How to Leverage the Advantages of being an Independent Agent

Many independent insurance agents feel the tremendous pressure from the behemoth directs, captives, and high volume shops that tend to dominate the airwaves and the search results. While there is certainly reason to be concerned about the impact these companies have on the smaller independent agents, there is also much to be optimistic about.

While directs, captives, and high volume shops have advantages in terms of the online experience they can offer and the marketing dollars at their disposal, they all suffer from the same glaring disadvantages as well. To put it broadly, they will never have these key competitive advantages that define the independent agent. EZLynx, for our part, strives to provide tools and services that only serve to maximize those advantages and minimize the disadvantages. Here are some tips to help your agency thrive

1. Continue to provide a personalized experience

National brands are forced to provide a compelling online experience to counteract the fact that they cannot provide the personalized, hands-on service that a local independent insurance agent can provide. Continue to make yourself known as a trusted agent in your community.

EZLynx is continuously enhancing our suite of consumer-facing solutions to help you even the online playing field with these national brands. We provide personalized website services, integrated consumer quoting, and a customer self-servicing portal.

2. Adopt local search for your website

The cornerstone of a successful local marketing strategy requires effective search engine optimization (SEO). Establish a solid local SEO strategy. It’s important to realize that an independent agent cannot compete nationwide against large insurance comparison websites or carrier websites for broad search phrases like “auto insurance”, but they’ll always have an advantage at the local level, e.g. “auto insurance agents near Dallas, TX”.

With the Gold-level of EZLynx Agency Websites, we’ll take care of some of the local SEO best practices for your agency. We’ll also hold ourselves accountable by providing you with quarterly website performance reports – even if it’s bad news!

3. Grow your network

Network with other local businesses, such as attorneys, accountants and other business professionals. Send them referrals, and hopefully they’ll do the same. Local businesses in your city likely host networking events. Attend as many as possible, and bring your memorable print collateral with you to hand out.

4. Increase yearly touches

Utilize communication solutions such as email marketing to help with your agency’s retention. The more yearly touches, the better chances you’ll keep a customer for life. We all know it’s cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a new customer, but we rarely take the steps necessary to achieve a high retention rate.

Check in from time to time to see if they are happy with their current coverages, send happy birthday emails, weather alerts, or periodic emails with tips and community updates.  Just be sure you don’t go overboard – no one likes spam. EZLynx Email Campaigns, part of our Communication Center bundle, is a great way to handle sending all of these kinds of emails directly from EZLynx.  We have exciting plans for enhancing this tool throughout the year.

If you’re ready to take your retention efforts to the next level, ask your sales rep about EZLynx Retention Center. This retention workflow management tool and consulting service simplifies the tedious task of working through your renewals for the day, ensuring each customer is touched throughout the process. This is the time when you are at most risk of losing the customer, so you cannot afford to hold your breath and just hope they renew.

5. Embrace in new technology

Bring your agency up-to-date with a complete customer lifecycle solution like EZLynx, which includes a feature-rich agency management system, comparative rater, agency website, marketing & communication tools, service tools, and more. While we certainly think we provide the best set of solutions, regardless of which tools you use, you cannot afford to put your head in the sand when it comes to new technology and the advantages it brings.

6. Focus on streamlining your agency’s process

The sales process involves a lot of back and forth communication.  Prospects are often worked on by multiple users in your agency, so it’s all too easy for tasks to be duplicated and communication to be repeated. It’s important that you have a well-defined process for working new leads and processing them through the sales pipeline. Make sure you have the tools to help those in your agency collaborate and stay organized.

The Agency Workspace in EZLynx is a great way to keep track of due dates, review notifications, and create notes and tasks for any applicant without leaving the page you’re currently working on. This simple feature spans across all parts of EZLynx, giving you easy access no matter what you’re doing.

Later this year we’ll be announcing some exciting updates related to how you manage your sales workflow to help streamline your agency’s process even further!

Putting it all Together

It’s no mistake that by combining the full suite of EZLynx products and services, you have essentially minimized the perceived advantages that these national brands have over independent agents.

Learn more about how EZLynx can help your agency be more successful.


Facebook Marketing Tips for Insurance Agents

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In the day and age of instant gratification, clicks, likes, and shares, marketing for insurance agencies has shifted drastically over the past few years. There is no question about it, either – you need a presence on social media, especially Facebook.

With more than 1.44 billion active monthly users, Facebook is the largest social media network online today. You’d be doing your business a disservice by not being a part of this network. Facebook marketing is not a difficult objective, but it does require plenty of time and attention. The tips below should be able to help you get a broader idea of some tips to help you successfully market your insurance agency on Facebook.

Engagement is Key

Insurance policies are products that don’t tremendously differ from one company to another – the difference is the customer service and experience provided. People will buy insurance from you because they like you; the product is secondary to your character.

Facebook allows you to measure your page’s engagement, which is a valuable tool. You can monitor it from a week-to-week snapshot, showing your Page Like progress, as well as post reach and engagement. This information will tell you how your followers respond to different media posts. If blog articles don’t draw large engagement, maybe try videos or unique photos.

The purpose of Facebook marketing is to ensure your business remains top-of-mind for your potential client base. The goal is that when they go to buy a new home or car, they’ll think of their friend who sells insurance.

Know the Rules

Before going too far out on a limb with your engagement ideas, knowing the rules of this platform is certainly a best-practice. First, you must be familiar with your state’s regulations for insurance marketing. You should never give out false information when saying something online because there is a permanent record of everything online.

Besides meeting your state’s regulations, you must abide by Facebook’s policies as well. In addition to all of that, you should use Facebook as a gold mine and not a dumping ground for every single article you think is cool. The truth is, it’s not about the amount of content being produced (although consistency is important). The importance has quality content flow through your channels on a consistent basis.

Use Facebook Ads

Using Facebook Ads is a critical tool to use to grow your following online. You can customize your ad’s to target certain demographics, locations, and interests. You can also set how long an ad will run and chose your budget. You can start using Facebook ads for as little as $1 a day – however much money you want to spend.

As an EZLynx Gold Agency Website customer, you are enlisted in Facebook ads. The campaign is on-going through the life of your Agency Website and is tailored to your location and business needs.

Be Social

Social media marketing entails a commitment to being social. Your prospective customers want to interact with you on social media to get to know you as a persona, not a company. This is an important thing to remember within independent insurance agencies.

The idea behind social media is not to make an immediate sales or results, but to build relationships. The purpose behind Facebook is to form a connection with your potential clients.

Realistically, not many people will search for an insurance agent on Facebook and try to message them for a quote. Instead by seeing a local, independent insurance agent in their News Feed, your business is on the top of the prospective clients mind. Some clients may search for you once they become a policy holder as a quick way to access your website or to find your phone number and other business information.

 


What’s In YOUR Agency Management System?

So if I were to ask you, “What is your agency’s rate of retention?” (in general, not specifically by line of business), what would your answer be? 80%? 90%? Higher, or lower? Chances are, and I would be willing to wager on this, that your answer would be the same that I hear from most agencies: “Oh, we have a fantastic retention rate, I am sure it is over 90%!”

Well, that is fantastic, except that:

a) There is an excellent chance that your response is incorrect as it is most likely lower than you assumeb) How come you cannot tell me exactly what it is, for each line of business?

b) How come you cannot tell me exactly what it is, for each line of business?

Well, the answer to both of my statements above is very simple, but before we discuss the answers and why, let us chat a bit about retention, and its impact on your business and its employees.

Assuming your agency has a high rate of retention, let’s say 90%. That appears to be an excellent rate, considering all of the outside influences that the independent agents face these days with direct writers, online marketers, and what have you. However, even though 90% appears on the surface to be something to brag about on the golf course with your fellow agents and brokers, a 90% rate of retention very simply means that you now have to work 10% harder than you did last year, just to break even! In addition, let’s also assume that you have been in business for ten years, and each year your agency is operating at a 90% retention level, so when you extrapolate that figure out in reverse, you are constantly having to work harder and harder than the year before, just so that you do not lose what you and your staff worked so diligently for previously!

Let’s now complicate this calculation even further: have your carriers all called you this year and told you that they are going to raise your commission rates, increase profit sharing, and expect you to do less service work? I don’t think so…if anything, your commissions (if they haven’t been reduced), have most likely remained the same. Granted, premiums have increased so you will make up some of the revenue that way, but that is the equivalent of a supermarket raising the price of milk to offset the cost of bread. Furthermore, your agency expenses have been on the rise with labor costs, health care and other insurance costs, rent, utilities, etc., so an increase in premiums does not necessarily offset the 10% loss of clientele.

There are a few different ways to manage this loss of business and revenue. However, you cannot address the issue until you are fully aware of exactly what the issue is, and can definitively determine exactly what the agency’s rate of retention is. So how do you do that? Well, to begin with, you need an automated tool that will help you to measure exactly how you keep your existing business. For instance, as a business owner, you should have at your fingertips the ability to go into your management system, request a report on business retained and have the ability to manage the renewal process. You should also be able to not only see this information when you request it but also be alerted to indicators throughout the policy year on factors that may cause the policy to not renew. If you have this information automatically provided to you and your appropriate staff on a regular basis, you may then implement a process and schedule tasks to address these areas of concern, before you receive the call requesting a BOR (broker of record), or copy of their existing declarations page, or even worse: an LPR (lost policy release) which indicates that the coverage has been replaced.

Don’t work harder to generate less income…let automation do this for you. EZLynx has patented tools to automate these processes for you. For additional information on how EZLynx can help you and your business, please contact us today!

 


Top 5 Social Media Myths Busted for Property & Casualty Insurance Agents

Social Media Marketing

Take a look around. If you’re in a room occupied by people, more than likely at least one person is on their phone right now and probably using a social media app of some sort. It may be you, right now, reading this article. The fact is, social media marketing is an extremely powerful tool, and you need to know how to control and manage your brand online.

With such opportunity comes myths and someone waiting to tell you “but, this is how we’ve always done it.” Social media marketing is an ever evolving market and to be successful, you must stay at the forefront of your industry trends and news. Conquer the naysayers with our helpful myth-busting tips.

My customers are not on social media

Fact: More than 73% of Americans have a social media profile of some sort, some even have multiple. That number is up six percent from the year prior. Therefore, the majority of your customer base being on social media is extremely likely.

People look to social media outlets for local and national news, local goings on, and to keep up with companies, products, and people that they admire.

Social Media Marketing is too time-consuming

Fact: With a proper plan in place, an automated social media strategy can be maintained without depleting your time.

A quality social media marketing strategy in itself is a time-consuming process; we do not want to lead you to believe that as soon as you’re active on Twitter you’ll have a plethora of followers and leads in no time. However, with an automation platform, a calendar, and a constant stream of quality content, you can increase the amount of activity while reducing the amount of time invested.

Marketing automation tools, such as HootSuite, allow you to schedule articles and posts to generate in the future, under your command. You can choose which platform you want to share on, what content you want to share, and when you want to share it. Checkmate!

You need to be on every social media platform

Fact: Not all social media platforms are appropriate for your business. No one needs to see your insurance agency on SnapChat. However you may be well perceived on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook alike.

Facebook has more than 1.5 billion active users on a monthly basis and is by far the world’s largest social media network. Insurance agents have the opportunity to expose their brand to a vastly wide audience.

Similar to Facebook, Twitter is a popular social media vehicle. You have the ability to share relevant content, reach out to other users, and connect with clients in real time. Many major business organizations have people dedicated to responding to users on social media outlets. For instance, if you tweet to @SpotifyCares, you’ll most likely get a response within an hour or less.

P&C Insurance Agents should follow big business social media models.

Fact: Each business is unique, including your own personal, small business. This myth is possibly the farthest away from the truth. With any business, your goal is to customize your social media strategy to your audience and your specialties.

As an independent insurance agent, your small business is representing a community. You need to think local. You do not need to follow in the ways of big box insurance companies like Geico or Allstate. You are trying to get through to your state – maybe even a couple of states – but most importantly, you’re trying to make an impression on your community. You need to focus locally; the goal is not to cast a wide net so much as the correct one.

Try to get as many followers, fans, and likes as possible

Fact: Social media should aim to create meaningful connections. Use social media as a listening tool. Follow your customers. Become in tune with their needs and what they are doing to make your business more successful.


What is Your LinkedIn Marketing Strategy?

LinkedIn Insurance Agent Marketing

LinkedIn, a business-oriented social media networking service, will be celebrating its 13th anniversary this May. With more than 400 million users that represent more than 200 different countries, LinkedIn has grown into a very important marketing tool for many industries, including the insurance industry.

LinkedIn offers an array of options to help you market yourself or your business, and although it may be a time-consuming task to take in, it’s overall pretty simple. LinkedIn is extremely user-friendly. If you’ve created an account, you’re already on the right track.

Optimize Your Profile

People will judge you based on your profile. This is the first thing a new connection – and possible potential client – will see. How will you manage their first impressions? Similar to Google, LinkedIn (and other social media websites) are also search engines. You need to make sure you are easily found.

  • Customize your URL – LinkedIn gives you the option to customize your URL on personal and company accounts, but not on group pages.
  • Picture Perfect – Whether you are updating your personal or company LinkedIn page, make sure your photo or logo is professional looking and high resolution. Your profile picture should be 500×500 while your business logo should be a 400 x 400 square.
  • Fill Out Your Profile Completely – Do not leave any section behind! Remember, we are capturing first impressions here. You want to be as detailed as possible. You can add skills and get endorsements for those skills on your personal profile. You can also feature professional memberships, incorporate branding into your background image, and showcase your work, awards, and certifications.

Share & Create Content

Fresh content is the key to traffic, and traffic is the key to success, right? LinkedIn has two options for you as far as sharing and creating content goes.

  • LinkedIn Publisher – This tool allows you to publish an article within LinkedIn’s free Pulse community, with the opportunity for thousands (sometimes, millions) of people to see your message. The engagement is typically pretty high and is a nice supplement to your website traffic.
  • Share Content from Your Company Blog – Think about posting your blog content on LinkedIn after it is published on your website. As previously stated, sharing on LinkedIn increases engagement and traffic to your website and products.

Engage LinkedIn Groups

A LinkedIn group offers an open forum for users to share their opinions and thoughts about certain things and products. LinkedIn groups are tiny hubs where professionals in different fields provide marketing tips, engage with each other about industry trends, and acts as a community to support their fellow members.

Within your company page, you may want to create a LinkedIn group to discuss new products and services, tips, and more. Within your group you can start conversations, post jobs, and see what your members have to say. You can add a link to your LinkedIn group to your email signature and to your website to help draw engagement and traffic, as well.

Keep Connecting

Your ability to meet new potential clients is largely dependent by the size of your network and the quality of your content and connections. This doesn’t mean you should go on an adding frenzy, and add folks just for the purpose of gaining a large following. Engage other users in LinkedIn Groups, find connections you may know from previous jobs, connect with people in the same industry & trade tips. LinkedIn offers an array of possibilities to make connecting simple.

Once you optimize your profile and begin to engage members in groups, you’ll quickly gain the proper connections to build your network in the most organic and genuine way. As stated previously, this is a time-consuming task, but the benefits could be exponential.

LinkedIn makes it easy, too. If you have a smartphone or tablet you can access the services through an app, if you’re not near your desktop or laptop. With connections a click away, why aren’t you using LinkedIn to boost your marketing presence?


Insurance Tech Trends for 2016

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As the page turns in our calendars from 2015 to 2016, we want to recap some Insurance Tech Trends to look for in the year ahead of us. Technology is on the forefront of all things insurance, on both a consumer and agent level. Ensuring you are reaching your customers in the most effective way while keeping their information secure are two key business objectives to keep in mind when forecasting your business for the year to come. EZLynx has compiled a list of Insurance Tech Trends to watch for in 2016.


Local Optimization

With only 15% of Americans not using the internet, the odds are in your favor to make sure your agency is easily found online. Local optimization helps agents reach customers in their area. Google is (continuously) the most popular online search engine and it pulls in search results from locally optimized websites first. With your EZLynx Gold Agency Website package, we provide locally optimized content that is more likely to be found on Google when searching locally. In addition to locally optimizing you website, it is also important to focus on a local reach when writing blog articles.

Email Campaigns

How you reach your client base is important. Nowadays it seems like everyone has a smartphone attached to their hand, which means they are likely receiving texts and emails pretty regularly. With EZLynx Marketing Campaigns, you can reach your customers the way they prefer to be reached: by email or text. This not only builds customer loyalty, but helps improve retention while driving sales. You can reach your entire customer base with one personalized email, or narrow down your search to customers with a birthday in a certain month, customers in a certain area, or by which line of business the customer has purchased with your agency.

PPC Marketing

In certain lines of business, PPC Marketing can be a very effective tool. When you search Google for a local coffee joint, you’ll see advertisements to the right of the search results. These are PPC Ads. The client pays a fee each time someone clicks their ad, thus buying visits to your website versus receiving visits organically. In in the insurance industry, these advertisements might be costly but prove to be very effective in driving traffic to your website.

Accurate Analytics

Wouldn’t it be nice to see all of the important metrics of your business in one organized snapshot? With EZLynx Agency Pulse, you can do just that! The comprehensive report is part of our Management System and includes key metrics such as total annual premium, policy count, new business, agency retention, and carrier retention. The report identifies and tracks changes in your business so you don’t have to rummage through multiple reports and emails. The report generates weekly (is that correct) and is sent straight to your inbox.

Drones

Yes, drones. Drones may be an important tool in your toolbox. In April 2015, a Pennsylvania insurance company was the first to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to test drones for claims use. By September 2015 the drone inspected a roof of a house that had filed a claim. With the maturation of imaging technology, the company owner confirms that the effort is worth the risk. If your agency is in the business of covering large amounts of land, homes, or other outdoor properties, a drone (and a drone pilot) may be a wise investment in your future.

Cybersecurity

Insurers around the United States are raising concern to tighten their company’s cybersecurity. At EZLynx, we take data security seriously. With the major breaches last year from Premera and Anthem, there is no doubt that there will be more announced this year. Finding the right level of security is pertinent to your future success. Investing your time and business with any EZLynx product guarantees you a certain level of security, one that is protected by remote servers in dedicated production environments.

 


Keeping up with Insurance Trends

Keeping up with Insurance TrendsBeing up-to-date with insurance trends is a major priority for insurance agents and others working in the field. It’s important to understand how these trends affect the industry, now and in the future. There are a few ways to follow the trends while increasing your knowledge base. Here are a few ways to accomplish this:

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a great interface that allows you to define what types of content you are looking for based on keywords and phrases. Whenever something new is released, you will receive an alert notifying you of the article or piece of information. This helps save time and is very efficient.

Read Insurance Blogs (Like this one!) and Journals

Reading popular insurance blogs and industry trade journals is an effective way of increasing your knowledge on a number of topics while staying in tune with current news. While most trade journals require a subscription, you can obtain a wealth of information with free options like PropertyCasualty360.com. Insurance Journal offers free downloading of articles for a certain time, so you have access to this information in a timely manner, even if you don’t have a subscription. Business Insurance also offers free articles for a certain time period. Another excellent resource that should be read by all insurance professionals is Emphasis, distributed by Towers Watson. Available every quarter, this is one of the “go-to” publications for higher-level executives, which can help you move up the ladder of success, and of course keeping up to date with the EZLynx blog won’t hurt either.

Attend Conferences

There’s nothing like attending a conference to network with others and gain insight on the industry. Depending on your specialization, there are a number of events you can attend. Events in America carries an entire listing of insurance conferences and conventions held throughout the year which can be beneficial to your growth. Just remember to attend the sessions!

Follow Social Media Influencers

Every major #insurance platform has a social media platform. Twitter is popular within the industry for connecting agents and information. Once you determine which influencers are most beneficial to you, following them on social media will keep you in the know.

Attend Association Events

Your association should have both local and national events where you can get information specific to your area and locate resources that can assist your development. The association is designed to offer workshops, speakers and other informal gatherings that will allow you to build a network of like-minded individuals that can keep you in the loop of new developments within the industry, and also writes publication pieces that may be of interest.

Make Time

Identifying how to keep up with trends in your industry and expanding your knowledge base is the first step. Making time to apply these resources into your schedule can be challenging. Schedule some time on a daily or weekly basis to read or network. Your time can be maximized by reading when commuting to work, listening to a podcast of an article, or utilizing your break to skim documents. This will give you an idea of the items that require more in-depth reading while eliminating the fluff. This will also help you determine whether or not the publication is one that can assist you in acquiring the information you desire. If not, it’s time to find a new resource.

These are just a few ways to enhance your knowledge and stay current on trends within the insurance industry. Using EZLynx Management System can also add to your productivity while providing the resources and information you need for efficient operations and customer service. Best of all, our cloud-based platform means you can keep a pulse on your business while you are out of the office, whether it’s a family vacation, attending an insurance conference, or out meeting with a client!


20 Best Practices for Marketing Your Insurance Agency

20 Best Practices for Marketing Your Insurance Agency

As a business professional proficient in the art of sales, you have likely realized that the hardest product to sell can be your own brand. To optimize your time and budget, focus on these cost efficient best practices for marketing your insurance services:

1. Develop a Business Referral Partnership: Insurance sales is a relationship businesses. Establish a mutually beneficial referral agreement with another local business that you trust, like an account, car dealer, or home contractor. Make sure you each have copies of one another’s business cards in your offices to distribute to customers and prospects.

2. Enhance your Google Ranking: Consumers value convenience, and with so many searches for business services starting with a trip to a search engine, particularly Google, ranking well on Google Search and Google Maps, is essential. To help small to mid-sized businesses to control their presence across Google’s properties, Google offers a tool called “Google My Business.”

3. Make Your Business Cards Stand Out: A distinctive business card design will make your agency memorable and will set you apart from the competition. In addition, give prospects a reason to keep your card on hand. Add local emergency phone numbers to the back, such as the local police department, fire department, gas company, and electric company, so that prospects always have your card in their wallet or saved in an easily accessible place in their home.

4. Partner with Your Local Chamber of Commerce: A presence on Google is essential, but don’t forget the importance of your local businesses community. Make sure your agency is listed in your local Chamber of Commerce’s printed and online directories. Those new to the area in particular are most likely to turn to businesses endorsed by the local Chamber of Commerce when in need of professional services.

5. Write a Blog: Your prospects are likely researching topics online that relate to your services, such as: “Cost to insure my teen driver,” “How to manage flood damage,” or “How to obtain health coverage from the Insurance Marketplace.” Consumers are more likely to partner with an organization that they feel is creditable and knowledgeable. By consistently writing and publishing educational articles on your website, you will position yourself as a thought leader and industry expert. Not only will continual content help establish your industry expert status, but it will help your organic online search engine results as well.

6. The Power of Customer Testimonials: Ask your satisfied customers for a testimonial of their experience with your agency. Testimonials and endorsements lend credibility and help establish trust among prospective customers. Written testimonials can be placed on your website, or in print advertising, or you can record video testimonials and place them prominently on your website as well.

7. Mobile Optimize: With 80% of online searches being performed from a Smart Phone in 2015 according to SmartInsights, having a mobile optimized website is ideal for prospective clients searching for your services. Otherwise, if a prospect visits your website from their smart phone and can’t find the information needed because of the way your site is rendering on their mobile device, they will likely move on to a competitor’s site to get the information he or she needs.

8. Attend Local Networking Events: Your local chamber of commerce or other local business organizations likely host monthly or quarterly networking events. Attend as many as possible, and bring those memorable business cards with you! Not only will networking events help you to identify prospective clients, but you may also identify new businesses partnerships with future mutual referral opportunities.

9. Write and Submit Press Releases to the Local Media: Share the news that affects your agency with your community. Just hired a new adjuster? Recently promoted one of your agents? Offering a promotional period for one of your services? Sponsoring a local charity golf event? Share anything newsworthy with your local press. Not only will it help to get the name of your agency in the media, but the next time a local reporter is looking for a source to quote on an article that relates to your line of insurance, they will be more likely to remember you and reach out for a quote. This strategy will further enhance your position as a thought leader.

10. Brand Yourself: Invest in tasteful, branded, professional attire like golf shirts and button-down shirts with your company logo in the corner. Wherever you travel in your community for events, meetings, and volunteer opportunities, you represent your agency. Branding yourself will help identify you to prospects and will also help with your overall brand awareness.

11. Book Speaking Engagements: This is another reason that business partnerships and a Chamber of Commerce membership can be extremely valuable. Offer to speak at local events on topics relevant to your services. Let the organizers of local events know that you are available and willing to give presentations. They will be thrilled to call on you the next time they are building their agenda, and you will have an opportunity to continue building your reputation as a local, accessible, insurance expert, which will ultimately, translate into new business.

12. Wrap Your Car: To help build brand awareness as you travel around your community, invest in a car wrap and you have instantly become your own mobile billboard. If a full car wrap is cost-prohibitive, simple magnets can be custom created and fixed to the side of your vehicle at a more affordable price.

13. Partner with a Local Charity to Elevate Your Brand: By aligning your company with a charitable event or organization, you not only have the opportunity to give back to your community and make a difference to those in need, but you can help to increase your brand awareness and elevate the perception of your agency. Consider supporting a charity that aligns with your services for the most impact. Offer home insurance? Co-sponsor a local Habitat for Humanity project. Sell life insurance? Co-sponsor a local run/walk event.

14. Monthly Business Card Drawings: Place a fishbowl on your reception desk and encourage everyone who stops by to drop in their business cards to be entered into monthly drawing. Make the price valuable, like a $25 gift card to a local restaurant. Most importantly, ensure the contact information from all collected business cards is saved in your prospect contact files for future follow-up.

15. Award Yourself: Apply for local and regional businesses awards. Your local business media publications or chamber of commerce likely create annual rankings for “Best of the Best” in town, in your industry, within your business size category, etc. Many competitions are free to apply, and when you win, you will be able to promote your “Best of” designation as another level of credible distinction.

16. Create, and Continually Update, your LinkedIn Profile: LinkedIn is a social media site that allows business professionals to connect with one another. Not only will this help you find business-to-business leads if you sell commercial insurance, but having a LinkedIn page that is continually updated with news, information, and links to educational content (time to re-post those blog articles again!) helps to establish your knowledge base and credibility.

17. Conduct an Annual Customer Survey: Survey your existing customers annually. A brief online or paper survey can easily gather satisfaction data. Once you have compiled the exceptional results of your survey, promote them! Add statistics to your website, print advertising, or even business card. Statements such as “100% of our customers would refer our agency to a friend,” or “99% of our customers rank our customer service as excellent 5 years in a row” are powerful statements for turning leads into sales, so long as they are factual.

18. Submit Educational Articles to Your Local Media Publications: After the time and effort you have put into developing additional blog articles, get extra use out of them by submitting them to a local newspaper. Reach out to the paper’s business writer and ask if you can submit a monthly article for an “Ask An Insurance Expert” column. The next time someone in your community has a question or needs a quote, they will remember you as their local expert.

19. Reward Referrals: Let your customers know that you offer thank you gifts for referrals. Financial incentives are the most appealing form of rewards. Consider a $50 gas card if the lead turns into a client.

20. Host Your Own Event or Seminar: Here’s our final suggestion to help establish you as the preeminent insurance expert in your community: host your own seminar or educational event on a hot topic impacting your industry. Be sure to invite all of your current clients and prospects by email, postcard, and phone. Consider co-hosting the event with one of your business partner and encourage them to invite their clients and prospects as well, a strategy that can help you both with cross sales.

To learn more about EZLynx marketing solutions, check out Agency Websites and Marketing Campaigns.


How to Grow Your Insurance Agency Using Local SEO

How to Grow Your Insurance Agency Using Local SEO

In today’s world of smart phones, Twitter feeds, and geo-targeted advertising, a successful business marketing strategy must be optimized to identify local prospects. The cornerstone of a successful local marketing strategy requires effective search engine optimization (SEO). This is especially true for small insurance agencies. More insurance buyers are going online during the buying process to research their decision. Local search engine optimization is focused on providing results that are relevant to a searcher based on their current location.

For independent insurance agencies, this means that if a prospect in your area searches for “car insurance,” that your website appears at the top of the rankings, above national agencies, educational pieces, and news articles. Ensuring that your agency is at the top of local search engine results takes a multi-pronged strategy, but it can be accomplished successfully by completing the following steps.

Improve Keyword Relevancy

A successful SEO strategy should begin with keywords. SEO keywords are the terms your website is targeting. Research the keywords that are the most relevant to your industry and that will be the most effective in driving traffic to your site. Since search engines rank pages and not websites, each page of your website should include keywords that are specific to that page. Use your keywords frequently throughout your content, but be sure to use them naturally. Search engines can identify websites with unnatural keyword densities, which negatively impacts rankings. Be sure to also include location information throughout your content as part of your keyword strategy, such as the name of the city where your office is located.

Create Deep Content with Internal Links

An internal link connects one page of a website to a different page within the same site. For example, on your home owner’s insurance product page, include a few sentences in the copy about obtaining a quote, and link it to a “Visit our location” page to reinforce your local presence. From your user’s perspective, this strategy provides the opportunity to read more of your content and spend more time within your site. From a search engine’s perspective, internal links encourage the crawling of multiple pages to index more content, which in turn improves your ranking.

Improve the Visitor’s Experience

Search engine rankings are improved for websites with low “bounce rates” and longer “time-spent-on-site.” Your content should answer all of your prospect’s questions (such as where you are located). Search engines can tell how effectively your website accomplishes this by monitoring the time between when a prospect clicks on your search result and when they return to the search engine. If a prospect only stays on your site for a few seconds, this high bounce rate, or low time-spent-on-site, can hurt your rankings.

Maintain an Active Social Media Presence

Creating social media pages across multiple platforms will help to improve your organic search results. Create social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and continually update the pages with new content. Post information about community initiatives, new hires, industry news and trends, and product offers to your social media accounts and link to your website for the complete details.

Create a Google My Business Page

Google My Business allows companies of all sizes to create pages to promote their local business, which can be highly effective for small businesses looking to attract local customers. Google search engine rankings are improved for businesses that have verified Google My Business pages. Be sure your Google My Business page includes accurate information about your businesses, including your local address and phone number, and include a Google map of your location.

The Power of Social Validation

Positive customer testimonials, both within your website’s content and posted to third party sites, can enhance your search engine rankings. Ask trusted clients if you can include their testimonial and home town on your website, or ask them to review your agency on Google, Yelp or other such sites that aim to match customers with local, highly-rated companies.

Optimize Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your site, and they improve your search engine rankings. There are many opportunities to obtain backlinks from local partners. For example, get included on your local chamber of commerce website, or submit a scholarly article to your local online news outlet (e.g.: “How to Purchase First Time Flood Insurance in Tampa”). Links from these highly-ranked sites back to your website will not only give your agency local credibility, it will improve your local SEO.

Go Mobile

According to our own analytics, 20% of consumers are completing an insurance quote online using their mobile or tablet device, and an even larger percentage are using those devices to browse our agent websites. To ensure that these searchers can find your agency, and have a positive experience with your site once they get there, you will need either a mobile version of your website or a single responsive website. Either of these options will ensure that your website displays comfortably on any variety of mobile phone or tablet. Otherwise, if a prospect quickly leaves your mobile site because it is too difficult to navigate and read on their mobile device, your search engine rankings may suffer from high bounce rates.

Independent insurance agencies should not be intimidated by the mysterious and ever-changing algorithms of Google and other search engines. By implementing these simple strategies, your agency can improve its search engine visibility – allowing you to grow your business one click at a time.

Learn how EZLynx takes advantage of many of these strategies with EZLynx Agency Websites


Agencies and the Art of Upselling: “Do You Want Fries With That?”, Part 2

Insurance Agency Upselling

How does an agency successfully cross sell products, while keeping their clients’ best interests in hand, and without the appearance that all they are doing is trying to further separate your customers from their money? Here are a few suggestions that will help you or your staff to write more from within:

1) First off, establish a cross selling (and measurable) goal that your agency can attain. By this I mean that you should have a team meeting, and determine the percentage of total growth that you expect to achieve from existing business within your agency, versus business that is entirely new to your organization.

2) Next, create a method of cross-selling to your clients, specific to each line of business. It can be as simple as what type of coverage should you suggest to owners of certain types of policies.

3) Establish a target for each line of business customer. Such as, from a personal lines auto policy customer you may expect a 25% increase in written premium, and perhaps from a commercial account.

4) Designate a person within your agency who can champion this project, who will monitor achievements, track successes, and encourage others to always be selling to all those who communicate with the agency.

5) Do not expect to obtain large premiums on each cross sell opportunity…take advantage of a small renter’s policy sale to a single auto policy owner, with the long term goal of selling a life policy to them in the future.

6) Sometimes the cross-sell opportunity is right under your nose, and you don’t even realize it. For example: analyze each and every portfolio of all your clients, with the intention of uncovering business that you may not have sought after the first time. For instance: perhaps you targeted pizzerias because you have a program with a certain carrier that specializes in these types of establishments. Well remember that the owner of the pizzeria most likely lives somewhere so there is a need for some type of home coverage, or perhaps they even drive a car to work, or have a family to financially protect…see my point?

7) Offer incentives to those who cross sell…perhaps a bonus, or a higher commission rate. It may cost you a few bucks extra up front, but in the long run your retention rate and agency bottom line will all be affected in a very positive way.

8) Lastly, when a cross sell opportunity is resented to a client, and the client refuses the product, have a preprinted coverage sign off sheet readily available for them to sign, indicating that they were offered the coverage, and declined. Chain drug stores have implemented this procedure when purchasing prescription drugs, requiring the customer to check off the “declined consultation” box, before being permitted to complete the transaction and purchase the drugs, which causes some folks to actually ask additional questions about what it is that they are purchasing.

9) Schedule annual policy reviews with your clients. This will not only help you to broaden the policy portfolios of your clients, but will also offer them the added protection that they may certainly be in need of.

10) Learn from the experts of cross selling: Did you ever notice when you purchase an item online, more specifically a book, that you will receive an email stating that “75% of those who purchased that, also purchased this”. Believe it or not, with a little thought and imagination you can find a correlation between many policies, that when one is purchased, it will cause you to consider another. For example: if one purchases a homeowners policy for a new home, perhaps they need life insurance to protect the mortgage.

All of the suggestions above are just the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to new and innovative ways to cross sell to your existing business, as there are so many additional means of increasing each clients’ value in your agency. But no matter what your organization’s method of obtaining new business from existing business is, remember to always look for the additional opportunity, and “always be selling”.