Forcing Function vs. Failure

  • Posted on October 23, 2017
  • 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 to Keep Your Insurance Agency Email Marketing Fresh and Effective

  • Posted on September 4, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Email MarketingEmail marketing is here to stay. While there are some naysayers who try to assert that email marketing is “dead,” wise B2B insurance marketers have discovered the incredible power of email marketing over the long-haul.

Scientific evidence supports this perception. Even though there are competing marketing channels (i.e. social networks, mobile apps, online advertising campaigns, etc.), email remains a vital and central component of an effective B2B marketing strategy. In research conducted by eMarketer in 2014, researchers found that “email is one of the most widely used and established of all platforms.”

And in a study conducted by Adobe, researchers studied email marketing opportunities and trends. They found that not only is email an effective marketing strategy for the company, but it’s undergoing “a remarkable transformation.” Just as the world of marketing has been transformed by the internet in general, new technologies and consumer expectations are driving new ways of thinking about and using email marketing to reach target consumers.

First of all, consumers today expect email to be personalized and relevant to their interests. Gone are the days of “one-size fits all” email campaigns. In today’s mobile lifestyle, consumers continue to relay on email that reaches them directly in ways that are meaningful to them.

Design Email Campaigns that are Mobile-Friendly

Readers today open 61% of their emails on mobile devices. 80% will delete emails that “don’t look good.” Marketers need to ensure that their emails are optimized for all viewing scenarios, including mobile. Mobile responsive designs will increase open rates by 16-17%, and click-through rates by up to 24%. (Adobe, 2014)

Use Data to Tailor Messages to Subscriber Segments

People today are inundated with information. Email messages need to be personalized and relevant to the needs and interests of the individual. Using data tracking and retargeting technology, marketers can adjust the messages according to the histories and interests of the target groups. Using post-delivery insights, marketers can update the message based on new information. The ability to make emails more dynamic gives brands a chance to deliver a more relevant experience.

Ensure Content is Robust and Compelling

Content is vitally important in today’s world of email marketing. Stay abreast of trends and technology; be prepared to engage the reader and compel them to take the next step in the sales funnel.

Understanding consumer expectations and new email trends, as well as exploring ways to meet those expectations and play to those trends will garner an increasing ROI on their email campaigns and will breathe new life into customer relationships.

Many insurance agencies, brokers and wholesalers outsource their email marketing campaign management to a competent marketing firm. Outsourcing is a cost effective option because it eliminates the need to hire, train, supervise and compensate a digital marketing team. Contact StartUpSelling today to learn more about effective email marketing strategies for insurance agencies, brokers and wholesalers.

Originally posted by John Scranton on July 7, 2015

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1By now, astute insurance agencies, brokers and wholesalers understand the value and importance of content marketing. Content marketing refers to creating and distributing relevant content using online frameworks such as websites, social networks, blogs, white papers, videos, e-zines, e-newsletters, etc. Many agencies struggle with the workload issues, motivation and inspiration needed to keep up with a long-term content strategy.

Here are some strategies that may help you plan and stay on top of your content marketing goals:

  1. Take time to curate content to explore new, interesting ideas. Use content curation tools like Feedly, Pocket or Evernote to help you discover, track and easily locate articles, videos and other relevant content your clients will appreciate.
  2. Use social media sharing tools like Buffer, PostPlanner, Hootsuite or SendSocialMedia that allow you to find and post to your social platforms directly from your internet browser, saving time and effort.
  3. Organize a team to help. The process of implementing content strategy is fraught with many nuances and challenges and requires an understanding of content creation and an established pattern of interaction between all members of the team. A strong content development team should include a content strategist, developer, copywriter, designer, SEO expert and other company representatives as needed.
  4. Assign the primary responsibility for content to a single project manager who will assign duties, provide oversight, ensure quality control standards are met and deadlines are met.
  5. Develop a content strategy that includes: target audience demographics and buyer persona, a primary message, secondary or tertiary messages, a compelling offer or “hook”, calls to action,  multiple types of delivery methods (i.e. blogs, social network posts, graphics, videos, webinars, articles, white papers, resource guides, etc.).
  6. Set regular meeting times to review issues as well as progress.
  7. Evaluate the results of your content strategy and refine future planning as needed.

Many insurance agencies, brokers or wholesalers outsource content creation to a competent marketing  firm. Outsourcing is a cost effective option because it eliminates the need to hire, train, supervise and compensate a digital marketing team. Contact StartUpSelling today to learn more about effective content marketing strategies for insurance agencies, brokers and wholesalers.

Originally Posted by John Scranton on June 26, 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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1Struggling to increase the number of visitors to your website? Wanting to improve the conversion rate of visitors to your site? Is your marketing strategy not achieving the results you had hoped it would? Searching for fresh ideas that will help you reach a larger audience and provide your corporate clients with the information they need, when they need it?

Content marketing might be the answer. Consider developing content that is applicable to your visitor’s needs and easy to understand. As a result, you will experience significant improvement in search engine rankings, traffic and conversion rates.

Here are some recommendations for brightening up your online marketing presence and implementing a successful content marketing strategy:

  1. Brainstorm ideas that reflect the company mission Is the content you are producing reflecting the questions, needs and real-life problems your audience is facing? Spend time contemplating the story behind your brand and what it truly stands for. What is it you want to say at the most fundamental level? Take some time to review your company mission statement and the content you are currently producing. If the two don’t align, get your team together and come up with a more cohesive plan.
  1. Develop a strategic plan You will need a plan that demonstrates how your content strategy will increase sales revenues and be worth the investment. In order to do this, you will need a strong plan and case studies.Create a detailed road map that focuses on aligning your content with the company mission. Build trust with your audience by giving them content that they want and need.Start by gathering factual information and creating a strong plan. Make sure your plan answers the following questions:
  • How will the company mission be reflected in your content strategy?
  • How will our content help our clients?
  • How will we know what our clients need?
  • How will we measure our success?
  • What specifically is the plan (i.e. road map)?
  • Who will be accountable for ensuring the project stays on track?
  1. Design a content strategy that is based on applicable, consistent and useful content. Your clients are business owners who are experts in their particular field/trade. Take the time to research to find out what difficulties and challenges they face and what would make their job of selecting a broker or wholesaler easier.Make sure your planned content will answer your user’s questions and will convey a consistent message about your company.
  1. Track the results Analyze the visitor data for your existing content. Review metrics such as bounce rate, time on site and goal conversion. Review your search visibility and make sure your content ranks well in search engines for keywords higher up the funnel.The insurance industry is steeped in tradition – it is not always easy to break away from widely accepted tactics – even if they are not working very well. Providing your potential clients with expert advice that is easy to understand and access will invite potential companies to visit your site often and enjoy spending more time on your website. In turn, they will be more likely to choose you and recommend you to others.

Originally Posted by John Scranton on June 17, 2015

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Content marketing refers to the approach insurance agencies and wholesale brokers use to create, curate, distribute and promote information (content) your clients and prospects will find valuable. The goal of content marketing is to drive sales, fill the pipeline and help your company grow.

Content marketing, when it’s done right, offers value that is separate from the products and services you sell. When you share content that is educational, entertaining and useful to your audience, you will drive engagement, awareness and sales for your brand.

Here are the types of content that marketers use that can help promote your company:

  • Social media postings
  • eNewsletters
  • Articles on your website
  • Blogs1
  • In-person events
  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • Photographs, illustrations and other images
  • White papers
  • Online presentations
  • Infographics
  • Webinars/webcasts
  • Podcasts
  • Research reports
  • Microsites

Content marketing is an investment in your company. Unlike a verbal strategy, which can be forgotten or misunderstood, published content can be referred to, modified and reused over time.

Struggling with keeping up with a consistent marketing strategy? Take the time to develop a content strategy and plan and follow it very closely. Frequent publishing is important for any organization that wants to grow their online presence.

The most effective marketers use social media more than any other tactic; on average, the most successful companies use an average of seven social media platforms. According to the research, LinkedIn is both the most popular and the most effective for content promotion for business to business marketing. (Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, 2015.) Regardless of your industry or company size, a blog should always be the hub of your content marketing efforts.

Originally Posted by John Scranton on May 22, 2015

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1Educational webinars are a  valuable resource for insurance agencies and wholesale brokers. They are especially potent when they explain how to use new technology or share detailed information about a policy or regulatory mandate.

Webinars have certain advantages over other educational delivery systems. Webinars don’t require the time or expense of travel. And participation in webinars doesn’t necessarily require an extensive network.

Here are some webinar delivery strategies that can improve the experience for webinar participants.

  1. Choose topics carefully. Take the time to research and survey your clients and prospects to before the selecting topics. Many organizations implement polls or ask their community members to vote on topics for possible webinars.
  2. Concentrate on subjects that can be taught through short presentations. Stay away from subjects that require long explanations or lengthy discussions.
  3. Focus on training, not analysis. A webinar is not the place for debate or customization to make it relevant for all audience participants. They are a better delivery avenue for training or sharing objective information on a discrete topic of shared concern and importance.
  4. Create opportunities for engagement. Online meeting technology now allows participants to submit questions or make comments in real-time. A skilled presenter or moderator can bring questions or statements into the discussion. Smaller regional or interest-based discussion groups that can be scheduled after the webinar presenters have signed-off.
  5. Give participants the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise or knowledge. In cases where the webinar counts toward professional development credits a measure of mastery – a quiz perhaps – can be offered at certain points during the webinar or at the end. If participants can gain professional development credits or achieve recognition for their participation they will listen more closely.

A well-planned webinar is an extremely valuable experience for agents and brokers alike. Web seminars can then be recorded and added to insurance video channels and website video libraries, increasing website traffic, expanding reach and conveying expertise.

Originally Posted by John Scranton on May 11, 2015

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5 Tips for Your Insurance Video Marketing Strategy

  • Posted on July 3, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Picture1Wondering what content to include in your video strategy?

  • Insurance clients have many questions. Use video to educate and share important information about your business.
  • Share big announcements. Are there major changes in the industry? New information your customers should know about? Changes in your business? These are all great topics for videos.
  • Add video-recorded customer reviews and testimonials to your website. This adds a human touch to your business and allows customers to feel connected while also establishing your credibility.
  • Integrate video into your email marketing campaign. Or, take a screen shot of your video and add a link to the video on your website. Email is one of the best ways to connect directly with your consumers and it makes a great way for them to engage with your content. This will also drive traffic to your website!
  • Demos, trainings, interviews and live event coverage are all good opportunities to share more information about your business without seeming pushy or spammy.

There are lots of other ways to incorporate video into your marketing strategy so get creative!

Originally Posted by John Scranton on May 5, 2015

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Wedding Plans & Marketing Plans

  • Posted on June 29, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Social Media StrategyMy wife and I attended weddings each of the last three weekends.  While we enjoyed the celebrations, I took note of the planning and coordination which allowed each event to proceed successfully, providing an enjoyable experience for the guests.  Many different skill sets are required to put a wedding together – here are just a few:

  • Caterer
  • Florist
  • Band/DJ
  • Limo Service
  • Printer

A wedding planner or a highly involved bride & groom must bring all of these vendors and typically many more together seamlessly to deliver effectively.  This is a massive undertaking – even for a one day event!

Many businesses attempt to internalize their marketing needs, assuming it will be like planning their own wedding.  They assign a marketing director the tasks of website management, email marketing, social media marketing and more.  If the marketing director has access to a highly skilled marketing team, or if the campaign were to only last one day, this might be a reasonable task.  But marketing is a process that takes time, constant nurturing and many different skill sets.  Marketing is more akin to hosting a wedding 7 days a week.

The most effective solution for many organizations is to outsource their marketing needs to a savvy agency that is well versed in managing the talent needed to consistently deliver results in the various marketing campaigns required for sustained growth.  This requires access to an arsenal of expert web developers, email marketers, social media marketers, graphic designers, callers, SEO specialists and coordination of their activities by a senior marketing expert with extensive business experience.

Before you assign a member of your team the designation of marketing director – or permanent wedding planner – make certain they have access to the resources required to succeed.

Originally Posted on July 6, 2012 by John Scranton

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