The value of the independent agent has always been a choice. A consumer has one point of contact (you) but access to multiple products (carriers).
The challenge for independent agents is how to stand out in such a crowded marketplace. Let’s be real. You can’t match marketing dollar for dollar with companies like GEICO, Progressive, or State Farm. Nor should you try. They spend millions of dollars every year on digital marketing.
So how do you stand out? What is your insurance agency’s differentiator?
Many agencies claim that service is their differentiator. Well, I’ve got some bad news for you. Service is not a differentiator because today’s consumers expect good service.
So, if not service, then what?
You can be what the big companies can’t be with their national TV budget or high marketing budgets. You can be local.
You know what is important to the people in your city because that’s your town. Here’s the truth. Those million-dollar Super Bowl ads are funny, maybe even memorable, but they cannot compete with your insurance agency at a local level.
Did you know that 80% of all shoppers use a digital channel at some point in the insurance buying process? Whether you like it or not, insurance shoppers are now online. The good news is that most of them don’t want to buy without talking to you first.
So, how do you win local with online shoppers? With local marketing.
Local marketing targets consumers within a certain radius of your business's physical location.
Now, there are two kinds of local marketing strategies: Offline and online local marketing.
Insurance agents have mastered offline local marketing. Attending local events, postcards, mailers, billboards, and relationship building are all effective tactics. Those tools work because they present your agency to consumers as someone they can trust.
The same mastery of online local marketing is a little more uncommon.
Did you know that 46% of Google searches are looking for local information?
Directions, phone numbers, store hours, and information. The list goes on.
So, if half the people in your town looking for insurance start with Google, wouldn’t you want them to find your insurance agency website?
Here’s another stat that should grab your attention. Eighty-eight percent of users doing a local search visit or call within a day. If nearly 90% of people who search for insurance in your area call or visit you, would your agency grow? I think so.
Now that I have your attention, let’s move on to how you can win locally.
Your Insurance Agency Website
A website is no longer an optional tool. In today’s digital age, it is a must. Why? Your insurance agency website is the hub of all your marketing.
It is where you want to funnel any marketing initiative or campaign, online or offline, for more information. So, it is crucial that you have a powerful website to present to consumers.
To start, you need to take a hard look at your website. If it’s been three or more years since your last website redesign, it is time to freshen it up. Website design trends change fast, so it does not take long for your website to look outdated.
A quality insurance agency website should have a good design, a clear CTA, and lead capture forms. It also needs to be mobile and user friendly.
Your insurance agency website’s ability to convert local leads comes in handy because of the next tool to help you win locally.
Google My Business
Google is the traffic light controlling the traffic in your town. Whether we like it or not, we have to work with Google.
“Successful SEO is not about tricking Google. It’s about partnering with Google to provide the best search results for users.” – Phil Frost
Google has gotten really good at giving us the results we want. Let me give you an example.
What would happen right now if you typed pizza delivery into your phone right now? What results would you expect to see?
I’m willing to bet that you’d expect a pizza place near you. You don’t even have to add near me to your search. Google knows you’re looking for a local search result. And the results I see would be different from yours because we’re in different locations.
Your Google My Business listing provides Google (if complete) with everything it needs to help your agency show up in local search results. It’s free and critical to local search. Think of it as a digital phonebook that helps consumers learn more about your agency.
If you haven’t already completed your Google My Business listing, here are a few resources to get started.
- 4 Reasons Why a Google My Business Listing Can Help Your Agency
- ITC’s Guide to Google My Business
- Get the Most Out of Your Insurance Agency’s Google My Business Listing
Content is king.
That statement has never been more valid than when you’re talking about Google. Google would not be Google without all our content.
If you want to be found for local searches, you need to start working on your local content to feed it to Google.
Local content on your website should include everything about your agency that shows consumers why you should be their choice in your area.
Make a list of everything you get asked from clients and prospects daily and answer it on your website. Chances are, if you do this, you’ll cover quite a few local subjects in your content. And don’t forget your local keywords. 😉
Would you believe that 90% of people read online reviews before visiting or calling a business? How about if I told you 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So, a review is as good as a referral.
The trick is to get a lot of reviews.
Would you be more likely to trust a product that has three 5-star reviews or a product with an overall review score of 4.7 stars but more than 2,000 reviews? I would take the latter.
Step 1: Ask for reviews.
Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews every opportunity you can. You want to time your ask as soon after a positive interaction as you can. Automation tools can help you with that. Google likes to give search authority to businesses with recent reviews.
Step 2: Monitor
Reviews aren’t just someone’s opinion of your agency. They are a two-way conversation. Monitor them so you can respond to everyone.
Step 3: Respond
Respond to every review! Good or bad, respond to every single one. Google likes to see you’re involved with your online reputation. Always start with gratitude and thank them for their feedback. If it’s a negative review, don’t match their tone, apologize for the experience, and attempt to take the conversation offline to address their concerns.
Local content is, of course, about being local. But, more importantly, it is about being useful.
Blogging is a great way to accomplish this goal. Here are some ideas to seed your creativity.
You can review local businesses or interview local figures. Write about local news or events. Profile your referral partners. Another local blog topic idea is top-five lists. For example, create a list of the best picnic spots, cheap date ideas, or places to get a great cup of joe in your community.
The goal here is to give granular details that only locals know.
One of the best places to win local is on social media.
An absolute must for being local on social is to include your agency’s location on your profiles.
When you’re in attendance at any local events, make sure to tag your location in your posts.
If you do any social media advertising or boost a post for greater reach, you can target that by location.
My advice to agents around the country is always to start local and never give up on marketing. The only way to climb a mountain is one step at a time.
About the AuthorFollow on Twitter Follow on Linkedin More Content by Becky Schroeder