10 Reasons an Insurance Agent Needs an Online Presence

The Entrance to the World Wide Web (HDR)

The Entrance to the World Wide Web (HDR) (Photo credit: jmtosses)

Have referrals to your business dropped off over the past two years?

Are standard “always worked before” advertising methods less effective?

Is the 100 calls = 10 appointments = 1 sale formula less accurate?

Are outbound phone calls more effectively blocked by technology every day?

If you’ve answered “YES” to any of the questions above, you’re not alone.

RELAX. Honest, very little in business has changed. It’s just that many prospects migrated south for a warmer climate, leaving behind a cold and dark landscape littered with rotary phones, pagers and shiny Yellow Pages phone books in mint condition.

In other words, many of your current and potential clients have moved to the “online” landscape of the World Wide Web.

Location, Location, Location

In Real Estate, it’s all about location. In business, a virtual location is a must. Having a website isn’t enough anymore, but it’s still important. And while the online world may seem complex, when it comes to representing a business, creating a virtual “reality” is essential.

The GOOD NEWS is that personalized service, doing right by clients and word of mouth referrals will always be great strategies for new customer acquisition. In many ways, creating new business relationships is still the same as it was 50 years ago. Or 1000 years ago, for that matter. Yet for many businesses, referrals and new customers have dropped off dramatically since the end of 2008.

The simplicity is that potential customers and clients research on the web before they buy.  What are they looking for? They are searching for a genuine validation from someone just like them that your product or service is the right purchase. The Web makes it so easy to research and even get recommendations from friends. There just isn’t any reason not to use the World Wide Web to validate most new purchases.

Here are 10 reasons why any business needs to create a “location” online:

1. Potential customers appreciate referrals and listen to fellow consumers. Recommendations are a click away on social networking sites such as Facebook, or review sites specifically for the purpose of sharing experiences, such as Yelp (a consumer-oriented online network for sharing reviews and experiences with other consumers).

2. Websites: Customers expect a business to at least have a website. Can you be in business without a website? Of course. But we are discussing customer perception, not reality. While you are fully aware that your business is alive and kicking, if a customer can’t find a business’s website, to them it’s like calling a disconnected phone number. A new potential prospect may simply assume you’re no longer in business.

3. The world has gotten used to speed. Remember when it took a week to get a letter? Today an email taking more than a couple of minutes to arrive causes some people worry! An online presence helps gets a business up to the expected speed: Instant.

4. If you are reading this article online, so are other potential clients. How many online articles are your competitors publishing?

5. Here are some online Social Networking fun facts, courtesy of Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, illustrating the speedy offline-to-online shift:

By 2010, Generation Y will outnumber the Baby Boomers.

96% of Generation Y have joined a social network.

Social Media has overtaken Porn as the Number 1 activity on the web

Radio took 38 years to reach 50 million users

TV took 13 years to reach 50 million users

The Internet took 4 years to reach 50 million users

The iPod took 3 years to reach 50 million users

Facebook added 100 million users in 9 months

6. New referrals are one mouse-click away for businesses already sharing articles and other content on the Web.

7. Because instant solutions are easy to get online, consumers research first and ask questions later, when they are ready to buy. An online presence gives businesses the ability to “turn up” at just the right moment, 24/7, at very low cost.

8. Smaller private businesses may leverage good customer service into rave online reviews, creating an edge over larger corporations who may have lost touch with the very customers that made them successful. Why? Because companies with poor customer service tend to get unfavorable reviews online, and are often less nimble than private or small business owners who are directly in touch with their online customers.

9. Along the same line of online reviews, clients may be talking about you online already. Do you know what they are saying? A properly set up online presence allows customers to visit you and leave invaluable comments and feedback you can use to improve performance, and ultimately, sales.

10. Competition: Customers may be passing your name on to their friends, who naturally will “google” your name or business. Regardless of why they research first, if your name or business doesn’t show up online, who is showing up? Possibly referrals are ending up in the lap of your competitors.

By Trevor Eisenman for Producers eSource 

Trevor Eisenman is a senior strategist at The Association, an award-winning visual media company specializing in integrated marketing solutions for businesses seeking a competitive edge in today’s marketplace.

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