“We all need somebody to lean on,” as Bill Withers
said in his famous song Lean on Me. Yet, it can be challenging to know
when and how to ask for help. Working in an independent agency, you likely need
more help than you know. With a small team, everyone is usually tackling more
than one job at a time, making it easy for something to fall through the
Though you may intend to put effort and thought
into something, invariably other time-sensative matters comes up. For many
agencies, that something is insurance agency marketing. Whether it’s a customer
request, an uptick in claims, or another important measure, marketing gets put
on the back burner again.
So how do you know when it’s been too long since you paid attention to your insurance marketing? There are a few signs that it’s time to get help.
1. You can’t remember when you last updated your website
In the last five years, websites have gone through
many changes. If you don’t remember when you last logged in to your website’s
need to get in there now. Do you have your current logo and branding?
Recent photos of your staff? Is your website readable on mobile devices as well
as desktops? The time to update is now.
2. Your social media presence is stale…or nonexistent
When it first came on the scene, social media was primarily
a tool for personal connection. Now it’s a powerful business tool, too. If your
agency doesn’t have an up-to-date social presence, you’re missing out on
numerous marketing opportunities. Look for help to bring social to your agency.
3. You don’t have (or know how to use) marketing automation
excellent tool to help with your social presence is marketing automation. With
marketing automation, you can schedule social media posts to keep your feeds
fresh and reply to interactions with your followers. Plus, marketing automation
can send an automatic email and social messages, track customer and prospect
engagement, and more. It’s now a must-have tool to gain insights into how to
market effectively and streamlines your marketing processes.
4. Your lead generation and closing strategies are old (or don’t exist)
You absolutely need a lead generation, nurturing,
and closing strategy. While
word of mouth marketing is powerful and effective, it cannot be your only
strategy. In recent conversations with independent agency owners and insurtech
providers, we’ve repeatedly heard that finding and cultivating quality leads is
essential for modern independent agencies to survive. Get help to define and
hone your strategies.
5. You don’t have a CRM (or know how to use it)
An insurance CRM is critical to creating and
managing your lead generation and closing strategy. CRMs hold all your customer
and prospect information and help you see the links between
who is your ideal customer and why. It also provides data on what methods
convert leads and keeps customers around. But it can be confusing and
intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re unsure about an
insurance CRM, get help in implementing and customizing. The investment is more
than worth it.
Find out more about how the Partner Platform
agency management system and insurance CRM, and the Partner Platform community,
can be your lifeline. Get
in touch with us at [email protected]
or 800.747.7005, Option 6.
The insurance industry and insurance agency
marketing are changing. As we’ve talked with some of our
Partner Platform clients and technology
partners, we’ve consistently heard that cultivating a solid customer base
and understanding and addressing customers’ needs is what will make agencies
stand out over the next five to ten years.
Two ways to keep customers and grow in your niche
are through agency reviews and referrals.
The importance of customer reviews has grown
exponentially in the past few years. What was once a nice way to get customer
feedback has become an essential marketing tool. Reviews establish trust, a
critical but difficult to cultivate factor in gaining and retaining customers. [SD1]
To harness the marketing power of reviews, you
need to get involved. Your agency is receiving reviews right now, so the
first step is to find out where you’re being reviewed, claim your business
page, and take control of the narrative. Most businesses find reviews on Google,
Yelp, the BBB, and even Facebook.
Once you’ve found your reviews, address any
negative feedback. Whatever you can say or do to acknowledge the customer’s
concerns and provide some form of a solution helps. Write your reply on the
review site and attempt to reach out to the person in private, too.
Now that you know where you’re reviewed, you can
also point customers to review your agency. Studies
show that up to 68% of customers will leave a review, but only if you ask. You
can directly ask customers when interacting with them, give them an option to
leave a review after a service experience, and simply include a “leave us a
review” link in your email signature.
Finally, don’t wait to ask. The ideal time
to ask for a review is after a customer had a good experience. Ask for reviews
after a speedy policy renewal, successful claim processing, or another positive
interaction. You want the customer to have those “good vibes” in mind when they
write up their experience.
As an agency owner, you likely already know the value
of gaining referrals. Referrals come at little to no cost to your agency
and bring in valuable leads.
60% of marketers say referrals bring in the highest volume of leads, and
54% say they have the lowest cost-per-lead
So how are you to gain these holy grail referral
customers? Similar to reviews, the first step is to ask for referrals. The
ask can be as simple as a “know anyone looking for ‘X’ type of insurance
coverage?”. Make the ask in an email, phone call, or in-person conversation – it
doesn’t matter where, just ask.
Again, similar to reviews, ask after a good
experience. You’re much more likely to get
a “yes” to your referral ask if you do it after a customer had a positive
Another referral tactic is to offer an
incentive for referrals. While you can’t offer discounts to policies, you
can offer an Amazon gift card or entry into a raffle to win a day at a local
spa. That slight nudge can be what someone needs to connect you with a referral
You should also make it easy. Don’t put the
work on the customer making the referral. Supply them with an email template or
card they can hand to someone. Offer a link to a pop-up referral email in your
email signature, too. Anything you can do to remove barriers increases your
chances of success.
Finally, keep asking for referrals. While
you don’t want to hammer your customers with the subject every day, you should
reach out a few times a year to remind them they can refer someone to your
agency. The more you ask, the more likely you are to get that “yes” eventually.
Turn Reviews and Referrals into Customers with Partner
One of the best ways for Partner Platform agencies to
make referral and review requests easy is to use our integrated
CRM and marketing automation system. Agents can see how prospects and
customers are connected to target ideal referral requests. Marketing teams can
leverage marketing automation to remind customers of review and referral
opportunities and follow-up as needed.
integrated Proposal Creator makes the time from a referral or review
contact to becoming a customer shorter than ever. With built-in, branded
proposal templates, Partner Platform users can have a proposal to a potential
customer in minutes.
Gaining and retaining customers is a big deal in
insurance. When you have a diverse, loyal book of business, you are set to grow
and try new things in this evolving digital insurance landscape. In fact, according
to the Harvard
Business Review, retaining just 5% more customers can boost profits by
How can you bring that kind of growth to your
independent insurance agency?
Know What Your Customers Want
A surefire way to retain customers is by giving them what they want. The same goes for gaining quality leads – give the people what they want!
“What do they want?” you ask. That’s up to
you to figure out. Use
the data you gain from marketing automation campaigns and what’s stored in
your insurance CRM to identify patterns. Do you gain more leads when you talk
about your one-on-one video calls? Do you see leads drop off if it takes more
than 12 hours to get a policy proposal together? Identify what your customers
are drawn to and what turns them away with this digital data.
Actively solicit information, too. Have your
agents ask long-term customers what they love about your business, send an
email survey to customers, and provide the option to leave feedback after every
interaction with your agency. The more you know, the better you can be at
giving customers what they want.
Make It Easy to Connect
Over the past year, one
study found that more than 70% of insurance customers “found it difficult”
to connect with their agency about their policy or ask questions. The same
survey found that 69% expected companies to communicate with them using
automated and digitized services.
Customers and prospective customers alike want to
connect with you. Some may prefer email, others might like texts, and others
may want a phone call. The point is, you need to expand access to you and your
agency. One great way to up your connection is to
use an online customer portal and a mobile app to give customers access to
their policies and claims anytime, anywhere. Within these tools, you can
provide direct ways to connect with your team via phone or chat.
Identify New Target Markets
The COVID-19 pandemic shook up the world in many
ways, including making it more acceptable to work with an individual or
business outside your geographic sphere. Digital
communication tools expanded reach, and the whole world is your potential
target. Determine your strengths and look into areas outside your city or state
that are looking for what your agency provides.
Make Things Quick, Easy, and Seamless
These three words are the hallmark of the digital
age. Customers and prospects are used to getting the information they want
quickly, easily, and with minimal disruption. Are your customers receiving that
smooth experience? Tools like
esignature, integrated email, and secure document sending can bring your
ease of business to a whole new level. Evaluate ways you can serve your customers
and prospects with speed and precision.
Integrate Your Systems
When everything in your agency syncs together, you
save time and get better customer data. Your management system,
marketing automation, CRM, email, texting, accounting, and any other systems
you frequently use to interface with customers should all come together in one
hub. The data you gain and the time you save can be used to target and follow
up with quality leads and improve relationships with existing customers.
Grow Your Partners
Businesses like Ikea, Airbnb, Ford, and others partner
with national insurance agencies, providing exclusive deals to their customers.
While you may not be a first-choice partner for Ford nationally, you can
connect with your local Ford dealership. Grow your customer base by partnering
with realtors, colleges, animal shelters, and other relevant organizations in
your area, offering special policy pricing for their constituents.
As a community-minded, independent agency, you can’t afford to expose your customers to that risk. Not only would it affect you financially, it would also damage your reputation in the community. How can you keep your customers and agency protected?
Know the Possible Threats
Your first step to protecting your agency is to know
what you’re up against. Cybercrime has evolved over the years, and there
are now multiple common attack methods. Some notable ones to watch for are:
Phishing: when a cybercriminal tries to
get an employee to provide information to help them access funds or data (i.e.,
bank account number, access to password-protected data). Phishing usually
originates in an email link or attachment sent from the cybercriminal posing as
someone in the organization or a member of another trusted organization.
Spear-Phishing: when a cybercriminal
targets a specific person in a phishing attack, delivering a personalized
message rather than a mass email.
Malware: a type of software that gets
downloaded and causes data on a device to become scrambled or locked by a
hacker. Malware typically comes through an email attachment or link.
Ransomware: a specific way hackers use
malware, asking for a fee to release control and/or refrain from sharing data
in a way that would harm the organization or person.
Spyware: a type of software used to give
hackers access to a device, allowing them to look at files and use the device’s
camera and microphone. This helps the hacker gather information to manipulate
an organization to give access to their data unknowingly. Spyware is also sent
through an email attachment or link.
Upgrade your software and tech, especially
if you’re still using Windows XP or 7. Virus protection and support ran out for
these a few years ago, so your agency is vulnerable if you’re still using them.
Use two-factor authentication to log into
your agency’s systems, especially your management system, to add extra layers
Use a VPN to access your agency’s system,
especially when accessing it out of the office.
Upgrade or install firewalls on browsers to
filter out malicious websites.
A large part of upgrading your protection is
educating your staff. Have regular training to keep them alert for suspicious
Unexpected emails from you or your management
Emails marked as “URGENT!” or asking them to
take quick action
Receiving an attachment they weren’t
Requests for passwords or links to re-set
With your staff as your first level of protection,
you can close potential openings for hackers. Simple actions like googling a
link before opening it or sending someone a separate email when you’re unsure
if they sent a message can go a long way.
Partner with Like-Minded Providers
A final way to keep your agency safe is by
partnering with providers that are protecting themselves (and you!), too. Data
privacy laws hold data owners responsible for all data breaches, so if a
third-party provider makes your agency’s data vulnerable, the blame ultimately
falls on you. Vet your partners accordingly to make sure they’re as on top of
their cybersecurity game as you.
The evolution of sales as a software (SaaS) has
dramatically changed the software landscape. Thanks to their easy-to-integrate
nature, more businesses use SaaS applications over desktop software to improve
operations. A 2019 report found that companies with less than 50 employees had,
on average, 47 SaaS
apps in use across their organization.
This SaaS revolution takes shape in the insurance industry with insurtech. Based in SaaS, insurtech provides streamlined operations through integrated solutions. While agency owners recognize the benefit, many ask how to incorporate insurtech – do they implore their management system providers or take on the integrations themselves? The answer lies in what it is you as an owner want for your agency.
Essential Insurtech Integration Your AMS Should Include
There are a handful of integrations that your
management system provider should offer in 2021. But, before we get to the
list, the first element you should evaluate is your management system hosting.
To allow for future integrations, you need a cloud-based management system. When
your AMS runs off the cloud, you can build on it with little to no
From there, you can add on essential insurtech
integrations that provide:
Digital billing and payment
Sales and marketing integrations (CRM and
Each of these integrations is one piece of the new
digital insurance puzzle. Customers expect more to happen via digital, and they’ll
move to a new agency if they don’t see it.
Beyond the Essential Integrations: When to Ask
The above list should be your “make or break”
items: if your management system provider doesn’t have these or isn’t willing
to include them in your AMS experience, start shopping. If you find other
applications useful, think about what you want your processes and data flow to
look like before you talk to your provider about integrations.
If you want all your data to live in your
management system and integrate into that one hub, talk integration with your
provider. If you’re more interested in data sharing but don’t need a central
hub, consider how you can work with the insurtech provider to make it easier
for their tool to talk with your AMS. Both
paths break down data silos and bring more data integration. It all depends
on what you and your team prefer.
Looking Towards the Future
As you consider the best path for your agency, also
reflect on your relationship with your agency management system provider. Do
you feel comfortable coming to them with your requests? Do you feel like your
requests are heard? If you’re not answering “yes!” to both, you need
to rethink if you’re with the right system and team.
As a true partner to our Partner Platform
agencies, we at SIS focus on our agencies and their customers’ needs. Through
our regular Regional Learnings, monthly webinars, annual user conference, and
always-open lines of communication, we
stay connected with the Partner Platform community to continue to add to
of insurtech Partner Allies, equipping our community for the challenges and
opportunities of today and tomorrow.
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.
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
The COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 left a lasting impact on the world, including how we do business. Quarantine and frequent lockdowns forced us to stay home, and the changes in customer expectations, work environments, and operations remain today.
Insurance agencies that weathered these changes have a few things in common. For one, they had the right insurance software to make the quick transition to remote work and service. Secondly, they have an enduring attitude of being open to change and a readiness to adapt. While we cannot predict what will disrupt the market next, we can use these markers to prepare with the right mindset, tools, and systems for the next unexpected interruption.