This article was recently published in the Insurance Insight September Issue in association with the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois. I wanted to share it with my blog readers as well. Please note this article was addressed to other independent insurance agents.
When discussing digital marketing (social media, blogging, email newsletters, etc.) with other insurance professionals, one of the first questions I am often asked is “what’s your return on investment?” This is a fair question, but return on investment (ROI) can be difficult to put into pure numbers. This isn’t to dodge the question, but I have found from personal experience that digital marketing can do much more than simply improving the bottom line.
Don’t get me wrong, digital marketing helps turn suspects into prospects and prospects into customers, but it also provides intangibles that can’t be tracked by numbers alone.
How do you put a number on improving relationships, adding credibility, improving your knowledge, networking with peers, and creating a brand? Yes, I have written new accounts using digital technology, but I have seen my some of my greatest ROI from non-monetary sources. At least non-monetary for now!
Five reasons why using digital marketing can be more valuable than simply writing new accounts.
1) Enhances Relationships with prospects and customers
As insurance sales professionals, our job is to enhance relationships with prospects and current clients and get them to know and like us. Nothing beats a face to face meeting or a phone call, but why limit yourself? Great relationships are the key to obtaining and keeping clients.
Technology has allowed us to communicate with our prospects and customers 24/7. People can read your blog anytime of the day and get to know and like you. Having a Facebook page or other social media outlets will also allow your prospects and clients to know and like you better. Plus, they are able to interact by commenting or engaging in discussions.
Webinars, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. have allowed us to enhance our communication beyond simply face to face meetings or through the phone.
By being available online we become much more than just an “insurance professional.” We become more visible and accessible. Agents and agencies become real people who prospects and clients can better relate with on a more personal level.
Nothing beats a good handshake, smile, and solid eye contact, but why not take advantage of technology. Like it or not, your prospects are using social media every day. If you don’t interact with them, your competition probably will.
2) Improves Credibility
Besides prospects and clients simply knowing and liking us better, we also want them to trust us. Sharing our knowledge and information through a blog post, social media update, webinar, email, etc. provides instant credibility.
We are insurance “professionals.” Insurance agents are no different from a doctor, lawyer, accountant, or any other highly respected service professional.
Digital marketing will substantiate your credibility. Writing a blog post about an important coverage or industry trend shows not only your current clients, but hundreds to thousands of potential prospects that you understand and care about your industry.
Let me ask you a question. What do you think is more powerful to a prospect? Giving them an agency brochure, or having them contact you regarding a blog post or Facebook update that engages them in regards to a specific question?
What if a prospect Google’s a term like, “workers compensation in Illinois” and a related blog post you wrote comes up. That is some serious power and credibility.
By being present online with valuable information, you become more than an insurance agent, you become a resource. How’s that for credibility?
3) Increases Knowledge and Creativity
When you write a blog post or post a valuable status update you are forced to think and create. Although we may have great knowledge of our industry or niche it takes additional work to put that knowledge down on paper (or keyboard in this case).
Yes, this takes some time and effort, but I am amazed at what putting ideas down in writing does for critical thinking. When you write, the gears in your brain will kick into overdrive. Ideas form that we may have never come up with before. We become more creative and want to share these thoughts to help others.
Also, by writing on topics in your industry, you will be forced to learn more about your subject. You may have to actually do research which will help you continually grow and be knowledgeable. This will leapfrog you ahead of your competition.
4) Provides Limitless Networking Among Peers
One of the greatest benefits technology and digital marketing has provided me is the ability to network with other amazing insurance professionals across the country. I love going to industry events and learning from other agents and companies. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and of course Linked In, I have an endless supply of resources to discuss insurance topics, marketing, and anything else that may improve my business. The best part is that because most of these professionals are scattered across the country, there is usually no direct competition.
To give you an example, I have been fortunate to meet with a select group of insurance professional once a month through Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts is a live video conference where up to 10 people can attend. We spend 30-60 minutes discussing insurance and marketing topics and it has been a huge asset for my insurance business.
You can do the same thing. Get involved with various social media sites. You don’t have to do them all, but pick one or two. Linked In is probably the best way to interact with other insurance professionals. There are hundreds of great insurance groups that you can join.
Find other insurance websites and blogs and comment or simply touch base. Most insurance professionals I have met online have been open and excited to share knowledge. At the end of the day, we are all on the same team. We want to provide superior service to our customers. Use technology to help you learn, share, and grow.
5) Creates Your Brand
What is your brand or your agency’s brand? Most of don’t know. Using digital marketing can help establish your brand. Use your strengths to solidify what you are all about and how you can best help your customers.
Maybe your brand is a specific industry niche, knowledge of specific coverage, or being a valuable resource to your community. Use digital marketing to build this brand. You get to choose how you are perceived and how you add value to your customers by writing blog posts, status updates, and through e-mail newsletters.
You don’t need to run expensive ads to build this brand. You just need to put in some time, thought, and creativity. Apple is known for innovation, Mercedes Benz for luxury, and Geico for being cheap. What’s your agency or personal brand?
The bottom line is that although digital marketing can and will improve your sales numbers, much more can be achieved. Thanks to technology, we can share our ideas and knowledge like no other time in history. We can connect, engage, and provide value. Don’t miss this opportunity.