12 Best Digital Marketing Strategies for Insurance Agents
BBSI's recent referral partner survey gauged the digital marketing strategies brokers and agencies use to grow their businesses. We've compiled the results below, along with the basics of each strategy and tips on how to start leveraging them.
BBSI’s survey revealed that 71% of respondents had utilized digital marketing strategies for one year or longer. Another 24% intend to start using digital marketing channels to help grow their business. Digital marketing success hinges on adopting the right strategies for your firm, so when deciding which to prioritize, keep these 12 in mind.
1. Be Active on Social Media
71% of BBSI’s survey respondents reported being active on a social media platform, and with each passing year, this strategy achieves an increasingly wide reach. Last year, the number of active social media users nearly reached 4.5 billion, averaging 12.83% growth over five years and a 115.59% increase overall.
It’s always a wise marketing decision to target your audience where they already spend their time, so cultivating an active social media presence is essential. Plus, starting your social media presence costs nothing, making this strategy appealing to your marketing budget.
The primary value of social media strategy is humanizing your brand and enabling current and potential clients to get to know your brand better, which you can easily accomplish with regular posts. In addition to the messaging, you should use photos and short videos that put faces to company names, which will help cultivate authentic relationships with your audience.
Social media relationships have benefited businesses with the following performance metrics:
- Social media sales generate over half of all revenue across 14 major industries
- Social media influences the purchasing decisions made by 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level executives
- Companies with leading social sales initiatives convert 45% more prospects than their competitors (and are 51% more likely to hit their quotas)
2. Engage in Networking
The long-standing advice to build and leverage your network still holds true, as 47% of BBSI’s survey respondents rely on networking as a valuable digital marketing strategy.
“Developing an expanded network group allowed me to serve as a resource to prospects and leads, as well as customer referrals,” according to Lorena DeWitt of PIASC Insurance Services, Inc.
Network relationships are responsible for:
- Better closing rates (40% for customers found through business networks)
- Higher customer lifetime values (16% more than non-referred customers)
- Substantial business opportunities (Executives report that pausing their networking efforts would cost 28% of total business)
“Digital marketing is one way to increase your networking and marketing efforts to new or potential clients. I like to use LinkedIn, Sales Genie, and Salesforce to create lists and content to hyper-focus on the clients and businesses that I would like to work with in the future,” says Travis Melvin from KPD Insurance/IMA Company.
As for digital networking efforts, social media is one of the best avenues. You can use platforms like LinkedIn to find peers, potential partners, and professional groups, which will allow you to engage in networking activities without excessive travel affecting your bandwidth or budget.
3. Monitor and Request Online Reviews
41% of BBSI’s survey respondents report monitoring their online reviews, but it’s a strategy brokers should consider adopting too. Businesses generally use online reviews to highlight happy customers. But like social media, it’s also a platform where you can directly engage with people and build more trust by giving thanks for positive reviews and addressing any negative feedback that might arise.
Online reviews allow potential clients to see whether your brand lives up to the image and presence you’ve cultivated. There’s also the tangential SEO boost that comes from high-quality reviews that give you more authority, and you’ll want to embed all your positive reviews on your website to showcase them to potential clients.
Reviews have become a crucial part of being successful in the modern insurance marketplace, according to these statistics:
- 97% of customers now read online reviews for local businesses, and 90% read them before making purchasing decisions
- 85% of review readers trust the advice provided as much as a personal recommendation
Remember to actively manage your online reviews if you use this strategy. 53% of reviewers expect a one-week response time for negative reviews, and roughly 33% expect a three-day turnaround. While this might seem like a hassle, responding to negative reviews is imperative, as 45% of consumers report a greater chance of supporting businesses that respond to negative feedback. Reviews that provide objective criticism, rather than solely five-star perfection, will be viewed as a sign of authenticity by consumers.
Of course, if you believe a negative review is spam, you should notify the review platform and request its removal.
4. Utilize Email Marketing
Email marketing campaigns are another method for nurturing current and potential clients’ trust and familiarity with your brand. Regularly sending branded emails to those who have opted-in will help you stay top of mind for them. The value of sharing important industry, company, or product news demonstrates you are a partner who values their relationship and takes steps to keep them informed.
41% of BBSI’s survey respondents rely on email marketing because:
- It achieves a return on investment (ROI) of $36 per $1 spent
- Email engagements have increased by 77% from the previous year
- 64% of B2B marketers said that their 2021 email marketing campaigns were effective in meeting business goals
To get started with email marketing, you could consider starting a newsletter for existing clients. At the same time, you can use contact form submissions on your website to start building recipient lists for potential clients to whom you can send helpful insurance resources.
5. Start a Referral Program
35% of BBSI’s survey respondents have built a referral program to attract new business through their clients’ recommendations.
Starting your own referral program isn’t difficult. You merely need to determine the incentives your network of clients and partners will receive for referring new business opportunities. You should be able to afford appealing referral incentives, as referral programs generate new (and better) leads that could increase your conversion rate by 71%.
The effectiveness of this strategy relies on the most valuable type of marketing: word of mouth. Put simply, people overwhelmingly trust recommendations from others. Per Nielsen, 90% of consumers are more likely to trust purchasing advice from friends and family.
You might consider adding a form or portal to your site to modernize your referrals as part of a digital marketing strategy. If you do, be sure to include a field where the person filling it out can provide the name of the person who referred them. This will let you track your most valuable partners and ensure they receive the incentives you’ve promoted.
6. Local SEO
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is fundamental to modern marketing strategies, improving your ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs), like Google, through keywords, high-quality content, relevancy to search terms, and other techniques. It enables your website pages to rank higher on search results when people are looking for related information.
The next strategy dives into general SEO tips, but keep in mind that you should tailor this strategy based on your audience’s geographic location because of the following benefits:
- 46% of users searching Google are seeking local information
- Roughly one-quarter of all clicks are navigating to the top-ranked local business on search results
- People added phrases like “near me” to their searches 136% more frequently in 2021
You can start implementing local SEO by adding location signifiers to your keywords — such as “best insurance broker Jacksonville.” But to further improve your local results, consider building business pages on Google Business and review sites like Yelp or the Better Business Bureau. These third-party listings will show up better in users’ localized searches, but you can also achieve similar results by adding location-targeted landing pages to your main website.
35% of BBSI’s survey respondents say they’ve initiated a local SEO strategy to aim for high SERP rankings for local insurance searches.
7. Content and SEO Marketing
Beyond efforts to capture localized searches, you should also improve the overall searchability of your website pages with high-quality, keyword-optimized content. 29% of BBSI’s survey respondents are actively engaged in this effort.
Keywords refer to the common search terms people use when looking for information through Google and other search engines. If you make sure to populate your content with relevant keywords, you increase your chances of showing up higher on search engine results pages. Aside from the presence of keywords, search engines also use “crawlers” to scan and assess websites when determining which pages may be most relevant to users’ search terms.
The better written and more informative the content is, the more likely Google links to and uses it within high-value widgets on results pages (e.g., featured snippets, answering questions under “People Also Ask,” etc.). SEO content delivers quantifiable results:
- Regularly posting content generates 97% more leads than not
- 78% of clients feel that posting authored content indicates the desire to build good relationships
- 61% of consumers report placing greater trust in insurance companies and are more likely to become a client if they post custom-authored content
So, the trick with content marketing is emphasizing well-written, helpful information, like blog posts or content-focused landing pages.
“We've optimized and refined numerous aspects of our SEO to appear for both national and localized keywords in targeted topics. Ultimately, focusing on a holistic blend of content and SEO in our marketing has built our brand awareness, attracted leads, and directly influenced our lead generation efforts, ” says Cassidy Jakovickas from MBS Accountancy.
Beware of trying to pack what you publish on your site with keywords if that information presents little value to the people who click your links. This is a detrimental practice known as “keyword stuffing,” which generally leads to higher “bounce rates” (i.e., visitors who quickly leave your site) that negatively affect your SEO strategy’s effectiveness.
8. Create Co-Marketing Materials and Opportunities With Other Service Providers
Some marketing efforts are simply better together, and 29% of BBSI’s survey respondents who engage with other brands for co-marketing agree. When you partner with another broker or company adjacent to your industry, you create more buzz, provide additional expertise, and reach larger audiences than your own — often with less effort. If the audience trusts who you’re collaborating with, they’re much more likely to also trust you.
Consider the following for co-marketing opportunities:
- Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), like BBSI and our other Referral Partners
- Brokers who specialize in other types of insurance, like commercial if you handle auto
- Other members of any professional association you belong to
- Banks providing small business loans or mortgages
- Real estate agents
9. Host or Co-Host Webinars
29% of BBSI’s survey respondents have started using webinars for digital marketing after seeing how they provide brokers with an accessible format for directly demonstrating their expertise to attendees. You can easily schedule your subject matter experts (SMEs) for webinar events to generate leads, educate on your services or industry news, and build greater trust among partners, prospects, and current clients.
If you’re concerned about convincing attendees to sign up, the statistics on webinars’ effectiveness reveal that people will want to participate if you make them educational and actionable.
- Most professionals prefer video-based learning, according to one study, with 85% further specifying that they prefer webinars
- 94% of that study’s participants watch webinars monthly
Webinars also present an excellent opportunity to engage in co-marketing with your partners and expand the resources and information you make available to participants.
10. Guest Blogging
Guest posting — or writing and publishing your own content on another site — is another way to create a wider-reaching network and take advantage of co-marketing opportunities. You can post on another broker, agency, or third-party site to:
- Increase your exposure and audience reach
- Build new relationships
- Improve your own SEO performance with backlinks
- Move 300% more leads through your sales funnel and increase direct sales by 75%
23.5% of BBSI survey respondents currently post guest blogs, which may increase as more brokers consider incorporating content marketing into their digital strategies. Guest blogs are an easy marketing channel to add once your content marketing initiative is underway.
11. Produce Videos
When you create videos for specialized purposes (e.g., brand videos for awareness, webinars for education), you can use them to target specific audiences (known as “segments”) with your campaigns. Tailoring your video and other digital marketing content for smaller segments makes them more pertinent and impactful for recipients.
“Producing videos and being visible on social media definitely raises your visibility and credibility,” says Dianne Kelley from Sandbrook Benefits Group LLC.
You can leverage videos to:
- Improve consumer’s brand recognition — 139% — and purchase intent — 97%
- Generate website traffic, as 75% of video viewers will navigate to yours after watching your videos
23.5% of BBSI’s survey respondents currently produce videos, but this strategy may see some of the fastest adoption rates moving forward, as 54% of consumers want to see more video content.
12. Run Paid Ad Campaigns
When people use search engines or scroll through social media, pay-per-click (PPC) strategies give your ads direct exposure based on the searched keywords you select the ads to appear for or people’s expressed interests.
Many of the strategies in this list can be started with just a little time and effort, and you shouldn’t disregard paid ad campaigns because of their cost. 6% of BBSI’s survey respondents leverage paid ad campaigns, making it the least adopted of the strategies polled — which may be due to the capital expense required.
With PPC, you’re targeting consumers who have already expressed an interest in similar products and services, which helps boost your conversions and increase your brand awareness among potential clients. If the expense is a concern — you only pay when people click the ads, and you can easily manage how much you’re willing to spend on your campaign per keyword to stay on budget. When you hit those limits, PPC ads are automatically paused for the month.
Businesses adopting PPC have achieved:
- 80% increase in brand awareness by using Google Ads
- 200% ROI on their campaigns
- 50% more conversions on PPC campaigns over organic (i.e., not paid) advertising
13. Bonus Tip: Start a Podcast
One of the fastest-growing forms of digital media in recent years has been podcasts, with 162 million Americans having listened to one. So, it’s no surprise that BBSI’s Referral Partners recommended this channel as a bonus suggestion. For brokers, podcasts represent a marketing opportunity to reach new audiences while promoting your brand’s story, products, and services:
- 60% of podcast listeners report buying products based on podcast ads
- 69% say podcasts increase their awareness of a brand’s offerings
- 81% report paying more attention to podcast ads than other forms of marketing
“It’s a medium that is way more intimate than others, and not even social media shows a peek of the agent as an authentic person the same way that listening to them on a podcast does,” says Becky Schroeder, Chief Marketing Officer at Insurance Technologies Corporation.
Getting Started With Digital Marketing: Key Takeaways
While nearly all respondents currently utilize digital marketing or expect to soon, BBSI’s survey also demonstrated that some strategies are much more popular than others. This leads to two major insights:
- Omni- or multichannel digital marketing is necessary: BBSI's survey (and a data-backed consensus) shows that success relies on combining multiple strategies or "channels" (e.g., social media, local SEO, paid ads). Restricting yourself to one minimizes your audience and risks missing potential clients at the right time. In contrast, leveraging three or more channels leads to a nearly 500% increase in conversions over single-channel efforts.
- Try less-competitive strategies: The survey results ranked by utilization and presented above demonstrate that some tried-and-true channels should be adopted. But brokers can leverage the less-competitive channels toward the bottom of this list, where catching potential clients’ attention may be easier. When evaluating your potential strategies, consider whether you can adopt some that other brokers have yet to pursue.
Keep in mind that different strategies serve different engagement purposes. One may drive referral business, while another boosts organic leads and conversions. So when considering which strategies to adopt, make sure they complement each other and reach a wide audience.
“I firmly believe that an agency's digital marketing strategy must incorporate a mix of all forms available. An agency will not succeed in implementing one strategy; instead, it must implement ALL strategies. And an agency must be consistent and determined in its approach because not all efforts result in immediate success. As a result of our continual digital marketing over the past 12 years, we have built our brand to now enjoy a steady flow of inbound business and opportunity. Also, we now have enough content to repurpose it over the various channels of digital marketing to reach a broader audience and our target markets,” says Mike Fusco of Fusco Orsini & Associates.
Don’t shy away from experiments, either. You can try out a strategy with smaller, targeted campaigns to gain familiarity and gather data on its effectiveness. Conduct controlled experiments with your messaging, timing, and other campaign variables, then analyze your performance for new marketing insights. You might apply this approach to building a referral program by choosing a select group of your best clients for a soft launch or make managing and responding to online reviews a top marketing priority for one month.
The experience you gain will help further optimize your marketing efforts and reach audiences at the right time with the right message.
Disclaimer: The contents of this white paper/blog have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. The content does not provide legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between BBSI, the author(s), or the publishers and you. You should not act or refrain from acting on any legal matter based on the content without seeking professional counsel.
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