Outbound marketing efforts are becoming easier for consumers to block. For instance, with the release of TIVO, consumers no longer have to sit through TV commercials, "Do Not Call" lists impede telemarketing efforts, and so on. Therefore, many agents are rethinking the way they advertise their agency.
We are receiving reports that quite a number of agents are achieving success by engaging in new marketing techniques referred to as "Inbound" marketing. Instead of sending out costly mass advertising only to receive a few responses, many agents are finding they receive a higher return on their marketing dollar with Value Driven Marketing as a means to get prospects to contact them, thus the term "inbound".
What is "Value Driven Marketing"?
Value Driven Marketing is delivering informative and relevant content to a targeted prospect or customer. It is all about the customer, addressing their wants and their needs.
For example, a common question insureds often ask when obtaining a homeowners policy is "Why is my house insured for more than it's worth?” In a Value Driven Marketing piece, an agent could post an article explaining the significance of insuring their home for the Replacement Cost Value versus the Market Value.
Value Driven Marketing can:
- Get exposure
- Obtain brand recognition
- Turn leads into relationships
- Earn loyalty and trust from customers
- Demonstrate the vendor is an "expert" in their field
By providing value content on your website regularly, you also achieve higher search engine rankings. Search engines thirst for fresh content, especially content informative in nature.
One free tool many agents are using in their Value Driven Marketing strategy is Twitter. Twitter is a social networking service that allows users to post updates about themselves or their business. These updates are received instantly by their "followers" (users that requested to receive the updates). The updates can also be posted publically and are archived, meaning they are searchable. A Twitter account is not required to view the post; therefore, you will often find Twitter posts on major search engines such as Google or Yahoo.
Twitter is a micro-blogging service that enables users to send short messages, which are called tweets. The tweets can only be up to 140 characters in length and are posted on your profile, your “followers’” profiles, and if you choose, can be posted publicly.
Its application has many uses for both individuals and businesses. On an individual basis, users can quickly broadcast information to their friends and family about what they are up to.
Businesses are using Twitter as a tool to broadcast the company’s latest news, interact with customers, find potential customers, learn what the public is saying about their brand and/or industry, and follow their competition. Author, Bill Tancer of Hitwise, recently published an article in Time Magazine citing “While it is easy to dismiss Twitter as a kid's online chat tool; its real demographics reaches into the business world”.
What Are Some Best Practices/Tips for Using Twitter?
- Post your picture or logo.
It’s no secret with insurance being an intangible product, what we often find is we are selling ourselves. Add that personal touch by posting your picture.
- Don’t be a Tweeterbox. A Tweeterboxer is someone that posts too many messages, in other words, talks too much. It’s a surefire way to get your followers to leave.
- Keep your Twitter profile “real” by promoting local community events, other articles your customers may find of interest, and even short stories about yourself and your staff.
- Don’t sell. Offer content of value to your followers to keep them following.
- For example, answer common questions your agency receives, such as:
Why is my house insured for more than it’s worth? (Replacement Cost)
Is there a grace period on auto insurance?
What is non-owners insurance?
Does my policy cover anyone that drives my car?
The intent is to drive traffic to your website, where the user has the opportunity to learn more about your agency. To accomplish this, post the question on your Twitter profile with a link to answer posted in a blog on your website.
What is a Blog?
Short for "Web Log", a blog is a shared online journal that is frequently updated for the general public's viewing. The Insurance Website Builder has a built-in blog option. The blog system allows you to place unlimited logs on your site. Furthermore, readers have the ability to link your blog to any number of social networking sites automatically through our easy Bookmark widget. Others linking to your site increases your search engine rankings.
Free Helpful Twitter Tools
With the restraint of only 140 characters, often times including a lengthy website link to a blog can present a problem. There are several free sites that create a shortened link that will redirect to your site.
We used tinyurl.com to shorten a link to an article we posted about employee theft. The link to the article was 98 characters long - http://www.insurancetechnologiescorp.com/blog/role_of_automation_in_preventing_employee_theft.aspx.
We visited www.tinyurl.com and created an alias www.tinyurl.com/EmployeeTheft. The benefit of tinyurl.com (other than being free) is you can often times dictate what the alias link will be; in this case, we were able to choose "EmployeeTheft". However, tinyurl.com does not provide any tracking mechanisms.
Inek.net will also create a shorter alias for a lengthy link. While with this free service you are not able to dictate the alias' name, you can measure the number of clicks that site receives. Every good marketing plan includes a measurement tool.
While Twitter is a no cost advertising tool, as with any other effective marketing strategy, it takes time and effort. Keep consistent with your posts and make sure they address your customers wants and needs. Also be sure to ask everyone to follow you. Include a signature line on your emails “Follow me on Twitter”. Encourage your staff to ask current clients to follow you, even include your Twitter link on your business cards.