Computer user (Image: Shutterstock)

As an amazing mentor of mine, Stuart Ganis, once said, “You are not on Main Street anymore. You are on Google Street.” And, whether you like it or not, he is spot on.

Your insurance agency website is your 24/7 store front. It’s your virtual office in an online world. Today’s consumers are used to researching, shopping, and transacting online. According to AdWeek, 81% of shoppers research a product online before purchasing.

And, today’s consumers have expectations as to how a reputable website should appear. When those expectations are not met, it’s a bad first impression. Even though this is taking place online, they can still go to your competitor’s more professional website. To them, it’s an easy choice, and you just made it for them.

(Related: Millennials Now Own Businesses. Can You Meet Their Needs?)

Much like a brick-and-mortar office, your agency website also needs to appear welcoming, successful, and modern. And, visitors to your virtual agency must also be able to understand your unique value proposition instantly.

Do you have hi-res, compelling imagery, or do you have fuzzy, outdated stock photos? Is the text easy to read, or is it too long or too small? Are your website design elements evenly spaced out, or are they cramped with little room to breathe? Do you have a blog? Videos? Are your social networks linked in the footer? Is your contact information up-to-date and easy to find in the header? How does this all look on a smartphone?

Has your agency invested in search engine optimization? Your website must be catalogued by search engines in order to be found by prospects and clients in online searches. What about backlink development or custom content?

If your answers to these questions do not come easily, it’s time to update your agency website. Prospects will judge your website’s worthiness by these elements. Whether you intend to grow your agency by referrals, or print advertising, or purchased leads, or publicity stunts is beside the point. You’ll still be judged by your website.

I’ll admit, those can sound complicated and expensive. But, if you simplify it, break it down to the fundamentals, you don’t have to stress about the details.

First, pick a modern website design that has an easy-to-navigate layout. Believe it or not, a website’s layout can raise red flags for prospects if it’s outdated. Make sure it is simple, clean and makes sense to use. Today’s homepages often feature big, bright images to convey a welcoming feeling. This is because most consumers only take seven seconds to decide if a webpage is trustworthy. If they decide to click around your website, ensure that your phone number, location information, and employee listings are accurate. If this information changes, be sure to update it immediately on your website.

In addition to appearance and usability, the other vital component of your agency website is its value proposition. Your producers or agents are likely trained on conveying the agency’s unique value proposition to new prospects and clients. But, your website must also do the same. Do you provide coverage for life and Medicare insurance? Feature an image of a family on your homepage. Add a button to learn more about this line of business. Make sure your agency tagline is prominently displayed as well. Remember, this is your online store front. To stand out against competitors, make it clear how you provide clients with value. Don’t leave them to draw their own conclusions. Make it obvious!

For an example of how this might work: Here’s the ITC site..

In the old days, websites were simply online business cards. Today, they act as a customer service and marketing tool for agencies. A virtual store front. And, just like in the real world, first impressions matter. These updates will help your agency make a good one, and fast.


Ashleigh Rothhammer (Photo: Rothhammer

Ashleigh Rothhammer is an insurance website and marketing executive with Insurance Technologies Corp., in Denver. She is also a past director of WIFS and the Denver/Rocky Mountain chapter president-elect. She can be reached at arothhammer@getitc.com or at (972) 820-1179.