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
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
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
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.
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
Spear–Phishing. 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
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.
Updated anti-virus protection and malware
Recent hardware and updated internet browsers
with the latest security patches
Protected VPN for accessing data outside your
Secured document storage via cloud services like
Updated passwords and multi-factor
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
When Lara Moffitt began as CEO of MHJ Insurance, her first order of business was to find a new agency management system. She knew their old system was complicated, expensive, and had poor customer service. It was clearly time for MHJ to make a change.
So, Lara rallied her team to start their search for a new agency management system provider. The three-month-long project included a series of interviews, demos, and plenty of internal discussions about what was working and what wasn’t.
Innovation is key to longevity in any industry, and the insurance industry is no different. Insurance revolves around people and relationships, making it an inherently dynamic field.
Digital insurance demands seem to change by the day to keep up with evolving customer and agency needs. That’s why we at Partner Platform partner with various tech partners to stay up to date with changing conditions. We as an organization can only be experts in so many areas, so we recognize the need to partner with outside specialists to fill our gaps.
We work with industry groups and tech companies to cover areas like digital document processing and cyber security, among others. Below are a few of our recent posts highlighting these valuable tech partnerships.
Insurance tech advancements are making everyday processes faster and more efficient, and customers are demanding more digital interactions than ever before. Despite the benefits and increasing customer demand for insurance tech, your team may be hesitant to adopt new technology.
This hesitancy is understandable. Change is difficult, and introducing a new process or system to an individual’s workflow can be frustrating. But, the benefits of integrating insurance tech into your agency far outweigh the challenges of overcoming change.
Here are a few ways we’ve seen agencies work to be more receptive to new technology and system updates.