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8 Steps to Bolster Your Agency's Digital Footprint

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1. Independent Insurance Marketing 8 Steps to Bolster Your Agency’s Digital Footprint 2. 2 CONTENTS STEP 1: Assess the Situation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .…
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  • 1. Independent Insurance Marketing 8 Steps to Bolster Your Agency’s Digital Footprint
  • 2. 2 CONTENTS STEP 1: Assess the Situation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 STEP 2: Establish Consistency. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 STEP 3: Create a Local Presence.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 STEP 4: Solicit Reviews. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 STEP 5: Grab Google’s Attention. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 STEP 6: Harness the Power of SEO. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 STEP 7: Shape Your Social Presence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 STEP 8: Tie it Together. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Partner Right for Online Success. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 APPENDIX: Digital Footprint Assessment Table.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 About SIS and Partner XE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
  • 3. 3 If someone Googles your agency, what will they find? Will they find you at all? What will they think of your agency once they do? It depends on the breadth and quality of your digital footprint. In other words, it’s contingent upon the way your agency is represented online—and not just in outlets under your immediate control. A digital footprint includes everything from your website and social media profile to social media mentions, reviews, and local listings. Is yours where it needs to be? Follow these eight steps to optimize your digital footprint and stand out from the competition. 3 A recent BrightLocal survey showed 92% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews.1
  • 4. 4 Step1 Assess the Situation Once you complete the table, determine places to enhance and places to build. The first are mentions by your agency or others. The second is where you’re surprisingly absent and need to build a presence. Start simple. Take stock of where your agency appears online using a number of different search engines: Google, Bing, and Yahoo! You may be surprised at what you find—or don’t. Use the table in the appendix to take note of what’s out there.
  • 5. 5 Before enhancing and building, look at what already exists and pay attention to consistency. Is your messaging cohesive across your current digital footprint elements? If not, you need to pause and come up with cohesive branding. At a minimum, your agency needs a clear mission, logo, and list of services. Once you have clear brand messaging, you’re ready to shape your footprint. Establish Consistency Step2
  • 6. 6 As an independent insurance agency, your locality is your niche. It’s important for your insurance marketing to be well known in local listings. And no, we’re not talking the phone book. Local listing sites are a phone book for the digital age. The most popular include: n Google + n Yelp! n Bing Local n SuperPages n Yahoo! Local n Manta n YellowPages Create a Local Presence Step3 According to a 2014 Google survey, 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information
  • 7. 7 From step 1, you should know where you’re listed and where you’re not. Follow steps on each site to validate your current listings, taking control and deleting any duplicates. Make sure you have only one listing per site. Multiple listings are confusing and often provide conflicting information, making your agency look bad. Make sure information is correct on each listing. Again, bad information reflects poorly on your agency. Add as much detail as possible and keep it consistent across listings. Remember to check back and regularly update listings as part of your insurance marketing plan. Sites like Moz Local allow you to create, find, and edit all your listings in one place Key Take-away Key Take-away
  • 8. 8 Online reviewing is one of the most popular ways for consumers to share their views. Sites like Amazon and eBay allow users to rate products and experiences, and review sites do the same for businesses. Positive online reviews have a two- fold benefit: your name is out there online and it’s attached to authentic customer experiences. The key is ensuring reviews reflect a positive view of your agency. Top review sites include: n Angie’s List n Yelp! n Better Business Bureau n Expresit n Manta n Google + Solicit Reviews A recent Reputation Loop article found reviews have an impact on search engine ranking as they provide the most recent information on your business Notice that some of these sites are also local listings. As with local listings, start out by claiming listings and deleting duplicates. Next, ask loyal customers for reviews. Offer special incentives to entice reviewers, but don’t feed them what to say. Reviews should be authentic. Finally, respond to negative reviews. This shows that you care about improving your agency and hopefully converts negative brand ambassadors into positive ones. Step 4 Key Take-away Key Take-away
  • 9. 9 Despite others’ attempts to dethrone it, Google remains the gold standard of search. So make sure you get its attention—and keep it. One of the first things you can do to get Google’s attention is create a Google+ page. While Google+ isn’t the most popular social media site, Google puts high emphasis on its products. Once on Google+, you’re added to Google’s multiple products such as Google Maps. In one move, this increases your web presence and connection to reliable web sources, contributing to a higher search rank. Grab Google’s Attention Step 5
  • 10. 10 Next, focus on search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. SEO friendly sites: Are mobile ready: Google officially stated that mobile- friendly sites rank higher than those that are not. Link to quality sites: With search, it is about who you know. Linking to high ranking sites boosts your agency’s rank. Gain quality links: Similarly, when a highly ranked site links back to your agency, your rank increases. Target relevant keywords: Keyword targeting is the most popular and effective method to improve your search rank. Identify best keywords through tools like Google’s Keyword Planner for use on your website and in your site’s code. Harness the Power of SEO Using Keywords n Go for local (i.e. Columbus insurance agency) Step 6 Use keywords in: n Content title n Content body n Page titles n Page URLs n Alt tags n Title tags n Image tags n H1 tags Key Take-away Key Take-away
  • 11. 11 Your social presence shapes your agency brand and creates more links to credible sites. There are thousands of social media sites worldwide and dozens used on a regular basis, so it may seem overwhelming to sign up. Focus your energy on these top five sites: n Facebook: ideal for sharing articles, events, photo albums, videos—anything and everything that shows who you are as an agency and positions you as an expert. n Twitter: great for sharing interesting links and single photos. Twitter’s hashtag makes it easy to follow and share industry news. n YouTube: this video platform, owned by Google, is a powerful tool for conveying your agency’s brand and telling your story. n LinkedIn: used for sharing business news and connecting with thought leaders, positioning your agency as an expert in your field. n Google+: again, though Google+ isn’t the most popular, its link to Google makes it a priority. Shape Your Social Presence Leverage tools such as Hootsuite to manage all your social sites, including scheduling posting. Step 7 Key Take-away Key Take-away
  • 12. 12 Each platform provides you with a profile, which your agency should fill out in detail. Consistency is key. Align what you put in your social profiles with the information in your local listings. The more your agency’s name is attached to the same information, the easier it is for search engines to link them together as one cohesive digital presence. Other social best practices include: n Share all agency content (blog posts, whitepapers, press releases) across platforms n Have a regular posting cadence, staying on top of users’ minds without spamming their feeds n Provide engagement opportunities through surveys, posing questions, or asking for photos, comments, and likes n Use keywords in your posts and profiles for an additional search ranking boost n Post quality content: only share something you’d want to read or view yourself
  • 13. 13 The more ways you can get your agency’s name out there online, the better. The key is consistency and quality. Make sure your online footprint is cohesive by ensuring your agency name, address, phone number, and all branding elements (mission, value, logo) are the same across the web. This takes consistent checking in, and should be built into your insurance marketing plan. Tie it Together Step 8
  • 14. 14 At SIS, we understand the importance and complexity of building an online footprint thanks to our partnership and roots with NuGrowth Digital—a world-class B2B marketing agency. We regularly seek advice from our trusted partners and share our insights with the SIS community. To find out more about our community of agencies, carriers, and partner organizations, contact us today. Partner Right for Online Success
  • 15. 15 Appendix Digital Footprint Assessment Table Footprint Elements Overall Positive, Negative or Neutral Tone Enhance or Build Facebook Mentions Positive: Some mentioning poor customer Enhance – respond to messages service experience, but most praising Build – use same “About Us” personal service as Facebook Agency Twitter N/A Agency website Agency Blog Agency Facebook Agency Twitter Agency LinkedIn Agency Google+ Yelp Google Local Yahoo! Local Bing Local Facebook Mentions Twitter Mentions LinkedIn Mentions Google+ Mentions Angie’s List SuperPages Google Review Manta YellowPages Better Business Bureau SampleAgencyControlledNotControlledbyAgency
  • 16. 16 About SIS Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Strategic Insurance Software (SIS) is the team behind Partner XE, an innovative web-based insurance agency management system helping independent agents break free from the status quo. Partner XE is easy to use, streamlines workflows and enables agencies to run their business more affordably and effectively. Built on a foundation of strong technology and exceptional service, we’re moving forward with a constant eye on innovation that will make independent agents’ lives easier. For more information, please visit http://www.sisware.com. About Partner XE Supporting downloads from over 325 carriers, real-time interaction, integrated agency accounting, and much more, Partner XE is a full-featured agency management system at an affordable cost for the independent insurance agency. 4181 Arlingate Plaza, Columbus, Ohio 43228 | 800.747.9273 | www.sisware.com
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