May 25, 2016 | Sarah Danks
The Goal: Lead Generation
For years now we here at ThinkSEM have known that we’re good at lead generation. We help our professional services clients attract the leads that matter most. While we service a wide variety of businesses, one genre we’re pleased to serve is the insurance industry.
For an insurance agency to thrive in today’s online market, potential customers need to be able to quickly and easily:
- find the insurance information they’re looking for, and
- contact an agent.
As with any industry, our clients are far too busy doing what they do best (helping their customers) to have to worry about being marketing experts.
That’s where we come in.
Our team has achieved impressive results for independent insurance agencies, agents and brokers using a variety of marketing methods. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to any marketing campaign, we do tend to focus on the following four online marketing tools:
This will be a 4-part series of blog posts in which we’ll be talking in depth about the aforementioned online marketing aspects. In this, the first of the four, I’ll be talking about great web design and how it helps our insurance agency clients achieve their goals.
So, let’s talk websites.
The Strategy: Great Web Design
Designing an effective business website doesn’t just happen; there’s a lot of planning and strategy involved. Of course, not all websites are created equal, but the following attributes are what we focus on to achieve results when designing client websites:
- Good user experience (UX)
- Consistent contact information
- KIS (Keeping it Simple)
But, there’s far more behind-the-scenes work than a mere item on a checklist.
Good UX is a must on any website — especially one built to generate leads. Visitors shouldn’t have to hunt for the information they need, nor should they be bombarded with content, visuals, buttons, navigation or any other distractions that don’t immediately help them get where they want to go.
Key elements to a good user experience are navigation, content, and purpose.
Easy to Navigate
If a website isn’t intuitively easy to navigate, visitors are likely to get frustrated and leave — regardless of how good your content is.
To that end, we build our insurance websites with clean, easy-to-access navigation that ensures potential customers (or returning clients!) can easily find the website content they want.
Good, clean navigation is like the bone structure of a website — be sure it’s strong and supports the content well!
“Good” is one of those words that we humans most often pull from connotation instead of denotation. That is to say, what one person thinks is good, another might consider mediocre. And beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder.
In regards to web content, you need to focus on what your visitors behold. If navigation is the bones of your site, then content is definitely the viscera. It’s vitally important to the workings of the website overall, and needs to fulfill its purpose and keep everything running smoothly.
Visitors want to consume content when they get to a website. If they can’t find what they need, or the content isn’t well-written — or helpful — you’ll end up losing traffic to that dreaded “back” button.
Write content that speaks to the audience, answers their questions, and hits pain points. After all:
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”
~ Andrew Davis
In our world, “good content” means it’s relevant and helpful to the website visitors, and ultimately successful for our clients in obtaining quality leads.
Hand-in-hand with content goes the website’s purpose — namely, does it have one? It should, if you expect it to be efficient. Everything within the website (content, navigation, imagery, calls-to-action) needs to point to the main goal.
Again, our insurance clients need web visitors to fill out a form or call them. So, the purpose of our insurance websites are simple: lead visitors to conversion.
2) Contact Info
Even though people search the web for information, many still like to pick up the phone and call, instead of filling out a form or sending an email.
We make it easy for visitors to be able to contact the insurance agency quickly — regardless of their choice of contact, be it phone numbers, contact form, or even directions to the agency.
While the above example is the actual Contact page on this particular website, you don’t want visitors to have to navigate to that page to find contact information — use calls-to-action throughout the site to let them know how to get in touch.
They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Well, on a website you need to do just that — but it all starts with calls-to-action (CTAs). Make it easy for web visitors to know what you want them to do…
By telling them, of course.
When people are looking for insurance agents, the main concern is getting a quote for services.
Lead visitors to the goal of the website — conversion, or in simple terms, contacting the agency — by simply telling them to do so.
There’s an entire subdivision of online marketing called conversion rate optimization (CRO) devoted to getting the best conversion rates possible. While there are many, many “rules” within this aspect of lead generation, we tend to blend the best practices of CRO with what our clients want.
I.e., many CRO experts purport that you must use a certain color scheme for the CTA button. Whatever you do, whichever colors you choose, make CTAs easy to see by using a color that contrasts with the rest of the website’s theme, while still adhering to the client’s color palette.
Long story short: Make CTAs easy to understand, easy to read and, most of all, easy to find.
Of course, the CTA button has to lead the visitor to something — and most often that’s a contact form.
As I mentioned earlier, not all visitors want to contact an insurance agency in the same manner…
…but contact forms are so ubiquitous across the web these days — not only that; they’re everywhere — that it’s become commonplace to put them front-and-center for visitors to fill out, while still offering secondary forms (phone numbers or even addresses).
As with anything related to marketing, keeping things simple vs. complex tends to work the best, and the same goes with contact forms.
There’s definitely a balance between asking too many or too few questions on the contact form. It’s important to optimize lead generation forms to ensure you’re not asking for too much — or too little!
We don’t inundate visitors with too many form fields — that can be a big turn-off — but we also want to ensure our insurance agency clients get the information they need to qualify their leads.
Another website aspect that is becoming more universally used is responsive web design.
3) Responsive Web Design
Back when responsive web design (RWD) was introduced across the web, there were many who thought it was just another design trend. Boy, were they wrong!
We design only responsive sites here — regardless of type of business, or products offered — and it’s a standard we believe every web design company should adhere to.
Not only do most people have access to Internet in this day and age, they’re accessing information across multiple devices — many of them hand-held. The importance of having a responsive website is more important now than ever.
Your content needs to be easily accessible via any device potential customers could be using — whether that’s a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
There’s more to RWD than simply being able to “show up” on various screen sizes. If a web developer doesn’t truly know how to build a responsive site, you could end up with a website that will “show” on multiple devices but it won’t be user-friendly.
Basically you want your website to be “mobile-friendly,” which equates to responsive. But the ability to test your responsive website on each and every single mobile device, screen size variation, etc. isn’t realistic.
Fortunately there are tools at your disposal to help you determine if your website is, in fact, mobile-friendly. We like Google’s own mobile-friendly test:
Now, a major part of being mobile-friendly is having a website that’s quick to load — you don’t want mobile (or any other!) visitors waiting and waiting while all your huge images load, then the navigation fills in, etc.
Odds are, if a site takes more than 5 seconds to load, you’re going to lose those visitors to a competitor’s site that renders quickly.
“Going mobile” is all about accessibility; no one wants to wait for anything anymore. That goes for web content, too.
The quicker a website loads, the quicker visitors can access the content…
…and it also helps with SEO, too.
We like to use GTmetrix to assess website speed — it pulls from various sources so you get a lot of information packed into one screen.
Big things to think about that can slow site load times:
- Large image sizes
- Query strings
- Browser cashing
- Bad requests
So you can see it’s not enough just to build a responsive website — there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that needs to happen to make it a successful RWD.
4) Keeping It Simple
And, last but certainly not least, when it comes to professional services websites: we don’t overthink it. Ultimately the client wants leads; so we build a website that delivers.
We don’t focus on bells and whistles, the latest trends or snazzy design elements that don’t support the website’s purpose.
Our insurance clients know what they need — so we start with the main goal of the website and work backwards from there. There’s no need to make web design harder than it needs to be; we simply build the site our client needs to make their business successful.
Excess is overkill.
Every client is different — even with the insurance industry — so we know a cookie-cutter approach won’t work! If they need a custom website, we build it to their needs. If they don’t need to go all-out, then we know a clean, simple website will work beautifully for them.
In other words, we don’t build huge, built-from-scratch custom website with a ton of cool functionality for our clients if all that’s needed is a simple web theme to get the job done.
The Conclusion: Build it Right
I hate to use a cliché, but at the end of the day, your client has a need that you can fulfill. So fulfill it!
Again, since we’re talking about our independent insurance agency clients, we know they want a website that garners them leads and is helpful to their existing customers.
To that end, we focus on great web design that incorporates good UX, easy-to-access contact information, helpful content and the ability to work well across any device.
And, above all that: we like to keep it simple. After all:
“Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the customer wants to buy and help them do so.”
~ Bryan Eisenberg
You can look at all the analytics you want to measure a website’s success…
…but ultimately it’s our clients that tell us they’re happy with what we’ve built. And that’s a reward we love getting!