I love mistakes.
Okay, love is a strong word… but mistakes make me smarter so I choose to embrace them.
Fortunately my wife reminds me to embrace them several times a day.
Insurance agents make two types of internet marketing mistakes:
- Internet Marketing Errors of Omission – Failing to do something that can help your agency’s online presence.
- Internet Marketing Errors of Commission – Going out of your way to hurt your agency’s online presence.
In this article, I’m focusing on the “Errors of Commission” – the things agents do on purpose to get a positive result while actually doing the opposite.
It’s not the agent’s fault, there’s too much bad information about internet marketing and the allure of an easy score is powerful.
It’s one thing to miss an opportunity but going out of your way to hurt the agency’s marketing must be addressed ASAP.
If you’re making any of these internet marketing mistakes, STOP!
1) Buying Lots of Domain Names
For some reason, I know many agents who have opened an account with GoDaddy and purchased lots of domain names.
Yes, you can purchase any domain name that is available and forward it to your website, but is there any SEO value to doing this?
Buying all the local town names with the word “insurance” and forwarding them to your site is only wasting your money.
Google doesn’t care and no one is typing them in directly.
There are some good uses for multiple domain names, but they have nothing to do with SEO.
2) Having Two Official Webpages
Many captive agents for national carriers like State Farm, Allstate, etc, want their own agency website to control the content, track visitors and do many other things the carrier won’t allow.
I love the ambition but this can be a major mistake.
It’s confusing to Google when they find two separate sites that are both your “official” agency page.
And when your carrier is building links to your agency page on their site and you’re building links to your site it only makes matters worse.
So what does Google do when they’re not sure which website is the right one for your agency? They show the guy down the street who only has one.
3) Creating the Wrong Type of Facebook Page
Facebook has two major types of pages:
- Pages for people
- Pages for businesses.
Facebook users “make friends” with people and “like” businesses.
I’ve seen many agents create a “person” profile for the agency instead of a creating business page.
When you do this people are less likely to connect with your agency because they don’t want to share private information and you look like a Facebook newbie.
New to Facebook + Selling Insurance = Stay Far Away!
4) Crappy Blogging
I believe in the power of blogs (you’re reading mine, right?) but almost every insurance agent blog I ever read sucks.
Think you’re the first person to write an article called “5 Ways to Save Money on Insurance”?
Think your crappy 3 paragraph article is going to rank above the same article on Yahoo, MSN, Kiplinger, and Forbes?
Stop wasting your time.
If you want to get value from your blog, write the most definitive or entertaining article online about a specific topic.
If that sounds too difficult then you’re not going specific enough. (little hint: write about your community)
5) Long Website Quote Forms
You think people want the most accurate quote and you want to save yourself the trouble of following up to get more information.
But do you honestly think people will answer 63 questions, type in their VIN and Driver’s License number, and explain the past 10 years of their accident history on your website?
They’ll just hit the “Back” button.
Make your online quote forms as short as possible. Every additional question will reduce the number of leads you receive.
6) Multiple Google Places Pages
Google Places is Google’s business directory.
It’s the system they use to gather information about local businesses for their search results and maps. Business owners can set up their own business profile.
I know agents who have set up multiple business profiles using slightly different agency names, phone numbers, and suites in order to have more opportunities to get a phone call.
Not only is this against Google’s guidelines, it also confuses their algorithm (see #2) and pits your listings against each other for search rank.
If you want to win the Kentucky Derby, would you rather have the strongest horse or 50 mediocre horses?
7) Adding People to Your Email List Without Consent
Have you ever given someone your card and a week later you’re getting marketing emails from them?
Don’t you hate that?
(I’m probably a bit sensitive because I work very hard to have an email list people WANT to be on)
I always report the email as spam to my email provider and a lot of other people will too.
When too many people report your email as SPAM your domain name can get flagged as a common SPAMMER and even your regular emails will go straight to people’s junk folder.
8) Buying Likes/Followers
There are a lot of places online where you can pay to get fake “likes” on your Facebook page.
I understand how tempting it is because getting your first 100 likes is not easy.
However, Facebook is cracking down on this more and more and it’s not worth the risk of getting your account banned.
Also, when a majority of your likes are fake it hinders some of Facebook’s most valuable advertising options.
If half your fans are fake, you’d have to pay double to show an advertisement or promote a post to your audience.
9) Splash Pages on Your Websites
How do you feel when you go to a website and you have to watch a cheesy Flash video before seeing the website?
95% of website visitors find it incredibly annoying but website owners often don’t feel the same.
Because website owners have an inflated sense of how much people care about their website.
Business owners think, “Who wouldn’t want to sit through 10 seconds of action packed animation about my insurance agency?”
Me. (and everyone else)
10) Self-Promotional Social Media Content
There’s a very fundamental concept in social media marketing that many agents haven’t fully grasped.
It’s all “opt-in”.
Which means unlike TV or newspaper ads, people are not required to see your messages to get their content.
If people don’t WANT to hear from you they click a button and your messages are gone forever, even when you paid for them!
Bring value in the form of information or entertainment at least 80% of the time or you’re wasting all of your time.
11) Too Much Social Media Chatter
Can I tell you secret? Don’t get mad, okay?
Normal people don’t give a crap about insurance.
They use Facebook to see vacation photos. They don’t use it to find articles about saving money on insurance.
I’m not saying its impossible to post highly engaging, interesting, and entertaining content 5 times a week, but know this:
Every time you post something that gets little interaction from your audience, Facebook is less likely to show your content to your audience the next time.
12) Writing Fake Online Reviews
However, if you setup phony profiles to write fake positive reviews about your agency it can come back to haunt you.
Google, Yelp, and other business review websites are highly dependent on the validity of their reviews. If the public starts to question the quality of reviews they will stop using the sites.
Review sites track the computer you use, the activity of the account, the number and nature of your reviews and a variety of other factors.
If you get caught writing fake reviews for your agency you might get banned.
13) Using Tracking Phone Numbers Online
Phone tracking numbers are new phone numbers setup to forward to your current line. They are generally used to track the effectiveness of advertising.
Agents can get in trouble though, when they use call tracking phone numbers online. The reason for this is because one of Google’s local business ranking factors is consistency with business information across the entire internet.
If your agency is listed with 10 different phone numbers across the internet Google gets confused and shows the next insurance agent instead.
14) Building Lots of Microsites
A microsite is a term for a small 1-5 page website focused on a very specific topic.
I know agents who have bought lots of different websites, one for disability insurance, another for motorcycle insurance, etc.
While I do appreciate the premise of delivering a very specific message for a very specific audience, this technique is usually not as powerful for generating search engine traffic as having one really strong website with different webpages or sections about individual topics.
Google assigns an overarching value to all the pages on your site based on the quality and quantity of all the other pages on your site.
If you have 100 pages of great online content but it’s split up among 10 different domain names, none of those pages will rank as well as if you had put them all on one website.
It’s also a lot more difficult to maintain the quality of many different sites than just one.
If you were trying to break through ice would you rather have one really big rock or 100 pebbles?
15) Pay Per Click Advertising
Maybe you’re generating tons of leads through Adwords and I hope you are, but chances are PPC ads are not going to work for you.
The reason is simple math. According to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, here’s what you’d have to pay for every click when someone searches these terms: (2/13)
- [Car Insurance]: $66.70
- [Life Insurance]: $39.17
- [Motorcycle Insurance]: $21.31
- [Boat Insurance]: $19.14
Keep in mind, that price is for the click only. You’d be EXTREMELY lucky to get a lead from 1 in 10 of your website visits.
Which means you’ll have to pay:
- $667 for every car insurance quote
- $392 for every life insurance quote
- $213 for every motorcycle insurance quote
- $191 for every boat insurance quote
And these numbers are based on a 10% conversion rate, which is higher than 99% of insurance websites out there.
16) Chasing SEO Tactics
I have been getting websites on top of Google for years and have seen the search ranking climate change a lot.
Google gets better and better at identifying and ranking the most deserving websites but people will always be seeking and selling shortcuts.
Tricks may work in the short run but I have seen agencies destroyed by Google for using “black hat” techniques.
Following this rule of thumb should keep you out of trouble:
Before doing anything online to improve your search engine rankings ask yourself these 2 questions,
- Would I be willing to explain what I’m doing to Google?
- Would Google think my tactic was making the internet a better place?
If the answer is yes to both, you should be okay.
So Here’s What to Do Next:
- If you’re currently making any of these mistakes, STOP.
- If you’re not sure how to fix the mistake, ask me a question in the comments below.
- Email a link to this article to any agent you know that might be making one of these mistakes.
- And if you appreciate my attempts to prevent you from making mistakes online please CLICK THE LIKE BUTTON!