The News is Good – For Tech Savvy AgenciesThe views on recent financial trends for independent agencies are positive, highlighting overall revenue that has grown for three consecutive years. Further, as noted in Big I’s 2015 Market Share Study: Growth & Opportunities for Independent Insurance Agents, agents and brokers still control a majority of the entire P&C market, having written 57% of all premiums last year.
Many observers also talk about the improved margins for agencies and a growing number of cluster organizations to help the small and mid-size firms stay alive and compete with the larger firms. However, according to Catherine Oak, writing for Insurance Journal, “…a number of national brokers are now focusing on the middle market arena and have the capital to do so.” This should not be ignored by regional and local agents. If there is an emerging “race to the bottom,” the level of competition at the agency level will only get more intense.
To meet the pending challenges, insurance agencies must become better marketers to secure positions in the marketplace, and to reflect the types of younger buyers walking thru their doors–or should I say–going to their websites. The heightened emphasis on becoming better marketers, including in the digital channels, is noted in several other articles including 7 trends that will change the way we sell life insurance in 2015, and Seven Insurance Marketing Trends to Fuel World Domination in 2015.
Independent agencies have to be where their customers are (i.e., social media channels); they need to operate digitally, including offering smart websites, and they need to consider customer experience online and offline as equals. Agency teams need to leverage new technologies in marketing as well as in operations, so here are just a few of the top technology protocols I am often asked to help agencies embrace – as well as a few that most don’t even know about!
- An Internet strategy, including search marketing and customer engagement – Most agencies now have at least a website. Unfortunately, many still offer the same passive concept, which is to make it like a business card or a brochure, instead of like a virtual reception area with simple but functional interactivity for a visiting prospect or customer.
- A mobile optimized website – Even aside from the fact that Google is now penalizing rank position for those websites that fail the mobile optimization test, it is a fact that by some estimates more than half of all website traffic is now coming from mobile devices.
- A CRM tool – In this day and age, to stay in touch with your clients and to effectively brand your agency, you need some sort of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. Do your homework, there are lots to choose from.
- Dual monitors – Here’s one that many of my clients, even the tech savvy ones, don’t know about: There have been several studies concluding that productivity on a computer goes up 50% by adding just one more monitor. Doesn’t it make sense to invest $200 to increase your team’s productivity by 50%?