The new normal is something out of a George Orwell novel, or so it seems. The vast majority of the population are donning face masks as they scurry in and out of businesses and are spending an exorbitant amount of time at home and on their devices. It's a strange, new world we live in, and in order to continue to grow in the insurance industry, it's important to utilize the digital world to its full potential. Below we'll cover some important tools you should be using in order to keep your business connected and growing during these challenging times.
In a relationship business where the idea of meeting face to face is no longer feasible, it's important to utilize video chat and messaging tools to keep in touch with existing clients (if you aren't already doing so). You've worked hard to establish good working relationships with your clients and you don't want those to fade away now that you can no longer meet in person. There are so many communication tools that work easily and well and the best part...they're free. Zoom is one of the most popular video tools out there, but Skype, Google Meet and FaceTime are very user-friendly and they all get the job done well. (And FaceTime isn't just for mobile devices, if you have a Mac, you can use FaceTime with your clients on their Macs or their Apple mobile devices.)
Your older clients have adapted and have learned how to use the online world to feel connected. They know how to order groceries and takeout online, they now communicate with family members and attend church digitally. They access Telehealth resources and meet with their physicians via video chat. They get their prescriptions filled online and delivered to their homes. They've learned to embrace technology out of necessity and without technology they would feel lost. It's important to remember that your clients need to hear from you, and by embracing these tools, it makes staying connected and conducting business easier than ever.
Reviews & Online Presence
During these challenging times, it's important to have an updated website and a robust social media presence. 90% of consumers use the internet to find a local business and 82% of consumers read online reviews before they decide to do business with someone. If your website doesn't reflect current information and you have no online reviews, consumers will move on to the next insurance agent in their Google search. An online presence is absolutely critical now more than ever. Your existing clients will benefit as well. If they have questions and can find the answers on your website, that's one less phone call they have to make. Your website and online reviews reflect your business, so you want to be sure your online advertising is an accurate representation of your services and your reputation.
Email marketing is not dead and it's a fantastic way to let your clients know you're thinking about them. There are numerous email marketing providers out there and Mailchimp is one of the most popular services. They offer a free version for small businesses which will allow you to upload up to 2,000 contacts, give you access to their content studio, numerous pre-built templates and even automation. Sending out informative pieces or updating your clients about important news is made easy with a service like Mailchimp. Constant Contact is another robust email marketing service that bases pricing on the number of contacts you upload to their system. You'll get access to marketing automation, mobile-ready templates, reporting and many other features.
Submitting Electronic Business
The beauty of technology is that it allows for so many things to get done faster. This includes submitting applications, receiving payments and getting answers to questions. When you submit your business online and stop the dated paper applications, your underwriting gets approved more quickly, which means your policies get approved faster, which in turn means you get paid faster. It may seem daunting at first to make the switch from submitting paper applications and doing things the old fashioned way, but when you submit a few e-Apps, you'll get the hang of it in no time...and wonder why you haven't been doing business this way sooner. The electronic application also ensures you complete the app properly. It reduces the possibility for errors and omissions and it frees up your time to work with even more clients. Your clients can sign their applications digitally and get their policies faster than ever. Hands down, it's just a win/win for everyone.
The New Normal Isn't All Bad
The concept of social distancing isn't something that normally comes to mind when one thinks of the insurance industry. It's tried and true ways of meeting face-to-face for decades across from the kitchen table or in the client's living room is now a thing of the not-so-distant past. However, with this new normal, it's important to realize that business doesn't have to grind to a screeching halt. By implementing the use of technology in your every day business life you'll find you're actually better equipped to manage and even grow your business. How long this will be our new normal is very uncertain as COVID-19 rates continue to climb, but one thing is for certain, technology will continue to keep us connected and will be our best resource for accomplishing all that we need to in order to thrive.
If you're not on Instagram, perhaps it's time you downloaded the app and joined the other 500 million daily users? That's right. And overall, according to Instagram, there are 1 billion monthly users on the digital image and video platform. If that doesn't make you scratch your head and say "Where have I been?" maybe this will: over 50 billion photos have been shared since the platform launched in 2010. Brands are engaging with customers and clients on a daily basis, and that leads to more sales.
What should I share?
Instagram is where brands come alive with content. What do you share? That's easy! Pictures you've taken or curated, re-share customer content, videos, memes, quotes, there is no end to the types of content you can share. But keep in mind, you're promoting your brand, so think before uploading and pushing "Share".
Where and How do I share?
There are several ways to share content on Instagram. On your profile or via Instagram Stories or IGTV. If you share content on your profile, people who follow you or those who follow the hashtags you use, will see your content in their feed. This is a place to showcase your brand and let viewers see what you offer. Be creative, have fun and let your personality shine.
What are Instagram stories? Just like facebook, you can share content that only remains active for 24 hours. Haven't used Stories on facebook before? What are you waiting for? And you can cross-share on both platforms. Story content is typically content that you want to share that doesn't require a long shelf life. However, you can also promote content you've shared on your profile by sharing it to your stories as well. You can re-share content you see in your feed, and you can re-share content from other stories (if they're public and allow their content to be shared).
Should I be Public or Private?
Business accounts are public. If you have a personal account, you can choose to make it public or keep it private for just your inner crowd.
What is IGTV?
IGTV is also a standalone app that allows you to upload videos of up to an hour in length. It's similar to YouTube. However, it's also integrated within Instagram. Short videos that are 3-60 seconds in length can be shared on your profile or in your story. If you share a video longer than that length it will automatically be uploaded to IGTV. The amount of exposure you can get from sharing on both your profile and in your story and with IGTV will help you grow your agency (brand).
To hashtag or not to hashtag?
Once you establish what and where you're going to share your content, be sure to incorporate hashtags and tag relevant people or brands in your content. This helps broaden your exposure. Hashtags are a way to find content and many users follow hashtags as well as accounts. Consider coining your own personal hashtag.
Tagging accounts is different from hashtags. When you tag someone, you're mentioning them. It's just like when you mention or tag someone on facebook.
Don't forget to add locations to your posts and stories as well. You'll get more eyes on your content that way. And viewers in certain geographic areas will be able to see your content if you add your location to your story.
How do I know how my posts are doing?
Insights. When you set yourself up with a business Instagram profile, you'll get access to all types of analytics to see how your content is performing, who is viewing it and the activity it's getting. This helps you tweak your content and your posting times. And speaking of posting times, now would be a good time to take advantage of scheduling platforms like Buffer, Hootsuite, Later or SproutSocial to schedule out your content.
Once you've figure out the what and the where to post your content on Instagram, you now have to focus on the when. Yes, the when. There are preferred times to schedule out your content for maximum exposure. According to HubSpot, these are the best times to share on Instagram:
The heatmap below provided by SproutSocial indicates highest engagement times.
Should I Promote My Posts?
Promoting your posts (paid content) will get you even more exposure, and it's a good idea to think about carving out a little budget to promote certain posts that are important or that do well with likes and engagement. Again, you can promote your content on both facebook and Instagram which will give you twice the exposure.
Overall, sharing content on Instagram is yet another way to promote yourself and to get exposure. It's a free app and your posts can all be free, so why not take advantage of it?
"Before a prospect for life insurance, annuities, disability insurance or other products or services meets you in person, they might visit your website or explore your social media or call your office . A poor first impression on any of these fronts can degrade your credibility and spook the prospect."
"Though giving advice today on first impressions may seem cliché, it is perhaps MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER. Customer choice is at an all-time high. Prospects can easily click to the next search result and collect a stack of proposals before making a decision. In this ultra-competitive landscape, advisors cannot afford to botch the first impression.
"The classic wisdom of looking and behaving at your best still applies, but we have to extend that philosophy into every possible first-touch moment." Read the full article...
Source: Think Advisor , February 8, 2019, Marykay Long
Are you in need of help with your online presence? If so, we're here to assist. Don't lose prospects because your online presence needs work. Falling short with an online presence will only inhibit your ability to gain more clients. As your FMO, we want you to succeed and that means helping you with your branding and marketing. Reaching as many potential clients as possible in today's fast paced world of scrolling takes the right tools and the right knowledge. We can help you build your online presence, and we urge you to take advantage of our services.
If you don't have a website, a social media presence or even a Google listing, we need to rectify that. Simple steps that ensure you're found online need to be implemented. Referrals are fantastic, but new clients that come by way of the internet are just waiting to fall into your lap.
Visit our Marketing Resources page to learn more, and get in touch with us today.
The statistics are staggering and social media has a powerful presence when it comes to doing business. If the above numbers aren't enough evidence for you, Snapchat has 255 million users, Pinterest has 250 million users and Tumblr has 640 million users.
We've created a short survey regarding the use of social media. What we're interested in knowing is which platforms you currently use to network and get your information from.
We'd appreciate it if you would take a 60 second survey to let us know which platforms you use regularly and find most beneficial. You'll also be entered into a $100 cash prize drawing by completing the survey.
The first step in creating a digital footprint is to start off slowly, and in increments. Trying to be all over the web in one fell swoop is completely unrealistic. There are too many places to be, and it takes time to be where you want to be, and offer content that is of value.
Having worked in Sales for Lactalis Group and Apple Inc., and currently working in Marketing and Social Media Marketing, it takes time to build up a digital presence. And not all digital spaces are created equal. By implementing a digital strategy in 2018, you can help bolster your sales and broaden your network, but you must be open-minded and be ready to roll up your sleeves and do some work.
Some of the biggest misconceptions about social media is that people assume they will suddenly have clients knocking on their door the minute they create their social media platforms, and start pushing content. STOP right there. It does NOT happen overnight. It takes time to grow followers. It takes time to cultivate a community. It takes effort to deliver meaningful content. And it takes time to engage with your followers.
There are two ways to share content on social media platforms:
We haven't talked about websites and why you should or should not have one. Having a website is paramount if you're an established agent with a solid book of business and a client base that needs to find you online and your resources 24/7. If you're a new agent just looking to get established, then I have a suggestion for you. Hold off on the expense of building a website and start off slowly (again). Begin by building a business facebook page where you share (primarily) industry-related content. Sharing your story and how you came to be and personalizing your page DOES provide value, but be mindful of how much you share about your personal life. A business page is exactly that. A page for your business.
LinkedIn is another must when you're starting off. It's essential to have a LinkedIn profile because that's where industry leaders, colleagues and consumers hang out. Again, start off slowly. Build your profile and take time to craft your work history, education, accomplishments and awards to include all pertinent information about your career. And please? Don't forget to use a professional looking photo of yourself for your avatar. Being online is about connecting with others. People like to see what others look like when they're networking. Nothing screams "INCOMPLETE PROFILE" like a LinkedIn page with no picture of the person. Be professional and have someone take a well-lit picture of you if you're uncomfortable taking a selfie. You don't need to incur the expense of a professional photographer.
If you've started off slowly and now want to move on to additional platforms, then start with one you feel most comfortable with. In November Twitter lengthened the amount of characters you have to tweet with. The old 140 character limit is no longer in effect, and you now have a whopping 280 characters to play with. Instagram and Snapchat are very brand-oriented when it comes to social sharing. These platforms are more about sharing your story. These are platforms where you can share more of your personal life in combination with industry information.
If any of this sounds like I'm speaking a foreign language, or if you understand some of it, but need a little 101 on it, I'm available to help you. Everyone makes New Year resolutions and sadly many fall by the way side. Embracing technology and expanding your digital footprint on the world is beneficial for you and your business. Whether it be by launching a new website (we have referrals for you for agency websites), building your facebook business page, composing your first tweet, sending you first mass email campaign, or submitting your first electronic application, we're here to guide you and give you assistance.
Technology does not have to be challenging. Nor does it have to be a nuisance. Technology is here to assist you, and help you grow. If you're serious about expanding your digital footprint and want to take the next steps to build your online presence, reach out to me directly at 800.928.4998 ext. 8 or email me at [email protected].
I'll share some of my tips for finding news-worthy industry content. I'll give you examples of insurance agents who are killing it with their websites and social media content. I'll give you my best practices for scheduling out content. And lastly? I'll be here to show you the ropes and how to navigate the digital waters. So grab your life jacket, and give me a shout or shoot me an email.
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.