Getting Social: Dos and Don’ts for Social Media Insurance Agency Marketing

Getting Social: Dos and Don’ts for Social Media Insurance Agency Marketing

Social media marketing is nothing new in the larger marketing industry but may be novel for independent insurance agencies. This tool is something all agencies should include in their insurance agency marketing strategy for several reasons. Social media can help your agency show off your expertise, build trust with customers and prospects, and help you better engage your customer base. For independent agencies, social media is an excellent tool to amplify their valuable local and personal connections with their communities.  

Whether your agency is on social media or not, you’re being discussed in the social media space. Join in that conversation! Get your agency started by following a few simple dos and don’ts in the social media sphere.

Social Media “Dos”

To start, here are a few “must-dos” for your insurance agency’s social media marketing.

  • Get someone who knows what they’re doing or willing to learn. Don’t put your office manager on social media duty if they have no knowledge or interest in the job. Consider social media savvy in your hiring process, finding someone who has a knack for this unique role.
  • Understand what your customers want to see in your social profiles. You can start by looking at other agencies or local businesses to see what content gets the most engagement. Then, ask your customers what topics interest them and go from there.
  • Define your agency’s brand and tone for all your social platforms. Think about your niche offerings and highlight them in your social media branding. And, pay attention to your tone, keeping it consistent across posts and platforms.
  • Prepare all your staff for social media. Regardless of whether they’re doing the posting, everyone on your team needs to understand proper social media etiquette, including what’s appropriate to post and what they should avoid.
  • Create a calendar to help plan your posts ahead of time. Start by planning to have one post a week and expand to three to four times or more as your audience grows and time allows.
  • Make opportunities for people to engage with your content. Ask questions, request photos, or hold contests to get people to comment, like, and share your content with others.
  • Track what’s working, keeping a record of what posts are getting the most clicks and shares. You can use this data to craft better posts for the future.

Social Media “Don’ts”

There are also some common mistakes to avoid when getting your agency on social media

  • Signing up for every platform without researching which works best for your needs. It’s best to start with one or two platforms and expand from there.
  • Posting a lot one day and then taking a break. When you post three times in a row then don’t have anything for a few days, your audience gets confused. Set up a regular cadence for posting and avoid posting more than once a day.
  • Using different account names and pictures for each platform. Strive for consistency, using the same profile icon for each platform and a similar name. It may not be possible to have the same name on each account, but you should try for similar names like “YourLocalAgency” on one and “Your_Local_Agency” on another.
  • Leaving your profile bare. Add as much relevant information as possible to your account profiles, especially your agency name, website, and phone number. The more you can put in your profiles, the easier it is for people to find you and get in touch.
  • Making social media a one-way street where you send out information but never reply. If someone makes a comment or sends you a message, respond! The more you engage, the more people will follow you.
  • Ignoring social media data. The engagement data you collect on social media is quite valuable. It tells you what your customers are interested in, and you can use that information to engage prospects, gain referrals, and solicit reviews from happy customers.

Get the Tech You Need to Capitalize on Social Media Marketing

One of the best ways to leverage social media data is by connecting it with your agency’s CRM system. You can use social media data to understand different customer segments’ interests and adjust your prospecting to meet those needs.

Another great tool is a marketing automation tool that can schedule social media posts, track engagement, and reply to messages and comments. Plus, you can link marketing automation and your CRM for a seamless transition between social media outreach and data analysis.

A final helpful piece of tech is a reputation management tool to help manage your agency reviews. People are leaving reviews about your agency regardless of whether you know it or not, and a reputation management tool can help you stay on top of them. You can track reviews, reply to them, and solicit reviews from current customers, all within one tool. Our Partner Platform agencies use BlueJay Reviews to track their agency reviews seamlessly within their Partner Platform agency management system.

We offer all these tools and more as part of our Partner Platform suite’s Sales and Marketing capabilities. You can learn more about all our Partner Platform solutions on our website. And, get in touch with us to set up a time to talk about your agency’s needs and view a demo today.

Never Let Your Agency Sleep on Digital Insurance Security

Never Let Your Agency Sleep on Digital Insurance Security

Digital insurance options opened up new markets and improved communications for agencies worldwide. However, this growth goes hand-in-hand with the rise in cyberattacks over the past few years.

Recent reports estimated cyberattacks increased between 200% and 300% in 2020 and are doubling again. Similarly, ransoms from cyberattacks are rising by between 50% and 80%, making it a more attractive scheme for cybercriminals.

Labor market changes contribute to increased cyber-vulnerability as well. More people are working remotely, and their home offices may not have the same security measures as their company. Similarly, the recent labor shortage means companies are hiring more people more often and, in their haste to fill positions, may not provide ample cybersecurity training for new hires.

Hacking your systems and gaining a payout is a full-time job for cybercriminals. Your agency needs to stay alert with these measures to ensure your data stays protected.

Know the Threats

One of the best ways to keep your agency data secure is by knowing the different ways cybercriminals can attack. Some of the most common threats include:

  • Malware. This type of threat is embedded in software. Cybercriminals may hack into systems and download malware onto a victim’s device, or they can trick individuals into downloading it themselves. Hackers get malware in your system through email attachments, links, and even through flash drives left for curious individuals to open on their devices.
  • Ransomware. Ransomware is a way that cybercriminals use malware. Essentially, they get malware installed on your system and use it to take your data or system hostage. They may threaten to share private data publicly or keep your system locked unless you pay a fee, often in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.
  • Spyware. With spyware, hackers can access your device and take control of it. They may look at files, access your camera and microphone, or look at your emails. By looking through your information or listening in on conversations, cybercriminals can gain information that will help them access your organization’s data. Spyware is also sent through links, email attachments, or flash drives.
  • Phishing. Phishing is one of the most successful cyberattacks because it uses manipulation to get people to give up information on their own. In a phishing scheme, a hacker sends an email or makes a phone call posing as someone in the organization or another credible person or organization. They then ask for information like bank account numbers, passwords, or other sensitive information. Thinking they are communicating with a reputable individual, employees give up information willingly.
  • SpearPhishing. When a cybercriminal targets a specific employee, the attack is called spear-phishing. With a phishing attack, a message may be more general, but the communications are highly personalized in spear-phishing, making them more successful.

These are just some of the common threats organizations face today. Keep in mind that cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, and these threats can evolve. It’s best to partner with a full-time cybersecurity expert, like our partners at Archway Computer, to keep your agency up-to-date on the latest protective measures.

Train Your Team

Your best line of defense against cyberattacks is your agency team members. Equip them well by training them on the following:

  • What threats to watch for and how to identify them
  • Who to report suspicious activity to and what action (or inaction) to take when they suspect a threat
  • How to safely access your agency servers when they’re working elsewhere (i.e., using a VPN and not connecting to public wi-fi)
  • Who can access sensitive data and why it’s important to limit access to secure information
  • What to do with physical documents containing sensitive data (i.e., scan to a secure location and shred paper copies)
  • What your policies are for accessing data on personal devices and how to keep them secure (ACT has a great guide you can access here)

Another big part of training your team is letting them know common tells of a suspicious email, text, or voicemail message. Some of those tells include:

  • Receiving an unexpected message with an unusual request (i.e., your boss asking for an immediate funds transfer)
  • Demanding immediate action (“Reset your password NOW!”)
  • Getting an unexpected attachment
  • Requesting user name or passwords information

One of the best ways to train your employees is to partner with a cybersecurity training team. At SIS, we use KnowBe4 to keep our team equipped with regular training sessions and check-ins to ensure our staff is alert.

Invest in Tech

Cybercriminals use sophisticated technology to attack your agency, so you need similarly robust tech to defend your data. Some of the most valuable technology you can employ includes:

  • Updated anti-virus protection and malware scanning software
  • Recent hardware and updated internet browsers with the latest security patches
  • Protected VPN for accessing data outside your office
  • Secured document storage via cloud services like OneDrive
  • Updated passwords and multi-factor authentications

At SIS, we recently added multi-factor authentication measures to provide our Partner Platform agency management system with even more security. It’s just one part of the secure tech, training, and partnerships we have to give the best data protection for our Partner Platform agencies.

Partner Platform agencies can read more about our multi-factor authentication on PartnerNet. If your agency is interested in learning about our secure Partner Platform community, you can learn more about our commitment to security here.

Customer Knows Best -The Insurance Software You Need to Meet Changing Customer Preferences

Customer Knows Best -The Insurance Software You Need to Meet Changing Customer Preferences

Independent insurance agencies are starting to feel the heat. Though independent agencies provide a level of personalized service and care big names never can, insurtech’s sophisticated insurance software is beginning to bridge the gap.

According to experts at PropertyCasualty360, “With increased competition from insurtechs and rising labor costs, in order to stay competitive, companies need to…provide a seamless omnichannel experience.” That means broadening how you’re serving your customers, keeping up with evolving customer demands.

Do you have the right insurance software to meet these growing customer needs?

Customers Want Options

No one piece of insurance software will meet all your customer’s needs. That’s because one of the most prominent customer trends is an increase in demand for options. A Smart Communications’ report found that over 80% of customers wanted multiple digital outreach options. Respondents cited email, app-driven notifications, and in-app messaging as just a few of their preferred communication methods.

Each of your customers is unique, and you need to find ways to serve their needs. That means diversifying how they can get in touch with you and how you communicate with them, too. Offer a variety of ways, including email, texting, and app messaging, among others.

Another important factor in offering variety is understanding each customers’ preferences. Utilize marketing automation to allow customers to set their contact preferences, including how they want to be contacted and the best times to get in touch.

Customers Want 24/7 Availability

While it may seem overwhelming, giving your customers 24/7 access to your services without losing any sleep is possible. Your customers don’t necessarily want to be in contact with you at all times, but they do expect to be able to access services or send a message at any hour. Online portals and apps are ideal for granting this 24/7 access, allowing customers to see what’s happening in their accounts and get answers to FAQs at any time. That’s one of the reasons we offer agency-branded options for Partner Platform agencies to build their own app and portal.

Another element to consider is if a customer sends a message, they want acknowledgment that the message was received. Again, that doesn’t mean you need to be up all night to reply. Marketing automation is great for automatically responding to any message you receive and tailoring it depending on why the person reached out.

Customers Want Quick Turnaround

Expectations on response time have shortened significantly over the past few years. Most customers expect a response in hours and aren’t happy with anything that takes more than a day. That doesn’t mean you need to resolve an issue in that short amount of time, but you do need to keep the customer updated frequently.

Chatbots or other self-service interactive features can speed up responses and resolutions by routing customers to solve their issues independently or get connected with the right person, fast. You can improve your resolution and response time by gathering data on call volumes. Use that data to determine if there are certain times of day, days of the week, or times of the year when you need more or fewer agents available to resolve issues.

Customers Want Hands-On, Personalized Service

Insurance software can serve many of your customer’s needs, but customers still want personal service from real people when it comes to a complex or emotionally-charged issue. Customers choose independent agencies for that personal service and enhanced expertise.

Some issues demand personal attention, and you need to give it when needed. All the above tools can help your team be more available for these intensive needs. When you’re able to process routine claims and policy updates instantly with automation, you free up your agents to address issues that require time and attention.

Customers Want What Partner Platform Offers

Our Partner Platform agency management suite brings the efficiency, options, and personalized care your customers demand.

We offer multiple communication options like integrated texting and email, self-service portals, and branded apps, among others. Plus, our connections with our growing Partner Allies mean more opportunities for you to understand your customers and provide personalized service.  

See all our features and understand how the Partner Platform system can help you better serve your customers and grow your agency. Get in touch with us at 800.747.7005, Option 6, or [email protected] to view a demo today.

Looking Ahead: Why Agent Expertise in the Digital Insurance Age Matters

Looking Ahead: Why Agent Expertise in the Digital Insurance Age Matters

Digital insurance is the future. According to Reuters, over $10 billion were invested in digital insurance technology in the first nine months of 2021 alone.

But, a rise in digital insurance tech use doesn’t mean a decline in demand for people in the industry. J.D. Power found that agencies that increased their “digital offerings” didn’t necessarily see a boost in customer satisfaction. While customers value the speed and efficiency digital tools offer, they also need that human connection.

Human Experts Matter

Almost half of insurance customers say they place “a lot of trust in a human advisor” when filing a claim. Only 12% said they trusted automated services in the same circumstances. When it comes to such emotionally charged services, customers want to speak to someone who can relate to them and provide expert advice specific to their case.

The expertise element of those interactions matters, too. Microsoft’s Global State of Customer Service found that 35% of customers said “an agent’s lack of knowledge was the most frustrating” element of their agency’s service. The same survey found that 90% of customers place “a high value on the quality of customer service” they receive. While talking to a real person is valuable, that person must also be knowledgeable.

Whether a customer is submitting a major claim, finding the best coverage for a new home or business, or gaining insurance coverage for the first time, automation can only take them so far. In these cases, and many others, customers feel more at ease and confident talking with someone who can navigate outside an automated path. These are sometimes scary or confusing moments for your customers, and a chatbot or app can’t provide the comfort and care required to address their needs appropriately.

Your Team’s Training Matters

Your agency team needs to regularly engage in training and continued education to meet and exceed expectations. Keep yourself prepared by:

  • Providing Mentorship: New hires and younger agents are still building their expertise. Help them prepare by providing mentorship from more tenured agents.
  • Publicizing Your Expertise: Make it known that you know what you’re doing in your community. Hold webinars, host info sessions with local businesses, and offer free consultations to spread awareness of your ability to help individuals navigate complex situations.
  • Leveraging Technology: Yes, technology should remain part of your customer service. Use tech to help in processing small claims and routine coverages so you can put time and energy into cases that need a human touch.

Continue to Grow in Your Expertise with Partner Platform

We’ve heard from dozens of our agencies and partners about the value of expertise and how it will set independent agencies apart in the future. That’s why we invest in the technology and training needed to keep our Partner Platform agencies more than prepared.

Our Partner Platform Community offers regular opportunities for training and learning through monthly webinars, Regional Learning sessions, and targeted Producer’s Schools and Account Manager School sessions.

Hear from our agency partners about how the Partner Platform system and community continue to support their agency’s growth. And get in touch to start the conversation about how to equip your agency for the future. Request a demo here to get started today.

What’s New in 2022 – The Top Digital Insurance Trends to Watch

What’s New in 2022 – The Top Digital Insurance Trends to Watch

Another year is here, and we can already see what’s on the horizon for digital insurance—the last few years demonstrated the need for more data gathering and analysis, tech integration, and a focus on personalizing and streamlining customer service. The 2021 Independent Insurance Agent Survey found that, before the COVID-19 pandemic, about a third of agencies said they “lacked the financial or other support” to invest in digitization. However, by the end of 2020, 77% were investing in digitization, showing digital insurance is growing rapidly.

As we ring in the new year, let’s take a look at what’s on the digital insurance horizon for 2022.

Customer Self-Service

Over the past year, customers have come to expect fast service and, in many cases, independent service. Customer portals are ideal for addressing this growing customer demand. Especially when paired with chatbots, customer portals allow customers to get answers to routine questions quickly and accurately, satisfying their needs and freeing up time for CSRs to address more complex questions.

Application Programming Interfaces (API) for Integration

More digital insurance tools mean more systems to integrate into your agency processes. That’s why agencies turn to Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to make that integration possible. With APIs, you can connect software that previously couldn’t sync. System syncing means data syncing, which is critical to improving your agency prospecting, service, and other essential processes.

Data Analytics

Let’s get into the value of integrating systems to share data. When all your data comes together, it gives you potent information on your agency’s performance, where you need to improve, and growth opportunities. But, the only way to gain that information is with quality analytics. That means reporting you can understand. Invest in your data by investing in processes and reporting that makes sense for your agency.

Machine Learning

Machine learning encompasses a host of different digital insurance technologies. One of the most prominent are chatbots used to address customer concerns quickly. Through A.I., chatbots can learn how to route customer and prospect concerns, providing ways to self-serve or connecting them with the best person or department to answer their questions.

Other machine learning uses include using A.I. to improve and speed up workflows, like claims processing, billing, and underwriting. Modern software can assess needs, create follow-up tasks, and process inquiries fast and with greater accuracy. Investing in machine learning means agencies can keep up with the demand for speedier service.

Cyber Security

It should come as no surprise that a rise in data sharing means an increase in data vulnerability. The 2021 Independent Insurance Agent Survey found that agents’ greatest concern about serving customers is “data safety and compliance.” Cyber security incidents increased dramatically over the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and remain high. Savvy agencies partner with cyber tech providers and ensure all their tech partners take security seriously. Make sure you understand how your agency data is stored and protected and educate your staff on how to spot and avoid cyber-attacks.

Continuing Education

While not technically a piece of digital insurance, digital insurance knowledge is critical for agencies today. We’ve heard from multiple tech partners and agency clients that “knowing your stuff” is a real game-changer, especially for independent agencies. You and your staff need to understand new technology and how it fits your agency. The more you can stay educated, the better you can serve your customers.

Prepare to Tackle 2022 and Beyond with Partner Platform

The SIS and Partner Platform team thrives on that continuing education. Our tech partnerships keep our clients in the know about coming trend and what will stick, and our engagement in tech-focused industry groups like IVANS and ACT are critical. The more we know, the better we can serve our clients so they can better serve their customers.

See the latest in our tech partnerships and integrations here and get a firsthand look at how we’ve integrated tech and ease of use in our Partner Platform agency management suite: view a demo or get in touch today.