Live from NAILBA: digital marketing best practices

Great digital marketing and communications require strategy

Justin Blase, director of digital strategy at Insurance Forums, led a NAILBA 35 session about how to reach the insurance agent of today, in a digital way. (Photo: iStock) Justin Blase, director of digital strategy at Insurance Forums, led a NAILBA 35 session about how to reach the insurance agent of today, in a digital way. (Photo: iStock)

It can be tough to keep up with the ever-changing marketing landscape. Insurance professionals are bombarded with various offers and marketing messages daily. The majority of those messages go completely unnoticed.

As marketing technology continues to change, agent behanvior also must evolve.

Related: 3 must-have digital technologies for today’s insurance agents

Justin BlaseApproaching this subject at NAILBA 35 in Dallas was Justin Blase (seen here at right), director of digital strategy at Insurance Forums. To kick off his entertaining and informative session, Blase went over a few important demographics relating to today’s life insurance agents and digital data.

Here's what we know about today's agents and advisors:

    • The average age of an insurance agent is 57. 
    • One in 4 agents will be gone by 2018.
    • Eight in 10 advisors use social media within their practice. 

Here is some information about digital data today:

    • Digital media is increasing each year; it's now up to 5.6 hours per day.
    • Mobile now accounts for 51 percent of digital media consumption. 
    • Mobile continues to grow faster than any other category.

"Mobiles are popular for early morning commuting, PCs dominate working hours and tablets are popular at night," Blase said. "Mobile is taking over but not at the expense of PCs and tablets.”

So how do you reach today's digitally-focused agent? Blase suggests these five ways:

    1. Email marketing
    2. Organic search engine traffic
    3. Paid search advertising
    4. Facebook ads
    5. LinkedIn groups and ads

See also: Insurance consumers: We'll give up our data for personalized service

Continue reading for a closer look at each of these key insurance agent and advisor marketing tools.

Email marketing "is not the newest and hottest thing at all," Blase said. "But it's still the best way to generate positive ROI." (Photo: iStock)

Email marketing "is not the newest and hottest thing at all," Blase said. "But it's still the best way to generate positive ROI." (Photo: iStock) 

Email marketing

Blase said there are a few things to keep in mind when using email marketing.

    1. Locate or identify the right email list or segment.
    2. Create an angle that positions your offer attractively to your selected audience.
    3. Craft a subject line that entices opens.
    4. Write email copy that generates curiosity, establishes credibility and entices the click-through.
    5. Technical house is in order to ensure high deliverability.

"In reference to number three, avoid certain types of terms like 'money' in your subject line because that’s such a common spam subject line," said Blase. "Your email could go straight to spam. Craft a good, short subject line without the use of common spam terms."

Blase also urged those in attendance to use drip or stagger email deployments for optimization.

"If you send 60,000 emails to Gmail addresess at one time, Gmail will put those straight into spam, and then likely watch your email address for future sends," Blase warned.

He also cautioned agents in regards to asking too much of those receiving your marketing emails.

"Limit calls to action to one or two at most," he said. "Don’t put so many 'click here' or 'check out our new homepage' links. Ideally there should be one goal and maybe restate that once or twice."

See also: 5 rules for killer email campaigns

Organic search engine visitors

The pros of optimizing your business communications for search engines include:

    • Searchers have high intent.
    • Searchers are already a step further down your marketing funnel.
    • ROI can be huge.

The cons to hopping on the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) bandwagon include:

    • Opportunity is capped by agent search volume.
    • Good SEO takes a lot of time and resources.

"With search, your opportunity is limited by the number people searching for that exact phrase," Blase said.

With that in mind, he offered the following tips:

    • Optimize the CTR (click through rate) of what’s already ranking high in Google search. You can tweak your headline or teaser to make it more attractive for click throughs.
    • Optimize low-hanging fruit (terms ranking 2-9 currently on the first page of Google search results).
    • Identify natural ways to increase the inbound links to your site.

See also: 10 Google tools you can't do without

Pay-per-click search marketing

"Pay-per-click advertising is the quickest way to get up and running with a direct response campaign," said Blase.

But of course, there are benefits and drawbacks. 

The pros to using PPC include:

    • Researchers have high intent.
    • They are already a step further down your marketing funnel.
    • The ads provide top-of-page visibility with less up-front effort than SEO. 

The cons to PPC include:

    • Opportunity is capped by agent search volume.
    • It requires continuous testing and optimization.

Here are some tips or best practices for using PPC:

    • Make sure you’re running ads in bing, which delivers cheaper clicks and older users.
    • Split test ad copy. (Run 2 identical ads, changing one element at a time.)
    • Spy on competitors. What’s working for them? Try it yourself.
    • Try running click to call ads (mobile only, direct to the user’s phone dialer).
    • Always send PPC users to an offer-specific landing page, not your homepage.

"That’s a bad idea — sending people to your homepage instead of an offer page," Blase said. "You want to limit the number of actions a person needs to take. Don’t give them the opportunity to escape that offer page."

Facebook has more than 1.65 billion monthly active users as of March 31, 2016. (Photo: iStock)

Facebook had more than 1.65 billion monthly active users as of March 31, 2016. (Photo: iStock)

Facebook advertising

Blase was openly biased towards this marketing method, calling it his "absolute favorite one right now." Why? Consider the facts he lay before us:

    • One in 5 online page views in the U.S. is on Facebook.
    • The average user spends more than 20 minutes per day on the site.
    • Facebook takes up 22 percent of the internet time Americans spend on mobile devices, compared with 11 percent on Google search and YouTube combined.
    • Facebook ads allow incredible ad targeting capabilities.

Facebook knows this about each user: age, gender, location, relationship status, employer, job title, third party demographic data and the specific topics you “like.” Using that, as Blase described, Facebook is putting together profiles for each user about what they’re into.

"Facebook ads have flexible options," Blase said. "I always use auction style. And you can target by job title, employer name, specific interests, etc."

See also: ACA exchange pays 50 cents per 1,000 Facebook views

LinkedIn ads

Like Facebook, there are options for ad targeting with LinkedIn. Blase offered the following when it comes to advertising on this professional social media platform:

    • This site has the best ad targeting options if you're trying to reach professionals.
    • LinkedIn is the best way to get granular and target ads by job title, company name, income levels and more.
    • The cost-per-ad click is much higher than traditional social and display. 

Blase urged the agents at NAILBA 35 to embrace the constantly evolving methods of digital marketing. It is, after all, the best way to reach the insurance agents of today... at least for now.

See also:

Marketing evolution in a new digital world

The secret to hitting a home run with digital marketing

Let’s continue the conversation on Facebook.

 

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