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]
- 93% of consumers said online reviews influenced their decision to purchase
- Almost all (97%) of consumers use the internet to research local services before making a purchase
- Up to 72% of consumers trust a local business more if it has positive reviews
- Online reviews boost organic local search weight by almost 7%
- Reviews are among the top three factors that determine search rank
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.
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.
- Some 60% of marketers say referrals bring in the highest volume of leads, and 54% say they have the lowest cost-per-lead
- Companies see up to an 80% close rate when working with referrals
- 83% of customers who had a good experience will make a referral
- The lifetime value of a referred customer is 16% higher than other customers
- Eight out of ten consumers trust referrals from people they know
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.