Insurance Agency Web Marketing Plans

As insurance agencies create their marketing plans for the upcoming year, many will focus on insurance agency web marketing as a key marketing driver to generate insurance agency leads. Web marketing is not merely a trend; it is a new way of doing business, and one which agencies cannot ignore. The days of agency growth from a purely referral driven perspective are gone, as more and more communication becomes virtual in nature, as networking moves from handshaking to internet surfing, and younger buyers embrace digital communication over face to face meetings.

Yet what does web marketing mean these days? According to Wikipedia, web marketing “refers to the placement of media along many different stages of the customer engagement cycle through search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), banner ads on specific websites, e-mail marketing, and Web 2.0 strategies.” This serves as a reasonable definition for our discussion, as we answer important questions relating to insurance agency web marketing: Let’s begin by identifying the key components of an insurance agency web marketing plan:

  • Agency Web Seminar Marketing
  • Blogging and Vlogging
  • Insurance Agency Website Design
  • Insurance eMarketing Campaigns
  • Insurance Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Insurance SEO (Insurance Agency Search Engine Optimization)
  • Pay Per Click (Google PPC, LinkedIn PPC, etc.)
  • Social Media Marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon)
  • Insurance Agency Telemarketing (augments web marketing)

Arguably, insurance agency web marketing always begins with a comprehensive insurance website redesign, unless the agency website was recently completed and is up to date. An insurance agency website must be graphically attractive, it should have current and compelling content, a blog (and vlog if possible), and industry news to mention a few important elements. Video is becoming increasingly more important as it provides a medium for the quick conveyance of information in a compelling and personal manner. Website video can also be leveraged on YouTube to further increase insurance agency internet presence. Vlogs, which are video blogs, can be very helpful to a website. Vlogs can be a talking head video, recorded PowerPoint presentation or even voice over photographs. They integrate the contextual power of a blog with the enhanced impact of a video or PowerPoint.

Content is king on the internet, and insurance agents should take great care in the creation of their website content. A graphically attractive website, short on content, will result in a sub-optimized insurance search engine marketing result, adversely impacting insurance agency SEO efforts and mitigating website stickiness and efficacy. These days, a key aspect of any insurance agency web marketing plan should include an annual review of website content. Further, the content should be of interest to both prospects and clients alike.

Social media marketing incorporates Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and StumbleUpon to mention just a few of the major opportunities, allowing agencies to dramatically expand their marketing reach. Social media marketing offers insurance agencies the ability to expand branding, share content, establish subject matter expertise and participate in discussions. There are many aspects of insurance social media marketing to consider. For example, a simple blog entry can be utilized in many ways to expand reach. A blog can be tweeted, reblogged, ePublished, and incorporated in a newsletter or eMarketing campaign. In this case, one blog is reused five times, though there are methods where one blog can be used ten or more times, dramatically expanding internet reach and enhancing cyber presence and insurance SEO. Why is social media marketing a critical component of an overall insurance agency web marketing plan? Social media marketing creates a cyber foundation for an agency to build upon. Ultimately, social media marketing, if used correctly, can become one of the key drivers for insurance agency leads. For the purposes of this article, we’ll add blogging and ePublishing to the social media marketing category since these are tightly interconnected. Blogs which are repurposed as articles can then be shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and StumbleUpon, helping insurance agency SEO.

Social media marketing along with insurance agency SEO help with organic search engine rankings. Another option is paid engine ranking placement otherwise known as PPC or Pay Per Click advertising. At the top and side of the organic SERP (search engine results page) are paid PPC ads. When an internet user clicks on one of these, your agency is charged a fee. These fees can range from under a dollar to $15 or more depending upon the competitiveness of the search term. For example, let’s say that your PPC keyword phrase is New York Business Insurance, and when someone types in that keyword phrase your PPC ad appears. Depending upon your budget and keyword phrase bid, you might appear on the top, and when someone clicks on the ad, you are charge a PPC fee, let’s say five dollars. The great thing about this is that the volume, efficacy and conversion ratio are really easy to track. The negative is, of course, that you are constantly paying out ad fees. Thus the difference between organic and PPC, and predicated on your insurance agency web marketing plan, you may have budget for only one or the other, or perhaps for both.

Web seminar and eMarketing campaigns represent a compelling outbound approach for agents. Agency webinars offer the ability to communicate on a high level with B2B prospects. eMarketing campaigns that offer educational content are much better received than insurance product offers or pitches. A long term approach to agency web seminar marketing can yield significant dividends, though it is important to note that eMarketing and web seminar programs can often take up to 6 months to establish a following.

Lastly, where and how does telemarketing fit in, after all, it is not technically a web marketing solution. Telemarketing, or in this case perhaps appointment setting is a better description, can be an important component of an overall web marketing plan. After all, these web marketing leads need to be followed up upon. If producers are busy with renewals, or if they only have time for warm prospects, the outsourcing an appointment setter can be very helpful to an agency’s overall pipeline building effort. For example, when doing an eMarketing campaign, all prospects who click through to an agency website and all webinar registrants should be called directly after the web seminar to ensure that the agency has taken advantage of their web marketing efforts. If producers don’t have the time to call, the calls should be done with a qualified appointment setter. After all, the primary purpose of any web marketing plan is to drive qualified leads into the pipeline.

Web Marketing As Psychological Programming

People love to learn secrets

I think that everyone has come across one of those web pages written up in the style of long sales copy. The page scrolls down for a long way and every few paragraphs it tantalizes you by saying that you will be told the secret to success, but first it needs to tease you some more and so the long sales copy continues without ever revealing the promised secret.

All the way to the bottom of the page and after much scrolling you get to the final big button to sign up. This big button is no different from the smaller ones closer to the top of the sales copy, but it acts like the grand finale now that you are properly programmed and ready to buy.

Programmed to act accordingly

In the long sales copy the only thing being offered is information that is for sale and the reason for the long sales copy is so that it can write a little program in your head. To do the programming the sales copy need to repeat itself at least 3 times on every major point being made. If you are aware of this then you can see what is happening as you read the long sales copy.

Short sales copy doesn’t work the same way because the short version relies on a certain amount of programming already being in place. We all have a certain amount of programing in place because we live in a marketing environment where we are bombarded with advertising.

Programming comes in threes

In the same way that if we use a new word 3 times it helps us to retain the use of the new word. Programming works in the same way. Television ads repeat the message and the musical jingle to penetrate both our consciousness and our sub-consciousness. The objective is to lodge the product name deep in our thought processes. We may get up when a commercial comes on and go make a cup of tea, but we are still being programmed if we are in earshot of the TV.

We program our young children not to run out onto the road. We repeat the message over and over with emotional emphasis. It’s for their own safety. We hope the programming takes a firm hold and will stop them at the edge of the sidewalk. Then it has done its job.

When a young adult joins the military they will undergo a period of deprogramming to strip away their old habits of thinking and then receive new instructions. Learning something new is not so difficult as getting rid of the old thought patterns. This is what marketing professionals are up against and they use whatever tools that are on hand.

Psychological programming or re-programming

If we want to change our old habits then new programming needs to be repeated often over a period of time. In sales and marketing it is the advertising that attempts to program us, and it is the long sales copy that has the best chance of doing this if people will read the whole page.

The programming is only partially in the repeated message. Some messages are crafted with skill and are more successful. There is a whole rack of positive and negative buttons to push for creating a sale. So we can say that programming is not just repetition but also emotional stimulation.

It is the thought that counts the most but it is the emotional emphasis that captures our attention. Just bringing up logical reasons for switching brands doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Nor does instilling a little fear sway us to buy a new brand. It is when emotional buttons are pushed and strong logic is presented together that we see a persuasive advertisement.

What happens when you are aware of the programming?

Seldom do we see the programming coming at us because of our own preoccupation with life. This is the same preoccupation that advertising is designed to break through and grab our attention. And when the ad does get our attention we are not looking at the ad itself because we are focused on the message.

However, when we look at what the ad is doing this is when our thinking shifts dramatically. Now that we are aware of the advertising itself we start to see the repeated points and the emotional emphasis. In this way we are able to see the value, if any, being offered and be conscious of the manipulation taking place.

The rule is “Buyer beware”, but a better rule is “Buyer be aware.”

Is programming the only way to market a product?

We are not children about to run out into the street and in the market place we may feel insulted to be treated with the invalidation that advertising carries. Anytime an advertisement does our thinking for us it is nothing short of invalidation. The ad is telling us that we cannot make a good decision on our own.

We can feel the invalidation even if we don’t understand it and we can safely assume that our own market is as sensitive as we are.

In a competitive market place we may be inclined to push with programming and get the job done, and there is always an argument in favor of doing just this. However, the web provides a different option and instead of pushing our market to make a purchase there is the more powerful method of pulling. Call it attraction or magnetic marketing but it works over greater distances and for longer durations of time.

Marketing by attraction was not usually a preferred choice in the brick & mortar world because there was no practical means of marketing a small or medium business over great distance. The cost was too high and the logistics of business growth was a big risk to take.

The web has turned this around

Our web page can scroll down for miles, although this is not a recommended strategy for providing the best and most complete information for our market. There are better ways for navigation to provide the desired information. But what it means is that our web site can attract a market by offering a complete service to our market beginning with information and education.

When is the last time you’ve been in a big box store and had to look for service? What about not finding the information you need on a web site? It’s the same poor service, except there is no excuse for a web site to not be a full service 24/7 outlet. You can put everything you’ve got at the moment into the site just once and never have to repeat the effort. You just add more info as it comes along.

Eliminate the cost of time & space

Space on our web site is not costly. Distance is not a problem. Time has no meaning. The real challenge for us is to be in the top 10 for our preferred search terms. And it turns out that this is not much of a problem either if we provide the quantity and quality of content that our market wants from us because it is the same thing the search engines look for.

With quality information and education we do not need to program our market. We have plenty of time and space to attract our market without pushing them into a purchase. Such a web site has depth and will attract those portions of a market early in the buying cycle. They want and need our assistance as we build a mutual relationship.

The web and its ability to pull, or attract, a market was never possible in the brick and mortar world where every word had a cost and every mile ate up resources. When we look at web marketing as information then we have to wonder why there are so many small business web sites pushing with the high cost of advertising and consumption of resources when pulling reaches further t a lower cost.

Have we been programmed to market our web site a certain way?