Practical Online Strategies for Independent Insurance Agents

If you’re not a billion dollar company in our industry, your website is quite simply not going to come up first in the search results on a national basis for those coveted generic search terms like “auto quote” or “car insurance”. With that said, ignoring the online marketplace is not an option anymore. Even for those of you that are all about personal relationships and word of mouth (which is not a bad thing), there is now an expectation by consumers that all businesses have at least some kind of online presence. If nothing else, it has become an indicator of legitimacy – a consumer may not trust a business that doesn’t have a website. Thus the question becomes, how does a small business compete with the likes of Geico, Progressive, and Esurance when it comes to the online realm? An initial step in planning your online strategy should be to take note of the unique advantages of an independent agent. You’re local, you’re accessible, you’re informed, and you can provide a competitive advantage over a single direct writer in your ability to quote with several other carriers. Take these advantages and craft a practical search engine optimization and digital marketing strategy that can yield slow and steady gains for your agency online.

Step 1: Embrace Local

It’s already a major advantage for an independent agent, so the fact that Google is expending a lot of resources to include, and even favor, local listings in their search results plays right into your hands. Don’t forget that an effective online strategy is more than SEO. SEO will ensure that your website is built in a way that search engines can understand, and there are certain methods that a savvy website company can take advantage of to give you a little boost, but for the modern consumer it goes so far beyond traditional Google search results now. Just one example is location-based search. Consumers will think of things they need to do while they are already out and about. And what do we do? We whip out our smartphones and do a search for a nearby location that sells, as an example right off the top of my head, insurance. It’s not just a map of nearby locations anymore either – that was so 5 years ago. It now includes reviews, links, company details, and more. If you’re focused on the online market, you absolutely want to be included in the results for these kinds of searches. This means having your location consistently identified across countless online directory services. You should already have a social media presence for your agency, so you’ll also need to make sure your social media pages very clearly and accurately reference your location. Most consumers gain confidence by reading the opinions of their peers.  Encourage happy customers to give you a testimonial on your Google business listing.

Step 2: Be Accessible

Make it ridiculously easy for consumers to contact your agency. This means having contact forms on your website, quote forms, and your phone number on every page. If they are already your customer, it means providing easy ways to request changes, contact you with a quick question, and even access common documents like proof of insurance. Lastly, this means communicating with consumers in the way they prefer to communicate. From email to texting, if it can be used to communicate, chances are you will come across a consumer that wants to use it to talk to you. You can’t be accessible if you aren’t embracing mobile. The latest reporting continues to show that mobile usage for day-to-day web browsing is rapidly increasing. Your website, your consumer quoting portal, and your online customer service features should all be fully mobile-optimized. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking your agency needs to have a mobile app. An app has to be installed from the app store of the device you are using, which is a huge deterrent in getting consumers to use it. More importantly, mobile apps don’t come up in search results on Google. Instead, focus on making sure your website can provide a positive user experience when being accessed from a mobile device.  Many websites, such as those created by EZLynx, can adjust automatically depending on the visitor’s screen size for a complete mobile-friendly experience. Paired with mobile-ready quoting and servicing solutions like EZLynx Consumer Quoting and Client Center, you’ll be ready to both quote and service consumers on any device.

Step 3: Share Your Knowledge

The internet is about communication. Websites, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter all have the sole purpose of making it easier and more fun to communicate with each other. Once upon a time, if someone had a question about insurance they would pick up the phone and call an insurance agent. While that does still happen, it has become a last resort for most people now. Whether they are asking the question on Twitter or doing a quick Google search, the first stop for most of us is the internet. Unless you’re actively working to make yourself available online, those consumers just found their answer from someone else. Be that someone else by watching and responding to insurance questions that are posted online. Make your website a repository of insurance knowledge by writing content that answers insurance questions. If nothing else, this will help establish trust between yourself and the reader by giving them unbiased answers to their questions. This is important if you hope to win the business of someone that has to choose between a highly recognized brand or a local insurance agent that doesn’t happen to have the budget to run yearly super bowl commercials like the other guys. This also has the added benefit of increasing the likelihood your website will be returned in search results. You may never attain a nationwide front page ranking for generalized search terms like “car insurance quotes” simply because of the sheer volume of websites out there trying to target those same terms. You are better off working to claim a top spot in search results for more specific questions and topics that you can share your expert opinion on.

Step 4: Ask for Help

All of these things are easy to do with our help. With everything required to manage the day to day responsibilities of an insurance agency, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all of this. EZLynx Agency Websites is our insurance-centric solution to the online marketplace for our agents. However, no matter how you go about establishing your online presence, always approach it from the point of view of the consumer, and you can’t go wrong! Find out how we can help!

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