Webinar: SSL Mandates & Your Insurance Agency Website

  • Posted on October 30, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Agency Marketing - Insurance Agency LeadsIs your insurance agency website in compliance with SSL requirements? Why is Google mandating all websites move to SSL? Learn about this and other important topics in this concise and educational webinar:

* SSL – What is it and why is it important
* Leveraging Social Media Feeds
* Using Full Motion Graphic Video to Improve User Experience
* Mobile Responsive Design Requirements
* SEO for Increase Traffic and Lead Gen

Date and Time: Wed, Dec 6, 2017 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EST

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2256757897947564033

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Why Insurance Agency Websites Need SSL

  • Posted on October 22, 2017
  • by Alan Blume

Insurance Agency Cyber Security - Insurance WebsitesThere are many compelling reasons why insurance agency websites should move to SSL, including security, encryption and trust. Google is making a big push to move all websites to SSL, and said that as of October 2017, “Passwords and credit cards are not the only types of data that should be private. Any type of data that users type into websites should not be accessible to others on the network, so starting in version 62 Chrome will show the ‘Not secure’ warning when users type data into HTTP sites. And eventually, we plan to show the “Not secure” warning for all HTTP pages, even outside Incognito mode.”

What is SSL & Why Is It Secure?

When navigating to a website, you might see a domain name resolve as http://startupeslling.com. Sites that begin with http: are not SSL sites. SSL sites begin with https: and would look like this: https://startupselling.com. SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer, which is the de facto standard used to establish an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. The SSL link ensures that all data communicated between a web server and a browser remains private.

In other words, SSL keeps information sent across the Internet secure and private, allowing only the intended recipient to receive it in an understandable format. Many people don’t realize that information they send over the Internet is passed from computer to computer, before it finally arrives at the selected destination server. That means that any one of those computers, which are communicating your information in this chain, can intercept important information such as usernames, passwords, credit card information, medical information, etc. SSL encrypts this data, making the information unreadable for everyone except the final destination server. This is important for increased security and to protect confidential information from hackers and identity thieves.

SSL Authentication

SSL provides authentication in addition to encryption.  As mentioned previously, your information will typically be transmitted through a series of computers. A good example of this might be a quote form, which might contain confidential information about prospective insurance clients.  Any one of these interim computers could potentially pretend to be the final destination website and hijack your confidential information. This security issue is thwarted by using a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), and getting an SSL Certificate from an authorized SSL provider. SSL certificates are provided to verified entities like your insurance agency for example, after they have gone through several identity checks to prove they can be trusted. Insurance agencies wishing to accept credit card payments will be required to use SSL for their sites.

Browser Warnings & Visual Clues

Major web browsers like Chrome, Mozilla, Safari and Edge are now providing indicators to help users determine if an insurance website is secure. Site that have SSL indicate that the site is secure in the top left hand corner by using the word secure, or offering visual clues. For example there might be the word “Secure” displayed, or a lock or other icon indicator. Conversely, a site that is not SSL, might contain a warning icon, or indicate in another way that your site is not secure, warning users that they should not send any sensitive information using your website.

It’s only a matter of time before all insurance agencies and brokers will be required to move their sites to SSL. SSL certificates are not expensive, they usually cost between $50 and $70 per year depending upon the hosting provider, and many provide multiyear discounts. Our recommendation is that those insurance agencies which have yet to convert to SSL, should do so immediately. SSL certificates will help protect your agency, your customers, your prospects, and your confidential data. Agencies needing assistance updating their insurance agency website or converting to SSL can reach out to the insurance agency marketing experts at StartUpSelling for a complimentary assessment.

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Insurance Agency Cyber Security - Insurance WebsitesCyber 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 code weaknesses. When one 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. It is extremely important for all insurance websites to 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.

To protect your website, start with the basics above, then determine if you have the expertise to continually stay abreast of potential cyber attacks. If not, consider outsourcing this initiative to a proficient web hosting and development company or insurance marketing agency.

 Visit our website for more information on Insurance Agency Marketing Solutions.

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  • Insurance Agency MarketingDynamic content such as blog posts, social media feeds, and news items should display new content at least once a week.
  • Plugins and cyber security tools should be updated every 15-30 days.
  • Navigation, page styling, and new video and other e-collateral should be added or revised every 30-60 days.
  • Copyright and legal information should be reviewed and revised as needed – at least once a year.
  • Full website redesign should occur every 24-36 months, including changes to site structure, visual themes, primary or accent colors, and navigation adjustments that align with key performance indicators from your website traffic analytics.
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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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