Local SEO for Insurance Agencies

Local SEO (search engine optimization) covers a range of marketing tactics aimed at improving a website’s visibility for locally-oriented searches within the major search engines.  If your insurance agency in located in Miami, you don’t need to rank well for “car insurance,” you need to be highly visible for “car insurance Miami.”

The cost of advertising online within a competitive industry like insurance can be daunting and out-of-reach for most local players.  With Google AdWords cost per click rates in the $35.00 – $65.00 range (depending on your market), this type of online marketing is beyond all but the biggest players.  Local SEO is the perfect answer to this issue, allowing smaller, independent insurance agencies to create an online presence that generates traffic and leads without the prohibitive costs.  All it takes is a little know-how and time.

In a recent article on this topic, Mobile SEO: A Case Study, I share some lessons and tips for small businesses looking to grab their share of local searchers.  While the article talks about Local SEO as it relates to a restaurant, all the lessons and tips I include apply to you and your insurance business.

>> See the Lessons and Tips Here

Display Advertising

It’s been a while, since the first online display advertisement or a simple clickable banner appeared on the online marketing landscape. If you remember, back in the dot-com heydays, almost every website had a big banner on top of their homepage. It was considered the first online advertising model but it was also considered less cost-effective and went into a steep decline.

Display Ads

Display Ads

Fast forward to 2013. Things have changed considerably. Now you can see display ads in different sizes and formats: images, text, video and rich-media. Innovation, technology, creativity and advertising networks have played a huge role in helping display ads make a huge come back.

No question about it, display advertising is here to stay and can be highly effective for branding , reaching target customers and maximizing revenue. Online advertisers can now track consumers with cookies and browser history to determine Geo-location and display their ads instantly in states and cities where their products or services are sold. In addition to this, you can track how many people saw the ad, clicked on it and bought something from your site.


How well do you know Facebook?

Facebook reaches 3 out of 4 peopleFor better or worse Facebook has become entrenched in our lives. The latest example: the iOS6 upgrade fully integrates Facebook into the iPhone. This is beyond just simple “sharing.” The iOS6 now takes contacts and events from Facebook and puts them in your phone! In essence, Apple believes that Facebook is more than just a photo album, Apple believes that Facebook serves as your day planner and your “little black book” too.

Did you know that the “like” button wasn’t introduced until 2009, that was 5 years AFTER Facebook was launched. Read on for more facts about the site that changed the internet.


Word of Mouth 2.0

Facebook, much like Google, has an algorithm that determines the relevancy of your post, and the likelihood that users that see the post will be interested in it. That algorithm scores you based on past performance and gives you a number: EdgeRank. That might sound like Facebook is being unfair to you: You are a good citizen, you wave hello, help old ladies across the street, and sometimes you post marketing messages, but that’s what your Fan Page is for, right?

From Facebook’s point of view, they want to show their users (and your fans) the content that they will be most interested in, otherwise those users (and your fans) will abandon Facebook altogether.  It is in Facebook’s best interest, and yours, to have the BEST and MOST relevant content available so that the masses will keep coming back for more. That means the ball is in your court, you can’t just post boring “I sell widgets” message over and over, you need to add some spice to your marketing.

How do you increase your EdgeRank? Get your audience engaged with your posts!

Let’s start with the basics – A Photo is Worth a 1000 Words. People love visuals, and EdgeRank loves what people love.  Go through your photo album or comb the web to find eye catching photos. Need to say something more, add a caption to the photo. There are some great captioning services out on the web or you can use a photo editor like Gimp to spice up your image and drive your message home.

Take your photo to the next level.

Can I get collision on this rocket?

Find a great photo and hold a captioning contest. Rather than captioning the photo yourself find an image online and then ask your users to caption the photo and the photo with the highest number of likes wins! This tactic engages your current fans by asking them to caption a photo and it engages THEIR friends. The goal is for a user to caption the photo and then ask their friends to come to the page and like the caption.

Pro Tip: Facebook Rules state that you cannot use Likes as a metric for determining a winning contest, so tread lightly if you are offering a prize other than Social Media stardom.

As I mentioned in Facebook 101 be sure to share your posts with your personal timeline and with friends and family. But be careful, your mom might not mind a message from you each time you update your Facebook Fan Page, your friends on the other hand will not find spamming quite as endearing.


Anatomy of a FanPage

Facebook  touts over 1 Billion users and has become a part of (almost) every business’s online strategy.

Facebook lets you tell Mr. Clean that you like a man with a bald head, and now Mr. Clean can say “Thanks!” in response.

Facebook provides users of brands a way to interact with the products and services they use. How can you harness the social media engine  and use it to promote your business? Follow Facebook’s easy step by step creation process to create your own Page. Click here to get started.


You have your Fan Page, now what? You need to create an engaging place for consumers to visit.


Content Is Still King

How many times have you heard the term “Content is King”? Since the early days of the web, we’ve been pounded with this term. Bill Gates wrote an article, back in 1996, where he discussed the value of digital content and how any company, no matter its size, will be able to supply information or entertainment via the Internet.

Collage using different web related words

Web Content

What amazes me is that sixteen years have passed since that famous article was published and year after year every smart online marketer has constantly echoed the value that original web content represents for big companies or small local businesses in terms of brand building and lead generation. Unfortunately ,only a few of those businesses have listened and taken advantage of the opportunities.

So…that being said, let me ask the following questions: when was the last time you thought about adding a new page or updating the current content on your agency website? Is your website interesting, valuable or remarkable in terms of content, compared to your competitors? Do you offer various types of content, besides your bio and staff photos?

After reading these questions, do you still feel like you’re doing a good job of creating enticing and engaging content marketing that generates more leads to your business and at the same time facilitates conversation with current customers? Did you say yes to all of them? Good for you! Keep it up! If not, you better keep reading.


Another “New Age”

IMHO, hyperbole can never be overused in headlines or the titles of books ;)

Just in case we have any stragglers–IMHO=in my humble opinion. FTR [for the record], this shorthand is meant to create a nostalgic air. To quote my daughter again, “no one txts like this anymore–thanks to smartphones and auto-correct.” Just the same, I’m setting up a somewhat ungainly point that technology has a long history of affecting the ways in which we communicate, from the things we say to how we say them.

Today’s post is inspired by a new book, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra. Well, it’s inspired by an HBR blog post introducing the book. I haven’t read the actual book yet. But, having sneaked a peak at the “11 rules” I can tell you that the better part of the theory may have come out in the HBR book report.

Here’s the inspiration, especially for any entrepreneurs whose business/product is a service, like say independent insurance agents:

[paraphrasing a little] Nilopher Merchant proposes that the business world has moved from the Industrial Era through the Information Age and landed now in the “#SocialEra”.

reach of social nets

According to a recent Washington Post article, the average Facebook user has 245 friends.

What does she mean? According to Ms. Merchant one of the ways to define each era or age is by looking at the way that organizations operating in those periods created value and achieved success. In the Industrial Era, it was all about scale. Bigger was better. We made stuff and we became more profitable by making more stuff more efficiently. Scale and efficiency translated to other MBA-ish topics like accessibility and the flywheel favored the “800 lb gorilla”.

The Information Age built on this “size matters” concept by touting the power of data to drive efficiency. I’m not sure that the sun has entirely set on the Information Age. Last time I checked, many of us were still talking about “big data”. However, recent years have uncovered many of data’s shortcomings. For example, those of you who remember the ninety’s will recall the promise of “mass-customization” driven by data. We thought it was the answer to making more meaningful connections with consumers. What we found out is that human beings still have a leg up on machines when it comes to connecting with other human beings.


Google Analytics

Today’s technically driven society has forced many businesses to change the way they operate. I am writing to tell you about an exciting web analytics tool that is surprisingly unknown by many.  Google Analytics is a free service that can serve as one of the most beneficial additions to your agency’s operations. Google Analytics purpose is to enable users to access detailed statistical information regarding visitors to a website. No matter the intricacy of your website, it is extremely useful to be informed on the amount of people who are visiting your site, geographic locations of visitors, different modes of transportation into the site, and what visitors are doing once they access the site. Imagine having daily, weekly, or monthly summaries of statistical data at your finger tips to help identify how and when people are using your website. If serving your customers in the finest way possible is of high priority to your agency, Google Analytics is for you.


Mobilize Your Email

Gone are the days of working from 9-6, switchboard operators that place calls for you, and the Sunday pot roast (in my home at least). The modern business person is wired into their job. Smart phones, tablets, laptops and Wi-Fi allow us instant access to work. We wake up and drink single serve instant roast coffee; catch our favorite radio program on a pod-cast  while reviewing the night’s email messages. Wait, you said reviewing the night’s email messages, how can we do that if our work email is well, at work? Fear not friend, today we are going to go through mobilizing your email.

Skip past the techno-talk and get straight to the setting up your iPhone.

The first thing you need to understand is what an email address is and how it gets from the sender’s fingertips to your computer screen. Let’s take it step by step.  Someone wants to contact you, so they open up their email client (or webmail) type a quick message, address it you and click send. The email goes from their computer, across the internet to your mail server. A mail server is an email host like hotmail or part of a web server like Godaddy.  The mail server routes the email to you, where you can check it either in a webmail interface (think Hotmail or Yahoo) or it is downloaded into an email client. Email clients are programs that you run on your computer, i.e. Microsoft’s Outlook, Mozilla’s Thunderbird or Apple’s Mail.


The personal is professional…or is it?

Oscar Wilde wrote that “Life imitates Art”. That’s an accurate and properly attributed quote. However, if you read Tip #9, you probably noticed an inaccurate quote. Well, it’s correct if you attribute it to Lennon. But, he was misquoting McCartney (possibly on purpose).

Sir Paul actually wrote, “The love you take is equal to the love you make.” Unfortunately, that version doesn’t translate as well for the point I make in Tip #9. You have to be willing to “give back” to customers and consumers who engage with you in any forum, social media or otherwise. It sounds like a lot of work, but the beauty of the digital world is that technology makes it easy to give feedback [to quote my own words in Tip #5].