, marketing automation has become a hot topic in the insurance industry and for good reason. Like the name implies, it automates your marketing.
But what does that really mean and what does it actually do?
How marketing automation works
Marketing and Sales Automation is software that automates, well, sales and marketing activity. Your software will start a series of activities either when initiated by a user or by an automated trigger. There are a number of activities that can be automated:
- Sales follow-ups
- Marketing emails
- List segmentation
- Sales reminders and tasks
- And more
Most repetitive tasks your employees do, can be automated.
This allows your team to focus on high-level tasks which saves time, improves efficiency and effectiveness of marketing.
Examples of marketing automation
There are a number of uses for marketing automation. Depending on the platform, there are various uses you can use sales and marketing automation for. Here are a couple examples:
- Lead drip campaigns – Use automation to send emails to cold leads or those whose renewals are far off in order to build the relationship. This campaign will also send notifications to you or a producer when its time to follow up.
- Renewal campaigns – Instead of spending time calling each customer around renewal time use automation to send emails automatically reminding them to schedule their annual review?
- Automatic follow up sequences – When a contact fills out a form or visits important pages on your website you can create an automatic follow up or have your system notify sales to reach out.
- Onboarding and referral campaigns – Provide top of class customer services by onboarding your clients. As a bonus, you can build in an automated referral campaign. This all happens automatically once a lead becomes a customer.
There are all sorts of uses for marketing and sales automation.
Where Marketing Automaton fits in the marketing mix
Marketing automation allows your insurance agency to become more efficient and effective with marketing and sales. Don’t think about it as its own strategy but rather a way to improve the rest of your sales and marketing strategies.
Nearly every insurance agency has an agency management system so it can be confusing as to why one also needs a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. A CRM, while housing data like an AMS, is a completely different tool.
A CRM is designed to house prospect, lead and customer data. While it can keep track of policy information, its main goal is to track behavioral data and insights. These insights help your marketing team know what’s going and gives your sales team specifics about a contact.
Here is some of the data you will find in a CRM system
- Overall marketing insights
- Individual marketing performance data. I.e. How well did our last email newsletter perform?
- Individual contact data and engagement
- Sales reports and performance
- Marketing campaign ROI
Depending on the CRM, there is a lot of data that can be tracked and a lot of insights that can be produced.
Where a CRM belongs in Your Marketing mix
A CRM is data management for your team. It tracks data across all levels and centralizes it in one place. Sales can get the information they need about contacts, marketing knows how well their activity is performing, and even customer service can see inquiries and engagement.
Without a CRM in your marketing mix, your agency is essentially shooting blind. A CRM is necessary to see the full picture of your sales and marketing data. It allows you to be more strategic with your marketing and sales activity.
Ch. 4 Putting the pieces together
There is a lot that goes into marketing an insurance agency. You have an overwhelming amount of tactics and tools at your disposal. After attending conferences, listening to the success of others, tuning into podcasts and doing your own research it can feel like you have to do everything. But here’s good news. You don’t have to do it all!
Marketing tactics are there to propel your business forward not drag it down or distract you. So when it comes to putting together a marketing plan, it shouldn’t be based on what’s trending, but rather, what’s going to best help you establish your goals.
What are your goals?
- Improved retention rate?
- Lead Generation?
- Improved closing rates?
- More Referrals?
Every year/quarter/month your agency sets its goals. Like every other department, marketing needs to help make those goals a reality.
What is marketing’s role in making these goals a reality?
Identifying your goals is the first step in creating the perfect marketing mix.
What strategies will best help you achieve your goals?
Now that you know marketing’s main objectives, you will need to determine which strategies will best help you achieve those objectives.
Need Leads? You may want to focus on:
- Influencer Marketing
- Or Referral marketing
Want improved retention? Perhaps your focus should be on one of these:
- Social Media
- Or Email Marketing
See, you don’t have to do it all, you just need to find what’s right. Look at the marketing tactics available to you. Which ones will position you to best meet your goals?
Remember though, every strategy has its place in the marketing mix. This means even though you have identified the best tactic to reach your goal, you may need more in place.
Creating your marketing mix
A marketing strategy is all about figuring out what you want to achieve and finding the right pieces to put together. In our omni-channel world, very rarely does an effective marketing plan only include one marketing channel.
Once you’ve identified the best strategies to meet your goals, you must also identify what you need in order to make those strategies successful.
An SEO strategy will require an optimized website and a content strategy. You will likely also want a CRM to track leads and results.
Rarely do insurance agencies include this step in their marketing plans, but it is essential in bringing your marketing together into one cohesive process.
Ch. 5 Examples of Insurance Marketing Strategies
We discussed a lot in this guide. In order to help you bring the information together and make sense of all this, I’ve created some super simple examples.
These examples will give you an idea of how to put the pieces of your marketing plan together.
Sample Upsell strategy
Purpose: Send emails to encourage monoline home clients to bundle their auto policies.
Plan: Use a weekly email marketing drip campaign to educate customers on the benefits of bundling. We will use videos and blogs within the emails to educate clients and to garner engagement.
Tools: An email marketing tool, blog, and video hosting platform (youtube).
Sample Lead Generation Strategy
Purpose: Create a webinar to build brand awareness and generate business leads
Plan: Create a webinar focused on cost savings of risk management for businesses. After the webinar, use email marketing to drip market to attendees. In order to get sign ups for our webinar we will post across social platforms and run social media ads.
Tools: We will need a webinar hosting tool, email marketing platform, content to use within the drip marketing campaign, a CRM to track participant sign-ups and engagement, and we will use social media and social ads to promote the webinar.
Now you try! What are your goals and what is a strategy you can create to help achieve your goals?
Ch. 6 Final Notes on marketing for insurance agents
You don’t have to understand every marketing tactics to its full extent to get started seeing results with your marketing. It’s all about finding what you need to do to achieve your goals and improving over time.
Don’t be afraid to get creative
This article should help you understand how most marketing tactics work and how they can help your insurance agency get results. However, you don’t have to let things stop here.
The tactics listed are effective, but the cool thing about marketing is that every business can do things their way.
- Think smashing a car outside your agency will get attention?
- Want to send gift baskets to local businesses to get your foot in the door?
- Do you believe giving back is the best way to position your agency?
If you have a creative idea and you’re wondering if it will work then try it. Identify how it will help achieve your goals, how it fits into the marketing mix with everything else and above all else, measure the results!
Measure the Data!
Lastly, make sure to measure everything! Assumptions don’t lead to successful marketing. Whether it is a digital advertising campaign or a billboard, you need to measure the results short term and long term to see if it’s worth your investment in the future.
This will keep your marketing profitable and give you room to try new tactics.
Ask for Help
Learning everything necessary to market your insurance agency can get overwhelming quickly. If you’re not sure where to get started, what ideas to try, or what the next steps are, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
One of the things I love about the insurance industry is the accessibility of help:
- Peers who are successfully marketing their agencies
- Coaches like inBuzz group who have been through the process
- Carrier and association training programs
These are many places where you can find help putting your marketing ideas together. Don’t let not knowing get in the way of your agency finding marketing success!