The Internet never sleeps, and having an online presence gives your business a virtual 24-hour showroom. It allows potential customers from near and far to research your products or services after business hours, in the privacy of their homes, or on the go from their mobile devices. According to a LIMRA study, 61% of consumers who researched individual insurance or annuity products looked for information online.1 And, the online journal Search Engine Watch recently reported that mobile device usage surpassed PCs and desktops in 2014.2
The online world is a prominent source of both influence and information for consumers today, and a majority of your customers will jump on the web to search for financial and retirement information and assistance.
You can be that “go-to” source for relevant information and achieve these goals by putting several practices into play. Online reviews from satisfied customers, the frequency and quality of your posts and the value of the content you share will all help a prospective client form a positive impression of you. These habits help you gain the trust of potential clients and build a stronger, longer lasting relationship.
It is a “noisy” world on the internet. Write powerful headlines and provide meaningful content that inspires a prospect to read more.Useful.
A blog post or article must address a need or a problem/pain point in order to be useful for prospects and clients.
The online content should be relevant to your target audience of prospects and clients. As you write, keep your ideal client in mind. Address common questions or concerns you talk about with your clients.
Your online content needs to engage your target audience and call them to act (i.e. contact you to request more information or an appointment).
1. Know Who You Are
To create a memorable client experience and foundation for your marketing plan, it’s important to have a well-crafted statement of your business, your clients, and how you serve them. Bottom line, you need to know who you are so you can clearly communicate it to the public.
What are you doing that’s different and more valuable than any other financial professional in the community?
What experience do you provide?
What problems can you help solve?
What is unique about what you offer clients?
When defining your brand, put as much clarity as possible into how your business is described, so that you can build a specific experience to match it. The careful crafting and deployment of this core component is what will make your marketing powerful.
2. Blog with Passion and Purpose
Regardless of the size of your business, blogging should be integral to your online content marketing strategy. Any articles you publish are indexed in search engines and shared through various channels like social media, so the impact your business blog has on traffic isn’t just limited to the articles you publish this month. An average company will see a 45% growth in traffic when increasing total blog articles from 11-20 to 21-50.3 Retirement planning is a complex subject. Offering your expertise and excitement in the form of a blog is a great way to address these questions and provide useful information.
3. Set Goals and Keep it Fresh
Creating a marketing calendar will help you visualize your upcoming content topics to see where there are holes in the subject matter and to keep you from posting too much of the same kinds of content. Be sure to map out deadlines and hold yourself to these dates.
When a visitor encounters a website or blog that hasn’t been updated in months (or even years!), it can create the image of a company that is inattentive and uncommitted. On the other hand, consistent, informational and interesting blog posts advance your marketing goals and increase the time a visitor spends on your site. To grab attention and keep it, include eye-catching headlines, use graphics when possible, tie in trending topics and welcome guest authors when appropriate.
4. Be Informative and Compelling
Being a regular, professional resource of valuable information can create credibility and stimulate interest in your products and services. Whether it’s social media posts, blogs, emails or website articles; craft relevant content that informs your readers and lends insight into current trends affecting them. Ask your clients and prospects about topics they would like to hear more about. Readers have short attention spans, so if they do not immediately see something relevant or interesting, your email gets deleted or they move on from your website.
Consider writing a newsletter that includes regular sections: features, columns and other exciting, entertaining and useful information. Also, don’t forget to feature your customers (with their permission). Everyone loves to see their photos in print, whether it’s a case study on how you helped them or a heartwarming story showing the value of the solutions you provide.
5. Tie it All Together
Social media can be very useful in drawing people to your website. To make the biggest impact, you will want to tie your website and social media channels together seamlessly. Use the blog on your website to fuel your content and your social media posts. By repurposing content, you’ll get the most mileage out of great topics and provide clients with multiple points of access. Blog content will also help your agency rank higher in search engines. When you set up your website and blog, be sure to include social share buttons, so a visitor can share content on their own social channels like Twitter or Facebook. Also, consider including images when possible. Our culture is visual, and a picture can be worth a thousand words when selected correctly. Most importantly, promote your social channels on your blog and vice versa. Adding cohesiveness to your online presence will make it very simple for current and potential customers to stay connected to you and keep website traffic flowing.
6. Inspire Face-to-Face Interaction
Getting in front of the public and providing a forum where you can connect and speak with clients is vital to finding new business and encouraging current business to stick around. Social media can be an inexpensive, cost-effective way to build buzz, fill seats, and turn a one-off gathering into a recurring event. Use event tools such as those available on Facebook and Twitter to share details, invite guests and generate excitement. Consider creating a special events page on your website as well as your social media pages that provides visitors with a sneak peek of the event and can include contest details to encourage attendance.
After the event, you can upload pictures to your various sites and include them in your next newsletter. Again, be sure to get written permission to use clients’ photos. Then create a blog post with your reflections on the meeting and ask for feedback and suggestions for future events.
7. Be Newsworthy
Apart from social media, writing and distributing a press release at least four times a year is a noteworthy method of getting your name and business out to the public. Is something interesting going on with your agency? Have you hired someone new or opened a new location? If it appears online, it will come up in search engines and drive added traffic to your website. It’s also found that if you include data in your press release, it’s more likely to be picked up by other publications. A general format to follow is an opening paragraph to give the backstory; information on the company; quotes from employees or relevant parties; and a strong closing with your brand message. If you want to take your press release up a notch, embed pictures and links to videos. Research shows engagement increases 18% for photos and 55% for videos.4
There is a marked difference between being visible online and just merely having an online presence. Developing a strong web visibility and paying attention to your overall online branding increases both positive customer experience and search engine optimization results. Writing and sharing content online that is Powerful, Useful, Relevant and Engaging (P.U.R.E.) is the best way to build your personal brand and successfully grow your business.
While all this takes commitment and a little creativity, you don’t have to go it alone. There are several insurance industry focused vendors who can help you create web-based platforms and content. Ask your key carrier or marketing organization for recommendations. Our world is becoming more and more web based every day. If you’re not using it to your advantage, it’s definitely time you do so.
1 LIMRA – http://www.limra.com/Posts/PR/News_Releases/LIMRA__ More_Consumers_Use_the_Internet_to_Research_Insurance_and_Annuity_Products.aspx
2 Search Engine Watch – Mobile Now Exceeds PC – http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/opinion/2353616/mobile-now-exceeds-pc-the-biggest-shift-since-the-internet-began#
3 Hubspot – http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33742/12-Revealing-Charts-to-Help-You-Benchmark-Your-Business-Blogging-Performance-NEW-DATA.aspx
4 Hubspot – http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34024/When-Press-Releases-Do-and-Don-t-Help-Your-Marketing.aspx