Digital marketing: How to win over local prospects
Around 80% of all buyers use a digital channel at some point in the insurance purchase process. (Photo: Shutterstock)
The value of the independent agent has always been a choice. A consumer has one contact person (you), but access to several products (forwarders).
The challenge for independent agents is to stand out in such a crowded market. Let’s be real You can’t compare dollar for dollar marketing to companies like GEICO, Progressive, or State Farm. You shouldn’t try either. You spend millions of dollars on digital marketing every year.
How do you stand out? What makes your insurance agency different?
Many agencies claim that service is their differentiator. Well I have bad news for you. Service is not a differentiator as today’s consumers expect good service.
So if not service then what?
They can be what the big corporations can’t be with their national TV budgets or high marketing budgets. You can be local.
You know what is important to the people in your city because that is your city. Here is the truth. These million dollar Super Bowl ads are fun, maybe even memorable, but they can’t rival your insurance agency on a local level.
Did you know that 80% of all buyers use a digital channel at some point in the insurance purchase process? Like it or not, insurance buyers are online now. The good news is that most of them won’t want to buy without talking to you first.
So how do you win locally with online buyers? With local marketing.
Local marketing is aimed at consumers within a certain radius of the physical location of your business.
Now there are two types of local marketing strategies: offline and online local marketing.
Insurance agents are proficient in local offline marketing. Attending local events, postcards, mailers, billboards, and relationship building are effective tactics. These tools work because they present your agency to consumers as someone they can trust.
The same mastery of local online marketing is a little more unusual.
Did you know that 46% of Google searches are for local information?
Directions, phone numbers, opening times and information. The list goes on.
So if half of the people looking for insurance in your city start on Google, wouldn’t you want them to find your insurance agency website?
Here is another statistic that should get your attention. Eighty-eight percent of users doing a local search or calling in a day. If almost 90% of the people looking for insurance in your area call or visit you, would your agency grow? I think so.
Now that I got your attention, let’s dive into how you can win locally.
Your agency website
A website is no longer an optional tool. In today’s digital age, it’s a must. Why? Your insurance agency’s website is the focus of all your marketing.
This is where you want to lead any marketing initiative or campaign online or offline for more information. So it is important that you have a powerful website that you can showcase to consumers.
To start with, you need to take a close look at your website. If it has been three or more years since your last website redesign, it’s time to refresh it. Website design trends change quickly, so it won’t take long for your website to look out of date.
A quality assurance agency website should have a good design, clear CTA, and lead capture forms. It also needs to be mobile and easy to use.
Your insurance agency website’s ability to convert local leads comes in handy because of the closest tool you can get locally.
Google My Business
Google is the traffic light that controls traffic in your city. Like it or not, we have to work with Google.
“Successful search engine optimization is not about tricking Google. It’s about working with Google to provide users with the best search results, ”said Phil Frost
Google has gotten really good at giving us the results we want. Let me give you an example.
Now what would happen if you typed pizza delivery into your phone right now? What results would you expect?
I am willing to bet that you would expect a pizza place to be near you. You don’t even have to add near me to your search. Google knows you’re looking for a local search result. And the results that I see would be different from yours because we are in different places.
Your Google My Business listing gives Google (if complete) everything it needs to get your agency to show up in local search results. It’s free and important for local search. Think of this as a digital phone book that consumers can use to learn more about your agency.
Content is king.
This statement has never been as valid as it is on Google. Google wouldn’t be Google without all of our content.
If you want to be found for local searches, you need to start working on your local content to get it to Google.
Local content on your website should include everything about your agency that shows consumers why they should make their choice in your area.
Make a daily list of all the questions you get from customers and prospects and answer them on your website. If you do, you will likely be covering some local topics in your content. And don’t forget your local keywords.
Would you believe 90% of people read reviews online before they visit or call a business? How about if I told you that 88% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. So a review is as good as a transfer.
The trick is to get a lot of reviews.
Would you rather trust a product with three 5-star ratings or a product with an overall rating of 4.7 stars but more than 2,000 reviews? I would take the latter.
Step 1: ask for reviews.
Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews at every opportunity. You want to time your request as soon as possible after a positive interaction. Automation tools can help you with this. Google likes to give search permission to companies with current reviews.
Step 2: monitor
Reviews aren’t just someone’s opinion of your agency. They are a two-way conversation. Monitor them so you can act on them all.
Step 3: answers
Reply to every review! Good or bad, answer each one. Google wants to see you have a share in your online reputation. Always start with gratitude and thank them for their feedback. If the review is negative, do not agree with their tone, apologize for the experience, and try taking the conversation offline to allay your concerns.
Of course, local content is about being local. Most of all, it’s about being useful.
Blogging is a great way to achieve this goal. Here are some ideas to boost your creativity.
You can check out local businesses or interview local numbers. Write about local news or events. Profile your referral partners. Another idea for a local blog topic is the top 5 lists. For example, make a list of the best picnic spots, cheap date ideas, or places to get a great cup of joe in your community.
The goal here is to provide detailed details that only locals know about.
One of the best places to win locally is on social media.
An absolute must to be local on social networks is to include the location of your agency on your profiles.
If you attend local events, mark your location in your posts.
When you advertise on social media or improve a post for wider reach, you can target it by location.
My advice to agents across the country is always to start locally and never give up on marketing. The only way to climb a mountain is step by step.
Becky Schroeder is the Chief Marketing Officer at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of marketing, rating and management software and services to the insurance industry. ITC helps its customers in the United States grow their business and become more efficient through the philosophy of providing high quality software and services. ITC currently serves more than 200 insurance companies and more than 7,000 agencies.
This article originally appeared on the ITC blog and will be republished here with permission. The opinions here are the author’s own.