Does Your Online Presence Leave an Impression?

Once upon a time, insurance customers called an agent when they had insurance questions. Now, they search the web. But the search capabilities at everyone’s fingertips aren’t obstacles for agents—they’re an opportunity.

According to J.D. Power’s 2016 Insurance Shopping Study, 74% of auto insurance customers obtain quotes or insurance information through insurers or aggregators online, and many more use a search engine to start their research. But the study also reports that only 25% of these online shoppers end up purchasing online.

Your prospects want quick and easy answers at first, but they want to forge a relationship before purchasing—and that’s where you come in.

Be visible and active online. The most fundamental way to insert yourself into consumers’ online insurance research is to make sure you have a robust online presence. Don’t think of your online presence like a business card—it’s more like an opportunity for thousands of one-on-one encounters. This means keeping your website, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media profiles updated and using them to engage with people.

In addition to your social media accounts, try using message boards like Reddit to contribute your expert guidance. Weigh in whenever you see insurance consumers asking questions. Your personal touch could help them see the value in a direct agent relationship, despite their online-only shopping habits.

Help customers wade through information. Google any insurance question. Inevitably, some of the results will be accurate and trustworthy, and some will not. You can tell the difference, but someone without your expertise might not be able to make that distinction—which creates an opportunity for you.

Make it a point to call out websites that include high-quality, accurate information and complete reviews. You can do this throughout your digital marketing efforts: social media, e-newsletters or the like. A good introduction: “I saw this worthwhile article and thought you might be interested.” Share articles that drive home important points, and don’t be afraid to point out sources that are getting it wrong—you are a risk adviser, after all.

Your current and potential customers may have a wealth of information at their fingertips, but they need someone to help them make sense of it. If you’re concerned about handing over a potential sale by endorsing other resources, team up with a site that not only provides good information but also connects your agency with motivated customers.

Add a personal touch. One thing customers can’t get from reading articles or getting online quotes is a human element. Don’t limit your online interactions to policy talk. Ask and answer questions, get to know people and then offer solutions that fit their needs.

Online customers have no trouble finding generic, impersonal information. Give them what Google can’t.

Nahu Ghebremichael is head of Insurance at NerdWallet, a personal finance website that recently launched lead-generation service AutoConnect.

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