From Online Lead to Close in 6 Steps

Automation is a serious buzz word these days. But what does it actually mean, particularly with regard to marketing? And can independent insurance agencies actually automate their marketing activities?

Right now, to generate new online leads, you are probably utilizing a combination of SEO (search engine optimization, also known as getting found organically on Google), SEM (search engine marketing, or paying for ads on Google), PPC (pay-per-click, or purchasing banner ads on local media websites), email marketing and cold calling.

Once you’ve identified your leads, the job isn’t over. It’s equally important that your team enters lead information into your agency management system, sets reminders to follow up and then follows through to a close. After closing new customers, you should properly welcome them to your agency and continuously re-evaluate them for up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.

If you’ve been in business for a while, you know that sometimes (or quite often) things slip through the cracks, resulting in lost leads and lost business. Marketing automation attempts to streamline much of the lead generation, follow-up activities, and even budgeting into an intelligent, centralized system.

Here’s a real-world example of how marketing automation can bring it all together:

  1. A prospective customer finds your website by doing a Google search. After reviewing your website, he decides to take action and fills out a form on one of the many landing pages you built using your marketing automation system.
  2. Instantly, your sales manager receives an email containing the customer’s contact information and important details such as which pages he visited, how long he was on your website and which forms he completed. In addition, your CRM automatically creates a new “lead” record with this same information, eliminating for the necessity of manual data entry by your team.
  3. Within minutes, the prospect automatically receives a personalized email from your sales manager that thanks him for requesting more information. It also presents several available times that the sales manager is available for the free consultation. The prospective customer clicks a link to confirm which time works best for his schedule.
  4. Your sales manager’s calendar is instantly updated with the new appointment—and he still has not even done any work yet!
  5. The appointment occurs and the meeting goes well. Your agency ends up winning the new client’s business.
  6. Six months later, your sales manager receives another email indicating that this customer has been spending a lot of time on your website and seems to be reading blog posts about general liability insurance. This triggers a nurture email campaign, offering additional free information to the customer. Your upselling campaign has begun, and again, the sales manager didn’t have to do anything—your marketing automation system completes the work automatically.

Before jumping headfirst into a marketing automation solution (such as Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua or Infusionsoft, to name a few), it’s important that you spend time evaluating your agency’s existing marketing processes and mapping priorities for the future. Technology can certainly add significant value to your agency, but only if you have a very specific plan for implementation.

Don’t try to do everything at once. Instead, identify specific processes that are advantageous for marketing automation and start there. In time, you’ll find that an increasing number of marketing activities naturally migrate to an automated setting.

Matt Keener is president of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC and author of the “Executive in Sweatpants: A Handbook for Launching Your Work from Home Career.”