The internet is enormous. How can your independent insurance agency stand out from the crowd or attract relevant visitors? If you’re not an experienced website developer or designer, which most small business owners (understandably) are not, it can be even more difficult to determine the best site strategy.
Far too few independent agencies leverage their websites to grow their sales or interact with customers—although that is changing thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced businesses to establish stronger online presences.
Nearly all—98%—of small businesses have a website today, compared to 71% in 2021 and only 50% in 2018, according to studies from Expert Market. However, 21% of business owners report having low website traffic, “which poses a significant challenge for their online presence” and can “impact their ability to attract and retain customers, as well as their revenue and overall success,” says small business coach Kathy Haan, writing for Forbes Advisor.
Agency Websites Play an Important Role
Having an effective web presence is critical for every kind of small business, but particularly for independent agents who rely on sales leads and word-of-mouth referrals. Your firm’s website is your brand representative. It’s an essential marketing tool. It provides current and potential customers with valuable information about your agency and what products and services you offer. And it’s an important online “office” where you can showcase your excellent staff.
Most importantly, your site should function as an effective lead capture tool, which means that the homepage must be optimized to grab a prospect’s attention, pique their interest in your agency, and provide a low-touch mechanism for contacting you for more information.
You might tell yourself that your agency is “referral only” and “we really don’t need marketing.” But remember: Your customers and centers of influence might refer a great prospect to you. They will search online for your agency and they’ll see your website, probably via their smart phones.
What will they see? Will they be impressed? Will they be interested in following up? How will you know if they don’t? Are you okay with these missed opportunities for sales?
Here are some tips for creating an effective homepage to attract prospects and customers to your independent agency website:
6 Keys to a Successful Homepage
Marketing experts across all industries agree that the most important content on your website is the headline. People have short attention spans, and they are getting shorter; in fact, you have about three seconds to capture a website visitor’s attention, according to HubSpot. Your headline should clearly and simply communicate who you are and how your agency can solve the customer’s problem.
Including insurance keywords about what your agency offers in your headline and sub-headline can improve your chances of showing up in a Google search by a potential customer.
Your homepage should have a clean, organized design that enables website users to easily find what they need. A cluttered website that is difficult to navigate is likely to have a higher bounce rate—the metric for the percentage of people who leave the site after viewing only one page. In general, a higher bounce rate means people are not staying on your website to view other pages.
Your homepage should feature colors that allow for maximum readability and a highly visible menu bar, preferably on the top third of the page, that lists the other website pages with valuable information. A utility bar at the very top of the page can highlight quick links to “Request a Quote,” “Log In to Customer Portal,” and a phone number.
Your homepage should be optimized to work on any device, such as a laptop or cell phone. Nothing will take people away from your site faster than a webpage that doesn’t load or display properly.
Not only are images essential for telling your agency’s story and supporting your messaging, but they can improve your website’s chances of being found when a potential customer does a search.
Photos or videos of your actual staff are best, as they help illustrate who you are and help visitors feel a connection to your firm. You also don’t have to worry about potential copyright infringements.
Avoid generic images if you can, but if you do plan to use them, purchase from a reputable stock image provider, such as Shutterstock.com, to ensure you are not inadvertently stealing someone else’s material.
4) About Us section.
This page is critical. Most visitors are trying to quickly validate what they already may have heard about your firm, as well as trying to reach out to someone.
Include a short bio at the top of your page detailing your team’s insurance expertise, what your agency specializes in, and who you are personally. This can provide a positive first impression, help instill confidence in your business, and encourage visitors to stay on your website to learn more or take an action, such as contacting you.
Here, too, you could show photos of your staff out in the community, interacting with others at events or service projects.
5) Client testimonials and case studies.
Statements from actual clients and quantifiable case studies that speak to your agency’s character and describe how your firm has helped solve their problems are impactful and eye-catching for website visitors.
Testimonials and case studies also add credibility and could be the difference-maker between whether a potential client decides to contact you or not. On the homepage, these testimonials and mini case studies should be short one- or two-line quotes and quick-hitting results. Don’t write long blocks of text that overwhelm the reader. Featuring current clients on your website is also an excellent way to maintain a good relationship and earn potential referrals.
6) Strong call to action.
What do you want website visitors to do? Focus your call to action on a benefit of using your agency to prompt website visitors to contact you with questions, obtain an insurance quote or find out more information.
Your contact details, including phone number and email address, are the most obvious to include. You also may want to offer an online chat feature (only if it will be monitored and provide a prompt reply) or an online contact form. Be sure staff is prepared to handle contact forms—don’t let them go into a black hole, as you’ll ensure losing a prospect.
Links to your social media pages offer another engagement option and may encourage visitors to learn more about you and your business.
Ask for Help
The only thing worse than not having a website is having an ineffective one, so if you aren’t confident that you can create an engaging website in-house, get help. Website design resources are available on the internet. You also may be able to find an affordable web designer—even a marketing student from a local college—in your area who can help you deploy the right website strategy.
Choose an expert who also can provide good search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to drive visitors to your site once it is up and running.
Your business homepage ultimately should serve as a window into your agency’s brand. It should show a potential customer what sets your agency apart from your competition. Most importantly, it should demonstrate how working with your agency will meet their insurance coverage needs, making their lives better.