In 2012, ITC continued our pledge of helping insurance agents grow and succeed with their agencies through constant upgrades to our products: Insurance Website Builder, AgencyBuzz, TurboRater, and InsurancePro. Now, the New Year is upon us, and I am looking forward to the great things we can accomplish together in 2013. Let's explore my predictions regarding insurance agency marketing in 2013.
Collapse of the Offline-Only Agent
Each year, comScore publishes the Online Auto Insurance Survey, which details the research and purchasing habits of automobile policy shoppers. For the past couple of years, the percentage of shoppers that researched their new policy online prior to purchasing has stayed relatively steady in the low 70s. I expect this trend will not change. However, what will change is that agencies will need to invest more in their online marketing strategies to capture and convert these online shoppers. Direct writers are also spending an ever increasing amount on online advertising as they have determined that the return on their investment justifies the expenditure.
Therefore, agencies that are not investing a significant portion of their marketing budgets in online avenues will no longer be able to compete with other agencies and carriers that have chosen to invest in their online presence.
Consolidation of Smaller Agencies
This trend has been ongoing for a while now, and in 2013, it will accelerate. These larger combined agencies will have bigger marketing budgets that will enable them to spend significantly more on online advertising, just as the direct writers have done. However, and this is the beauty of online marketing, with a well-designed and executed online marketing plan that includes social media, search engine optimization, search engine marketing and email marketing, smaller, independent agencies can reach online shoppers with a presence that rivals the largest agencies.
Changes to Search Engine Behavior
Visit Google's About Us page, and you will find the statement 'Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.' clearly emblazoned across the top. In 2011 and 2012, we saw Google make significant strides to fulfill this mission by launching multiple algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin, EMD) whose purpose was to promote fresh, unique content while penalizing sites that were designed to just rank high on the results page.
In 2013, Google, Bing, Yahoo and social media properties such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter will continue to embrace content and websites that are organized, accessible and useful. Let's explore how you can make your online presence meet these needs.
OrganizedIntegration and Automation of Marketing
Search engines and social media sites are really just a collection of data from elsewhere on the web, i.e., your website. This data includes locations, agency hours, agents and employees, products, content authors and reviews. Therefore, your site must notate these important elements in a computer readable format. To meet this need, the major players agreed to use schema.org as the recommended format. Once your website has been updated with the microdata, you will start to see your listings come alive. An example where this can be powerful is with reviews of your company.
Notice how that is a lot better than just a basic listing? Another way search engines and social media sites are moving towards better organization is through the requirement of an identity being placed upon the content that you have created. By claiming ownership of your content, websites such as Google are able to confirm the identity of the person posting the content. By confirming the identity, Google is able to organize it accordingly and treat it as useful. The same microdata discussed above is used to tie your identity to your content. Here is a recent blog post I wrote and how it shows up in Google's results.
The Insurance Website Builder system automatically includes microdata for items such as blogs, locations, and reviews. We will continue to add more microdata as new entities become available.
You no longer have to be at your computer to look up something. Smartphones, tablets, laptops and ubiquitous Wi-Fi have enabled businesses the ability to reach their customers while they are on the go. For years now, I have been talking about how the mobile revolution is upon the insurance industry, and you must make your presence accessible to these devices. In June of 2011 to meet this need, we launched free mobile websites for all of our customers.
The revolution is over. Welcome to the new regime. Mobility is king. Your mobile presence should be just as powerful as your desktop experience.Source : Mobile Local Search Volume Will Surpass Desktop Local Search in 2015, According to BIA/Kelsey
Everything that is on your main website should be available on your mobile website. This includes quoting, blogs, contact information, and other marketing methods. These features need to be easily accessible to the search engines as well as because they will be indexing these resources so mobile users can find you.
Useful and unique content
Nothing new here. By providing fresh and unique content for the search engines and your visitors to consume, your website will become a useful resource on the web.
The key to success in 2013 is combing all of the items discussed above within an integrated marketing system that can help your agency succeed without breaking the bank. Your website should work with your rating system. Your rating system should work with your customer engagement system (e-mail, text message, and workflow management). Your engagement system needs to work with your agency management system. All of these integrations need to work automatically from start to finish. This is where ITC can help.
In 2013 I am looking forward to seeing your agency grow, and ITC would be happy to help you along the way. Happy New Year in...3...2...1...
About the Author
As CEO, Laird Rixford is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership for the company. Rixford has a proven executive management track record and has more than 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and insurance technology. An expert in insurance technology and marketing, Laird is a recognized public speaker and has presented at industry events across the United States.Follow on Twitter More Content by Laird Rixford