5 Signs it’s Time to Ask for Insurance Agency Marketing Help

5 Signs it’s Time to Ask for Insurance Agency Marketing Help

“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 cracks.

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 editor, you 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

One 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. 

The Partner Platform Community is Here to Help

Whether it’s help with your agency website, questions about marketing automation and CRM integrations, or tips on utilizing your management system to improve marketing, the Partner Platform Community is here to help. Our expert SIS team has all the product know-how, our Partner Platform agencies have the tips and tricks, and our Partner Allies tech partners have the technology integrations to serve all your agency marketing needs.  

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.

Reviews and Referrals: Insurance Agency Marketing for Sustained Growth

Reviews and Referrals: Insurance Agency Marketing for Sustained Growth

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.

Why Reviews?

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] 

And, reviews can help you learn more about your customers. Positive reviews highlight what’s working, while negative reviews show you how to improve your service.

Making Reviews Work for You

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.

Why Referrals?

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.

Making Referrals Happen

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 interaction.

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 customer.

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 Platform

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.

And, our 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.

Learn more about how our intuitive, customizable Partner Platform agency management system and CRM can help you grow your client base and keep your agency thriving for years to come. Get in touch at 800.747.7005, Option 6, or [email protected].

Harnessing Digital Insurance for Long-Lasting Customers and Quality Leads

Harnessing Digital Insurance for Long-Lasting Customers and Quality Leads

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 100%.

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.

Make a Tech Team

You can do a lot, but you can’t do it all. Work with tech partners to integrate systems and provide the best customer service and agency operation technology for your business. That’s what we do here at SIS, working closely with our Partner Allies to provide best-in-the-business tools and training for our Partner Platform agencies.

Get to know more about our tech partnerships, Partner Platform User Community, and our top-of-the-line, integrated agency management system experience: visit us at sispartnerplatform.com/contact-us to find out more.

Insurance Software Security: Keeping Your Agency Safe Today and Tomorrow

Insurance Software Security: Keeping Your Agency Safe Today and Tomorrow

Comparison quoting, esignatures and e-doc processing, and other digital insurance software tools have vastly improved personalization and customer service in insurance. It’s also becoming clear that these tools are also making agencies more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. According to the Identify Theft Resource Center, cyber-attacks increased by 42% in the first quarter of 2021, affecting an estimated 51 million people.

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.

Educate and Equip Your Agency

Once you know what to watch for, you can put together tools and training to help your team stay alert. You can also update your processes and tools to ensure they’re providing the highest level of protection. Some critical steps to take include:

  • 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 of protection.
  • 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 activity like:

  • Unexpected emails from you or your management team
  • Emails marked as “URGENT!” or asking them to take quick action
  • Receiving an attachment they weren’t expecting
  • Requests for passwords or links to re-set passwords

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.

At SIS, we take security seriously. Our Partner Platform management system and CRM is built on secure architecture, and our team is regularly trained and updated on how to spot and stop cyber-attacks. And, we vet our partners to be just as secure as we are, working with top-notch providers as our Partner Allies, including the best IT provider for independent insurance agents, Archway Computer.

You can learn more about how we put security first and get a first-hand demo of our Partner Platform agency management system by contacting us at [email protected] or 800.747.7005, Option 6, today.

Purchase or Persuade – Do you Buy Insurtech Software or Ask Providers for Integration?

Purchase or Persuade – Do you Buy Insurtech Software or Ask Providers for Integration?

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 infrastructure interruption.

From there, you can add on essential insurtech integrations that provide:

  • Digital billing and payment
  • Esignature
  • Sales and marketing integrations (CRM and marketing automation)
  • Comparison quoting

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 our list of insurtech Partner Allies, equipping our community for the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow.

Hear from our Partner Platform agencies about their experience here. And get connected to find out more about how Partner Platform can serve your agency. Contact us at [email protected] or 800.747.7005, Option 6.