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.