The Niche Market as the Future of Independent Insurance Agency Marketing

The Niche Market as the Future of Independent Insurance Agency Marketing

Your insurance agency’s marketing goal is to stand out among the noise. Identifying and investing in serving a niche market is one of the most efficient and effective ways to achieve this challenging goal.

When you serve a niche market, you have less competition, making it easier to gain new customers in a specific arena. Your agency is set apart as providing “X” type of insurance, making you distinctive. PIA National’s 2022 Independent Agent Survey found that respondents devoted more than 20% of their book of business to a niche market. You, too, can capitalize on this valuable strategy. 

Identifying Your Niche

The first step in capitalizing on a niche market is deciding where to focus. There are a few factors to consider when selecting a niche market, such as market saturation, agency expertise, and interests. It’s best to find a niche that has a low market saturation, is an area your agency has some knowledge about, and one that is particularly interesting to you or members of your team. With these elements combined, you are more likely to break into this niche area successfully.

One of the ways you can find your niche is by looking at your agency data. See if there is a specific area where you see a coverage gap or a pattern in your longest-standing customers. You can also talk with your team and see what problems they find interesting. From there, do research to identify the need for this particular niche in the markets you serve and gain some baseline understanding of what this particular area needs in terms of coverage.

Capitalizing on Your Niche

Once you know your target area, start gathering as much data as possible. Use your internal analytics to see who among your customers may have interest, and leverage marketing automation to serve them information about your new coverage. This data will also help you see how you can grow this niche area by identifying common coverage among this segment.

You’ll also need to grow your expertise in this specific niche area. While you should already have a baseline, you need significant depth to establish yourself as the go-to agency. Invest time in learning more about your niche market. Attend conferences and get involved in industry groups to get on-the-ground intel about what individuals or businesses in your niche want and need. Get endorsements from your current niche customers. The more you can show off your expertise, the better.

Marketing Your Niche

Your next step is to market your niche to customers and prospects. The only way you can capitalize on your target area is to let people know you’re an expert in that specific arena. Start by adjusting your SEO strategy, and adding keywords that pertain to your particular niche. Add those words to your website and, if possible, invest in online ads to pop up when individuals search for that niche within your coverage area.

Beyond SEO, you should also add a page about your niche on your website and, if you have a blog, add a category dedicated to it. Be intentional about producing content related to your niche and highlight it regularly on your social media. Another great marketing avenue is to provide informational sessions to local businesses or organizations that fit your niche profile. The goal is to get your name associated with your niche anywhere and everywhere.

Other Elements to Consider

A few other areas to consider when breaking into your niche are carrier coverage, staffing, and internal processes. Before diving into your niche, be sure you have at least one carrier that covers your determined area. Ideally, you should have three to five carriers available to offer some choice for customers.

You should also consider adjusting your team structure and internal processes to facilitate your niche coverage. Perhaps you have individuals who already have some expertise in the niche area you can move into new positions. Maybe you need to start looking for a new hire to manage your new specialty better. Consider the updates you need to make ahead of launching your new initiative.

Partnering with the Right Provider to Help You Find Your Niche

At Partner Platform, we’re constantly working on making it easier for our agencies to grow their reach. Our integrated data and analytics make it simple to gain the information you need to identify and capitalize on your niche. From there, our Marketing Automation Manager and Producer Results Manager CRM are designed to help our agencies get the word out and track engagement.

See how we’re working with our tech partners to stay on the cutting edge, keeping our Partner Platform agencies nimble and a step ahead of the rest. Fill out a contact form here or get in touch at [email protected] or 800.747.7005, Option 6 to find out more.

Planning for the Next Stage in Insurance Agency Management: Perpetuation

Planning for the Next Stage in Insurance Agency Management: Perpetuation

Over the past few years, there has been a surge in insurance agency management transitions. Mergers and acquisitions specifically are on the rise, with an estimated 550 deals, up 12% from the previous year, in the first quarter of 2021. While these transitions can be profitable for owners, they can come with significant trepidation and worry from employees and customers.

As an owner, you need to start thinking ahead about how to prepare your agency for its eventual ownership transition. Whether you plan to perpetuate internally or externally, it’s essential that you prepare. That preparation includes setting your agency up for its highest valuation, prepping your team, and investing in tools and processes to bring your agency into the future.

Financial Prep

One of your top goals should be to set your agency up to gain its highest valuation. Whether you’re selling internally or externally, it’s beneficial to add the most value possible to your business. Spend time defining the methods you’ll use to determine your worth and focus on how to boost them. One of the best ways to increase your value is to focus on a niche market. Carve out a few areas that you specialize in, and capitalize on that exclusivity.

Tech Prep

Part of increasing your value is equipping your agency with the tech it needs to stay competitive in the market. Invest in critical insurtech like a cloud-based management system and integrated accounting. Successful agencies have turned their focus to customer tech tools like a client portal and branded agency app. You’ll also need marketing automation and a customer relationship management tool to stay on top of valuable data to inform your marketing and service plans.

Beyond the technology itself, you also need to train all of your team on each new tool. Even if you don’t anticipate a particular team member or group will frequently use a new piece of tech, they still need to know what it is, how it works, and why it’s valuable. Keeping your team educated is part of setting your agency up for a successful future.

Staff Prep

As you create a perpetuation plan, keep your staff involved in the process. You need to be aware of how each department and team member is performing as part of your valuation process. The more open and connected you are with your team, the better they’ll perform since they’ll be more invested in future success.

Open communication also helps ease any anxiety around change. Change is uncomfortable in any context, but especially when it comes to one’s job. Continual training on new technology and a slow introduction of process updates can help normalize change in your office.

Partner Right to Prepare for the Future

Who you partner with has a significant effect on your agency’s future. We at Partner Platform know how important it is for our agencies to be well-equipped with the best technology and training to stay competitive in the market.

That’s why we invest in tech and training for all our Partner Platform agencies. And our technology partners help us stay ahead of the curve for the best insurtech to serve both our agencies and their customers.

Hear from our agencies about their experiences here. Or, get in touch today at [email protected] or 800.747.7005, Option 6, to find out more.

Underwriting Automation: How to Implement this Insurtech System

Underwriting Automation: How to Implement this Insurtech System

Automation plays a significant role in many industries, and insurance is no exception. The rapid innovations of insurtech have thrust data and automation into the forefront of ways to improve and enhance agency operations.

One of the most prominent data automation uses is in the underwriting process. Due to digitized automation processes, agencies are seeing loss ratios decrease and overall premiums increase. According to Willis Towers Watson, over 60% of agencies surveyed say the predictive analytics of automated underwriting have reduced issues and brought down expenses.

Underwriting automation has great value, but the wealth of data and required processing power can be daunting for the average agency. Yet, if your agency can put in place the right processes and people to gain and manage underwriting data, you can see a big change.

Why Invest in Underwriting Automation Insurtech

Data analysis is central to automation, and such advanced analytics can improve customer experience, increase process efficiency, and help inform better decisions in the underwriting process. This tech takes a massive burden off of underwriters who may manually scrub data to validate information before putting forth a policy proposal. With automation, the speed and accuracy of the underwriting process can increase.

Other benefits include making it easier on customers. Predictive analysis through automation can lift the burden of information from potential customers, meaning they will have fewer questions to answer to get their policy quotes. Automation can also improve policy personalization, making it easier for you to provide the most cost-effective quote.

How to Get Started in Underwriting Automation

There are a few “musts” to put in place before your agency can integrate underwriting automation into your processes. Some of those elements include:

  • Hire data-minded individuals and partners to manage data gathering and analysis
  • Understand what data to target (i.e., what do you need to inform commercial, personal line policies?)
  • Employ eforms and other paperless, digitized processes to make data integration easier

Though this list is short, the effort it takes to tackle these areas is significant. It’s your imperative as an agency to ensure you have the right people, processes, and tools in place to employ automated underwriting with fidelity.

What Pitfalls to Watch for When Implementing Automated Underwriting

When introducing any new system or process, there are some common mistakes to watch for during implementation. One of the first is to ensure your management system is up-to-date. By this we mean that your system is able to handle large amounts of data and can easily share data with other insurtech systems. You need the right technology in place before you begin gathering and analyzing large volumes of data.

Another area to pay attention to is who is managing your underwriting data. Whether you’re using an outside partner or have a well-equipped internal team, you need a group of people to take charge of underwriting data processing and analysis. Though your whole staff should be on board to implement this shift in processes, you need a dedicated team to handle the day-to-day work of ensuring data accuracy.

A final focal point is watching out for misclassification of risk. Though automated underwriting processes are quite robust, they rely on human input for some functions. This is why you need a dedicated team to pay attention to your underwriting processes. Small changes like a customer getting a new job, a change in crimes rates in a particular area, or other natural occurrences can drastically change policies. Ensure your team pays attention to these adjustments and enacts them in your underwriting.

Who to Partner with for the Latest in Insurtech

Our Partner Platform team understands that the amount of data analytics needed for underwriting automation is significant, and agencies need the right tools to manage it. Our Partner Platform agency management system suite is designed to handle large volumes of data and easily connect with various insurtech systems.

We work closely with our tech partners to make every step of the underwriting process easier for our Partner Platform agencies, equipping them with the best systems from like-minded partners.

Discover more about our robust Partner Platform agency management system, top-of-the-line integrations, and our Partner Platform community at sispartnerplatform.com.

What You Need to Know About Insurance Agency Marketing

What You Need to Know About Insurance Agency Marketing

A lot has changed over the past few years due to the unexpected disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. All industries felt the impact, and the insurance industry is no exception. One of the most notable disruptions is the speed at which changes took place, especially around customer expectations and marketing.

What Your Agency Needs to Know About Insurance Marketing

Changes in insurance agency marketing that were projected to solidify in 5 to 10 years ended up evolving rapidly in just two. Chances are you’ve already made some of these adjustments to keep up with immediate demand, but there are other more “behind the scenes” adjustments agencies are making that you should note.

1) Know how people find you

Do you know how clients are ending up at your agency? Whether through referrals, phone calls, or other methods, you need to know and understand how to capitalize on those areas.

One of the most prominent channels these days is online searches. Surveys show that almost 70% of consumers run an online search before reaching out to an agency. And, over 65% of insurance consumers did not have a specific agency in mind when they started their search. Queries for terms like “insurance near me” have grown by over 100% in the past two years. Are you poised to show up in the results?

As a result of this uptick in online searches, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is extremely valuable. Pay attention to what’s on your website, focusing on adding specific key search terms throughout your pages for ideal optimization. Paid advertising on search engines like Google and Bing can also boost your visibility but at a cost. Some of these ads cost more than $50 per click, putting them at the high end of search engine advertising.

How your website looks is also a factor. Over 50% of online searches for insurance take place on mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you can quickly turn a potential customer away. And, Google includes mobile optimization as part of their algorithm, meaning you can be dinged if you have an incompatible site. Your site should be mobile optimized, easy to navigate and provide a clear way for interested visitors to get in touch.

2) Know how prospects make decisions

As an agency, you need to understand a potential buyer’s thinking when evaluating their insurance options. Price and types of insurance offered remain top of the list as decisive factors, but service quality is becoming more prominent.

To hit on potential customer needs, your agency should offer various ways for customers to get in touch with you. Offer online, text, phone, chat, and in-person options to fit varying consumer preferences. Self-service portals and mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular as a first contact source to get in touch and gather the information prospects need to decide.

Yet, surveys showed 78% of insurance customers called an agency after running a search, and 62% said talking with an insurance rep was the “most influential factor” in making their decision. This shows that your online presence matters, but your human service interactions matter, too.

When Your Service Makes a Difference

Specific turning points in the customer’s journey make a big difference. What you do in those moments can either turn a prospect into a customer or turn a prospect away. Some of those critical moments include:

1) Your response time and quality

The immediacy, accuracy, and overall quality of your response to initial outreach make a big difference in how customers and prospects perceive your agency. Surveys show most callers hang up after waiting about 90 seconds for a response, so you need to ensure you’re connecting with individuals quickly.

Systems like marketing automation are extremely valuable here as they instantly send a response to individuals who email, fill out a contact form, or connect via chat, among other contact methods. To add quality to your responses, connect your marketing automation with your insurance CRM to automatically create follow-up tasks so you can connect on a personal level.

2) Your level of personalization

Along with the rise in demand for immediate, digital service, customers are also asking for more personalization and human connection. Almost 90% of insurance customers surveyed said they demand more personalization from their providers. And, 84% of marketers said phone calls have higher conversion rates than other outreach methods. The personal connection found in a phone call still matters.

You can create opportunities for personalization via digital connections, too. Marketing automation is designed to make emails, social media connections, and other forms of digital outreach as targeted to each individual recipient as possible. The takeaway here is that your agency needs to offer multiple avenues for connection to meet the varying needs of your growing customer base.

Who Can Help Your Agency Stay Nimble

Our Partner Platform team and agency community are committed to understanding growing insurance marketing and service trends. We provide regular webinars, in-person trainings, and an annual user conference as just a few ways to connect and discuss changes in the market.

Plus, our partners in the insurance tech industry help our community stay up-to-date on the latest technology, keeping our Partner Platform agencies well equipped.

Find out more about our Partner Platform community and how to get connected: contact us at [email protected] or 800.747.7005, Option 6.

Source: https://www.invoca.com/blog/insurance-marketing-statistics

Insurance Tech Tips: Read this Before You Text Your Customers

Insurance Tech Tips: Read this Before You Text Your Customers

Texting has quickly become one of the most popular and efficient pieces of insurance tech. Almost 90% of consumers say they’d like to be able to text businesses. It improves communication by making it easier to get in touch and get a response from customers and prospects, streamlining outreach with automation and integration into agency systems. Studies show that 98% of text messages are read, compared to 20-30% of emails and phone calls.

Texting is one of the tools all your team members can use, from producers to CSRs, as it speeds up communications and helps your agency move.

How to Leverage Texting

More than 80% of consumers say they prefer texting with an insurance company for many reasons. Agencies can use texting for:

  • Sending appointment reminders
  • Announcing events and updated
  • Sending weather or other emergency alerts
  • Confirming payment and claims processing
  • Offerings special discounts
  • Submitting claim information
  • Asking for reviews and feedback

One element to remember with announcements, review solicitation, and discount texts is to manage how often you send messages. While all of these notifications are helpful to your customers, you shouldn’t be texting daily and never more than once a day. Just as people don’t like spam email or phone calls, they also don’t like spam texts.

Other Important Texting Tips

Along with managing how often you send texts, there are a few other important areas to consider as part of your texting strategies.

  1. Have users opt-in to receive texts. You’re legally required to either ask customers to sign up or give their permission to be on your texting list. In our experience, it’s best to provide customers with the option and let them sign up on their own. Make it easy for them to do so, offering sign-up at the end of emails, in your customer portal, and at the top of policy statements, among other areas.
  • Include opt-out options and your agency’s name in every message. Again, providing opt-out in each message is a legal requirement in many states. Signing your texts is helpful as many customers won’t have your number saved and could be confused by the message without the context of who sent it.
  • Use the same number for all your texts. Whether you decide to use your agency’s local phone number or a five- or six-digit SMS-only number, stay with the same one, so your messages stay together in your customer’s phones. If your agency serves outside one locality, it’s best to use an SMS-only number to avoid additional charges for texting outside of your area code.
  • Send a confirmation for any text you receive from a customer. These messages can come directly from a live agent or be templated messages. Examples include, “If you need help, contact us at…” or “Thank you for your message! We will respond within 24 hours. Need immediate help? Call us at…”
  • Make all your texts relevant and error-free. No one wants to receive a typo in a text from a business. Pre-determined templates can help reduce errors. Your customers also only want texts that bring value. Texting just “Happy National Coffee Day!” can just be annoying. However, if you add that there is a 50% discount at a local coffee shop for all your customers, the text becomes meaningful and relevant. Save the cute pet photos and holiday wishes for your social media posts.
  •  Know when to take it off text. Texting is very convenient and efficient, but only to a point. If you sense a customer is frustrated, or their question is complex, it’s best to move to a phone call or in-person meeting. Don’t stay on text longer than you need.

Get Started with Texting Today

If you’re looking to add texting to your agency communications offerings, look for a system that integrates with your current tools. The last thing you need is one more new tool to learn and synch with your systems. That’s why we integrated texting right into our Partner Platform agency management system, syncing it with built-in CRM and marketing automation tools as well.

Find out more about our integrated texting and other marketing and communication tools: get in touch at [email protected] or 800.747.7005, Option 6 today.