The internet is an ever-expanding marketplace. Yet, it’s crowded with websites and brands vying for a consumer’s attention. This is why it can be difficult to build brand awareness online.
There are two tactics that can help even small insurance agencies develop brand awareness online… Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO). You might think these are the same. They are not. But we’ll get into that later.
The practice of search engine marketing is not new. However, the landscape has changed over the last decade.
The insurance industry generated $630 billion in 2019. The largest companies within our industry now take full advantage of practices like search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising (PPC), and social media advertising. As a result, being on the first page of search results has become more complex. This is especially so for small insurance agencies with limited marketing budgets.
The first page of Google is a battlefield. It’s a battle for expensive keywords and well-positioned marketing campaigns. Before we create your battle plan, it’s essential to understand the facts.
The Modern Search Advertising Landscape
In 2019, companies spent more than $55 billion U.S. dollars on search advertising. Experts are forecasting search ad spending to surpass $86 billion in 2020.
Again, although social media advertising is not new, it has evolved. Better targeting and localization capabilities are now available on social media platforms. As a result, we’ve seen an explosion in adoption as companies shift marketing budgets to social media.
We’ve also seen a rise in cost to advertise on Facebook. According to Forbes, prices are up 90% year-over-year. The insurance industry is feeling that increase. The finance and insurance industries have one of the highest cost-per-click (CPC) prices on Facebook at $3.77.
That’s a lot. Although many experts expect these costs to level out, Facebook knows the value proposition of their offering. In 2020, there are more than 1.69 billion Facebook users. Seventy-four percent of Facebook users are high-income earners. Ninety million small businesses use Facebook.
The benefits outweigh the costs.
The Value of Keyword Context
There are two lessons found in the growth and rising costs of search engine and social media advertising.
1: There is Value in PPC
The reason businesses are flocking to PPC is quite simple. Return on investment. Here are some key metrics that show the potential return for investing in SEM and social media advertising.
- According to Google, “For every $1 spent on Google Ads, businesses earn an average revenue of $2.”
- PPC ads are among the top three generators of on-page conversions. (Formstack)
- Sixty-five percent of clicks made by users who intend to make a purchase go to paid ads.
- Overall Facebook ad impressions increased 37 percent in 2019. (Sprout Social)
2: Context is the Differentiator
You might be asking yourself how you can compete when it comes to PPC and buying keywords. The answer is context. To help you better understand what I mean by context, let me first provide you with some, well, context.
In simple terms, a contextual keyword is a more specific keyword. One that your carefully determined targeted audience is searching for.
For example, here’s what happens when I search for auto insurance in Google:
As you can see, GEICO, State Farm, and Progressive largely own the top ad space for this keyword. They paid a lot of money to hold and maintain a presence in this ad space. It’s just not cost-effective for small insurance agencies to try and compete for these generic insurance keywords.
Let’s switch this up.
What if instead, I put in the keyword phrase what is the best independent insurance agency near me??
Yes, Progressive and some larger insurance providers still appeared highly in the ad section. However, so did many regional agency rating services and local agencies. This is a excellent example of the space you want to target with your ads budget. It also demonstrates how just a little bit of added context to your keywords can make an impact.
Want to learn more about bidding on Google Keywords? Watch this free Masters of Marketing webinar: Google Ads: Keywords and Bidding Tips.
Get Local and Be Specific
Here’s a great example of being creative with PPC ads on social media and search engines.
A company I worked for previously relied heavily on conferences to motivate buyers. However, competitors were in the same situation. We knew many attendees would be on their phones during a three-day conference. It was inevitable. They would be browsing social media and sharing their experiences. We also knew they would be relying on their phones to get directions, find restaurants, and entertainment during downtime. Search engines are perfect for that type of stuff.
We decided to localize ads within a 10-mile radius on social media and search engines during the duration of a competitor’s conference. As a result, we saw a significant increase in traffic to our website during this period.
Strategy and creativity win the day! The rule of thumb for winning the context battle: Think local and think specific!
If you want to learn more about geotargeting, check out these free resources:
There are many additional features offered by Facebook that can help you get the most out of your Facebook Ad budget. Facebook has tools in place to help you do just that.
Small Business Ad Plans from Facebook
Facebook understands that small business needs to be able to compete. They also understand that not everyone is a digital marketer.
They’ve created a free, powerful solution to help small businesses and their marketing teams “Take the guesswork out of Facebook Ads.” With the Facebook for Business personalized ad tool, anyone can get help creating an ad plan. All it takes is to answer a few quizzes, and the tool will provide you with what you need to get started.
How You Can Grow Without Killing Your Budget
SEM should be a cornerstone of every marketing budget. But don’t forget about SEO! You really should have a healthy mixture of about 30 percent SEM and 70 percent SEO.
The great part about SEO is it’s essentially free if you’re willing to do the work yourself. It does take time, patience, and consistency to see positive gains from SEO. But, a consistent focus on content creation, review generation, and Google My Business refinement is a great way to grow your agency’s brand awareness online!
Here are some excellent resources to learn about SEO:
- The SEO Trends That You Need to Know
- Creating Content that Resonates with Your Audience
- Can SEO Translate to Your Bottom Line (Video)
- Top SEO Ranking Factors for Insurance Websites
When it comes to keyword selection, SEO is no different from SEM. Context is key.
Use Google Analytics to determine what keywords are working best or not working at all. Make them more specific and gauge your results from there.
The landscape of search engine marketing has changed. With a marketing strategy centered around context, not just content, you can grow your agency brand online.
If you would like to learn more about how ITC’s agency marketing services, visit GetITC.com today.
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