By guest blogger Steve Anderson.
Go to your agency’s Web site right now. Look at the home page. Put yourself in the mind of a random person who doesn’t know your agency from any other agency. Now look at the page and ask yourself, “What is it they want me to do?”
If you can’t immediately answer that question, your Web site needs work.
Most agency Web sites were originally created in the late 90s as a response to the growth of the Internet and search engines. Many people, including myself, said that an agency needs to have a Web site so that they have a presence on the Internet. In response to this, most agencies had a Web site created that was simply an electronic version of their printed agency brochure.
I would argue that even the term “agency Web site” needs to change. In today’s hyper-connected world, you need to create a strategy for your “online presence,” not just your “agency Web site.”
Your online presence will include a combination of multiple Web sites, an agency blog, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence for all producers and staff, a Twitter account for customer service, a YouTube channel for agency videos, Google Places for local search, and who knows what else in the next few years.
Along with Duke Williams, I have created the Agency Internet Boot Camp as a way to help agencies understand how to create a strategy for their “online presence” and how to start implementing that strategy.
While content is still what gets people to interact with you, it’s also your ability to interact with customers and prospects via heightened functionality that kicks off the process of engagement — the new success metric. It’s not enough for your content to simply be there, flat and uninviting. It has to stand up and practically beg people to interact with it. Your Web site must be more Web app-like than browser-like.
What does this mean for your agency, you ask? Here are a few thoughts:
- Use blog software as the engine: Blog software, such as WordPress, is essentially content management software with SEO, community, and syndication built in. I can think of very few instances where it would not make sense for an agency to use a tool like WordPress to run their entire Internet presence.
- Get feedback: People are getting used to sites that allow them to offer ratings and reviews. This type of functionality is easy to offer and can give social reassurance-if the reviews are good-to visitors considering your agency.
- Beef up your content: In terms of traffic, Google is the number-one search engine, but YouTube is number two. Adding video and audio content has become a must, as visitors expect it and consume it in ways that keep them on your site much longer than sites that feature only static text.
- Integrate Social Media: Adding Facebook “Like” buttons that allow visitors to share your content with their friends is an effective way to allow Facebook visitors to interact with your site. Plugins (e.g. Sociable) make it very easy for people to share, subscribe, and bookmark content found on your Web pages.
Having an agency Web site is just not enough anymore. Creating a comprehensive strategy that integrates all aspects of your online presence will help you become more visible to prospects and to retain clients.
Steve Anderson is the leading authority on insurance agency productivity, technology, and profits. He one of the industry’s top technology consultants and speakers and is Executive Editor of The Anderson Agency Report (TAAR), a monthly newsletter dedicated to providing independent agents with the insurance technology information they need to more effectively manage and grow their agencies. He is also president of The Anderson Network, Inc. which was formed to help agents and brokers maximize productivity and profits using practical technology.