Consumers have been subjected to one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns for decades through traditional marketing efforts such as television, radio, telemarketing, and yellow page ads. Today's consumer has several options to block the ads from reaching them. For example, caller ID and do-not-call lists are limiting telemarketers' efforts; TIVO and satellite radio reduce consumers' exposure to television and radio ads; and yellow pages are being replaced with online searches.
Traditional Marketing Transforming Into Interactive Marketing
In observance of these behaviors, industry associations such as the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) are encouraging agency members to implement interactive marketing strategies by focusing on websites, search engine positioning, social media, and blogging. The Transformation in Agency Marketing Podcast, published by the IIABA, reviews how agencies are rebalancing their marketing strategies by creating a strong online presence.1
Interactive marketing was a term coined by John Deighton, a Harvard professor and the founding co-editor of the Journal of Interactive Marketing. In summary, instead of using traditional media to push ads on consumers, companies are now utilizing technology to interact with their customers to promote their brand as well as increase their retention. According to the U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast - 2009 to 2014, published by Forrester Research, Inc., the U.S. will see companies shift 60% of their advertising budget away from traditional marketing and into interactive marketing within the next five years.2
Develop an Online Presence
An effective interactive marketing strategy begins with an online presence, a website. A website serves as the agency's virtual storefront. In order to grab their attention and earn instant credibility with the online consumer, a website needs to have a professional appearance. Just as an agent's storefront gives a walk-in insurance prospect a first impression of the agency, online insurance shoppers form their first impression by the look and functionality of the agency's website.
Get Found Online
Once the website is live, it is time to lay down a map so the online consumer can find it. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a term that describes the processes used to increase a websites' ability to be found on search engines, such as Google and Yahoo. With Google's share of the U.S. search queries reaching 65.6% of the search market, many SEO providers turn first to Google to learn how to be found on the Internet.3 Per Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, including compelling and useful content on a website is likely one of the most influential factors used to determine a website's Page Rank.
Insurance Website Builder includes content that is filled with keywords that are pertinent to insurance. This pre-filled content enables an agent to get their website up and running in 7 days or less with the framework in place to be found on search engines. However, the most powerful feature of our websites is the ability to easily edit the content at anytime through our built-in website dashboard. It is as simple as using a word processor with no html experience needed. This gives the agent the ability to keep their content fresh, another key factor in increasing Page Rank with search engines.
Once the consumer discovers the website, they immediately want to be able to access the information they are looking for. Our websites include an organized navigational menu that caters specifically to the insurance buying public. For instance, clicking on 'Auto Insurance' will expand the menu to display options such as 'Auto Quote Form', 'ID Card Request', Add a Vehicle to Policy', 'Accident Claim Form' and more.
Ability to Submit Online Quotes
The last thing an agent would want to do when a consumer is ready to ask for a quote is to tell them to call back at a later time. Not providing a mechanism for the online shopper to submit the needed quote information is doing just that - telling them to call back at a later time. In addition, not gathering all the needed information the first time can also be a hindrance in the sales process. Our built-in quote forms can be easily edited through the Website Dashboard, allowing the agent the ability to always ask for the right information the first time.
Insurance Website Builder was created specifically for insurance agents. For a website to be an effective tool in your Interactive Marketing Strategy, it must be more than just a simple business card on the internet. For a website to be an effective marketing tool, it must first be found, easily navigated, and fully interactive.
Allow us the opportunity to learn more about your agency, identify your specific needs, and develop an effective Interactive Marketing Strategy that will meet your budget needs.
1 Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. 'Transformation in Agency Marketing.' October 2009.
2 Forrester Research, Inc. 'U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast - 2009 to 2014.' Shar Van Boskirk, July 2009.
3 comScore. 'comScore Releases November 2009 U.S. Search Engine Rankings.' November 2009.
About the Author
AnMarie Bozick, CIC, manages ITC’s rating products, including TurboRater and TurboRater for Websites. She has more than 20 years of property and casualty insurance experience, including owning her own agency and serving as president of the Alliance of Insurance Agents of Texas. She joined ITC in 2008.More Content by AnMarie Bozick, CIC