Data Security and Your Agency

Data Security and Your Agency

We’re living in a digital world. It’s estimated that by 2040, 95 percent of purchases will be via online methods. And with good reason – digital purchasing is faster, more efficient, and less expensive for both merchant and buyer. But there is still a part of digital business that looms: cyber-attacks on your insurance agency systems.

It’s reported that by 2018 nearly 70 percent of businesses experienced a cyber-attack. Even scarier, a Nationwide survey showed only 9 percent of companies said they were victims of an attack when in fact, after seeing a list of harmful activity, at least 50 percent had experienced one. Chances are those businesses didn’t know how to prevent an attack, either.

Get more detailed info on protecting your agency in our Cyber Security and Data Protection eGuide

Knowing the Threats

The first step to protecting your agency and its data is knowing what threats are out there. The most common threats are:

  1. Viruses infecting systems and destroying data
  2. Hackers breaking into systems and stealing personal data
  3. Employees leaving systems open for passersby to see and steal info

Unfortunately, the last threat is more common than you may think. IBM and Ponemon’s Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Study showed 27 percent of data attacks were due to human error while 25 percent were a system glitch. That’s over half of cyber weaknesses falling squarely in the laps of the victims.

Read more on how to keep your agency safe from cybersecurity experts in the industry

Implementing Insurance Agency System Solutions

The good news is you have control over these vulnerabilities. You can decrease your likelihood of attack through a few simple agency system solutions:

  • Limit access to sensitive data
  • Require multi-character encrypted passwords that change regularly to access data
  • Conduct background checks on employees who access sensitive information
  • Educate employees on best practices, such as only accessing data on private networks
  • House data on a secure, off-site server with redundant back-up and outsourced security monitoring
  • Regularly test your security systems, including drills for employees
  • Purchase liability insurance for your agency in case of unpreventable threats

Read the Top 4 Reasons to House Your Insurance Data Offsite on our blog

Finding a Partner You Can Trust

At SIS, we always have security top of mind. Every Partner Platform upgrade is coupled with security testing, ensuring we’re handing our Partner agencies a safe, secure, effective tool. And we leverage state-of-the-art technology to hold customer data in facilities with geographic redundancy, data encryption, and backups compliant with industry and government standards.

We work hard to earn and keep our Partner agencies’ trust. See what they have to say about our security and service: check out our Client Stories page to find out more.

Insurance Management System Musts: Integrated Text Messaging

Insurance Management System Musts: Integrated Text Messaging

Close to 90% of people say they always have their smartphone close. That’s 90% of people who can read and respond to anything sent to their phone almost immediately. With that sort of accessibility, integrated texting is a critical insurance management system tool. Texting is a great way to get short, important messaging to your agency’s prospects and clients, providing the convenient communication they desire.

Texting and Your Agency: Efficiency and Safety

Texting is not only fast, it’s also effective: texting open rates are around 98% while email is still hovering around less than 25%. With texting, you can schedule messaging knowing the recipient will almost certainly read it.

Dive deeper into texting and your agency with our post on texting best practices

Beyond its speed and efficiency, texting can also be a great addition to your E&O toolbelt. Integrated texting allows you to capture everything you sent in your agency management system, attaching it to client and prospect profiles as needed. This allows you to have a permanent record of your conversation instantly.

And, texting is a lifesaver when it comes to claims management. Texting allows clients to take photos and send information the moment an accident happens, making the information that much more reliable. In many cases, texting is even better than opening an app as it requires no sign-in and it’s a process the client knows well.

Get best practices on all agency communications on the SIS blog

Texting and the Partner Platform

At SIS, we’ve worked with our customers to provide all the efficiencies they need while remaining E&O complaint. That’s why we added integrated texting to the Partner Platform.

Texting is integrated directly so our Partner agencies can send messages right through the system and replies will be captured and paired with prospect and client profiles. And, it’s easy for clients to opt-out per texting regulations. It’s just another way Partner Platform helps your agency get more done, better.

Learn more about our integrated texting, and other Partner Platform features: contact us today to view a demo and see how Partner Platform can transform your agency.

Insurance Agency Marketing for the Generations

Insurance Agency Marketing for the Generations

We’re on to part three of our look at insurance agency marketing to the generations with an analysis of the oft-stereotyped Baby Boomers. Born between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s, Boomers number an estimated 75.4 million in the U.S. Many are looking forward to retirement and have big plans for an active future.

Those big plans mean Boomers are prime consumers. Baby Boomers’ spending is estimated to increase by 58 percent over the next 20 years, while Millennials and Gen X will only increase spending by 24 percent. And, they’re doing more of their shopping online, spending more on average per transaction than Millennials.

These facts point to the same conclusion: Boomers are a powerful buying force. How do you harness that force for your agency?

Read Part One in our series: insurance marketing to the rising Generation Z

Get Personal

A recent study showed over 65 percent of Baby Boomers went for one-on-one meetings when seeking insurance. Boomer’s preference for personal interaction doesn’t stop there: the same study showed Boomers preferred any “live communication” during the purchasing process. Live communication includes over the phone and online chat – any method that gets them in touch with a real person in real-time.

Treat Them Well

It’s critical to provide great service to all customers regardless of age, but it’s especially important to Baby Boomers. They are the most likely to write off a company due to bad service. And, they’re loyal to good service. One study showed 54 percent were “very or somewhat likely” to stick with a business if their patronage was valued. Only 33 percent of Millennials agreed.

Take a look at Part Two on our series, focused on marketing to Generation X

Be Mobile Ready

Half of those 60 to 69 and almost 75 percent of people in the 50 to 59 age range own a smartphone. Yet, Boomers still face a persistent stereotype that they’re not tech savvy. Don’t be fooled. Boomers also own 1/3rd of all tablets purchased in the U.S. Suffice to say Boomers expect websites to be mobile accessible.

Get Social

Social media continues to rise in popularity for Baby Boomers, with 82 percent belonging to at least one social platform. Though LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter are all in play, Facebook is by far the most used social platform by Boomers, coming in twice as popular as the rest. And, Boomers like to share what they find on social – they’re 19 percent more likely to do so than other generations.

Find out how to get your agency to Boomer’s scrolls in our post on Getting Your Website Seen and Heard

Use Your Words

Contrary to most marketing trends, Baby Boomers are reading what you write. They’re more likely to look at print and read whole articles than Millennials or Generation Z, so give them something to take in. When it comes to writing, Boomers look for straight talk and facts. They’ve been marketed to for years, growing up during the advertising boom, and are almost immune to gimmicky and salesy language. Be clear and honest, and avoid spelling and grammar mistakes as many Boomers take note of these small errors.

Avoid the Age Gap

Don’t call Boomers “old.” Just don’t.

Marketing to the Generations

If you’ve read the other posts in our series, you’ll know each generation is different and responds better to sometimes contrasting marketing methods. Such duplicity means you need varied marketing tactics, segmented to target each group individually.

The Partner Platform Marketing Automation Manager (MAM) is designed to tackle just this issue. With over 50 sample campaigns and 100 pre-built customizable outreach templates, Partner Platform’s MAM makes it easier to craft and send your agency messaging to a variety of audiences.

Get specifics on what MAM has to offer on our website. And while you’re there, sign up to view a demo of the system in action.

Marketing Automation: Your Key to Omnichannel Insurance Sales

Marketing Automation: Your Key to Omnichannel Insurance Sales

One communication channel is no longer enough to get your message out for insurance agency marketing. Different generations of customers respond to different things, each prospect uses some but not all available communication modes, and technology is evolving at a rapid pace. That’s why 87 percent of retailers recognize an “omnichannel” approach as vital to their marketing success.

Omnichannel means reaching out via multiple communication channels at once (i.e., phone, email, and social media). It’s a lot to take on. In fact, a recent report showed more than 21 percent of insurance agents acknowledged they need to “stay in front of their network” with marketing, but they simply didn’t have enough time.

What’s the answer to too much tech and too little time? Marketing automation. Below are four ways your independent insurance agency can leverage automation to reach wider, engage better, and still make it home in time for dinner.

The first step to marketing is establishing your brand. See what four questions to ask to define your agency brand

1) Social Media

Social media is multi-channeled in itself. Your customers and prospects may use one form or social media and shun another, while a different segment does the opposite. To keep all parties engaged, you can schedule posts via social media marketing automation. The key is to post enough to stay top of mind, but not too much that you’re spamming customers’ feeds.

When posting manually, insurers too often forget to post for a while and try to make up for it with a post-storm all at once. This method is ineffective and possibly damaging if followers get annoyed and walk away. According to a recent Forbes article, posting once or twice daily on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn is sufficient. Twitter moves at a faster pace, so up to 30 well spread out Tweets per day is okay.

Remembering to post even once a day on your personal social media seems impossible, hence why scheduling posts via marketing automation is a life-saver. Pick a time at the start of the week or month to schedule out postings in one block. Be sure to review them again as posting day gets closer, and make space to follow up at least once a week on any messages or replies. These small but consistent conversations help you bring in leads, endear customers, and boost your brand presence.

Make sure your website is as on-point as your outreach – see how to make your agency website a sales and service resource

2) Email

At this point, email is the most seasoned form of customer outreach. Since it’s been around the longest, email has seen multiple iterations. A one-size-fits-all email blast is no longer acceptable. The key to email engagement is audience segmentation and customized messaging. Recipients now expect each message they receive to speak to their interests, their place in the buying process, and other personal preferences. You’ll need to create multiple email templates to answer each of these expectations.

Another part of email communication is setting an effective cadence. Sending emails too close together can turn a prospect off while spacing them out can mean losing the sale to another agency. Cadence will vary by prospect or customer, most notably around their place in the buying journey.

Email analytics through marketing automation are a huge asset. The data you gain shows you what’s working and what’s not. These analytics are critical in helping you determine the best messaging and cadence.  Such information is pivotal to shaping a successful email marketing campaign.

Hit all generations with your marketing – read about how to market to different generations

3) Texting

Automated texts are similar to email messages but shorter and more direct. Texts serve more as reminders or small nudges to move prospects along in the buyer journey. For example, you could schedule texts to be sent to customers reminding them it’s time to renew their policy. Or, you can set up a cue to text prospects who have asked for a quote but haven’t taken any action within a week.

The beauty of text is it’s more direct than social or email. You can almost guarantee the person will see the message since it’s sent right to their phone. But, this directness can be a danger as well. Too many texts or texting too soon into the buyer’s journey can turn prospects away. Reserve texting for hot leads and current customers only, and use it sparingly.

Before you text, check out these dos and don’ts on texting for your insurance agency

 

 

4) Human interaction

Texts, emails, and social posts work to keep your agency top of mind, but your personal connection with customers is what keeps them coming back. Utilize marketing automation to nudge you to take action. Add reminders in as part of your various automation campaigns, ensuring you’re firing on all cylinders.

Such connections can be a phone call, a personal email, or an offer to grab coffee or lunch. Though marketing automation can do a lot to keep your pipeline moving, facetime is invaluable. It’s these in-person interactions that customers remember and share, furthering your reach and solidifying your agency’s good reputation.

Hear from SIS partner agencies on how Partner Platform helped them connect more, and better

Find What Works for Your Agency

One of the most significant benefits of marketing automation is its customization – all content and messaging can be crafted to your agency brand and your words, coming from your social media profiles and email. That human element is what makes it meaningful and engaging to prospects and customers.

At SIS, that personal engagement is what drives us. We engage on an individual level with each of our partner agencies and actively reach out to find out how we can help them do more, better. It’s these interactions that prompted us to add our Marketing Automation Manager (MAM) to the Partner Platform. Our MAM system not only provides personalized, branded, marketing content and campaigns, it also integrates fully with our Partner Platform agency management tool for streamlined messaging and data analysis.

Find out more about MAM and Partner Platform’s other capabilities – contact us to schedule a demo at sales@sisware.com or 800.747.7005, Option 6.

Hiring for the Future: Adapting Strategies to Gain New Talent

Hiring for the Future: Adapting Strategies to Gain New Talent

The insurance industry has changed over the past 20 years. Paper files and phone calls have given way to digital processes, email, texting, and more. Your insurance support team’s needs have changed, too – or so we hope.

The average insurance agent is 59 years old and only a few years off from retirement. To keep your team fresh, you need to bring in younger agents. Soon enough you’ll have no choice – Millennials and Generation Z will account for 58 percent of the workforce by 2029. You need to “get with the program” to attract and keep young talent – but how?

How to Attract Young Hires….

Technology usage is the first thing new hires will notice. Members of the young workforce are used to using tech for business and leisure. They’ll expect you to provide more than a laptop and cell phone; they’ll look for paperless processes, modern communication and collaboration tools, and opportunities to get work done virtually.

Read more on going paperless – why your customers want it and how to get started

Young hires expect information to be found and shared easily through a centralized location. Leverage your agency management system to bridge the processing gap. Tap into your system’s ability to store files, capture emails, and add tasks among other capabilities. And, make texting part of your communication strategy, both internally and externally. This is an area where young hires will be savvy – they’ll expect to use texting for communicating with their team, lead generation, and closing deals.

The best thing you can do to attract and keep young talent is to embrace virtual work systems. Sales hinges on creating and growing relationships, so a virtual sales team may seem counterintuitive. However, as a virtual team your agents can connect more efficiently. Virtual work allows them to connect from anywhere, making it easier to bring meetings to clients and get work done while they wait. In less than ten years, it’s estimated 73 percent of businesses teams will have remote workers. Offering virtual work opportunities is not just smart; it’s inevitable.

Get more resources on how to make your agency virtual, yet personal

…And How to Keep Them

Getting Millennials and Gen Z to apply is only the first hurdle. Once you have a quality candidate in the door, how do you get them to say yes for years to come?

Start by updating your interview process. The work has changed, the workforce has changed, so how you interview needs to change, too. Focus more on how candidates work in a team and their ability to understand and leverage technology. Be sure to talk about how you’re team-focus and tech-adaptive, too. And, focus more on culture. One author found millennials were willing to take an over $7K pay cut to gain a better workplace culture. Now that’s leverage.

You’ll also need to update your onboarding. The first few months in any new position are challenging, so the smoother you can make the ride, the better. Culture again plays a key role. Be intentional about introducing new hires to team members, setting aside time to outline the processes and tools used within each environment.

Provide training + mentorship. Pair new hires up with someone to walk with them through training, serving as a guide to answer questions along the way. This pairing provides a double benefit to you: new hires feel connected, and veterans get a refresher on your tools and processes. Assuming they have a positive experience, new hires can later pay-it-forward to the next fresh team member.

Don’t forget about your long-term employees – help them transition to new tech and processes, too

Helping Your Team Grow

Growing your team is about more than adding new people to your staff contact list, it’s about listening and providing people what they need to improve. Meet up regularly with old and new team members, both individually and as a group. This simple act shows you care – and that goes a long way.

We know how important it is to listen and connect because that’s what we do at SIS: listen and learn to mutually grow. Through our workgroups, Regional Learnings, and forums, we focus on staying in touch with our Partner Platform community. Like any community, when our clients grow, we do, too.

Find out more about the Partner community– read our client stories and connect with us at 800.747.7005, Option 6 or