1As more and more business-to-business organizations are embracing the power of social selling, content marketing is fast becoming an important technique to success in the new marketing dynamic of social media marketing. This includes middle market P&C and large group benefits brokers.

Understanding the role content plays in the sales funnel is a key element of designing a winning strategy. Knowing how to use online content to attract a potential customer, make a connection and build a relationship that leads to a deal is critical to your online marketing effectiveness.

In today’s internet-based world of commerce, successful sellers are content creators. Today’s customers recognize the value of information to help them make buying decisions. The best social selling teams and representatives are content creators who know how to deliver the right content to the right customer at the right time in the sales cycle. Research shows that consumers spend a great deal of time online self-educating – searching, reading and researching. Many have made a buying decision before even reaching out to a company representative.

  • 90% of customers start their purchasing decision with a search engine. (Forrester) Provide the type of content that will get you found early in their search efforts. LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Search are top B2B search networks. This is the “secret sauce” to beat and differentiate yourself from your competition.
  • 46% of buyers consume content weekly. 37% spend time daily to better understand business problems and solutions, reports ITSMA/CFO. Another study found that buyers will consume at least 3-4 content pieces to help them make a purchase decision.
  • 45% of buyers require person-to-person contact in the buying process, reports ITSMA/CFO. Customers are looking for expertise and answers to their questions. LinkedIn and Twitter are excellent avenues for demonstrating your expertise through content.

There are three important reasons to use content to build your social selling advantage.

  1. Unique, relevant content will differentiate your company from your competition. People are tired of being sold to. When you offer useful, distinctive, remarkable content you are signaling to the potential client that you are here to help. People will naturally gravitate to sources of beneficial information, where they will be turned off by relentless inundation to try to get a prospect on the hook.
  1. Content can address common sales objections. A well-crafted article or blog post can help answer frequent questions or protestations before they even become a full sentence.
  1. Content marketing will help move prospects through the stages of buying. At each stage, the customer will be hungry for the next stage – so make sure you give it to them! Your bottom line will thank you!

Interested in learning more about you can gain a competitive edge with a content marketing strategy? Contact StartUpSelling and we will be happy to help you explore how content marketing can benefit your company. Call us today at (518) 222-6392 to get started. We’d love to hear from you!

Originally posted by John Scranton on July 28, 2015

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1Video is a highly effective marketing tool because videos quickly convey your message and deliver results almost immediately. Videos receive 100% more engagement than other types of posts on Facebook. Videos on websites are more likely to convert visitors to buyers.

Even though many insurance brokers, wholesalers and agents know the value of video marketing, creating a video can be challenging. Here’s how to get started:

Start with a PLAN.

Creating a plan ensures that you and your team will be on the same page and minimizes editing time. Here are the elements to include in your plan:

  1. What is the purpose of the video?
  2. Narrowed down topic. The more specific the better. What do you want prospects to learn from watching your video?
  3. Call-to-action. What action do you want the viewer to take after viewing the video?

Having a plan in place will help facilitate a smooth and efficient production process.

Write your SCRIPT.

Writing a script is an art form in itself. A script is a written format of the words that will be spoken during the video. Try to write the script in a conversational tone that will sound natural when spoken. Avoid complex jargon or buzz words that will sound out of place or cloud up your message. Try to write the script so clearly and with enough detail that any novice reader would understand the message.

Check back soon for part two…

Originally posted by John Scranton on July 13, 2015

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How Insurance Agencies are Maximizing Their Social Media Investment

  • Posted on August 14, 2017
  • by John Scranton

1Insurance agencies and wholesale brokers are investing in social media content creation as a valuable tool for attracting new clients and retaining existing ones. Social media content creation drives lead generation because it answers questions and conveys expertise to prospects. Business professionals and decision makers prefer to work with organizations that have a strong online presence because it gives them the opportunity and freedom to conduct their own research on their own terms when it best fits into their schedule.

The most successful insurance agencies are investing in social media. And, perhaps most importantly, they are producing more content.

Here are five strategies that the most successful insurance agencies, brokers and wholesalers are using to maximize their social media dollars.

  1. Ensure a social media expert oversees the company’s content marketing strategy. – The most successful companies make sure there is at least one person that is designated to be in charge of executing the content marketing goals that the company has set.
  1. Have a documented content strategy. – Write down your goals and what indicators you’ll use to prove your success. Make sure you communicate your goals with your digital marketing team.
  1. Use a variety of tactics. – In this age of multi-media consumption, competition for audience attention is fierce. The smart investors realize that the wider they cast their net and invest in more tactics, the more new customers they will attract. Here is a list of possible content marketing tactics your organization could employ:

* Social media postings
* Articles on your website and prominent directories
* Blogs
* Digital Newsletters
* Case studies
* Videos
* White papers
* Webinars/webcasts
* Infographics
* Research reports
* Microsites
* Mobile content
* eBooks
* Mobile apps
* Digital magazines
* Podcasts
* Virtual conferences
* Annual reports

  1. Use social media more frequently. – B2B companies use an average of six social platforms, up from five last year. (Content Marketing Institute.) As expected, LinkedIn is the top social media site used by B2B marketers, while Facebook is a close second. The sites that have seen the most growth this last year include SlideShare, Google+ and Instagram. Social media drives awareness of your company which in turn impacts lead generation.
  1. Produce more content. – While it may seem obvious, producing more content is an effective strategy for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. It may be very intimidating for an insurance agency to produce a quantity of content because it can be time-consuming and needs to be consistent.

StartUpSelling specializes in insurance marketing, web marketing and lead generation services. We have successfully created, launched and maintained marketing and lead generation campaigns for a vast array of insurance agencies, brokers and wholesalers. We deliver elite service and solutions at competitive price points. If you would like to maximize an investment in content marketing for your insurance organization, give us a call at 518-222-6392 today!

Originally Posted by John Scranton on June 22, 2015

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Insurance Web MarketingOne of the most common questions insurance agencies, brokers and wholesalers pose is “why do I need to invest in my online presence?” This is an excellent question that needs to be addressed.

Corporations prefer companies with a strong online presence.

First and foremost, today’s buyers expect to be able to visit an insurer’s website. A study by J.D.Power found that 52% of insurance shoppers start their shopping process online, and 73% visit at least one insurer’s website at some point during their shopping experience.” Potential customers will compare your website, social networks, testimonials and reviews, and other elements of your online presence with your competitors and usually choose the company they “like” the best.

Businesses are buying more online.

As much as consumers are buying online, businesses are buying more. Forrester Research Inc. predicts that B2B sales next year will likely more than double. The online presence of your agency builds your search engine findability and boosts your business in Google ranking.

Gives your business a competitive edge.

You have competition online. If your direct competitors don’t have a strong online presence yet, they will. Establishing – and enhancing – your online presence gives your business the competitive edge it needs.

Increases brand awareness and recognition

As the insurance industry becomes more competitive, one of the biggest challenges agencies face is how to build their brand.  The internet is available 24/7. This means that potential customers have the opportunity to become aware of your business at anytime, day or night. Having an online presence is like having billboards up all around town. Your online presence is an advertisement of your brand that never sleeps!

Increases trust and credibility

Companies are nervous about buying from insurance agencies they don’t know, especially businesses that seem “spammy” or lack integrity. Your online presence can help to dispel these fears if done right. Your website needs to be high quality; your content needs to be professional (and be spelled correctly, grammatically correct and easy to comprehend.) Your images and graphics need to be attractive and have a high resolution. You need to answer your prospective customer’s questions in a way that shows you understand their needs and point-of-view. Your agency needs to show consistency to demonstrate trustworthiness and reliability; customer reviews and testimonials will go a long way to establishing trust and influence the decision making process.

Learn about your customer

Successful agencies, brokers and wholesalers know that they need to establish and build relationships with their customers. Your online presence helps you do this through content and through listening tools. Being able to listen to the needs and wants of the companies that buy from you helps fine tune your offers and expand your business offerings in ways that will be attractive.

Measure your effectiveness to increase your ROI

The effectiveness of your online presence can easily be tracked and analyzed, giving you important data that can help you make improvements. Measuring the performance of your business gives you valuable information that will put you ahead of your competition.

While having a strategic online presence that is research-based and relentlessly executed does require an ongoing investment, an internet presence that is done right can have a major positive impact on the future. Regardless of your business type or size, don’t let the low-hanging opportunity of building equity in your online presence slip through your fingers.

Originally Posted September 2016 by John Scranton

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5 Insurance Agency Web Marketing Best Practices

  • Posted on August 7, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Agency Marketing - Insurance Agency LeadsWrite a Blog – Your marketing team should post weekly (if not daily) blogs that will be of interest to your target audience. Offer solutions to problems, complimentary advice and deliver value.  A great example would be a web marketing company sharing web marketing best practices.

Record a Video – YouTube has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity, however many business continue to lag in the video space. Record the seminars and webinars that you are already presenting.  Record vlogs at your desk during downtime.

Share Everything – Posting a blog to your website is good, sharing it with LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers is better.  Posting a video to your website is good, posting it to YouTube is better.  Make sure you capitalize on your efforts by proliferating your content across the web.

Measure Analytics – What works? What doesn’t?  You will never know unless you are monitoring and measuring your traffic and analytics.  At a minimum, Google Analytics and StartUpSelling Visitor ID should be installed on your website.  This combination of tools will show you the who, what, when, where and why of website traffic and conversions.

Do Not Sell – Insurance Agency Web Marketing success is completely contingent on your ability to deliver value without selling your product.

Originally Posted on November 2, 2012 by John Scranton

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1Click here to view Tips 1 & 2.

3. Build an Editorial Calendar

Use an editorial calendar to stay organized. Put Industry Events, Holidays, Contests, Giveaways, Book Releases, and News Events in it. There are a lot of tools including Google Calendar, Outlook, and paper calendars that you can use. Spreadsheets can be useful too. Be adaptable and flexible.

4. Use Notifications

Give notification a second chance. You need to be on top of interactions and respond in a timely manner. You don’t need to be on social media 24/7. In general, a 24 hour window of time for responses on social media is acceptable.

Bonus Tips: How to Manage Social Media in One Hour Per Day

  • Review your Feedly page first thing in the morning while you drink your coffee – 10 minutes
  • Conduct a blogging blitz and write, edit and schedule blog posts – 30 minutes
  • Execute a neighborhood check-in twice a day – review your social networks and respond to comments, followers, retweets, customer service questions, etc. – 10 minutes
  • Perform a community search to build your network (work on different networks each day) – 10 minutes
  • Share the workload! Delegate social media tasks to other staff members. Many hands make light work.

Originally Posted May 7, 2015 by John Scranton

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1Social media is here to stay.  As a matter of fact, social media will continue to be integrated into our lives, just like the internet itself.  Social media will change and evolve as technology improves and people begin to truly comprehend its power.

Keeping up with social media on multiple platforms can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Social media is a noisy place. It takes continuous effort to stay on top of it. Listening and monitoring are two secrets to social media success.

4 Ways to Manage your Social Media

  1. Make a Plan Base your plan on your business goals. Use goals that are results-based like “We will increase our sales by 30% monthly.” These types of goals reflect your bottomline. It is fine to set social media goals like “We will achieve 500 followers within the next 6 months” but those types of metrics are indirect. Be sure to set direct ROI related goals as well.Your plan should clearly define your goals, strategies, tactics and measurements.
  1. Set Up Dashboards Dashboards provide information at a glance by aggregating information in one place. They save time and energy and help prevent information overload. So, what are the dashboards that you need? You need dashboards for RSS and social networks because they present different types of information. Feedly is one way to manage RSS feeds.How do you get started? When you subscribe to sites, information gets sent directly to you. One great monitoring tool for brand mentions and competitors is Giga Alerts. Use folders and headline view to make it easier. Read what you can and star the rest! Set a timer on yourself.

    For social network management and analytics, a SocialReport dashboard is recommended. Link all of your social networks together. Use Tabs and stay organized. Set up Searches, #’s, and lists. Use the scheduling post feature just make sure to change content/verbiage depending on platform. It should not be used for total replacement – the point of social media is being social after all!

Originally Posted May 6, 2015 by John Scranton

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Insurance Search Engine Optimization and Insurance SEOThe Belmont Stakes / Off-Page SEO:

The final leg of racing’s triple crown is the longest race of the series.  It is a quarter mile longer than the Kentucky Derby, and typically much farther than any horse entered has run before.  The makes the race a great test of endurance and stamina.  The winner is pushed to achieve a great task that seems unending.  Executing an effective and current off-page SEO strategy is much the same – its seems to be an unending task, however it can pay great dividends.

In 2012, off-page optimization has matured from link exchanges and directory submissions to the exponential leverage of quality content.  The best way to effectively improve your web presence and Google rankings off of your site is to place your targeted, optimized content is the venues your prospects (and the search bots) will find it – quickly.  This may include social networks, article directories or news release sites.  The key is to continually share quality content in right places.  This will seem like an unending task, an endurance test like the Belmont Stakes, but the rewards are worth the effort.

Originally posted June 14, 2012 by John Scranton

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The Preakness Stakes / On-Page Optimization:

The Preakness is the shortest of the three Triple Crown races and its is usually run with a significantly smaller field than the Kentucky Derby.  These facts would lead you to believe it is the easiest race to win of the three crown jewels.  However, it is also the race that has recently produced the most champions.  In fact, the US Champion 3 year old won the Preakness every year from 2001 to 2010 – with one exception, the 2009 winner was crowned champion 3 year old filly and horse of the year – while the Derby and Belmont only produced 6 champions combined during that time (all of whom were also Preakness winners).  So how does the “easy” race elevate the careers of thoroughbreds to greater success than the more famous Kentucky Derby and the older Belmont Stakes?  Its because this race it not easy at all – its fast, grueling, and just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby for those attempting the Triple Crown.  It is very, very difficult – as is on-page SEO.

Firms across the country and around the world claim to be experts in on-page SEO.  They claim to have technical people who can edit your code, change your meta data and optimize your text.  S0 many firms express this claim because they believe this to be a simple,easy and cheap process.  Unfortunately, many  enter the race and fail to win.  This is often because they provide technical experts that lack business acumen.  Or worse, because they are optimizing the site for keywords that are incorrect or ineffective.  The addition of effective on-page SEO keywords is a challenging process.  However, it is one with great potential for producing champion-like page 1 rankings.  When selecting an SEO partner, make sure they have a deep understanding of the nuances and subtleties of on-page changes that will be highly effective and profitable without being noticeable.  Make sure they have proven themselves in the Kentucky Derby of SEO (keyword analysis).  And above all, remember there is no cheap and easy way to become a champion.

Check back tomorrow for the final leg of the Triple Crown…

Originally posted June 13, 2012 by John Scranton

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