Agents & brokers simply have not mastered this powerful relationship building technique
Agency Revolution has spent over 20 years working with the independent insurance channel – providing education, tools, services, and of course, studying the industry itself. In that time we’ve seen digital marketing completely change the game. The independent channel has been slow to adapt, but nonetheless keeps making real progress, and our agent & broker system lives to fight another day. Our corner of the industry still has a lot of work to do though, and considering how relationship oriented this channel is, we’re surprised to see how much agents & brokers have been struggling to adapt one of the most powerful, reliable, and common relationship building tools in the digital marketers toolbox: gated content. That isn’t to say no agent or broker has used this technique effectively, but the good examples are shockingly rare.
The concept of gated content is simple. You take a piece of valuable content, and you require prospects to submit information to a form in order to access it. Most agencies will require people to submit a form in order to request a quote. That’s not really ‘content’ but this technique rests on a similar concept. What we see far too rarely however, is agencies & brokerages integrating this technique as a part of a greater campaign to attract and optimize leads. What we see happen too often is an agent building a page with a form on their website and just… hoping for the best. This is especially true for Personal Lines focused agencies. We want to show you how to use gated content in a way that will bring you high quality leads that want to do business with your agency or brokerage.
How do you make gated content work for your agency?
There’s a trick to effectively using gated content in a marketing campaign: understand that the campaign you’re building isn’t about gated content. Gated content is an important part of something greater. It’s a way you can get new prospects to raise their hands and say “I have needs you may be able to help with. I’m not thinking about a purchase yet, but I like what you’re saying and I’m willing to hear more.” To simplify things, there are 5 core elements independent insurance brokers should focus on when designing a campaign that uses gated content.
1. Start with your audience
The first place you should start is by choosing your target audience, or more accurately, the type of coverage you want to promote. For campaigns like this I will always recommend choosing a niche category. That’s not to say you can’t go with something super broad and common that everyone needs, like standard auto insurance – but when you choose a niche:
- Targeting your audience will be easier.
- Standing out from the crowd of other advertisers will be much easier.
- Making a real connection with your target audience will be much, much easier.
Whatever niche you choose, make sure it’s a topic you really specialize in, and you’re confident in your knowledge about. It should be a policy that protects something that people get really passionate about… and preferably, that you get passionate about too! For this guide, we’re going to use sailboat insurance as our example.
2. Choose a great piece of content
Now that you know who your audience is, you need to provide something that they want. Sailboat owners are a good niche because they’re passionate about their hobby or lifestyle. Sailboats are a major purchase and require a lot of care. When someone buys a sailboat, they expect to have it and care for it for a very long time.
All of that gives you a lot of fuel for content to attract them. You should make a piece of content that covers topics a new sailboat owner would care about or is likely to spend time researching. Some good titles for an ebook or whitepaper might include:
- The Complete Guide to Keeping Your Sailboat in Shipshape
- 10 Tips to Make Your Sailboat Live Forever
- What You Need to Know About Sailboat Maintenance
Focusing on the care and longevity of a sailboat gives you numerous important advantages. It allows you to connect on a mutual interest or passion. It gives you an opportunity to give genuinely valuable information to prospects. It creates a natural segue-way to the services you offer (after all, when life throws you a curveball, and something beyond your control happens to the things you care about, that’s exactly what insurance was made for). Best of all, it’s going to attract people that care about what they’re protecting, and are interested in a relationship – and those are ingredients for the best kind of customers.
It’s common for people to create their ebook or whitepaper by combining or refining already existing blogs or other pieces of content. And that’s a perfectly fine approach, especially since you’re going to be promoting this piece in a different way than those other pieces of content. What matters most at this stage is using content that offers genuine value, and packaging it well.
A lot of you might be thinking “Hold on! The kind of content you’re talking about requires a graphic designer to create a good looking cover.” While we believe that hiring a professional to make a good piece of content look as attractive as possible is money well spent, there are lots of free tools online, such as Canva, that make it easier than you might expect to create a beautiful ebook cover. What matters is that the cover image is attractive, and is clearly branded so anyone who sees it knows you’re the agency sharing this great information.
3. Put a gate on it!
Before we can share, we need to gate that content! That just means you need to build a web page that shares why the content you’re offering is valuable, that page needs a form for people to submit their information, and the information it asks for needs to reflect the value of the content you’re offering. Those of you that have websites built with Agency Revolution’s Attract™ suite know how effortless building these pages can be.
For this campaign, I would recommend keeping the ‘ask’ small and only requiring basic information like their first name and email address. A large ask like a phone number would not be appropriate for a piece of content, or a campaign, like this. An email address is all you really need, but having their first name allows future nurturing messages to have at least a little personalization.
Once the form is submitted you deliver the content. We believe the best way is to redirect people to a ‘Thank You’ web page that informs the prospect to check their email inbox for the requested content. This allows you to share more information about your company and services on that ‘Thank You’ page and establishes an expectation to have email interactions with you. The email that delivers the content is yet another place you can share more information about yourself, your company, and how you can help sailboat owners protect their investment.
4. Share, share everywhere!
Now that the content is behind a gate, it’s time to share it. You’ve already put it on your website, and that’s great, but this campaign won’t be successful if we leave it up to organic traffic. While it should absolutely be posted on your social media accounts, and even included in targeted ‘email nurturing’ campaigns for already existing contacts, remember that the primary goal of gated content is to find new prospects.
The best way to do that is going to be through advertising on platforms like Facebook or Google Adwords. These platforms give you powerful tools to target your audience by interest, location, activity, search terms, and a whole lot more – and just as importantly, just about everyone that does anything is active on these platforms. Because you chose a niche audience, you’re going to have a lot less competition. That means a better cost per click as well as a smaller crowd of other businesses you need to stand out from.
5. Now it’s time to nurture
Now you have a great piece of content that you’re pushing to new audiences and with every form submission you’ve acquired a new email address. Keep track of that list because it’s full of people that have something that needs to be protected. That means it’s time to start nurturing these new prospects with a focused and thoughtful email nurturing campaign.
This is the stage that you get to start making insurance a bigger part of the conversation. Keep these messages focused on the topic that connected them to you, dive into the important role insurance can play in the longevity of a sailboat, maybe offer another level of engagement. It’s popular for businesses to use a ‘special discount’ of some sort to prospects that have been nurtured through this type of campaign – though we like to discourage that kind of promotion because it takes focus away from the relationship you’ve been building, and puts it on price.
Move that extra investment away from a discount and put it on something that emphasizes relationship and fun. Maybe there’s a way to partner with another business to offer an educational course, gift cards at a supply shop, or special services at a marina as a gift to new customers you’ve been nurturing with this campaign.
That’s how to effectively leverage gated content
Is this the only way to do it? Of course not – but this is an effective campaign, and any agency or brokerage that follows this formula will attract great prospects that are likely to become great customers.
You start with a valuable, helpful piece of content, you ask prospects to share a small amount of contact information to access it, and then you continue to nurture that relationship so those prospects know, out of all the insurance agencies they could do business with, you’re the one they know cares about the things they care about.