How Consumer Input Affects Search Visibility

October 29, 2018 Dylan Brooks

 

How consumers input affects search visibility
 

Pick me.

It’s one of the most fundamental lines we know.

It’s inherent, whether we’re choosing teams on the playground or presenting our big idea on TV.

There’s something magical about getting selected. It’s a unique, personal sensation that gives us the warm fuzzies.

That sensation spills into the insurance agency world as well. Getting picked by consumers means revenue and referral opportunities.

But these benefits don’t come free.

Those doing the picking have a lot of power. Consumers can help your agency thrive. Or, they can sink it.

Their input matters, and that input has far reaching impact.

Here’s how consumer input can affect your agency’s search visibility. And, what you can do to stack the odds in your favor.
 

Base Advantage

A strong base helps get buildings constructed. It helps get politicians elected. And, it helps established businesses get a jump on upstart companies.

Established companies can engender trust because of their track record. Consumers have already worked with them. And, these consumers share their tribal knowledge with others.

New companies are unknown entities. They have a steeper hill to climb — First to gain recognition, and then to earn loyalty.

New businesses must gain acclaim to earn market share and revenue. They must build a brand and manage their reputation.

Your insurance agency went through this phase at some point. Every business does.

But, even if you’ve made it through the fire, you’re not finished. Your agency may have a consumer base, but now is no time to rest.

The conversation is only beginning and your agency’s potential lies in the balance.
 

The Open Loop

Once consumers are aware of your agency, all eyes are on you. Everything from your logo to your phone etiquette tells a story.

If these elements meet consumer expectations, they’ll make the cash register ring. They might even refer others to your agency.

If these elements don’t meet expectations, consumer will turn elsewhere. They might convince future consumers to do the same.

Consumers will let you know where your agency stacks up. Thanks to the internet, they can leave direct feedback at any time. You can also gather their indirect feedback through analytics reports.

That input, direct or indirect, means everything. It reverberates up and down the marketing chain. It can have profound consequences online.

Issues with one part of your brand could impact your entire search visibility. That could impact your revenue in a big way.

It’s all connected.
 

The Nitty Gritty

So, how does consumer input impact search visibility? The answer depends on which channel the consumer uses to reach your agency.

  • If consumers interact with you offline, search engines can’t track their behavior. (At least not yet.) Indirect signals from an office visit or a phone call won’t impact search rankings. But direct signals might. For instance, if your staff is rude on the phone, a consumer might leave a 1-star review on Google. That review could hurt your visibility.
     
  • If consumers interact with your website, search engines can track their behavior. Search giants Google and Bing consider dwell time. That’s how long consumers spend on your webpages before returning to the search engines. They factor in pogosticking. That’s when consumers go straight back to the results page and enter a new search. They look at behavior flow. That’s the sequence of pages consumers look at on the website. And, of course, they can see online reviews of your agency. Both direct and indirect input can impact your visibility.
     
  • If consumers visit your social media channels, search engines might track their behavior. Google and Bing claim they don’t factor social media activity into their algorithms. But researchers have found a correlation between social media and search visibility. Either way, social media input can impact brand sentiment. If consumers love your agency on these channels, your online influence will spread. But if they don’t, that influence might spread for the wrong reasons.

On your website or off it, consumer input affects your search marketing performance. Ignore it at your own risk.
 

Your Next Move

When it comes to business success, your consumers are driving the bus. You can only go as far as they’ll take you.

But you still have control over your future. Like a GPS navigation system, you can guide consumers to where you want them to take you.

Here are six ways to do that.

  1. Keep an eye on your reputation. Consumer input is like milk. It spoils if you leave it out in the sun too long. Check for new reviews of your agency online every day. Set up Google Alerts for mentions of your agency name online. Check your website analytics often to catch shifts in consumer behavior.
     
  2. Crowdsource your customers. Your customers represent more than recurring revenue. They’re a source of feedback. Send them a survey to see what they think of your brand experience. On a scale of zero to 10, see how they feel about recommending your agency to others. (That’s your Net Promoter Score.) And consider sweetening the pot, by entering respondents into a drawing for a gift card.
     
  3. Secret shop your agency. Conduct your own research. Have an acquaintance go through the quoting process online. Call your office under an assumed name and put in a customer service request. This is a great way to find issues consumers might not tell you about.
     
  4. Set up A/B testing. See how changes to your website pages impact consumer behavior. Look at the analytics for a page on your website. Then make a single change to that page. Update the headline or change the wording on your quote button. Check your analytics to see if consumers spend more time on the page after this change. And, see if it leads to more quotes.
     
  5. Patch up issues. If you get unfavorable input from consumers, make changes. Find specific areas of your brand experience they don’t like and fix them. Update your website content. Improve your office signage. Switch up what you share on social media. Little changes can make a big impact.
     
  6. Provide exemplary customer service. This should go without saying. Customer service is marketing. If your agency doesn’t put this first, you’ll end up last. Demand proper phone etiquette. Treat walk-ins like royalty. Stay on top of inquiries from your website and social media. Promote a business culture of kindness and respect. Go above and beyond to delight consumers, and you’ll reap the benefits.
     

The Bottom Line

Consumers have a voice, and that voice carries.

No longer can you put consumer needs on the back burner. Your agency must provide a cohesive experience across your marketing channels. Your agency must put your consumers first.

Consumer input is mission critical in growing your agency’s influence online. Leverage it in your favor.

 

 

About the Author

Dylan Brooks

Dylan Brooks helps ITC clients improve the visibility of their agency websites, working directly with them to improve their search engine rankings. Dylan has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Miami, and he is pursuing a masters in business administration from Southern Methodist University. Dylan has extensive experience with writing, strategy and marketing analytics. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys cooking, watching football, and spending time outdoors in and around Dallas.

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