Anytime I am looking to buy something I do my research on the available options and providers. This includes anything from TVs to cars and even third-party services like we offer here at ITC. I challenge you to do the same for your agency when selecting a digital agency marketing firm. How a firm markets itself and their customers will give you valuable insight into how they will treat your business.
When looking for a firm, stick to the five pillars of modern marketing: Insurance agency websites. Search engine optimization. Social media. Blogging and content curation. Email marketing. I've outlined what to look at and the questions to ask for each pillar below.
Insurance Agency Websites
The landing page for all of your marketing (both offline and online) is your website. Your agency's website needs to have a great design, good calls to action and an easy flow. It needs to look professional and help establish your credibility as the insurance expert you are. How does your prospective vendor's website look? Does it have clear calls to action that make you want to move forward? Is it easy to navigate? Ask for testimonials from their customers. Do you like their customers' websites? If the answer to any of these is NO, then ask them how they will correct that on your website should you move forward with them.
Search Engine Optimization
Consumers are researching insurance online, and an increasing number are looking to buy online. When they are looking for a local agent, where do they go? A search engine. The task of search engine optimization is to get your website to show for relevant terms applicable to your business.
When speaking with your potential agency marketing firm, ask for their business' target keywords. If their specialty is insurance websites, then go to Google and search for insurance websites. Are they in the top ten? Now search for some of their customers' keyword phrases. Are their customers coming up on the first page? Be careful on this one. Sure anyone can rank for their agency's name or cheap auto insurance in Farmington New Mexico. How about a challenging one like Dallas auto insurance? What about then?
Social media supports your agency's relationships by helping to build and maintain strong relationships with your prospects, clients, and potential and current employees. It creates a feedback loop where you educate your audience, and they know you are listening to their valuable feedback.
During your evaluation of prospective marketing vendors, don't just look to see if they have a social media presence. Look to see if they are active on social media. Do they post to Twitter and Facebook at least weekly? Does their leadership have well maintained LinkedIn profiles? When they do post, is the content entertaining? Informative? Engaging?
You can see the trend here. What about their customers? Insurance is a boring business. It is difficult to keep today's consumer engaged if you are posting nothing but boring insurance drab. Show the referred agency's feed to your friends outside of the insurance industry. What do they think? Would they follow?
Does the agency marketing firm curate unique, fresh and relevant content for themselves and their customers? If not, run.
Companies that regularly blog show they are the thought leaders in their industry. They are not just followers but the people who are leading. Would you rather go with someone who is following the trends or people who are making them? Your agency could be that leader within your industry through great content posted at least monthly.
Email marketing is one of the most effective methods for reaching clients on a consistent basis. It allows you to get your message directly to your audience at an extremely low cost.
How does the agency marketing firm market to you via email? Is it effective? Are you opening it? How about their customers? Get on a customer's mailing list. See the emails first hand. What is the frequency? How do they look? Are they informative? Are they spammy? Does it effectively convey the agency's message?
The Whole Package
The landscape of marketing insurance has changed. The five pillars of digital agency marketing are in full swing within the insurance industry. Your prospective marketing firm needs to not only offer these five pillars, it also needs to excel at them. The firm needs to prove the expertise it shares with customers. A great way to see a firm's expertise is to pay attention to how it markets its services.
What about other marketing methods? Yellow pages are dead. Direct mail is dying due to increased costs, difficult to measure and low engagement rates. Radio, TV, pay-per-click and print advertising are still viable but expensive. These methods should support the five pillars mentioned above. You should only implement them after you have a well-rounded online strategy that is fully executed.
The bottom line is do your research before you buy. Don't just take the firm's word for it. Sure you'll get a customer testimonial or referral, but dig deeper. Look up reviews and complaints online. Ask questions such as biggest successes and largest failures. Do they own their technology? Do they use their own methods and products to market themselves? All great questions, all need an answer.
Challenge them, as I have challenged you.
What do you look at when research an agency marketing firm? Tell us in the comments.
About the Author
As president, Laird Rixford is responsible for sharing the vision and direction of the company with its customers, vendors and affiliate companies. He oversees the direction for each of ITC’s products and the company’s sales and marketing department. 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