Half of Small Businesses Aren’t Online: Insurance Agents, Don’t Be One of Them
You may think that having a website for your insurance business — or any business for that matter — is a bit of a no-brainer, but you might be surprised to learn that close to half of small businesses — like those of independent insurance agents — still lack something as basic as a website. In the 21st Century.
Carly Okyle of Entrepreneur writes that “46 percent of U.S. small businesses still don’t have a website for their company, adding that “Of the more than 350 small businesses surveyed — the majority of which have less than 10 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue — cost was listed as the second-most popular reason for not having an online presence. Lack of technical know-how and the need for upkeep were other popular reasons, while 12 percent said that they use social media in place of a static site.”
These are troubling findings for the following reasons
Firstly, all your customers are online and one of the first major rules of marketing is to connect with your customers where they spend most of their time. So if you’re not online, how are you finding and chasing down leads? Feet on pavement? Cold calling? I guarantee you that connecting online is the easier way.
Secondly, cost was “the second-most popular reason for not having an online presence”? Really? There are few modes of marketing cheaper, especially for the independent insurance agent, than having a website. Domains generally cost around $10 per year. Hosting may cost around that amount per month. For less than $200 per year, you have a place where customers can ALWAYS find you. If you can’t swing that, then you’re probably better off as an employee.
Thirdly, many of the small business owners surveyed felt that social media was a worthy replacement for their website. This is perhaps the most disturbing trend of all because it means that you don’t own any of your data. Also, sites like Facebook restrict the number of YOUR followers, who see YOUR posts. Getting people off social media and onto your website gives you more control over that relationship and allows you to reach everyone on your sign-up list.
Whatever you do, insurance agents, don’t be included in the 46 percent
There are two big reasons why you should set yourself apart from these small business owners. The first is that online marketing is the most cost effective way to promote your brand and attracts a higher number of engaged leads, if done correctly. The second is something already mentioned — you have to go where your customers are. Why? Because not surprisingly, groups are more inclined to buy something from the brands they engage with online.
Case in point: entrepreneur Sujan Patel blogs the following (his words):
- Snapchat has roughly 26 million users in the United States
- 77 percent of college students use Snapchat daily
- 58 percent of college students would be likely to purchase a brand’s product or service if they received a coupon on Snapchat
Back to us.
Patel points out these statistics not to get you to use Snapchat, but to show the potential for having a presence through multiple channels. Yes, have a Facebook. Yes, have a Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat. But don’t do it at the expense of your website because of the aforementioned control that a website gives you over your messaging and the fact that it’s one more place where you can connect and set yourself apart as an authority in whatever product line(s) you sell.
The Smart Way to Establish Your Online Presence
Having a website for your insurance business is truly the smart way to market in the 21st Century, but the smart way to grow it is through content marketing related to your target customers.
To help there, we will close with the following tips:
1. Get to know your customers’ pain points
Do their current insurance agents not listen to them or adequately explain coverages in a way that is easy-to-understand? Are they underinsured? What are the specific gaps in their coverage? By knowing what insurance issues your customers are struggling with — or the ones they are likely to struggle with and not see coming — you can craft content that gets their attention and makes them rethink where they are currently buying their insurance.
2. Learn what keeps them up at night
We may live in a digital world, but people are still people with the same hopes and dreams and fears that they’ve always had. Understand where your leads are coming from — the people who are important to them, the jobs they do, their financial goals and other forms of planning for the future.
3. Think of commonalities that you share
You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to crafting the type of content that insurance leads and customers will take notice of. By putting yourself in their shoes and finding opportunities to empathize, you could write/broadcast about the same general topics, but inject them with the creative spark necessary to break through.
4. Don’t be a copycat
So much of the content out there today is complete regurgitation. It doesn’t think for itself, and it shows. Readers know it. Search engines know it. Don’t mistake publishing with content marketing. Anyone can publish. Not everyone can cut to the heart of their audience’s interests. As an expert in your field, you can; so don’t implement any content marketing strategy without being directly involved.
A lot has changed on the Internet since it was initially sprung on the public, but one thing that hasn’t is the need for a good website. Your customers are online in various forms, but websites give you the best chance to control the messaging, and it’s that messaging that will turn them from leads into customers.
Do you have a website? How heavily involved are you on the content marketing side, and what are some ideas that have really helped you find your way? Sound off in the comments section.