Integrating Online and Offline Marketing Activities for Insurance
Insurance agents have been known for their ability to market themselves — long before the advent of the Internet. The rise of digital marketing has created a sea change in how companies promote their goods and services — insurance agents are no exception.
Many traditional offline marketing techniques for insurance agents remain viable and can be used effectively alongside online marketing. Integrating online and offline marketing activities helps your agency build strong relationships in person, and virtually, by giving you the tools you need to meet your audience where they are.
Online vs Offline Marketing Strategies
Even in a digital world where the choices are many, and gratification is immediate, there is an undeniable human need for something more tangible and more personal. Many of your prospects and customers still respond to traditional marketing using direct mail, seminars, radio ads, and the telephone. Yes, you must have a strong online presence using marketing tools like Spark™. But relying on digital marketing means leaving a significant amount of potential business untapped.
When you compare online and offline marketing strategies, the channels used to reach an audience represent the strongest contrast:
Digital Marketing Channels
- Social media
- Display advertising
- Search engine optimization
- Google AdWords
Traditional Marketing Channels
- Direct mail
- In-person events, webinars, and community engagement
- TV, newspaper and radio advertising
- Face-to-face meetings
- Phone calls
- Personalized correspondence (such as greeting cards)
There are noticeable differences to consider when integrating online and offline marketing activities. Still, the endgame is the same — getting your name out there and showing why you are the best choice for your audience.
Remember, online marketing and offline marketing don’t have to be an “either/or” — they can work together to build a winning marketing strategy. Differences aside, online and offline marketing channels can not only coexist, they can combine to create a powerful marketing strategy that gets results.
Blending Traditional and Digital Marketing
1. Combine Email with Direct Mail
Email marketing is ubiquitous. The average professional receives 126 emails per day. Most marketing messages, no matter how well crafted, never get opened—let alone lead read.
When people receive physical mail, there is a 77% chance they will flip through it and view all the pieces IMMEDIATELY! This action leads to much higher response rates for direct mail — 4.4% vs .1% for email.
We are not suggesting you abandon email as a marketing strategy. Instead, we champion combining it with direct mail to increase engagement.
How to increase direct mail’s effectiveness with emails:
- Send Direct Mail Content to Clients and Prospects
Design and send out a piece of value-driven content like a newsletter or brochure with a personalized message.
- Shift to Digital Communication
Follow up the direct mail with an email campaign designed to keep you top of mind and guide your target audience along their journey to becoming a customer.
- Define Next Steps
Define a clear engagement path by linking to an optimized landing page designed to address questions and concerns.
This marketing one-two punch first gets a prospect’s attention and follows up with a path to engagement. What could be better than that?
2. Combine Social Media with Live Events
Deciding exactly how best to employ social media can be confusing. One of the most effective ways to utilize social media is to combine it with your live events. 96% of marketers say they now use this powerful strategy.
Social media and live events go hand in hand. Live events are exceptional for building strong relationships and educating an audience. Social media is a powerful way to distribute essential details and information. It is also great for communicating and sharing in real time.
How to supercharge your live events with social media:
- Before the Event
In the lead up to the event, provide deadlines, details, discounts, and a link to register. Social marketing experts from Hootsuite offer these proven social media promotions for events:
- Post a countdown on Instagram Stories to build anticipation for your live event.
- Build a Facebook event page to answer questions and build interest.
- Post teasers on Twitter that release bits of information at intervals to hype your event.
- During the Event
Provide a hashtag, curate responses, summarize information, and encourage attendees to share their impressions via social media. If you’ve used the social media marketing tips above to promote your live event, it’s easy to keep the conversation going by piggybacking on your initial efforts.
- After the Event
Share photos, reactions to the event, and tag people who were there. You want to keep your posts exciting and fun to entice people to share your content — hopefully with testimonials about how impressive your event was! You should also add a link to a registration page for upcoming events to grow your attendee list.
Next time you host a live event, use social media to make it a smashing success.
3. Combine Digital Campaigns with Referrals
Not enough agents ask for referrals — while 87% of clients are willing to refer a friend, relative, or colleague, only 7% of agents ask. Call it modesty or whatever you like, but the reluctance to tap into this powerful resource for insurance agencies creates many wasted opportunities.
Agents avoid asking because it’s awkward, so they tend to procrastinate to avoid the presumed discomfort. The best way to overcome this natural procrastination and leverage the power of referrals is to automate the ask!
How to leverage automation to ask for referrals:
- Create Quality Content
When you share valuable digital content, it acts as an online pass along card. When your audience receives your valuable content, they think more highly of you. When they pass that content to a friend, it serves as an endorsement.
- Use Automated Referral Campaigns
Schedule quarterly emails to go out to your customers asking them if they know someone who could benefit from your services. It is a perfect amount of time to keep you top of mind as a recommendation, while not imposing on your client base too frequently.
- Follow Up Either Face-to-Face or on the Phone
Take digital referrals into the real world by connecting with your most loyal clients by phone or in person. If you have helped them or delivered real value, they will be happy to refer you to others.
Referrals are the most potent type of lead an insurance agent can receive. With digital automation tools like Fuse™, asking for those referrals just got a whole lot easier.
4. Combine Automation with 1:1 Relationships
Relationship marketing is a powerful way to improve your customer experience. When your customers feel like you are investing in the relationship with them without looking for a reward, customers develop a sense of reciprocation. They want to work with you because they feel loyal.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of digital technology is the ability to improve 1:1 relationships at scale, but impersonal emails won’t do the trick. Marketing messages must be personalized and authentic to help establish a relationship. Enter greeting cards.
Automate Your 1:1 Relationship with Greeting Cards
- Build a Client/Prospect List
Using databases and online information capture, create a master email list. Segment your list by contact type to provide additional opportunities for personalizing messages.
- Send Greetings for Holidays and Birthdays
Acknowledging an important date in the life of your clients and prospects will keep relationships strong and healthy.
- Establish the Relationship
Follow up your greeting card with emails, phone calls, or virtual meetings to keep your prospects and customers in the loop.
5. Combine Analytics with Client Feedback
Understanding your customers’ experience is crucial to fine-tune your offerings and grow your base. Agents should learn to understand their customers and create personas to guide future marketing efforts. Combining online analytics, social insights, and real-world interviews hits this vital task from three angles.
Online analytics can be a little daunting if you are not trained in the digital quantitative field. With a bit of effort, you can identify a few key metrics to track to reveal a wealth of information about which topics most interest your audience. Social media platforms typically make things easier by providing statistics that show what content creates the most engagement, shares, and likes.
But nothing beats an in-person interview. When you can look a customer or prospect in the eye and hear their questions and concerns first hand, you gain valuable information and plant the seed for a long and beneficial relationship.
How to understand customer experience better:
- Monitor Content and Social Analytics
Use online traffic, clicks, and time-on-page analytics to discover what interests your clients and prospects. Use social engagement scores to determine what is being shared and by whom.
- Engage in Client Feedback
Use surveys, phone calls, and face-to-face interviews to determine their pain points. Remember that no concern or pain point is too small to ignore; take an unbiased approach and note everything you can.
- Create a Customer Persona
With the information you gather, both online and off, create personas for your ideal customers that will help guide your content and marketing strategy.
If you can gather all of this information and create accurate personas, your customers will feel better about their choice to engage you. You will also attract the ideal prospect for your agency.
Integrating online and offline marketing activities takes a commitment to blending the best of both to appeal to the broadest audience. The insurance industry sees sweeping changes in how we communicate, do business, and define our relationships, but in the end, your audience just wants to make a connection.
Insurance agents must adopt proven marketing technology to compete during these changing times. But you shouldn’t abandon the traditional marketing that helped grow the insurance industry from the beginning. Combining what worked then with what works now is the smartest way to grow while you wait to see what comes next.