It starts when you first realize what being an independent agent truly means. No corporate subsidies or easy leads. No advertising help or tech assistance. You’re not just an independent agent anymore, you’re a business owner. And that comes with world of responsibility you probably weren’t ready for.
Maybe you were a captive agent, unhappy with your national carrier. Maybe you worked for a small agency before going off to start your own. Regardless of the reasons why you went independent, the everyday challenges remain the same.
In this post we’ll discuss 5 expert tips you need to grow your insurance agency. How you can use them to build a profitable and rewarding business model. And why it’s important to do so in the hyper-competitive space of selling insurance.
- Employ big data to improve customer acquisition and retention
- Improve your digital marketing strategy
- Upgrade internal management softwares
- Onboard new agency talent
- Expand your business through connections
Employ big data to improve customer acquisition and retention
If you have no clients, you have no income. One of the most difficult aspects of insurance is to generate a lead, close the account, and retain it for renewals. Consumer behavior is changing, and primetime television ads aren’t doing the trick anymore.
Collect company data
An insurance company carries a lot of data. From demographics to addresses, to businesses relationships and family status – each interaction prospects and clients have with your company is recorded. This data can be used to better understand your market and personalize your approach during campaigns. It’s important to use this data as an asset, rather than leave it to collect digital dust on the company cloud.
So when you actually have this data, what do you do with it? Numbers are arguably useless if you don’t how to digest and turn it into something actionable. Once you have your data, you have to break it down and analyze it.
Analyze your numbers
Analytics falls into two divisions: group dynamics and individual behaviors.
By utilizing group data, your team can identify and predict trends that support product development and segmentation. Answering the questions of “what” and “why”. These insights gives an advantage over competitors and the ability to adapt when the landscape changes.
Individual data is becoming increasingly important for acquisition and retention. Customers are more likely to recognize, remember, and recommend when their interaction with a company is personalized.
Personal experience for prospects and clients
Think about the last e-mail headline you opened from a long forgotten subscription you signed up for. Did it catch your eye because your name was in the subject line? Of course. This personalized e-mail resonated with you, it connects you to the message. When you open, there’s a headline that captivates your attention, and you explore it further. Eventually you have to make a decision, to buy or not to buy. That is the question.
This strategy is used in insurance to sell more products. If a client’s family welcomes a new child into the home, you can cross sell life insurance. Did that child just turn 16? Remind them of your agencies affordable family auto plans they can buy from you. This data allows your team to identify new selling opportunities, as well as retain policyholders who are at risk of leaving.
Use individual and group behavior to better communicate with prospects and clients. The more holistic view you have, the more potential to create the best buying experience for them. It may seem time consuming, but it’s nothing a powerful customer relationship management (CRM) software can’t fix.
Generate leads through content and buying
The first interaction a prospect has with your company is important. Once they hear about your business, they’ll find you on Facebook, read reviews, search you on Google. All to ensure authenticity before they reach out. Here’s your chance to make a compelling first impression.
Lead magnets are a powerful way to build trust relationship between you and potential clients.
These can be:
- Free quote or consultation
- White paper
Something that gives the reader value in exchange for their personal information. Browsers come to your page because they need to solve a problem. Mitigate their concerns and fears through a lead magnet.
When used correctly, expect see average conversion rates between 3-10%. Say 1,000 people visit your page in a given month, that’s 30-100 new leads for your agency. Unless you’re Brian Harris, who reports opt-in rates between 20-30% with his lead magnet strategies.
Publish Informative Content
A lesser known lead generation strategy is content publishing. Curious prospects want to ensure you know what you’re talking about. Otherwise, how can they trust you to provide for their family? The shared knowledge builds trust, and more importantly, builds friendship between you and the reader because you aren’t asking for anything in return.
LinkedIn is the leading platform for B2B lead generation. According to a study by social media marketing platform Oktopost, 80% of leads generated by B2B marketers came from LinkedIn. Share information in discussion groups and content articles for prospects to read.
Buy Qualified Leads
Not all lead generation is about giving away free information. Intelligent lead buying is a time-tested strategy where agents buy leads directly from a third party. These are prospects who are in the market to buy insurance, so less persuasion needed. The tradeoff? A small fee for each lead you acquire. However, once you close the account and collect premiums, the fee essentially pays for itself.
Improve your digital marketing strategy
It’s no surprise that digital marketing is important for growth. An effective social media presence can establish brand personality and connect with prospects on a comfortable medium. And your website should serve as a digital sales person for your company.
Engage your social networks
Create social profiles that inform and spark interest in browsers using imagery. For example, say your clients are families with young children. An engaging campaign would revolve around images of children and family life. Do you sell auto insurance? Home or life? Even pet insurance? Tailor relevant content to your niche and gauge what they like best.
Software such as Marketing 360 simplifies tracking and performance metrics so you can implement the best strategy for your company.
Take Paradiso Insurance in Stafford Spring, CT as an example. In 2008 the 3 person agency began to use social for marketing. Since then, they’ve grown to bring in $24 million in premium annually.
Find Paradiso Insurance on:
- Twitter: 4,288 followers
- Facebook: 4,794 followers
- Instagram: 1,440 followers
- Pinterest: 1,280 followers.
Build a sales focused website
Your website is equally as important as your social networks. No one wants to land on a site that hasn’t been updated since the 90’s. Build a site that’s intuitive, easy flowing, and contains call-to-action (CTA) buttons to guide users through decision making.
Fortunately there’s no mystery behind how to build an effective site anymore. Site builders such as Wix and uKit provide a seamless platform to create attractive and compelling sites. If you don’t want to build your own, hire a web design or marketing agency to do it for you.
Optimize your site to show up in local search results. When a curious browser searches “insurance companies in [your area]”, you want to be on that 1st page. You can do this on your own with some research. Or simply hire an agency to do it for you. Look for an agency that offers placement guarantee for X amount of keywords so you don’t waste your time and money.
Your digital presence is an investment you must make in order to grow your insurance agency.
Upgrade internal management softwares
Automation softwares make the world go around… and more productive. These platforms are key to make your operations work for you, rather than working to operate it. Free up team members time with an integrated software so they can do what they do best: selling insurance.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Start with an upgrade to your CRM. Immediately you’ll see productivity increase tenfold. This management software allows your team to input customer data based on financial status, demographics, and more. And churns out personalized messages for any outreach you need.
Use these messages for engaging follow ups, call scripts, e-mail marketing campaigns, web promotions. For example, promote additional policies based on the policyholder’s personal interests through personalized email. Include links to your agency blog for more information.
If tornado and storm season is coming up, deliver helpful tips to protect the family and home right to their inbox. Clients appreciate when you take their lives into consideration. These thoughtful actions motivate clients to renew their policy term by term, and is one of the best ways to ensure long term growth for your agency.
Overall, a robust CRM will maximize conversions, help grow your book of business, and increase renewals so you can become profitable.
Agency Management Software (AMS)
Look for an AMS that streamlines your internal agency processes. One that offers real-time comparative quotes, document tracking, policy reporting, and agent performance all in one place. Not only is this a productive tool for your team, it creates a better buying experience for customers. You do not want to promise quick, comparative quotes and not be able to deliver.
Operations management software is readily available for any size agency. Use a practical software to improve internal productivity and stay ahead of competition.
Onboard new agency talent
“When you’re in a start-up, the first ten people will determine whether the company succeeds or not. Each is 10 percent of the company. So why wouldn’t you take as much time as necessary to find all the A players?”
Balance your team
Independent agencies start with less than ten people – maybe three or four at max. This emphasizes the importance of each team member and how effective they are in their work. You need to find the right people to do the right job. There’s no way around it.
When you on board your first agents, remember to keep team balance in mind. Hire agents who are proficient in what you’re not. For example, if you’re an expert underwriter but lack in the sales department, hire someone who can sell.
Insurance is about the best annual stats year-by-year, not who’s most experienced. Instead of hiring based only on experience, hire based on what each potential agent can bring to the table.
If you give the right people the opportunity to shine and put a livable wage in their pockets, you will have a dedicated team who wants to grow with you. And that’s most important in early stages of growth.
The Importance of Millennials
Now that Amazon bought Whole Foods and cut the price of avocados, Millennials can finally afford to buy a house again (hopefully). This infers they’ll be in the market for different types of insurance in the future. And knowing Millennials, they want to buy from someone who understands them.
This brings us to our next point: Hire Millennials. Men and women who sell insurance now have been for a long time. They are set to retire soon. To sustain business growth you have to bring on young talent and incentivize them to join your team.
No one said it would be easy. On average, millennials work for 4 different companies by the time they’re 32. However, there are ways to spark interest in them to onboard your agency.
Offer assistance with licensing and education fees. Consider an initial salary offer with bonus potential for every new policy written. This group is used to practicality and convenience at the tap of a finger. The notion of “once we grow you’ll get paid more” has no substance.
Every agency infrastructure is different. If you allow it, showcase three important attractions to young job seekers:
- Freedom to work at home
- Flexible work hours
- Unlimited earning potential
Portray these messages in person and on your social networks. This will connect with younger agents and lead to a dynamic team that is motivated to grow with your agency.
Expand your business through connections
The more people you reach, the more insurance you sell. This concept is most overlooked by agencies. Yes, you can break out of your current market and expand into unchartered territory. But how so?
Earn client referrals
Start with getting referrals. Qualified referrals are the lifeblood of your agency and is a direct result of how well you treat your client base. It’s like reading Yelp! reviews before going to a restaurant, only a referral comes from a personal source.
Put a rewards system in place for clients, as well as colleagues, who refer for you. When they do give your agency a lead, catch up with them. Inform them on how you’re following up on their help. This shows you appreciate their advice and builds a valuable relationship that leads to more referrals down the road.
Become a community leader
Invest in community groups and activities. This could be an investment of time, or money… or both. Become a connector who brings people together. You hold a natural position of power within the networks you create.
And while you’re at these community and networking events, please don’t talk about insurance. Not only is it boring or at least confusing to a lot of people, it’s what people will expect you to talk about.
This is your chance to stand out. To talk about their families, interests, and concerns. To build trust. And after the event put you in a better situation to sell the coverage they need. As your team grows, you can send them to shake hands and expand the network you need to sustain your agencies growth.
The more people have a positive experience with your brand, the higher chance they will recommend you word-of-mouth. When someone hears your name what do they associate it with now? That random face on a bus bench? Or a leader in your local community?
Take every client’s life into consideration. Because if you do not generate new leads, close new accounts, and earn the loyalty of clients for renewals, you will not have a successful business model on your hands.