It seems that everywhere you turn, someone will tell you about the latest and greatest way to market your insurance agency. Whether it’s the latest social media craze, or a new automated tool, there is always something new in marketing. However, with the rush to these shiny new marketing tactics, agencies sometimes forget a proven “old” marketing strategy, your blog.
Great marketing professionals will tell you…
“Content is King!”
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” –Content Marketing Institute
These marketers understand content marketing is one of the most critical aspects to a good marketing plan. Blogging is an older yet still powerful way to deliver quality content to your audience.
You may be asking:
“Is blogging right for my agency?”
“How do I make my blog more successful?
“I’ve never blogged before, how do I start?
A blog is proven and easy way for your target audience to learn about your expertise. If done correctly, a blog will provide your prospects and customers with relevant, helpful content that will establish you as the credible authority in your field.
A blog will also provide SEO (Search Engine Optimization) benefits for your website, as long as the blog is a page on your site or embedded onto a page on your site. One of the easiest and cost effective ways to drive up your Google ranking is by blogging and delivery valuable content to your target market.
Google has consistently stated it will give more credit to content that is new, consistent and relevant to users. There's no panacea or ‘magic bullet’ fast track to the top of the Google search rankings. Slow and steady is the effective and organic way to do so.
With that in mind, the challenge of blogging is the time it requires to write and deliver quality content. Knowing this, many marketing firms will sell services that will blog on your behalf. My personal recommendation is to avoid paying for this service. The only exception is the firm is actually writing original content on your behalf. However, most firms utilize the same canned content for everyone they work with.
Warning! Do not use canned content. Remember, Google rewards original content, not duplicate content for SEO. You will spend a great deal of money and improve your SEO due to the duplicate content. In addition, a blog is your opportunity to show case also, your voice and knowledge. Canned content will not do this for you.
With that said, there is debate about the minimum amount of blog posts you should be publishing per week. Different experts will give you different numbers that are considered ‘optimal’. The key is to keep in mind Google's preference for updated and steady content.
Depending on your situation, I recommend writing one to two blogs per week. Don’t compare yourself to professional blogging sites that pump out daily blogs. Aim for a minimum of 250 words. Studies have show that blogs over 1000 words do better with SEO, especially if you have a long content rich post. Again, these aren’t hard guidelines. Do what’s natural for you. Don’t take 1000 words to write something that you normally could do in 600.
This may seem daunting at first, but as with everything else, you must set time aside to work on it. It does not have to be done during the day. You can set up an evening or an afternoon on the weekend and write some blogs. Blog sites all have the capability for you to schedule when your blogs are published. You can literally write a month’s worth of blogs in one day, and schedule to publish them throughout the month.
If you have never written a blog, it’s easy to start. There are many services available, including free ones like Blogger, which is hosted by Google and you sign up through your Gmail account, or your Wordpress website or other websites builders may already have blogs built in.
No matter how many times you decide to post per week or per month, the key is to be consistent. Don’t post 5 blogs one week then disappear for the next two months. Steady and consistent is not just important for Google, but for your target audience as well.
Now that you know the value of blogging, what should you write about?
It is true that bad or irrelevant content is as bad as not having a blog at all. So, here are some tips to blogging that will help you position yourself as the expert in your industry and get rewarded by Google at the same time.
1. Content and information relevant to your target market
This is your time to talk about your core business topics. Remember; don’t talk just about you, your services or your credentials. Focus on quality content that your target market will find useful, and consider you as an expert in the field. Write about topics they may be searching for or have questions on.
What are questions you get asked often?
What information is critical for your target market to know?
For example, if you are an insurance agent specializing in Medicare and there is a new change in Medicare benefits, a great blog post would cover these changes or relevant info pertaining to them. You could title it ‘Medicare Changes You Need to Know’ and phrase it as an insightful, inside look at how Medicare has changed and what that could mean for Medicare recipients.
2. Local Events
Sprinkling in blogs about local events and tying them back into what you do is a great way for Google to take notice and gain credit with them in local search return results.
For example, if you live in a beach town that has great festivals during summer weekends, consider writing about your participation or provide suggestions for parking, great local restaurants or activities at the beach.
These local events blogs are valuable because Google will recognize that you're a part of the community and give it keyword clues about your location, which will help you boost your location’s rankings. Your local blog posts are a good break from your usual posts about business and are as valuable in their own way as the subject matter posts you make.
The goal of these posts is to help your business come out on top in your location because of the connection and keyword clues mentioned above. For example, if somebody searches for "auto insurance agent, Santa Cruz, CA" you may show up because of both your business blog posts and your location-based community based blog post.
Remember, when it comes to using key words for your location and industry in blogs, do it in the context of your writing. For example, "As a 20 year health insurance agent and resident of Boise, ID, I'm always surprised when..."
Another key reason for these posts is that they make you feel real and human. These posts increase your likability and make you seem more down to earth. When someone discovers your posts, they will enjoy reading them for your professional advice and also feel some connection to you as well. The reader won’t view you as another faceless business.
The reader will view your blog posts about the community and understand that you are a real person who has a great deal of knowledge and seems very invested in the community. That person is more likely to pick up the phone and give you a call.
3. Be Natural
This recommendation ties to point number two. You don't always have to sound like the smartest person or like you are preaching from the ivory tower. Your prospects, clients, and Google like to see content and blog posts that are from normal people. In addition, readers connect more with stories and conversations than just a lecture or dry content.
For example, our blog “How Being a Band Nerd Taught Me to Win,” was one of the most read, engaged and interactive posts we had last year. This was because the point was delivered through a real story and experience of mine that many people were able to relate with through their own experiences.
The same holds true for your blogs and the other content you provide. The more you can utilize story telling and personal experience, the more engaged your target audience would be.
As for when to blog about your core business vs. community, a general guideline is to split them in half. So if you are blogging four times a month, twice a month goes to business posts, and twice a month goes to local, personal stories.
4. Utilize and connect your other channels to help deliver your blog. Utilize social channels like Facebook and LinkedIn to let your audience learn about your new blog. You can also email your clients or prospects when you have a new blog posted. Email marketing services like Getresponse can handle this easily for you.
At the end of the day, remember that people like to do business with people they know, even if it’s just a voice through written words on a blog. Blogging is a valuable tool that provides you a platform to deliver great content, establishes you as a credible thought leader, while providing SEO benefits.
Whether or not blogging is right for your agency will depend on your agency and your situation. As with any other marketing strategy, evaluate your goals and expected ROI with your available resources.