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Agent Tips Resources

Local SEO For Insurance Agents: How To Get Discovered Online

Local SEO

While it’s easy to dial up leads all over your state, you shouldn’t neglect people in your own community who need insurance. Many would prefer to deal with someone locally, and they actively search for hometown insurance agencies to help them get covered.

However, having a website doesn’t guarantee that people who search for “insurance agents near me” will be able to find you. In order to get your name in front of Google searchers, you need to know how to tune up your website in order to make it as search-friendly as possible.

Basic Search Concepts

The goal of Google and other search engines is to find useful and relevant links and websites for their users. Google’s algorithm determines which sites are most relevant by evaluating signals. These are simply clues that a particular website is highly relevant.

In local SEO, the goal is to increase the number of good signals for your website. When you do that successfully, then you can appear at the top of listings like this.

Local SEO Insurance Agents

Here’s what you can do to tell Google that they ought to send a lot of search traffic your way.

Google My Business Signals

Google actually makes it easy for businesses to list their info. Simply sign up with a Google My Business account and add as much information as possible.

This includes:

  • A unique description that explains how awesome your agency is
  • Your business category (e.g. “insurance agency”)
  • High-quality photos of you and your office
  • Open and close times
  • Your website
  • Name, address, and phone number (collectively, they’re frequently called “NAP”)

Local NAP Signals

It’s crucial to keep your NAP listings consistent everywhere on the web. Listing contradictory information indicates to Google that your info isn’t updated or possibly just wrong, which means you’ll rank lower. For example, if you list one address and phone number on your website, but a different one in your Google My Business account, that inconsistency can damage your rankings.

If you have multiple phone numbers or multiple addresses (such as a physical address and P.O. Box), it’s best to pick with just one and stick with it for all listings across the web.

Local Reviews

You already know that you’re a conscientious agent who leaves a wake of satisfied clients behind you. But does the rest of the world know?

Google gives greater weight to local businesses and websites that earn a lot of good reviews. That includes both Google Reviews and Yelp Reviews. If you don’t have any reviews yet, you could start out by sending a friendly request to your most satisfied customers.

However, you should also bake requesting reviews into your onboarding process. Be sure to include it in your welcome kit and directly ask your new clients. Over time, the high volume of five-star raves will tell both Google and real leads that you are the real deal.

Local Link Building

Way back in the ‘90s, Google became the king of search by discovering that the number of hyperlinks to a website was one of the best signals of quality. While the algorithm has become more sophisticated and changed a lot since then, links are still a key indicator of a good website. There are lots of ways that insurance agencies can get local links.

Become a member of local chamber of commerce. They typically give a link to members.
Sign up with any local professional organizations. If there are meetups or networking groups for insurance agents, they may be able to provide you a link.
Engage in charity events. The organization you support will probably include a link on their website.
Offer your services to a local newspaper as an expert. Most publications regularly write about personal finance, and journalists are happy to include quotes from an expert on the subject.

Modern link building is really about public relations. The more you inject yourself and your business into your local community, the more backlinks your website will earn.

On-Page Keywords

It’s important to be careful with this one, simply because keywords aren’t as crucial as they used to be. But it’s still essential to include the kinds of terms that people might actually search for on your website.

For example, if you are a San Diego-based insurance agency, then you should include the phrase “San Diego insurance agency” in several places on your website. If you specialize in a particular kind of insurance, such as Medicare supplements, then you should include that keyword like so: “San Diego medicare supplement insurance agency.”

You should also include this keyword on:

  • Your page title tag
  • Your H1 tag
  • Your URL
  • Your body content
  • The ALT tag of an image

Don’t repeat the keyword until it looks strange and unnatural (that’s a practice called “keyword stuffing”). Instead, include it in key places so it’s obvious where you operate and what you do.

Get Found

Even in 2017, most insurance agencies aren’t taking the extra step necessary to be as search-friendly as possible. Many small businesses have the mistaken impression that local SEO is some sort of hyper-technical practice that only a few people can master. But truthfully, it’s just a matter of making small changes that make it easy for Googlers to stumble on your site.

If you do that, you’ll have a leg up over every other agency in your town — and be rewarded with a steady stream of local leads.

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Agent Tips Resources

Yes, It’s Possible To Get More Insurance Referral Leads. Here’s How

Referrals

Buying leads is a fantastic way to fill your sales funnel and close more deals every week. But how do you take one policy and transform it into several? Referrals.

Referral leads are the trickiest to get, but the most valuable kinds of leads there are. Since they come straight from a satisfied client, they are more likely to trust you. And that means it’s easier to make a sale.

Believe it not, it is possible to positively influence the number of referrals you receive. Here are nine ways you take one successful sale and turn into several more down the line.

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Agent Tips Resources

How To Maximize ROI During Open Enrollment

ROI During Open Enrollment

If selling health insurance were a sport, then the ACA (Affordable Care Act) open enrollment period would be the playoffs. It’s a make it or break it time for many agents. From November 1st through December 15th, the insurance market will be flooded with people who want to either switch plans, or acquire a new policy. How you prepare for this crucial period will directly impact your immediate income, and possibly even your career.

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Agent Tips Resources

Use This Active Listening Process For Better Insurance Sales

Active Listening

If you’ve ever taken an acting class, you might’ve heard of the old tip, “Acting is reacting.” What makes a performance believable and engaging isn’t how an actor emotes or delivers their lines. It’s how actors react to each other. If one actor yells, another might react by appearing anxious. If one actor smiles, the other might react by smiling back.

This back and forth makes plays and movies appear genuine because it proves that there’s a connection between the performers — they’re really listening.

It’s this exact quality that makes listening such a crucial skill in sales interactions. Now, “listening” might be the most rudimentary sales concept. It’s part of every sales newbie’s training. But listening in a sales context doesn’t mean understanding someone’s words well enough to transcribe them. What’s more important is how you react to those words.

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Agent Tips Resources

How To Build Your Welcome Kit For New Insurance Clients

Sealing The Deal

You aren’t done making a good impression after your prospect signs on the dotted line. In fact, the wooing has only begun.

Now that they’ve purchased a policy, it’s time to make them feel like they’re part of the family. And the best way to do that is with a welcome kit. This is simply a collection of essential documents, important information, and a few small gifts that help your relationship start on the right foot. It’s a tiny gesture that makes a big impression.

Not sure what to include? These nine items are a good place to start.

1) Policy Documents

Start with the basics. Include full copies of the policies they purchased. If you want to make an even bigger impression (and don’t mind springing for quality), consider printing them on paper with higher quality stock than the other items in the kit. The slightly improved paper quality gives the policy a sense of weighty importance.

2) An Explanation Of All Your Available Products

The odds of a current client deciding that they need a new policy are much higher than a fresh lead buying a new policy. But your current clients won’t know what you offer if you don’t explicitly tell them. Include a few documents that explain other policies you offer that can protect your client.

3) Contact List And Bios

Your phone number and email address should be front and center. No one likes an agent who tries to tuck away their contact info with the hope that they won’t call. Next to individual contact info, list biographical information, including how long you and your colleagues have worked in the industry. That both makes you seem more human and establishes your credibility.

This is also a good spot to include all of your social media platforms. Many clients, especially younger ones, prefer to contact you through Twitter over a phone call or email.

4) Customer Service Process Info

Customer service is so important, it deserves its own page. Including this in your welcome kit proves that all of your talk about serving the customer is more than just lip service.

Spell out your philosophy of customer service, how quickly you respond to inquiries, and what sort of issues you handle versus issues that are handled by the carrier. If you don’t have any ideas and don’t handle customer service directly, then ask the person who is responsible for customer issues. They’ll likely have lots of ideas on how to best serve the customer.

5) Frequently Asked Questions

Do you or your agency answer the same questions over and over again, week after week? Your clients don’t want to have to ask those questions, and you don’t actually have to answer them. Include an FAQ that covers the most common issues that your clients encounter.

6) Claim Process Information

What does the client have to do when they file a claim? The world of insurance can seem strange and byzantine to people (and that includes people who work in the industry). Including fundamental information about how a claim is processed will alleviate some of that confusion and anxiety.

Shaking Hands

7) General Safety And Health Information

It’s human nature: we care about people who care about us. An easy way to show that you care about your client (for more reasons than their premium payments) is to provide essential safety and wellness tips.

Just be sure to match the content to the policy they purchased. If they bought health or life insurance, offer general fitness and nutrition tips. If they bought a Medicare supplement insurance policy, provide health tips for seniors. For an auto insurance policy, share safe driving information.

8) Details Of Your Referral Program

Do you incentivize your clients to send you referrals? If not, start. Leads from referrals close at an astoundingly high rate. A simple sheet that lays out how your clients can refer their friends and family, and what rewards they will get, will boost your quality leads.

9) Stylish Branded Agency Swag

If you pay good money for branded cups, pens, letterhead, USB sticks, and other marketing trinkets, now’s the time to use them. While they might make your office look good, they’re even more valuable in the hands of your clients.

This might sound insignificant, but your swag is actually an easy way to keep you at the top of their mind. In all honesty, most people would prefer to buy their insurance and then not have to think about their agent or agency ever again. Little reminders can inspire them to purchase a new policy, reccomend you, or even just renew their existing policy.

Bring Them Into The Fold

Insurance is a commodity. Your clients can get covered anywhere.

But how you treat your clients isn’t a commodity. Taking extra steps for your client establishes what kind of agency you are. And, more importantly to your bottom line, it establishes why your clients should continue doing business with you.

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Agent Tips Resources

3 Steps to Finding Your Personal Motivation Story

Confident Businessman

One September morning in 2002, Michael Davis was sitting across from his client Judy. She’s a vivacious woman with a fun personality people are naturally drawn to. But not today. Today her hair is matted, her eyes are bloodshot, she’s sitting slumped in her chair. She looks like she hasn’t slept in days. Michael asked, “How you holding up?”

She looked up at him. After several seconds, she said, “I don’t know, Michael. I feel lost. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I’m the one who’s sick. This wasn’t supposed to happen to him.”
After he took in a long breath, he replied, “I know. Fifty-two-year-old men aren’t supposed to have an aneurysm in the shower.”

She stared down at her coffee for a long while. Then she looked up and with an angry tone said, “What am I going to do? I’ve never run a business by myself before. He handled all that. I just took care of the books. Now I’ve got payroll due next week. Michael, what am I going to do?” After a long pause, with great fear in her voice she added, “I’m so scared.”

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Resources Sales Management

How Pirate Metrics Can Help You Grow Your Insurance Agency Like A Startup

Insurance Agency Metrics

Are you ready to take the growth of your insurance agency seriously? While most agencies grow at a fairly modest rate, a select few “high-growth” agencies can accomplish in a single year what other agencies require years to do.

There is no magic magic bullet to achieve that kind of growth, but most agencies with skyrocketing revenue are data-driven. According to a 2011 study by Safeco Insurance, high-growth agencies usually track “their marketing efforts and knew what was effective and what was not.” In other words, they are rigorous about tracking metrics. If you want to dive into the numbers for your own agency, why not steal a playbook from the most metrics-obsessed companies in the country: Silicon Valley startups?

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Agent Tips Resources

Why Introverts Can Crush It In Sales (Infographic)

Selling Shy

Myths die hard. This is particularly true in sales, where everyone is slow to change old ways of thinking about success. One of the most persistent myths is that all salespeople are super high energy extroverts who could talk to dozens of people for hours and never get tired. But that’s simply not true. Even people whose Saturday night plans consist of going for a solitary jog and reading a few chapters in a book can reel in new accounts with the best of them. In truth, some introverted characteristics, like careful attention to speech and self-reflection might actually give introverts an edge on the sales floor.

For more details, check out this infographic on “selling while shy” by Collegematchup.net. It provides some good reasons why introverts should consider a career in sales.

Selling Why Shy

 

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Agent Tips Resources

All Insurance Agents Needs To Know These 5 Medicare And Medigap Facts

Old Man Medicare

You’re ready to enter the rapidly ballooning Medicare supplement market. Those benefits are too strong to ignore. You’ll sell more policies, and you’ll help retirees get the coverage they need in their golden years to boot.

But there’s one Rock-of-Gibraltar-sized obstacle that will prevent you building your book as much as possible: the complexity of Medicare.

Not just because the red tape might slow you down, but because there’s greater risk of looking confused to leads. If it’s confusing to agents, it’s even more confusing to everyday patients who just want a health care plan that will cover all of their needs. If they sense that you’re just as bewildered as they are, they’ll be hesitant to pull the trigger. But if you can prove you really know your stuff? Your credibility will skyrocket and leads will trust you.

That’s why I put this cheat sheet together.

It compiles the most recent developments in this multilayered and still-evolving insurance field. If a Medicare supplement lead who has done their homework lobs you a question about MARCA, Medicare Payment Reform, or another policy issue, you’ll be able to help them without hesitation.

Are you a little confused about the basics of Medicare? If so, you can brush up by looking at the internet’s largest Medicare term glossary. It’s time for more in-depth knowledge. Here are the facts about Medigap plans that all agents should know in 2016. They’ll help you prove that you’re an expert and better serve your clients — and keep you compliant to boot.

1) The Medicare Access And CHIP Reauthorization Act (MARCA) Was Passed In 2015

MARCA is the most significant piece of health care legislation since the ACA was passed in 2010.

The primary purpose of the law is to eliminate the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate. This was a technique used to control Medicare spending on doctors. Specifically, it created incentives for physicians to focus on quality of care, rather than the volume of patients cared for. Unfortunately, it never quite functioned like it should have, which forced Congress to regularly swoop in and jury rig Medicare payments with new legislation.

Instead of the old, failing formula to determine physician’s fees, MARCA replaces it with a new system. From July 2015 through 2019, physicians receive an annual 0.5% update. Starting in 2019, physicians can also participate in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). This will give physicians incentive payments if they perform well on a particular set of clinical improvement metrics. Basically, they’ll earn more cash for providing better care.

How does this affect regular Joe and Jane Medicare Beneficiary? It ensures that they have a broader network of doctors to choose from. The danger with controlling Medicare payments to physicians is that it incentivizes them to refuse to accept Medicare patients. If MARCA didn’t pass, doctors would have seen their Medicare reimbursement rate get slashed by 21.2%.

Medicare doesn’t work if beneficiaries can’t find a doctor who will accept their insurance. With this law, Congress is trying to balance three concerns:

1) Make doctors happy by providing them fair payment for their services.
2) Make Medicare beneficiaries happy by providing them with quality care and a wide range of doctors to choose from.
3) Keep Medicare solvent by controlling costs.

MARCA will hopefully achieve all three. Fingers crossed.

2) As A Consequence Of MARCA, Selling “No Gap” Medigap Will Be A Crime In 2020

The Obama administration isn’t keen on the idea of Medicare supplement plans paying the Part B deductible. In fact, selling one of these “no gap” plans after 2020 will be a criminal offense that could potentially lead to hefty fines and even jail time.

This is the conclusion of an analysis prepared for Medigap Subgroup, a group of regulators at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). It was written by William Schiffbauer, an insurance compliance lawyer.

This has the potential to be a big deal in a few years, since these kinds of plans are popular. But it’s possible that Congress will do something to change that fact before 2020.

3) Helping Clients With Medicare Part D Or Part C Through A Consumer Facing Website Might Be Considered Fraud

Like all government programs, Medicare is subject to tight regulations. That includes regulations on how eligible seniors can sign up for the program. If you have a Part C or Part D contract with any insurance carrier, then enrolling into a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan through medicare.gov, or any consumer facing website, is a compliance no-no. And honestly, it’s a bad idea even if you don’t have a Part C or Part D contract.

You can be on the phone when they sign up. But you can’t be in the same room as them, or use a program to take control of their computer when they sign up.

According to United Health Care’s external distribution channel guide, Version 2.3:

Agents are prohibited from completing the web enrollment on behalf of the consumer or at the consumer’s request. However, an agent may be on the telephone in order to assist the consumer with a web enrollment.

Agents must not be physically present with the consumer when a consumer is completing a web-based enrollment and must not engage in any screen sharing with the consumer through an internet connection (e.g., the consumer gives the agent control of the consumer’s computer to complete a web enrollment via WebEx) unless agreed to by the Vice President of Sales Oversight and the Compliance Officer.

Completing a web enrollment through the web-based enrollment tool on behalf of a consumer may be considered fraud.

It’s nice to provide help to your clients. Just don’t run over regulations when you do it.

4) Two-Thirds Of Medicare Recipients Have Three Or More Chronic Health Conditions

A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation sheds light on Medicare beneficiaries.

Here are some of the most interesting findings:

  • Two-thirds of beneficiaries (66%) had three or more chronic conditions
  • Over three in 10 (31%) had a cognitive or mental impairment
  • In 2014, half of all people on Medicare had incomes below $24,150 per person and savings below $63,350

And perhaps most interestingly for insurance agents:

  • One in five Medicare beneficiaries have a Medigap plan.

5) Medigap Policies Are Standardized Differently In Massachusetts, Minnesota, And Wisconsin

Forty-seven states follow the basic “A through F” plan format. But three states prefer to do Medigap their own way. This is important to consider if you’re part of a larger agency interested in entering these markets.

Massachusetts

Eligible residents of the Bay State have two Medicare supplement options: the Core plan or the Supplement 1 plan.

The Core plan covers:

  • Basic benefits
  • 60 days of inpatient days in mental health facilities per year
  • State-mandated benefits

The Supplement 1 plan covers:

  • Basic benefits
  • Part A: inpatient hospital deductible
  • Part A: skilled nursing facility coinsurance
  • Part B deductible
  • Foreign travel emergency
  • 120 days of inpatient days in mental health facilities per year
  • State-mandated benefits

Minnesota

Residents of Minnesota can sign up for the Minnesota Basic Plan and the Minnesota Extended plan. These are a bit more convoluted than the Massachusetts plans. Check out Medicare.gov’s page on Minnesota’s plans for complete details.

Minnesota residents can also have versions of Medigap plans F, K, L, M, and N.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin only has one main state-specific Medicare supplement plan. It covers hospice care, inpatient mental health, home health care visits, Part A coinsurance for inpatient hospital care, and skilled nursing facility care.

However, Wisconsin residents can also add riders from private insurers. These provide additional coverage for the Part A and B deductible and home health care services.

Know Your Stuff

As always, you should do your own research to understand Medicare and Medigap. But understanding these seven basic facts should give you enough knowledge to go toe-to-toe with your average Medicare wonk. But more importantly, you’ll prove that you’re a trusted advisor to people who want a good Medigap policy.

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Agent Tips Resources

The Power of Follow-up – How to Set Up an Effective Cold Email Sequence

Sales Email Sequence

This is a guest post by Cathy Patalas – Marketing Manager at Woodpecker.co helping B2B companies directly contact prospective clients via personalized sales emails & follow-ups sent automatically. Cathy writes about cold emailing and prospecting at blog.woodpecker.co.

Do you have a cold email sequence? Or maybe you’re among the 70 percent of salespeople sending no more than one message in your cold outreach? Here’s why you should always follow up after your first touch email, and how to discover the line between the “pleasantly persistent” and annoying. How many follow-ups to send? What should they look like? When to send them, and how to do that efficiently?

Find answers to those questions and your response rates will triple.

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