A of couple months ago, I spoke with an agent who was considering cutting back his monthly budget for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. He is not alone. Many insurance agencies are tightening their belts when it comes to PPC due to COVID-19.
However, they should be doing the opposite. If you’re going to find money in the budget for something, it should be to position your brand digitally.
Consumers find faith in brands that are resilient and capable of weathering storms. A digital presence makes your brand appear stable. Your agency must remain relevant in the eyes of your target audience. It’s okay to admit that the current situation has been hard on all of us, while also maintaining brand awareness.
Here are four digital marketing best practices that will help you do just that.
(1) Maintain PPC – Lower Your Bids – Not Your Spend.
Constant analysis of the situation at hand is essential.
Many organizations are pausing their ads on search engines. This means the few that keep their ads active can bid lower and still reach their intended audience.
Instead of pausing your campaigns, you should optimize them. If you’re not already, start tracking your ad campaign’s performance. Take the time to determine what days of the week and time of day garner the best results. If you’re going to spend the money, you want to get the best return on investment (ROI). Metrics like these are important for getting the best ROI.
In Google Ads, set up Smart Bidding. This feature uses machine learning to find better placement for your ads based on where the algorithm thinks your ad will have the highest conversion and by price.
Understandably, not all consumers are ready to spend. But, PPC is a good strategy for keeping your message and name out there.
(2) Create Organic, Relevant Content
Organic search is at an all-time high, but that does not mean that you take a break from content creation. The use of search engine optimization best practices is still necessary when writing content for your website. Continue to improve your organic benchmarks.
Refine your content strategy to make sure your messaging is appropriate for COVID-19. Consumers and businesses alike are going through difficult times right now. Your content should strike a balance between business and empathy.
If you’re having trouble deciding where your content lies on that scale, lean towards empathy. It is possible to create content that can entertain, educate, and inspire people at home.
It is never a good idea for organizations to profit from a major crisis. Highlight your brand’s position and how you can help. Remember to be positive. Be human on all accounts. Use your organization’s core values to drive your message home. Clearly outline how your brand can help existing clients. Make it easy for your clients. Minimize how many times a user must click through to find information.
(3) Use Social Media to Make an Impact Locally
Your agency may not be in a position at the moment to devote a portion of your budget to PPC. In the interim, social media is an excellent (and free) way to bridge the gap for creating brand awareness. Now more than ever, people are seeking information on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.
If your business is local, focus your content in your community radius. Be inclusive of local users in your content efforts with mentions of cities and local events. Share your local content on social media.
It is also essential that you contribute to local communities in other ways. This could be through advocacy groups. Or, by sharing information to educate and encourage compliance with safety guidelines.
(4) Start Thinking About Your Digital Future
COVID-19 is having a profound effect on consumer norms.
There is more focus for businesses on using digital tools to solve some of the problems we are facing today. Agencies that have depended more on walk-in traffic are having to figure out how to deliver services in alternative ways.
Clients expect your agency to have a certain level of technology in place to continue to deliver services. While delays are expected, customer loyalty isn’t what it used to be. Consumers won’t wait forever. They’ll go to a competitor.
At the beginning of April, things were not looking great. Quoting volumes were 32.4% below expected numbers.
The second week of April looked even worse. Quoting numbers had fallen to 34.7% below expectations. The industry was reeling. The next two weeks signaled a marked change with the introduction of stimulus checks. Consumers were building confidence and were starting to shop. Rating activities for the weeks of 4/13 and 4/20 ended at 22.9% and 25.1%, respectively.
However, just last week, agent and carrier activities improved to its best level since the initial drop seen in the week of 3/16. The week of 4/27 was only 21.3% below ITC’s baseline rating performance number.
Even during March, when many insurance agents who rely on walk-in traffic were really feeling the effects of COVID-19, there was a noticeable data trend. The volatility seen in March does not show up in online quote requests. During this period, online submissions were up 0.1% versus the baseline.
Website quoting and visitor activity have not been significantly affected by COVID-19. Consumers continue to use online methods for requesting quotes and services. There may have been some drop off due to confidence about COVID-19. But, new users visiting an insurance agency website to take care of their insurance needs offset this.
Smart agencies are planning for a future where people can get what they want, when they want it, wherever they are. No, your insurance agency doesn’t have to be Amazon. But, it is advisable that you begin thinking about the strength of your digital presence.
Yes, offices will re-open. However, consumers are now conditioned to interact with you digitally. You will not be able to go back to the way you did things before and continue to grow.
Your digital presence is more important than ever. Although it may seem risky, your PPC budget is a powerful tool for your agency. Less expensive methods of engaging with your target audiences - like blogs and social media - are also excellent ways to create brand awareness. Regardless of circumstances, prepare for the future by increasing your digital presence.