Component 5: Refer

You’ve developed a well-oiled online marketing funnel. You’ve done the work to attract a steady stream of relevant traffic to your site. You’ve developed great content to engage your site visitors and refined your calls to action to successfully convert them. And, once you’ve got a customer, you have an ongoing communication plan to retain and grow the relationship.

Now it’s time to close the marketing loop and use your growing online customer base to attract the next wave of prospects. As with traditional sales and marketing, referrals don’t just happen magically – you need to put a plan in place to systematically generate referrals.

Generating referrals through online marketing

Here are a few key recommendations to generate referrals in your online marketing funnel:

  • Make sure you “own” your name in search engine results. Your name is the most important search phrase for your agency. When a customer refers someone to you, they often just pass on your name. The referral is going to look for you by searching for your name. Make sure you are found.
  • Gently keep in touch with your customers. If they’re going to refer you, your customers need to think of you whenever they think about insurance. Create a monthly or quarterly e-mail newsletter that focuses on education and relationship building, not selling.
  • Request reviews on online service review sites. After you’ve helped a customer, follow up with a request for a review on a site such as Yelp, Judy’s Book and CitySearch.com.
  • Ask for the referral. The rule from Sales 101 applies online, too. On your website, in your e-mail signature and anywhere else appropriate, politely ask your customers and prospects to spread the word about your services.

Measuring Referrals

Without directly asking prospects how they found you, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can be hard to accurately measure referrals and even harder to track the direct results of your online marketing funnel on referrals. Instead, focus on tracking the key behaviors of existing customers that refer their contacts to you. Here are a few ways to track referrals through your online marketing funnel:

  • Searches for your business name. As we mentioned before, a referral can be as simple as passing on your name. Your new referral often simply types your name into Google, comes to your site and contacts you from there.
  • E-mail campaign forwards. Add a “forward to a friend” link in your e-mail campaigns. This lets you see how often an e-mail recipient passes on your message to someone else.
  • First-time visit rates – Ultimately, an increase in referrals leads to an increase in new visitors to your website. As your referral base grows, you should see the number of first time visitors grow.

To succeed in selling insurance in today’s environment, you need to make sure you have a well-optimized online marketing strategy. By breaking down your strategy into the five components of the online marketing funnel, you can isolate, track and refine your efforts to leverage the Internet to grow your agency.

Want more information to help improve your online marketing? Download my free eBook “Make Money While You Sleep: A Step-by-Step Guide to Generating Leads from Your Website” at http://www.agentmethods.com/ebook.

Aaron Kassover, managing partner of AgentMethods LLC, has spent the last 10 years helping insurance carriers, agencies and brokers bring their services online. He has applied this knowledge to the development of AgentMethods, a Web site platform for insurance agents, agencies and brokers. For more information, visit Aaron’s Web site at www.agentmethods.com.

Check out more sales & marketing articles from Aaron Kassover.