Today's entry is a guest post from our partners at InsureChance
The digital age is upon us and many industries have been impacted in a big way since the birth of the internet. While the life insurance industry may have been slower to adapt, it has been no exception to these tectonic shifts. So while the carriers are making changes of their own, what changes do the agents have to make to continue selling life insurance to the modern consumer?
Have a Digital Presence
A lot of agents over the years have used the internet to transition and create successful online businesses that service clients nationwide, all completely over the phone with no need for face-to-face meetings - I’m one of them. And while it’s not an easy thing to do, it’s definitely worth it. But even if you’re not quite ready to become a digital agent yet, you can still benefit from having an online presence. This is known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM), or more specifically, Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Most agents shy away from SEM as a whole because they can't imagine trying to compete with big agencies and life insurance companies online. The good news is you don’t always have to.
81% of consumers go online before making an in-person purchase.
You can remain the local agent servicing your city or state. But if you’re still marketing yourself the old-fashioned way, whether through direct mailers, local magazine ads, etc., you still need a digital presence.
Most consumers start their searches online. When they get your ad in the mail, they will most likely check you out online to see what customers are saying. If you want to increase those conversions, make sure you’re there when they look you up and get your existing clients to review your services to build trust. Not only will this help your efforts in the real world, but it will enhance your local presence online. So for every client that searches Google for “life insurance agent in (insert your city here),” you will show up and be able to generate new business. This is known as “local SEO” and is much easier to accomplish than trying to compete for keywords nationwide.
It’s a small investment of time and resources that can pay off down the line. Mobile search and local results are seeing a constant upwards trend - it's not real estate space you want to lose out on, so it’s best to act on it by building a website and optimizing it.
Be an Expert, Not a Salesman
With the digital revolution came a change in consumer behavior. This is largely due to the fact that they have information at their fingertips. The digital customer is much more educated by the time they get in touch with you for a sale. So if you don’t know what they have learned, you don’t stand a chance of earning them as clients.
The modern consumer doesn't want to be sold. They know too much for that - they want to be educated. If you can do that, you can earn their trust, and their business. With the rise of e-commerce, an average agent will find it difficult to thrive. The customer has already done their research and is seeking an expert to guide them to the right purchase. Pushing product isn't good enough anymore - it's time to push knowledge. This philosophy includes all points of contact, whether it's the actual conversation or your marketing material. Don’t just tell them how smart you are and how great a service you provide. Instead, teach them something they don’t already know.
What It’s Like to Go Digital
Consumers spend an average of 79 days gathering information before making a major purchase.
Personally, my business has benefited from going online. Any agent with an online business will have a different story. Some left call centers, some were local agents. For me, the phone game is all I’ve ever really known, so selling a policy face-to-face wasn’t in my DNA. It took a while to create an online presence that can generate leads, but the time and resources put into it was well worth it. My partner and I started InsureChance Inc. in 2013 and decided to take a fully digital approach to our marketing after having a few unsuccessful runs with different lead vendors. Currently we generate 100% of our leads through our website and do all of our applications online and over the phone. Having the backing of a digitally progressive IMO like Pinney helps a ton.
Here’s what a “sale” looks like for me.
- A customer finds us online for a optimized search keyword.
- They proceed to get in touch with me either via call in or application request via email.
- After doing a through pre-qual, need analysis and explanation of plan details, I proceed to an over-the-phone electronic application.
- The case mangers then complete the entire application, set up the exam, and send the application out for electronic signature.
- Ta da! The application is submitted for underwriting.
Now, of course there is case management and customer service going on past this call, but this is pretty much the process I go through on every call. No need for paperwork, face-to-face meetings, and no need for trust-building exercise because the marketing in the form of educational material has already taken care of all that for me. I educate my clients, and they reward me with their business. Things are changing, and if you want to thrive, you have to adapt.