From creating a professional website to building an email list, digital marketing strategies have become more of a task than a strategy.
As an independent insurance agent, you've had to adopt a handful of general digital marketing strategies to grow your business and stay competitive in this digital era. From creating a professional website that acts as the foundation of your digital presence to building an email list for a targeted newsletter and promotional emails, it's become more of a task than a strategy.
Other marketing tactics can include running paid advertising on Google Ads and Facebook (Meta) Ads Manager, while also generating blog posts for some search engine optimization juice as part of your content marketing strategy.
However, there are many other, less common digital marketing strategies that you can utilize to reach new prospects and grow your independent agency. Here are six examples:
1) Quora marketing. Quora is a popular, free question-and-answer website where people can ask and answer questions on a wide range of topics. As an independent agent, you can use Quora to establish yourself as an expert in your field by answering questions related to personal or commercial lines insurance.
By providing helpful and insightful answers, you can build trust with prospective customers and drive direct traffic to your website via referral and search visits. It takes less than five minutes to get started and begin answering questions immediately related to insurance.
You can also search for questions related to your niche and provide helpful answers. Be sure to include a link to your agency website in your profile and answers to drive relevant traffic and generate leads.
2) Referral marketing 2.0. Referral marketing is one of the oldest sales channels and predates the digital economy. Just adding a few simple tweaks to your existing “always-on" referral program can provide a significant sales boost.
Encouraging satisfied customers to refer their friends and family by offering rewards or discounts is definitely a first step. As a second step, you can create partnerships with cross-industry experts from non-competing verticals and horizontal industries, such as life insurance or financial wealth brokers, where you can exchange leads.
A third step would be to customize your program. For your most loyal insureds that refer their family members, offer them a double referral bonus. This will ensure you get trusted and serious leads from a channel that usually has the highest conversion rate among other marketing channels.
3) Influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is often overlooked in the insurance industry and involves partnering with social media influencers who have large followings and can promote your products to their audience. As agents, you can partner with influencers who have a strong presence in your target market, such as experts in the home buying and investment space or partner with a popular home design influencer to promote your homeowner's insurance products.
Getting started is pretty straightforward—for big deals you can work through fee-based social media influencer marketplaces, but the easier method is to research social media influencers in your niche. For example, target small- or mid-size companies and reach out to them to see if they can promote professional liability insurance.
Be sure to choose influencers who have a strong presence in your local geographic market and align with your business values.
4) Podcast advertising. Podcasts have become increasingly popular in recent years and they can be a great new way to reach potential customers. You can advertise on relevant podcasts by sponsoring episodes or running ads. For example, if you sell auto insurance, you could advertise on a popular automotive podcast.
To get started with podcast advertising, research podcasts in your niche and reach out to them with a sponsorship proposal. A challenge to be cognizant of with podcast advertising is focusing on local prospects against a more global audience. Although geographic targeting can be done, it is sometimes hard to find enough regional volume to make it feasible or sustainable.
5) Educational webinars. After spending thousands of hours on Microsoft teams and Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic for client and work-related meetings, video conferencing has become second nature. So, it's no surprise that webinars could be a natural effort for many agents.
Webinars are online events where you can provide valuable information to potential customers about the insurance & risk services you provide. Your agency could host a webinar on a hot topic, such as how to choose the right errors & omission policy or what directors & officers coverages are a must. By providing valuable information, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field and attract potential customers.
6) Localized SEO. While SEO is a mature and well-known digital marketing strategy, local SEO is often overlooked. Local SEO involves optimizing your website and digital content to rank higher in local search engine results. You can optimize your agency website for local insurance and risk-related keywords and phrases, such as "home and office insurance in [your city]" or "auto insurance near me." This can help you attract potential customers in your local area, especially if your agency is hyper-targeted in one specific region or city.
To get started, research keywords and phrases that are relevant to your insurance markets and products and include them in your website content, meta descriptions and title tags. You can also create location-specific landing pages and include your business name, address, and phone number on your website to improve your local search rankings.
Regularly monitoring and analyzing your digital performance when leveraging these—or any— digital marketing strategies can help you identify what's working and what's not, allowing you to adjust your strategies accordingly. Start by using free web analytics tools like Google Analytics to track your website traffic, social media engagement and advertising performance.
Lastly, it's good to remember digital strategies and marketing tactics are constantly evolving, and it's essential to stay up to date with the latest trends. By investing time and resources into your digital marketing efforts, you can differentiate yourself from competitors, build a strong brand, and ultimately grow your book of business.
Sachin Rustagi is head of digital at Markel International (Canada).