After a year like 2020, it is our opinion that the digital marketing industry as a whole is really unsure of what to expect in 2021. We’ve searched some of the most authoritative digital marketing brands to curate the following list along with a few of our own predictions.
It is our experience and opinion that Digital Marketing is foundational to successful insurance advertising campaigns. For leading edge agencies, one thing is certain, if your agency has any intention of remaining competitive in today’s online landscape, you must adapt to the rapidly evolving changes in digital marketing and 2021 is no different.
Because we wrote the book “The 7-Pillars of Digital Marketing for Insurance Agencies”, following are our curated digital marketing tips for you and your agency in 2021!
Leave us a comment below and reach out if you have questions. We’d love to hear from you!
Website – Pillar #1
In 2021, the foundation for insurance digital marketing continues to be focused on websites.
Your agency website is more than likely the first experience a prospect will have with you and your agency and you have just seconds to make a great first impression. This means your digital storefront must be optimized to show up in search and compelling enough to cause your prospect to take next steps to becoming a customer.
This is often easier said than done when you consider that Google changes its search algorithm around 500 to 600 times each year, and 2021 shouldn’t be any different (or any less). You or someone on your team need to continually keep up with the news to be on top of your SEO game.
In a rare move by Google, they already announced two algorithm updates slated for March and May 2021.
- Page Experience Signals will be a ranking signal
- Page experience refers to the way your website visitors feel as they interact with web pages. It is determined by a multitude of attributes from mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and the others.
Voice search is now a thing for some businesses and in our experience especially for local insurance agencies!
Virtually non-existent just five years ago, the proliferation of Alexa, and Google Assistant type, voice assistants has popularized voice search beyond our initial expectations. From everything we’ve read and/or heard, voice search is only getting started and won’t be a passing fad.
Click here to read more about voice search for Your WordPress Site from our partners at Astra.
Google is updating its mobile first indexing. Mobile-first indexing refers to the practice of indexing the mobile version of the website first in Google’s databases instead of the desktop version. This would accurately gauge the amount of content on mobile sites and their relevance before displaying the results.
Google has published a basic guideline to ensure the transition to mobile-first indexing goes smoothly on your website:
- Make sure the content of your website is visible to Google crawlers and bots.
- Ensure you fill out all the relevant meta tags on both the mobile and the desktop versions of your landing pages.
- Ensure that your mobile website loads quickly by enabling lazy loading.
- Ensure that you are not blocking any relevant mobile-specific URLs in your robots.txt file.
- Although it is hard to ensure identical content, you should try to have at least identical primary content on both versions.
- Check the alt tags of both image and video embeds.
So, make sure the mobile version of your website is up to par. Check out your site on Google’s Lighthouse. or on GTMetrix.
GET YOUR SCORES!
Find out how your website and local SEO stacks up to your competitors:
In 2021, if websites are the foundation then content is the fuel for your insurance digital marketing efforts.
Content marketing provides insurance agencies with a wide-ranging ability to share information with prospects and clients which can (and should) be used to positively influence coverage purchasing decisions.
Content marketing is the practice of developing and promoting engaging, informative, and relevant web-based content. Content can be shared via video, website, newsletter, email, or on social media platforms. Content marketing is so critical in the digital age that over 86% of businesses worldwide use this tool to reach new audiences.
Content is a major contributor to turning your agency prospects into clients but you have to be findable first! Content is how search engines identify and understand your website for those coveted prospect search results.
In 2021 we strongly suggest you start or continue to build your brand authority and recognition. You can do this by writing blogs, posting to social media and publishing videos on topics your agency is an expert in like:
- Go into detail about a topic, such as how landlord insurance is completely different from homeowners coverages.
- Ninja tip: Search and identify industry keywords using tools like SpyFu (we use the paid version) to find top blog posts and videos. Then create your own custom blogs and videos for your site.
- Focus on how you and your agency are different from the competition and provide specific benefits to customers.
Email – Pillar #3
2021 is the year to implement or improve upon email in your insurance digital marketing efforts.
In 1978 (over 40 years ago) a marketer named Gary Thuerk from Digital Equipment Corporation sent the first marketing email!
Today, Statista reports, the total number of global email users will grow to 4.3 billion by 2023. That’s more than half the world’s current population. With numbers like that, it is darn near impossible to say that email marketing is dead. What’s dead are the majority of worn out old school email marketing tactics. Spraying and praying isn’t just frowned upon but down right dangerous to your email sending score.
With sixty-one percent (and growing) of all emails being opened and read on a mobile device, it is in your best interest to make sure your marketing emails are mobile optimized. Here are some top tips for optimizing your email for mobile view:
- With shrinking attention spans simple is better and more actionable. Make sure your email copy is easy to read. A quick Google search for “email preview tool” will provide myriad solutions for you to choose from.
- Make sure your email is thumb friendly on mobile, buttons should be at least 44 x 44 pixels. There should be enough room around your button for someone to easily click it without clicking something else.
- Personalization in subject lines and email body copy is still important, just don’t over do it.
Email automation just makes sense for businesses today. In other words, you should invest time, energy and money creating and implementing prospect and client nurturing campaigns so that you never miss another critical follow up. Per our friend and mentor Ryan Deiss at DigitalMarketer in his book “The Invisible Selling Machine” (one of our favorite digital marketing resources to this day!) there are five phases of email marketing that should be automated in your business:
- Indoctrinate – Introduce new leads to you and your brand, and turn strangers into friends
- Engage – Talk to your leads about what interests them and encourage them to buy a relevant product or service
- Ascend – Welcome your new customers or clients and encourage them to upgrade their experience by purchasing from you again
- Segment – Learn what they want to hear more about and what they might want to buy next
- Re-Engage/Win Back – Bring them back when they’ve fallen out of touch or the relationship has gone cold
Each step builds upon the previous step, and works to seamlessly, effortlessly and invisibly transition strangers into friends, friends into customers, and customers into raving fans.
On a side note, our agency uses Ontraport for our email marketing and automation. After years of using other email marketing platforms and completing an exhaustive search and comparison we found Ontraport to be the BEST value for myriad reasons as an all-in-0ne marketing platform.
It didn’t take long (just a couple of months) for us to see and realize the tremendous value Ontraport brought to our agency so in 2018 we went through the 5-day bootcamp and passed the certification exam (recertify annually) to become Ontraport Certified Experts!
In 2021, online ads continue to be the fastest path the cash in your insurance digital marketing efforts.
PPC is poised for a volatile 2021 for marketers of all types as Google’s industry-leading browser Chrome will stop supporting third-party cookies by early 2022, significantly altering how digital ads are targeted and tracked.
Even with the “tracking cookie” demise investment analysts believe online advertising can grow 20% in 2021, with Facebook, Google and Pinterest leading the pack.
In a Search Engine Journal article by Danny Goodwin, compiled 10 online ad trends you need to know, according to 32 top experts. This is Danny’s fourth annual look at PPC Trends on Search Engine Journal, making him “the experts” expert in our book!
- Say goodbye to your beloved tracking cookies
- Know and understand your prospects “customer journey”
- Implement platform diversity
- Write better ad messages
- Click here for 6 more PPC trends and to read Danny’s complete article, “top 10 PPC trends you need to know for 2021”.
Want better performance and more mileage from your social media efforts? Consider using paid ads. You can run ads on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms. The good thing about paid lead generation is that you can target a specific location, demographic, or group of audience that is more likely to convert.
Online ad targeting and budget controls have matured through the implementation of automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning providing users (you and I) much improved user experiences.
Video – Pillar #5
In 2021, video just might be the biggest contributor to your insurance digital marketing success.
We’ve been preaching the power and reach of video since 2015. In 2021 the Internet is saturated with blogs and landing pages making videos uploaded to Youtube as standalone content or embedded in your website a strong play in 2021. Video can help you gain more traffic from Youtube views, which currently seems less saturated than Google’s traditional search engine. YouTube is a platform you can’t afford to ignore.
And since we’re all walking around with portable TV studios (smartphones) in our pockets and purses and all the new videos tools and apps make recording and editing super simple and cheap there is no excuse NOT to implement video in your marketing efforts for 2021.
Our friends at AdRoll go so far to say, “The New King of Social: Short-Form Videos” and they aren’t wrong when you consider Snapchat implemented a major redesign, Facebook launched Instagram Reels to get in on the action, and TikTok is now the preferred platform for Gen Z. And it looks like business markets might be next as TikTok for Business launched earlier this year and is set to expand its paid promotion and advertising options in 2021 — in other words, marketers should start studying up on this elusive platform now.
Check out and implement some (or ALL) of our easy video ideas:
- Testimonials by policyholders – Instead of creating self-centered videos, you can highlight the experience of previous customers by featuring them in your videos. When a policyholder tells their story and how your agency helped them, your brand attracts more attention from the target audience.
- Insurance tutorials – Most insurance concepts are too complicated and confusing for consumers to understand without expert advice. Creating informative video tutorials on these subjects can help educate your audience and position your agency as a thought leader and industry expert.
- Risk management tips – Offering risk management resources in video form is a great way to provide value to your clients.
- “Who We Are” or “About Us” videos – This involves sharing brief and informative branding videos that touch on your agency’s values, services offered, and the markets served.
In 2021, social media continues to be a cornerstone to your insurance digital marketing engagement.
As of January 2020 Statista reports that 70% of the population with internet access had active social media accounts. So contrary to what some have told us, your prospects and clients are on social media and we think it is your job and responsibility to find and engage them. Most of your prospects and clients are on Facebook but don’t count out other platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and the new kid on the block Clubhouse as we are starting to see different affinities with different segments of the population.
With the adoption of social media by so many brands and businesses, it is becoming harder and harder to stand out. In 2021, you can no longer afford to ignore social media. And if you’ve been using “the socials” for a while it may be time to reevaluate your strategies and tactics and uplevel your social game!
Facebook experienced some challenges in 2020 which further added to the exodus of people moving to other sites. Don’t get us wrong, Facebook is still the 800 pound gorilla in the social media arena but we think a lot of folks have gotten fed up with all the drama, data breaches and increasing ad rates.
At least one redeeming factor for Facebook are chatbots. This year we demod some very interesting list building activities using chatbots (read more about chatbots in the miscellaneous section below). We were so intrigued by this chatbot functionality we partnered with the folks at MobileMonkey and will be implementing our chatbot in Q1 of 2021 on our Facebook page and our website!
Despite Twitter’s continued popularity, this platform is way overdue for some major innovation updates. The bad news is, we haven’t heard of any updates or even rumors of updates. Unfortunately we’re not going to see any major change over the course of the next 12 months.
Instagram seems to be where all the cool kids are hanging out these days. In our opinion, Instagram is a very popular platform in transition. What started out as a simple app focused on photography now seems to be focused on eCommerce.
TikTok launched September 2016, but 2020 was a wild ride for this new kid on the block. The short-form video app grew from 500 million users in December 2019 to close to a billion today. This was no easy task for the new platform despite facing bans, restrictions, and accusations of censorship. Despite all of this, TikTok has continued to take social media real estate, and now seems set to advance to the next level in 2021.
Lastly, 2020 was a banner year for LinkedIn as it realized increased user engagement as it rolled out LinkedIn Live, Events, Polls, and Stories. In the coming year, marketers need to embrace not only these new features and content formats but also the shift in culture created by the rise in remote working from home.
While LinkedIn is probably the least glamorous of all social media platforms it is a veritable powerhouse for professionals. LinkedIn grew to over 700 million members in 2020, and continues to see ‘record levels of engagement’. In our opinion, LinkedIn stands to benefit the most from COVID-19 with new innovations coming down the pike like:
- integrating live-stream functionality for events
- A dedicated video section which we plan on thoroughly investigating
… which only looks set to increase in the wake of the pandemic. LinkedIn is in a strong position, as the key platform for professionals, and it’ll look to capitalize on this with its 2021 releases.
Regardless of the platform, ALL social media seem to have an ecomm focus and we don’t blame them. How else would they be able to generate massive amounts of revenue?
Reviews & Reputation Management – Pillar #7
In 2021, reviews continue to be the hands down favorite for growing your social proof and authority to the rest of ALL of your insurance digital marketing efforts.
Today, online reviews are the biggest most authoritative sources of social proof in our opinion. Reviews have a clear impact on sales for businesses of all types from restaurants, to auto repair shops and insurance agencies!
Oddly enough we didn’t find tips or predictions for reviews in 2021 but we did find a really good article (7 Reasons Online Reviews) written March 2020 by Smith Willas, a guest blogger on Mention and he hit the nail on the head.
- Social Proof (Reviews) Drives Purchases
- Reviews Make You More Visible
- Reviews Make You Look Trustworthy
- Reviews Expand the Conversation About You
- Reviews Are Increasingly Essential to Decision Making
- Reviews Have a Clear Impact on Sales
- Reviews Give You An Open Line to Consumers
If those aren’t ACTION invoking reasons to implement or step up your evergreen review game, we don’t know what is. And if that didn’t convince you, maybe knowing that 84 percent of people trust online reviews from people they don’t know as much as their friends might change your mind.
And if that wasn’t enough motivation, Rosie Murphy one of the prolific content producers with our partner BrightLocal authored the comprehensive and authoritative research post “Local Consumer Review Survey 2020” that is jammed packed with trends, stats, and tips on how to ask for, write and respond to reviews. This truly is a MUST read when it comes to review and reputation management.
Now that we’ve made our case for implementing reviews in your marketing, we suggest using ‘reviews” everywhere including:
- On your website
- On your Google My Business page
- On Your Facebook page
- On Your LinkedIn page
- in your social media posts
- in your online ads
- in your email marketing
- In your videos
- Even on your snail mail (hit us up for this Dan Kennedy OG tip)
It’s one thing for you, the business or agency owner to preach how great and wonderful you are (that’s what we’re supposed to do) but it is something completely different when a customer shares a positive review.
When we as business owners try to impress prospects and clients with how great we are, all we end up doing is setting off the readers BS filter, but as referenced above when someone else, even strangers, sings your praises it is believable and more importantly influential!
Miscellaneous – BONUS Pillar
Chatbots (FTW) are a dual “Website” and “Social Media” category! Chatbots are changing the way businesses communicate with their clients and prospects.
According to experts, AI (artificial intelligence) will be a major investment in customer experience for a few years. 47% of organizations are expected to implement chatbots for customer support services. Predictions of consumer-based services suggest that chatbots will be programmed to match human behavior, offer similar services, and improve customer service. Way back in 2019 (lol) Adweek stated platforms equipped with chatbot functions can boost brand awareness, sales/lead generation, marketing engagement, and customer support.
Not sure if a chatbot is right for your business? Chatbots have the ability to interact with your customers and can provide simple information to your customers instantly. For instance, users can get details like store locations, directions, operating hours, order status, and much more with a few clicks. It enables your customers to keep all the information handy about your business at all times.
Something else to consider for chatbots, using a chatbot in any business process may increase customers’ satisfaction as it is available 24/7 to address customers’ needs.
Your customers and prospects are learning to interact with bots across the web to access services, purchase goods and get instant answers to their queries.
Chatbots will eventually transform the customer experience and the customer journey as we know it. Not only on the web, but chatbot agents are also being integrated into other forms: voice, mobile, among others. Don’t sleep on Chatbots in 2021!
One thing is certain, we all know “change is inevitable” (gotta love cliches) and while we are fairly confident in the tips we have published we should expect to see and feel unexpected changes as insurance digital marketing is a very competitive and dynamic industry.
Let us help you stay organized and focused on your zone of expertise.
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