How to Win the Game of Digital Marketing

Grow Your Insurance Agency with Digital Marketing

“Winning” in today’s always-online culture means insurance agents need to leverage every facet of digital marketing to reach their agency’s full growth potential. Expanding your marketing campaigns to digital channels can be a real game-changer in the insurance industry. And you don’t have to hire a digital marketing agency to execute your strategy. There are many things you can do on your own.

To tap into the power of online marketing, though, you’ll need to understand what it is. Digital marketing is any aspect of your agency’s marketing efforts that takes place online. The goal of digital marketing is driving traffic to your website to generate new sales leads, increase sales with current customers, and build brand awareness and loyalty.

How can you do this effectively? By knowing where to focus your digital marketing game plan. Some online channels you should pay special attention to are:

  • Website

    Having a modern, user-friendly website is central to your digital marketing strategy. A simple-to-use website with fresh content optimized for different browsers and mobile devices helps build trust in your services to attract new clients and keep current customers coming back.

  • Content Marketing

    Having an appealing and user-friendly website is a great start. But you’ll still need to build on it. Content marketing delivers information (content) to a targeted audience that is helpful, useful, or even entertaining. It’s a great way to strengthen relationships with prospects and clients. Content marketing isn’t about selling but a way to build loyalty and bring prospects closer to a purchase.

  • Customer Reviews

    Most customers start by checking your online reviews, which can have an outsize impact on whether a prospect goes with your agency or another. Reviews can even affect your search results ranking, so It’s critical to have a way to generate five-star ratings from satisfied clients.

  • Email Marketing

    Email helps you bring in new customers and maintain relationships with current clients to keep them using your services. To take full advantage of email marketing, you’ll need software that lets you save time and stay organized with automation and pre-loaded email templates your agency can use out of the box.

  • Digital Advertising & Search Engine Optimization

    Digital advertising, also know as pay-per-click or PPC, via paid ads on Google and social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook lets you use demographic, location, and profile information to market to the audience most likely to be interested in your agency. This pinpointed advertising method can give you an excellent return for every dollar you spend on your marketing plan.

    Another excellent way to up your insurance marketing game is to optimize your website for search engines so that potential clients can easily find your brand. This is referred to as search engine optimization or SEO. Putting content on your website that includes keywords and terms that people search for on sites like Google and Bing is one of the first steps. Just be sure you don’t overuse SEO keyword terms since that can result in a poor showing in the search engine results. Additionally, you can optimize your website metadata page titles and descriptions. There are search engine optimization tools and applications you can use to help you optimize your website.

  • Social Media

    Social media campaigns are another effective way to get the word out about your brand. To fully capitalize on social media marketing, you’ll need to set up an agency business page on each social media platform.

There’s always more to learn about how to win with digital marketing. For more information on insurance agency marketing and a list of 9 questions to ensure you’re taking advantage of every online marketing channel’s potential, read our Digital Marketing EZGuide.

Finding the Best Agency Management System for Your Business

As an agency leader in the insurance industry, choosing the best management system for your company is one of the most significant decisions you’ll face. So, what do you need to know about these systems to ensure you choose correctly? Agency management systems are software applications that allow you to perform your essential business operations. These systems allow you to integrate multiple company operations via an online (SaaS) platform. Offering capabilities like policy management, accounting, integrated rating, sales automation, reporting and more, agency management systems help independent agencies save time, stay organized and gain an edge in the market so they can take their businesses to the next level.

The Importance of Agency Management Systems

Agency management systems are so crucial that 99% of insurance agencies use them. The highest quality systems don’t just help a business function, though; they help it thrive. A great system will streamline data input, consumer interfacing and business-to-business connectivity. It will even allow you to leverage data for critical insights into your performance. Features like these can give your company the agility and foresight to increase revenue, even in a competitive market.

Finding the Agency Management System That Fits Your Needs

Identifying the agency management system that fits your business’s needs is essential. An excellently designed system can supercharge your company’s growth, but a poor management system can stunt your potential. So, how can you make sure you’re picking the right system? Before you make this all-important decision, you need to know the right questions to ask.

Questions To Ask About an Agency Management System

Knowing what you’re looking for is the first step to finding it. So, what specific questions should you ask to ensure you get the best product possible? Well, to start, you should ask if an agency management system can help you:

  • Save time and effort?
  • Maintain and form valuable connections?
  • Identify and take advantage of new opportunities?

If the answer is yes to all three, you’re off to a good start.

There’s still more to consider, though. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your business with a management system that offers the specific capabilities your company needs. You’ll also want to look for a system that:

  • Manages your whole business Save time and money with a system that lets you manage standard and commercial lines on a single application.
  • Increases customer satisfaction with improved service Satisfied customers are loyal customers. Keep everyone happy with easy-to-use customer self-service applications.
  • Uses data to identify sales opportunities Leverage the power of data to help you increase revenue. An ideal system will help you keep track of sales, target opportunities and predict future revenue streams.
  • Expands your market reach with practical communication tools A system with effective communication tools is essential for maintaining current customers and taking advantage of cross-selling opportunities.
  • Saves time and money by increasing efficiency Free up your employees to focus on more critical revenue-generating tasks by automating routine processes.
  • Keeps your customers coming back Improve customer satisfaction with a system that helps you respond more quickly to clients’ needs.
  • Helps you gain insights from your data Make more use of your data with a system that generates reports and charts to easily track performance metrics.

A good agency management system empowers your company to fulfill its true potential. In addition to saving time and money, the right system can increase customer retention and help you expand to new clients and markets. When you choose a system with features that match your business’s needs, the possibilities are endless!

For more specific information about what to look for when selecting an agency management system, including a 10-point checklist, download our EZGuide: How to Find the Best Management System.

Put Carrier eDocs to Work for Your Agency

Because carrier eDocs typically download to the agency prior to reaching insureds, they serve two important purposes:

  1. Keeping your agency informed
  2. Providing the opportunity to be proactive with clients

If you’re not already familiar with Carrier eDocuments (eDocs), they refer to the electronic transfer of documents from a carrier to the insurance agency’s management system. They can include Declaration Pages, Policy Documents, Notices of Final Cancellation, Non-Payment Pending Cancellations, Non-Renewal Notices, Payments Overdue and Reinstatement Notices.

EZLynx handles carrier eDocs by automatically attaching them to client and policy records, providing a real-time notification, and making it easier for you to locate and share them with insureds.

Regardless of how your management system intakes carrier eDocs, be sure your agency is making the most of them.

For updated Declaration Pages, the course of action is typically straightforward. You want to be the one to share that information with the client. Assuming no issues, your goal is to reinforce your relationship as their single point of contact.

For events that jeopardize the policy (and your book of business), a more action-oriented response is required. Because the matter is time critical, you’ll want to reach out to the client immediately. If the notice is payment-related, the client may have been expecting it… but maybe not. Either way, you’ll want to close the loop on how they plan to address the situation.

For Non-Renewal Notices, your client is going to need somewhere else to place that risk.

Above all, send the clear message that you are there to help. Your agency will be in the best position to keep the client’s business.

Does the client already have a plan…Great, how can you assist?
Does the client need a plan…
Get involved and help them understand their options.

How Modern Agencies are Handling Carrier eDocs

Agency Automation and Customer Portals are two ways modern agencies are upping their game even further.

Agency Automation

Carrier eDocs is an area where agency automation really shines! Software can be leveraged to:

  • Automatically route eDocs to the correct agent/CSR
  • Automatically notify the insured

Automation offloads tasks that software can perform faster and more dependably. Insureds receive time-critical information immediately, including the incoming carrier document and suggested next steps.

Automation tools can also trigger internal workflows for your agency (think “best practices”).

Customer Portals

Customer portals provide the online customer experience insurance shoppers have grown to expect from their agent. Insureds can access policies, submit change requests, view their ID Cards and generate certificates from anywhere.

Carrier notifications are a perfect fit.

Customer portals are available 24/7, and they provide an added layer of security that everyone will appreciate.

More and more clients are preferring this type of online communication, so there’s never been a better time to launch these capabilities within your agency.

In Summary

If your agency management system can receive carrier eDocs, make sure you’re set up and actively downloading them. Then, double-check that you have the workflows in place to take full advantage.

Carrier eDocs represent opportunities to serve and retain the client. And when a modern, immediate touch is required, software automation and online customer self-service can be counted on for a frictionless customer experience.

3 Key Areas Where Digital Habits Are Here to Stay

Last year brought about many changes to the way people connect. With face-to-face interactions suddenly off the table, we all looked for ways to go about our lives more remotely. The Internet was everywhere, but it wasn’t commonplace for folks to rely on it for… well, just about everything.

As shoppers sought online alternatives, those companies with strong digital footprints found themselves at a distinct advantage. What had previously been viewed as innovation, was suddenly table stakes.

As a result, new habits were formed, and we all enter 2021 with a completely revamped set of expectations. That’s across all industries, including insurance.

Are you prepared to meet customer expectations in the new year? Here are three areas worthy of strong consideration.

Your Website is Your Agency

If you haven’t already, you must stop thinking of your website as your agency’s online image and start thinking of it as your agency. (Because it is.)

If your website doesn’t provide a true online shopping experience 24/7, prospects are likely to move along to the next Google result down the list that does.

Visitors are there because they need to buy insurance, so that’s exactly what your website needs to deliver:

  • Explain your insurance offerings
  • Demonstrate what sets your agency apart
  • Guide them through their options
  • Provide the means to “Get a quote instantly”

We live in a world that no longer differentiates a business from its website. Make sure your agency—and not just some information about it—truly exists online.

Online Customer Self-Service

Successful companies are upping the customer experience. And among shoppers’ ever-growing list of expectations, not having to wait is near the top.

Online customer self-service satisfies the customer immediately, any time of the day or night. Even during normal business hours, customers have been found to prefer the online option. It just feels more convenient. (Because it is.)

With a customer portal, insureds can access policies, submit change requests, view their ID Cards, and generate certificates from anywhere—even on the side of the road.

If your agency doesn’t already have a customer portal, what are you waiting for?

If you do have a customer portal, make sure you’re promoting its use to all your clients. Even better, have a plan to expand its functionality in 2021.

Social Selling

When 2020 began, people were already living their lives in front of their computers, phones, and tablets. Now, more people are living even more of their lives in front of them.

Social media is a huge component of this trend, but how does your agency capitalize?

Social Selling refers to leveraging social platforms to find, interact, learn about, and build relationships with your pool of prospects. There’s both an art and a practice to Social Selling, so it’s fortunate that there are countless resources available online to help. Depending on your appetite, there are also firms that specialize in delivering these types of results.

It’s about networking and increasing your visibility with your target audience online. By putting yourself out there and becoming a part of the conversation, you establish yourself as an option when the time comes to buy.

Be willing to add value to people’s lives in ways that don’t involve a commission. That engagement today will plant the seed for sales tomorrow.

Final Thoughts

While we’re all eager to put 2020 in our rear-view mirror, many of our shifted buying habits are here to stay.

With so many customer touchpoints now digital, it’s more important than ever that we leverage them to the fullest.

  • Automated touchpoints can still feel personal.
  • Digital touchpoints should amplify your agency’s value, not diminish it.
  • Find opportunities to inform your clients about new offerings.
  • When you look to round out your clients, lead with concrete benefits and how they might be missing out.
  • No matter how noisy the world gets, if you deliver value, it will be consumed.

Customers crave digital convenience, easy access, and speed. In 2021, choose to make these ideals—and the platforms that deliver them—a core ingredient of your value proposition.

Top 10 Tips for Personal Lines Retention

It’s no secret that successful agencies make retention a priority. They know that keeping a customer is much more profitable than going out to find a new one.

Here are 10 helpful tips to keep your agency focused and winning at renewal time.

  1. Have a Retention process. 
    This one may seem obvious, but it really does start here.

    Repeatable success won’t happen without a plan. Document a process and embrace it the same way you would any critical procedure within your agency.

  2. Work your Retention process daily.
    Retention should be a daily habit. Each member of the team should have an assigned role and a list of goals to achieve each day.
  3. Be proactive, not reactive.
    Know what’s happening with your client’s policy before the carrier sends the renewal notice. Then, communicate (quickly).

    Once clients receive their new rates from the carrier, they’re already shopping (without you). That means you need to touch 100% of your clients before the carrier.

    To stay ahead of the game, make sure renewals are downloading to your agency management system.

  4. Know when a client is at risk.
    Renewing clients should be managed in two categories—those at risk and those that aren’t.  (This may seem easier said than done, but technology can really help out in this area.)

    You’re going to touch both groups, but prioritize the communication.

    For at-risk clients, you’ll want to evaluate their policy first. If you recognize their renewal is out of line with the market, communicate that. Let them know better options are available and reassure them that you’re already working on it.

    For clients in a better spot, you’ll want to communicate that you’ve proactively reviewed their renewal. All is in order and in line with the current market, but you’re available for any additional consultation.

  5. Be ready to explain why the client’s premium increased.
    An on-screen comparison of the current and renewing policies is the quickest way to accomplish this. If there is an obvious reason for the rate increase (new car, coverage changes, etc.), viewing them side-by-side will quickly discover it.
  6. Be ready to provide multiple quotes.
    Customers want to feel like they have explored their options. By providing multiple quotes, you’re easing their minds and making them feel better about doing business with you.
  7. Know when to remarket, and when to educate.
    As retention becomes a daily priority, your agency will gain a feel for when it is appropriate to remarket your insureds.

    What does the client value? How big was the impact of the state rate change? What’s happening in the carrier market, or with the product offering?

    Educate your clients on current market conditions so you remain their trusted advisor.

  8. Stay in touch… not just at renewal time.
    Having a regular communication cadence will keep you top of mind all year round. Find reasons to reach out and add value to your clients’ lives.

    Account reviews are great opportunities to re-evaluate clients’ needs and reinforce your value.

  9. Cross-selling keeps customers.
    Rounding out accounts is a sure-fire way to strengthen them for the long term. Is the client bundled for home and auto? Does your agency offer Life and Health?
  10. Be unique in your community.
    You know why customers trust you to insure their risks, so make sure that value comes through at renewal time.

    Do you give back to the community through charitable work or volunteerism? Do you serve a particular demographic? What types of online services do you provide? Do clients have access to their policies online 24/7?

    This is the time to promote your brand and show customers that you care.

Final Thoughts

Always remember, agency retention doesn’t happen by accident. It’s something you must work toward constantly to be successful. With the right plan and practices, retention can become the cornerstone of your business and its long-term growth.

If some of these best practices seem daunting, it may be because your agency isn’t using all the technology available today. EZLynx can help with that. From Rating Engine to Management System, Communication Center, and the patented Retention Center, EZLynx has the tools you need to intelligently streamline the entire customer renewal process.

The New Must: Online Customer Self-Service

EZLynx Client CenterThere was a time when “going digital” was a long-term goal for many independent insurance agencies. But as this pandemic continues, one thing becomes very clear: Digital is no longer optional.

But is your agency providing online customer self-service, or is this an area that is being overlooked?

Almost overnight, online customer self-service has become a must. And this trend is not temporary—customer expectations have been changed forever. Providing your clients with access to self-service options anytime, anywhere is an expectation your agency will need to continue to meet. If you don’t, your competition will.

Insurance shoppers have changed. They desire websites and apps they can interact with at their own convenience. Why? Because other industries have taught them to expect it. (No, it’s not just Millennials.)

The goal is to meet your customers where they are. And those customers are online, actively seeking ways to insert themselves into every possible aspect of their transactions – including customer service. Unless they feel the need to communicate with an agent directly, they would prefer not to.  It’s all about immediacy.

Insureds should be able to Download ID cards, view policy information, upload documents, check in on active claims, make payments, and submit changes to their policies. For commercial lines, policy holders expect to generate certificates, request changes to schedules, and provide the required (extensive) data for their applications when and how it’s most convenient for them.

You’ve worked so hard to attract and win modern insurance consumers, be sure to invest in the infrastructure required to retain them.

Here are some key takeaways for success:

  • Get started now. Customer expectations are only growing.
  • Commit to making online customer self-service a strength of your agency.
  • Don’t wait for the process to be perfect – it never will be. You have to start somewhere, and your clients will recognize you’re making moves in the right direction.
  • Technology is driving these demands, so choose solution(s) that can scale with you.
  • If you don’t deliver on the desired customer experience, someone else will.

As 2020 unfolded, EZLynx shifted its development priorities even more toward expanding agencies’ online self-servicing capabilities. EZLynx Client Center makes it possible for agencies of all sizes to deliver the customer portal experience their clients expect. Whether your book of business is mostly personal lines, commercial or somewhere in between, we have a solution that is simple to establish and easy to maintain.

Here are some links to more information:

EZLynx Client Center webpage

Agency Experience video

Did you know about the Paycheck Protection Program?

This is a time of uncertainty for all US businesses, including EZLynxWe wanted to reach out to our customers to let you know there may be federal funds available to help you.

$350 billion dollars in loans have been allocated to small businesses like your agency to help you pay your employees and cover other expenses.  

The loan program is called the Paycheck Protection Program. The program will be administered through the Small Business Administration and your bank may be participatingMany of these loans could be forgiven if you meet the program qualifications.

If your business is struggling, we encourage you to take a look at the details of this program. You may qualify for over 2 times your previous year’s monthly average salary to cover payroll expenses, up to $100K per employee per yearIn addition to payroll expenses, some funds may be available to also help with rent, health premiums, and other benefits. 

You can review the conditions and qualifications of the Paycheck Protection Program on the website. Be sure to reach out to your local bank to see if they are participating.

EZLynx will continue to look for any new information that might help our agents. We will all get through this together.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication for Your Agency Today

With phishing and other password-theft scams on the rise, safeguarding your agency’s data has never been more important.

Of course, EZLynx continues to aggressively ensure that our system is secure. Cloud-based agency management systems minimize many of your operational risks by offloading your critical infrastructure, removing physical storage needs, and enhancing security.

But in the end, all it takes is a simple username and password for someone (hopefully you) to access all of your client data in our system.

That is why multi-factor authentication is so important, and we are encouraging you to enable this feature on your account, as it will soon be required for all EZLynx accounts.

What is multi-factor authentication?

You may have heard of this before, and you likely have already experienced it at your banking website. To put it simply, multi-factor (or two-factor, two-step, etc.) authentication ensures that just because someone has your password, they still cannot access your account until they complete another step to prove their identity.  They must also have access to a second means of authentication, usually in the form of your physical mobile phone, which most likely is never far away from your hand!

Enabling multi-factor authentication is easy.

If you’re an EZLynx Rating Engine or Management System customer, you already have multi-factor authentication available to you!  It just needs to be enabled.

EZLynx Multi-Factor Authentication supports sending a verification code to your email address or as a text message to your phone.  We recommend that you choose the Text Message option as the most secure and reliable method.

You can learn how to get started here.

The Importance of Having a Responsive Website

In this digital age, one of the most important things your business should have is a website. However, just having a website is not enough on its own. You also need to make sure that you have a responsive website. One of the biggest problems your business can run into is losing customers because your website is not easy to navigate and responsive. Here are just a few reasons why this is crucial.

It Will Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

Many people navigate the internet with their mobile device. You’re likely to have website visitors via the mobile website than the desktop version. People are constantly on the go and if they cannot easily view your website on their phones, they will likely move on to the next company that does have this feature. Having a mobile version of your website is no longer an option which makes this component of a responsive website so crucial.

People Will Spend More Time on Your Website

To go along with the previous point, not only will people stay long enough to learn about your company, but they will also likely stay on your website longer. Because they can easily navigate from page to page without having to struggle to change the size of the screen, they are more likely to do exactly that. This will eventually lead to more conversions to paying customers simply because they are able to figure out the information they are looking for and can learn more about your company in the process.

It Will Help Improve Your Rankings in Search Engines

Everyone who has spent a little time researching the goals of websites knows that ranking on search engines is everything. A lot of search engines are now looking to make sure that websites are mobile-friendly and responsive. Those that are will show up higher in search engine searches. This is a fantastic goal to work towards with any website but if you are not taking the time to ensure your website is responsive, your efforts will prove to be futile. It will not matter if you spend a lot of time trying to focus on specific keywords and strategies, your website could be held back by missing this crucial step. By making your website responsive, your efforts will not be wasted and you will increase where your websites show up in rankings, which means your website will have more success.

You Can Convert More Paying Customers

All of the points above lead to one major goal your website should be working towards – converting website visitors to paying customers. These key benefits of having a responsive website will actually help you to get more traffic on your website as well as more conversions. The math here is simple: the more people that can see and will spend time on your website, the more customers you have the opportunity to convert. You will not convert every single person who views your website but you have a much higher likelihood of increasing your number of conversions with a responsive website.

What Does it Mean to Have a Responsive Website?

Now that you understand the benefits of having a responsive website and why it is so important, you also need to know what you are looking to accomplish with this goal. A responsive website is one that does not show any issues with scrolling and viewing various pages on your website, whether it is the desktop version or a mobile version. It is one where your entire website can be viewed easily, not just half of the page because your website is not optimized.  To put it simply, it is easy to use no matter how people are viewing it. It will not appear to be awkward because of any issues that pop up when someone is viewing your website. It is a website that does not have any issues or hiccups for the end-user.

If you have found that your website is not responsive or you are not sure if it is, you need to troubleshoot what the issues are and then make a plan to figure out how to fix it. This is a crucial component of being successful in the online space.

Contact EZLynx today to find out how we can make your website responsive.