5 Signs That Your Website Is Hurting Your Insurance Agency

  • Posted on April 13, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Social MediaHow do agency owners determine when their website is too far out of date? What are the warning signs? How can agents and brokers tell when their site has passed the tipping point, moving from passable to an embarrassment? Here are 5 signs that your website is out of date and a potential liability to your business:

  1. It’s Narrow: Site only occupies the middle 50% of a laptop screen or large monitor.
  2. Not Mobile Compliant: It doesn’t render well, or operate correctly on mobile devices.
  3. Images Are Small: The images are small, out of date, or fail to convey professionalism.
  4. Small Text: Your text is small, difficult to read, or out of date.
  5. Old Content/No Editing: Your content is old and your website is difficult to edit.

We believe that websites should be an asset to agency owners and producers, showcasing your professionalism and expertise. A website that will display professionally on any device, from a PC to laptop to tablet or smart phone. View some before and after images of insurance websites, and see a visual example of the 5 signs that your website is way too far out of date.

Call us at (518) 222-6392 or click here to schedule a personalized website review.

 

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Mobile Friendly Insurance Agency Website Checklist for 2017

  • Posted on February 21, 2017
  • by Alan Blume

Insurance Social Media MarketingWith over 50% of your visitors and email recipients viewing information on their mobile devices, and many doing so from their social media platforms, it’s always a good idea to review your insurance agency website to ensure your clients and prospects have a positive website experience. 

Do Not Make a Separate Mobile Version of Your Website

A few years ago, your business might have two websites, a website for desktop users and one for mobile devices. This is a really bad idea today, as it doubles your efforts and can annoy clients, prospects and search engines.

Use Responsive Design Principles

Responsive design uses coding to adjust a website based on the size of the viewport. Methods have advanced quickly and you no longer have to hide content from mobile users. You can show off your content for both desktop and mobile users.

Always Use High-Resolution Images

With mobile devices using high-resolution retina displays, it is critical your website uses the highest resolution images available. It is recommended that mobile images be twice the resolution of desktop images to accommodate for retina displays.

Go With Larger Font Sizes

The size of fonts is important when it comes to mobile design. Fonts need to be large enough to read without further zooming. A general rule of thumb is to keep your main font size around 14px.

Button Sizes Should Also Be Large

Buttons should also be large on mobile devices. You do not want to frustrate a potential customer because they tried to hit the contact button but accidentally hit your privacy policy. In general, 44px by 44px is a good rule of thumb.

Keep it Simple

The simpler your layout the less there is to go wrong when sizing to fit on a mobile device. It will also make it easier for your prospects to find relevant information. Be sure to review each key element on your insurance agency website and asses its value. Is each element placed where it can best be seen by visitors?
If your agency is interested in updating your insurance agency website, creating high-quality videos, or optimizing your insurance agency marketing and lead generation, contact StartUpSelling, for a complimentary insurance agency web marketing and lead generation review.

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Malware Trends Agencies Should Look Out For In 2017

  • Posted on February 7, 2017
  • by Alan Blume

Insurance AgencyWebsitesInsurance Agencies and Brokers should remain vigilant when it comes to their websites and possible malware attacks. For specific tips on website security, check out our cyber security blog post. To learn about malware trends in 2017, continue below.

Malware is Becoming More Evasive and Aggressive

There has been a large increase in evasive malware behavior in the last year. Evasive malware tries to undermine traditional security technologies with new methods. Novel methods must be continually created to thwart these attacks. Make certain you are using a quality website security option that keeps its malware solutions up-to-date and at the cutting edge. Hosting providers such as GoDaddy, 1&1 and many more all offer a variety of security and malware monitoring and removal options. Malware advancement moves quickly and your insurance agency security solutions need to remain updated and current.

Modified Browser Settings

All major browsers (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari) have been seeing an uptick in malware programs that modify browser settings and important security-relevant proxy settings are being changed. Attackers are turning compromised systems into proxies so that further malware injections can be implemented. To help prevent this attack, never open unknown or questionable links, and train all employees to follow this important best practice.

Password Guessing Attacks

For this type of attack, the malware starts the authenticating process procedure and uses common username and password combinations to attempt to gain access to a website and escalate privileges. Brute force attacks are not new, but they are no longer contained to desktops. A recent study found that 53 popular mobile applications were vulnerable to password guessing attacks. Those vulnerabilities placed around 600 million users in danger of being hacked. Always use complex, unique passwords to keep access to your site protected against this type of attack, and use a sophisticated password time out option.

Enterprise-Level Database Leaks Via The Cloud

Cloud services have become an increasing solution for businesses. This, in turn, has caused an increased interest in exploiting cloud vulnerabilities. Awareness of the vulnerabilities and risks of storing commercial information on the cloud is not growing as fast as the sophistication of cloud attacks. As cloud data management becomes too difficult to wield, new security vulnerabilities may be discovered. It is important that your agency utilizes reputable cloud based solutions, and that you follow the best practices above, for all your cloud based applications.

If your agency is interested in updating your insurance agency website, creating high quality videos, or optimizing your insurance agency marketing and lead generation, contact StartUpSelling, for a complimentary insurance agency lead generation or web marketing review.

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Cyber Liability and insurance agency websites

Cyber security threats are constantly changing. It is important to stay on top of emerging trends to keep your insurance agency website secure. A secure website not only protects your customers, it protects your brand. Here are the six top tips to help you keep your insurance website protected.

  1. Be Cautious When Creating Login Credentials

    Giving someone access to the back-end of your website is sort of like giving someone a key to your business. Maintain caution when giving someone login access and always keep login access to the minimum amount of people necessary to keep your website up-to-date.

  2. Update Security Patches, Limit Password Attempts, Use Malware Protection Software

    One of the most proactive ways you can keep would-be hackers at bay is to keep all aspects of your website’s code updated. When security patches, plugins, or dependency updates are released, install them as soon as possible. Hackers are constantly looking for exploits to popular coding methods. When an exploit is discovered it is typically patched by the code developers as quickly as possible. The sooner you update your code the sooner you remove a threat that’s accessible to thousands of hackers. And all insurance websites should use a malware detection and prevention solution and limit password attempts.

  3. Create a “We’ve been hacked” Response Plan

    Even the best attempts at keeping your site from hacking can fall short. It is absolutely imperative you have a response plan. Audit logs, backups, and contact information for IT support should be included in your response plan.

  4. Collect Detailed Activity Logs

    Make certain you have access to log reports on all back-end website functions, to help pinpoint issues when a breach occurs. Every login attempt, page adjustment, code adjustment, and plugin addition should be logged with user time stamps.

  5. Perform frequent backups and keep a copy of recent backup data off premises.

    Backing up your website should be an integral part of your response plan, and some hosting providers offer daily backup services. How often you need to backup your website will depend on how often you update it. When your insurance agency backs up your site, save a copy of the backup off of your server in easily accessible cloud storage. If your host is hacked and the server’s contents are compromised, you will have an unaltered version stored out of the hands of hackers.

  6. Train Users on How to Stay Secure

    Once you have your Cyber Security plan enabled, train all users on how to stay safe and prevent attacks. Educate users on how to generate very strong passwords and keep them safe by using a password manager, recognize email phishing scams, and how to encrypt emails that contain sensitive information. What’s a strong password? Today, use at least 10 characters, with alpha (including a cap), numeric (random not a sequential string), and special characters (exclamation, etc.). Many website platforms such as WordPress, will generate and/or measure the strength of your password.

    If your agency is interested in updating your insurance agency website, creating high quality videos, or optimizing your insurance agency marketing and lead generation, contact StartUpSelling, for a complimentary insurance agency lead generation or web marketing review.

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Website Best Practices For 2017

  • Posted on January 4, 2017
  • by Alan Blume

Insurance Agency Video Marketing

It’s a New Year, and time to make your Website Resolutions! Creativity and originality in web design is important. It makes sites stickier and makes users more engaged. Once they are engaged, it is of the utmost importance to quickly let them know what you are offering, why it is of value to them, and make it very easy to learn more or contact you for more information, or to make a purchase. Consider these best practices to ensure your website is easy to navigate and offers a happy user experience.

Make Mobile-First A Top Priority

People now view more websites on mobile devices then they do on desktops. Having a website that looks good on a cell phone or tablet should be priority number one. There should only be vertical scrolling. A website visitor should never have to scroll horizontally on a mobile device under any circumstance! Headers, footers, font sizes, and images should look perfect on mobile and then scale up for larger sizes. Easy to use drop downs and large call to action buttons should be your mantra.

A Value Proposition Should Be Placed High Your Homepage

We all know people’s attention spans are not very long and they are unlikely to get longer anytime soon. Give yourself the best chance of getting a potential customer’s attention by placing a value proposition high up on the page. Let them know early why some of their hard earned money deserves to go to you. If you focus on trucking insurance, your banner should rapidly convey this. If your agency is commercial lines, but offers specialty lines, convey this quickly to keep prospects from “bouncing” to a competitors website.

Calls To Action Should Also Be High On The Homepage

After placing a value proposition sufficiently high on your Home Page, encourage visitors to take action. Your call to action could be a “Get a Quote” or “Contact Us For More Information” or “Register for a Webinar” – encourage them to act and make it easy for them to do so.

Always Keep Your Logo In The Top Left And Linked To The Homepage.

This may seem trivial, but users are accustomed to this practice. If someone needs to get back to the homepage, the majority of the time they will click on the logo. If it doesn’t work and the user has to search your navigation for the home link, it can cause frustration and possible site abandonment.

Contact Information Should Be Placed In The Header

Just like having your logo in the top left side of your website, you should place relevant contact information in the top navigation area (often in the upper right). That is the area users are accustomed to looking first. You could place it in the footer or on a sidebar, but when it comes to contact information, make it fast and easy for the user. Many websites now offer contact information in multiple, prominent areas of their site. The contact information could be a phone number, an info@email, or a link to your contact page.

Social Icons Should Be Placed In The Footer

Placing your social media accounts in the footer has become convention. While people look at the header for email addresses and phone numbers, they generally look to the footer for social media accounts. Make the icons (chiclets) large and prominent.

Feature A Video

Video is stickier than text, more interesting and compelling, easier to consume and helps insurance agency websites improve their search engine optimization. Feature a video on your home page, and other key pages of your website.

If your agency is interested in improving your insurance agency website, produce high quality videos, or optimize your insurance agency marketing and lead generation, contact StartUpSelling, and receive a free insurance lead gen or web marketing review.

 

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Insurance Agency VideosVideos have great shelf life and offer insurance agencies and brokers an opportunity to provide educational, sticky, and effective content. Videos can range from recorded webinars, to voice over PowerPoint, to professionally composed whiteboard productions with scripted voice over and complimentary background music. A good example of this is found on the StartUpSelling Insurance Agency YouTube Video Library. Some of these insurance sales and marketing videos have been viewed one thousand times, five thousand times and even ten thousand times.

Why add video to your insurance agency website, and why create a branded YouTube channel with videos? One important statistic to consider, is that your insurance prospects are 80% more likely to watch your video than read your content. Another is the impact of video on your insurance search engine optimization efforts. Google gives more weight to webpages that contain videos, and of course, they own YouTube. More video typically equates to better insurance SEO. And when your insurance agency video has a longer view time than other websites in the same search results, you receive an even greater SEO boost from Google. Furthermore, insurance agency video provides producers with great collateral for their email marketing, and social media marketing efforts.

Though prospects (and clients and partners) often prefer videos to written content, not all of these website visitors will watch your video in its entirety. Insurance website visitors want to know if the video pertains to them, and if they don’t see its benefit quickly they will leave your video and bounce to another site. To help improve stickiness, make sure you add captions and transcripts.  Captions and transcripts will help improve the chance people will watch your entire video and boost your authority with Google. Captions and transcripts help by:

  • Increasing view time (up to 80%)
  • Improving deep linking with keywords in video
  • Improving search results for keywords included in video

Take the time to create insurance videos, and leverage their benefits to the fullest. Including insurance marketing videos on your website and adding them to a branded YouTube channel will help your insurance search engine optimization efforts, increase website traffic and drive more insurance leads into your pipeline.

If you are looking for ways to improve your insurance agency website, produce high quality videos, and optimize your insurance agency SEO, contact StartUpSelling, and receive a free insurance lead gen or web marketing review.

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Forcing Function vs. Failure [From the Archives]

  • Posted on October 24, 2016
  • by John Scranton

1Recently my team met with a prospective client to discuss a website development project.  This great group of talented people mentioned that they have had difficultly with internal website projects in the past.  We responded by explaining that this is very common, and is in fact one of the reasons StartUpSelling exists.  We provide project management and become a forcing function to meet deadlines, goals, and to complete projects.

Many of you who have handled website projects internally (or outsourced design and coding but provided content, editing and project management) can relate to the obstacles standing in the way of success.  Tell me if any of these scenarios sound familiar:

  • Our CEO has not yet approved the design.  Of course s/he hasn’t – s/he just interviewed a new producer over lunch and is trying to buy another agency this afternoon.  Maybe the website will earn 5 minutes of attention on a Sunday night.  Maybe not.
  • Our benefits and financial services pages are not yet approved by compliance.  And it might be weeks before they do.  Your internal financial services director is in Chicago closing a 401k for a 500 life group.  No time to make another follow up with the broker/dealer.
  • We can’t agree on the navigation structure.  Since there is no website design specialist on your team, it is going to be impossible to select the right nav.  My web dev team would not be able to build consensus and select the best health plan for their needs – its not their job.  Nav design isn’t yours.

These are just a few of dozens of stumbling blocks we have seen insurance organizations experience.  Everyone already has a day job.  Allocating time to project manage a website is not realistic.  A forcing function is needed from an expert in the field.  Without a forcing function, a project is destined for failure.

Originally Posted on February 22, 2013 by John Scranton

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How & Why Insurance Agencies Should Test For Duplicate Content

  • Posted on September 20, 2016
  • by Alan Blume

Insurance Website Duplicate ContentIs your insurance website content unique, or is your agency using the same generic boilerplate content as 100 other agencies? What type of review would you give your current website content, if you reviewed if from the perspective of a prospect, potential employee or possible partner? If your agency is simply using boilerplate content, you’re likely in the penalty box, placed there by both Google algorithms and your prospective clients. Let’s discuss how and why you got there, and remember, this information is in the public domain, accessible by anyone and everyone.

Your agency may be using boilerplate content from an insurance website platform. These can range in price from just a few hundred dollars total cost, to thousands of dollars per month. Regardless of the price, the approach is the same. You select the lines of coverage or content you want from a boilerplate insurance content library, and that becomes your insurance website content. Now your website is just like dozens, or even hundreds of other agents, agencies and brokers.

You can test your site by repeating the following four steps:

  1. Navigate to one of your internal pages. For example, Homeowners Insurance.
  2. Copy a sentence from your website page and paste it into a Google search. Here is a good example, “There are four primary types of life insurance, and each has a place in any sound financial plan. The four variations of life insurance are:”
  3. Review the results pages – do they consist of agencies like yours?
  4. Visit some of those websites – does their content look just like yours?

Repeat this several time on several pages (Auto, Life, Group Health, etc.). If your answer to items #3 and 4 are “yes”, then your insurance website is using duplicate content.

When it comes to duplicate (or syndicated content), search engines often don’t know which pages to include or exclude from their ranking indices. Further, the search engines don’t know if they should direct the link metrics to your insurance agency website, or another site. And they may not know which insurance agency page to rank for their query results (which agency to display in their search engine results pages). Clearly, when duplicate insurance content is present, insurance agency websites suffer rankings and traffic losses. And potentially worse, your best prospect or new potential hire may click on a competitive site that looks just like yours, or notice your content is that same as another agency, located down the street.

The solution is simple enough, though it can be daunting for a busy agency. Rewrite all your insurance website content so it is truly unique to your agency, and do so from your specific value proposition and branding perspective. If your agency lacks the time, talent or tools to accomplish this, or if your website can’t pass the Google Mobile Friendly Test, reach out to the StartUpSelling insurance website team at (518) 222-6392 for a complimentary website review.

Click here for the Google Mobile Friendly Test

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How To Test Your Insurance Agency Website Circa 2016

  • Posted on September 19, 2016
  • by Alan Blume

Insurance Agency WebsitesIf and when agency owners, executives and producers test their websites for ease of use, effectiveness and branding, they often do so on their PCs or laptops. Then some, might test on their mobile devices. Today, this is now backwards, with many insurance agency websites analytics showing over 50% of all visitors arriving from mobile devices, and the vast majority of those, arriving via smart phone. That’s why agents and brokers should all test their sites from their smart phones, and do so from both an iPhone and Android. Here are some tips on what to do and look for when testing for mobile compliance:

  1. First things first, test your site using Google’s mobile friendly test.
  2. Make sure your site banner is displaying properly, and that it is not taking up too much of the display.
  3. Check the links (like Contact Us or Get A Quote). Are they easy to use without zooming? And do your forms work correctly?
  4. Are the videos working? Watch out for outdated video like Flash videos.
  5. Are your social media icons working and easy to access?

Another important test which all agencies and brokers should do is the duplicate content test. Navigate to an internal page, and select a sentence from that page. Now copy that sentence into Google and search. If your site is among dozens of other insurance sites that are found, you are using duplicate content. This is a negative from the perspective of both your visitors and Google. A top priority for you should be to rewrite your content so it is original, unique to you and your business.

If your website isn’t mobile responsive
or if you need your website content rewritten by agency experts, reach out to the StartUpSelling insurance website team at (518) 222-6392 for a complimentary website review.

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