Agencies have made major adjustments to respond to changing consumer behaviors as a result of the pandemic. Day-to-day operations will need to continue to shift with digital tools and virtual selling to succeed.
Agents need to be thinking about digital tools to retain and attract business as the pandemic has influenced many clients’ perspectives on where they’ll live and work in the next five years and how close they feel they need to be to their insurance agent. In fact:
- 34% of consumers plan to move away from their current location in the next five years and about a quarter say the pandemic impacted this decision
- At least 1-in-5 business owners intend to reduce, move, or eliminate offices in the next five years with middle market owners (77%) being three times more likely than small business owners to say the pandemic influenced their plans
1. Build a pipeline of potential sales through digital marketing
While in person events are slowly beginning to occur again, social distancing requirements and potential health risks may have potential customers hesitant to attend. Large direct insurers are investing massive sums of money into finding customers during their online research phase. Agencies have an advantage in selecting specific geographies and can use affordable digital marketing techniques to ensure these customers make their way into agencies that can meet a wider range of their needs.
2. Revisit your digital marketing strategies
Rethink your marketing plans for 2021 and shift away from low-impact activities to cost-effective investments for digitally attracting new customers. Our Agency Forward Study data shows that consumers are using digital tools throughout their insurance journey.
- 48% of consumers have used a customer self-service website
- 37% of consumers have used mobile apps for customer services and claims
- 36% have used online mobile tools to quote and compare policies and price
Nearly half of consumers associate digital insurance capabilities to online tools or mobile apps that help with filing claims and reviewing policies (48%), compare insurance policies and costs (46%), and make the claims process much faster (46%). In fact, 43% of consumers want to handle all insurance needs via a mobile app.
For each part of your plan, align your marketing tactics to the goal you are trying to accomplish:
- Website: Is your website optimized to have local consumers and businesses find you online?
- Facebook and LinkedIn: Are you putting out a steady stream of relevant content through social media?
- Email marketing: Are you using email to reinforce connections with your existing customer base to increase the likelihood they will not shop around with competitors?
Effectiveness of various marketing platforms
The platforms that fall into the Ignore quadrant and rank on the low range for Effectiveness and Invest should not be viewed as a total loss. Each of these social platforms has an application that provides value to a particular audience. LinkedIn provides significant value for agents when prospecting for clients and maintaining relationships, and this is why Nationwide offers many trainings and resources to help our partners understand the platform and its capabilities.
Source: “The State of Local Marketing Report,” Brandmuscle (2019).
3. Make your website easy to find online
Review your website to ensure people can find it via search engines such as Google. When they get there, they can be easily led into a virtual selling path that leads to a new customer for you. Additionally, filling out more Google My Business fields yields a significant impact, even before customers reach your site. A 2020 study of local SEO experts found that Google My Business elements were considered the most significant ranking factor for local search.
When there are more than 30 fields completed in Google My Business, it leads to a 25% increase in searches and a 37% increase in views.2
4. Revisit your social media content strategy
Social media content fuels the marketing engine and COVID-19 has pushed more shoppers online in the second quarter of 2020, e-commerce accounted for 16.1% of all U.S. sales, up from 11.8%.2 By consistently delivering social media posts that are relevant to your customers and referral sources, as well as unique to your local community, an agent can demonstrate dependability and expertise. Your audience will grow to rely on and appreciate the insights you post.
Here are some social media marketing ideas you can implement:
- Post content regularly: Establish a consistent cadence in your email marketing, social posting, and blog content to increase your touchpoints with clients and become a thought leader.
- Use Facebook and LinkedIn: Make sure your organization has a LinkedIn page pointed at business clients and a Facebook page pointed at personal lines clients.
- Engage with your connections: Actively engage with your community; those who are fully engaged by claiming their page, posting regularly, and advertising find it twice as effective as those who only claim their page or post regularly. This can include leveraging platforms such as Google My Business posts to provide potential customers with the latest information about your offerings.
5. Personalize your communication
Making virtual communications more personal is where insurance agents have a chance to stand out. Think about this:
- More than a third of consumers prefer personalized messages3
- Between 40% and 50% of consumers think that the personalized messages they’re receiving are not good enough3
- The risk associated with poor personalization is high, with more than 40% of U.S. consumers having dumped a company because of “poor personalization and lack of trust”4
Only those who understand how to build personal relationships virtually — leveraging tools such as advanced social media techniques, virtual appointment-setting, masterful use of video conferencing, and a consultative approach to fear-driven customers — will win.
6. Streamline your approach to quoting and self-service
To become a digital powerhouse, agencies must find new ways to digitize, thereby saving time and resources. This means you need to have quoting and binding capabilities available on your website, as well as the internal resources to quickly turn quotes around and get them to customers instantly.
7. Nurture relationships with current customers
Recent research shows that 68% of consumers are motivated to be loyal if they know that a brand shares their values. Take this opportunity to prove to your existing customers that you align with their beliefs in order to form a strong community of customers with a sense of belonging.⁶
Agency Forward research identified clients’ need for insurance agents to be up-to-speed on a wider variety of insurance and protection solutions than this time in 2020, opening the doors for more cross-selling opportunities.
Talk to your Sales Manager to learn how to leverage digital marketing and Nationwide tools to help grow your business. Nationwide agents can access Nationwide Marketing Central for marketing materials and resources.