Insurance Agency
 min read

Customer Journey 101: Best Practices to Streamline Your Insurance Processes

Published on
September 29, 2022
Ray Huang
Head of Marketing

Ray is the Head of Marketing at Canopy Connect and has helped dozens of startups and growth companies over his 20-year career to develop strategies and implement tactics that yield high-impact results.

Adopt these actionable best practices to ensure prospects can find your insurance agency at every stage of the customer journey.

Old business models and manual practices just won’t cut it in the automated future. For insurers, new client generation is essential to growing your business. And while the customer journey is different for everyone, the destination is the same—purchasing an insurance policy.

As an insurance producer, it’s your job to streamline the end-to-end customer experience, making it easy for them to find your company, understand your policies, and get quotes.

The buyer’s journey puts the customer first, which should be the primary goal for any insurance agency. This begins with awareness when buyers first realize their potential problem. Perhaps they get a signal to start thinking about insurance—like if a neighbor’s water heater bursts while on vacation. From here, they move to the consideration phase, where they ask pointed questions, such as:

  • What kind of insurance do I need?
  • Do I have enough coverage?
  • What providers are my peers and neighbors using?

Finally, in the decision phase, buyers take that critical step toward making purchases. They research and call different carriers, expecting quick quotes and optimal customer experiences—both attainable through modern technology.

Today’s insurance market is as technologically advanced as it’s ever been. As such, insurance agents must meet customers where they are—in the digital world—on their phones and social media platforms. This is especially true for Millenial and Gen Z buyers, whose lives intertwine with mobile technology.

In this article, you will learn some valuable best practices insurance agents and providers can leverage to streamline the customer journey through innovative technology.

Awareness Stage: Boost Your Brand Awareness

In the awareness stage, prospects haven’t identified a problem (or signs of a problem). But, as we all know, issues eventually arise. It may not happen to them directly, but something might happen to a friend or neighbor that gets the gears turning.

Perhaps one of their friends got into a car accident with an uninsured driver. Maybe they are considering a new home or vehicle themselves? In either case, your goal as an insurance agent is to ensure they find your brand during the awareness stage. Digital marketing and social media will be your golden tickets to new client acquisition.

1. Establish a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase work smarter, not harder, right?

Digital marketing is your key to spreading brand awareness quickly and efficiently while minimizing your labor input. There are more than enough digital marketing avenues to choose from—and all of them will help grow your customer base, increase conversions, and win more business. But where should you begin?

The crucial first step is to define your target audience. Your current customer base is likely full of older clients. Unfortunately, the marketing strategies you used to attract them might not work for Millennial and Gen Z prospects.

Remember, younger generations are incredibly tech-savvy. They’d prefer to do everything online or from their phones, instead of walking into an office and speaking in person. Since they’re your target audience, you must develop marketing messages that appeal to them.

With those messages in hand, the next step is advertising on the digital platforms where they spend most of their time. Ideally, your messaging gets them to click on your agency's website.

Once they’re on the website, your goal is to keep them there. That means building a site that seamlessly guides them through the customer journey. A highly organized and efficient page that puts essential information first. Prospects can easily navigate between pages and contact you via their preferred method (email, phone call, chatbot). Don’t put web design on the back burner—research shows that 94% of first impressions are based on your company’s web design.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-Per-Click ads (PPC) are what they sound like—you only pay when someone clicks on the ad. PPC ads appear at the top of the search results, even above organic ones. You’ve probably seen a handful today—they’re the search results with the word “Ad” next to the URL.

But prospects don’t even have to click on the ad for them to be effective. Simply appearing at the top of the search results builds brand awareness. We’re conditioned to think that whatever Google puts first is the best option.

Of course, PPC ads and other digital marketing strategies are reliant on a quality website experience that is visually and technically well-designed, functional, and also relevant. A landing page from an ad should echo the message in your ad—this relevancy will make your ad more likely to show up at a lower cost, and increase the likelihood of a conversion. Consider targeting long-tail keywords with three or more words like “home insurance company” to drive traffic to your site. And localization is important too. Adding local keywords to make sure you show up on local searches.

2. Leverage Social Media to Create Connections

More prospects are doing research online than ever before. Without an effective social media strategy, your agency will fall into the endless void of web pages and search results. Let’s explore some best practices for building and implementing your social media strategy.

Your social media content should build genuine connections with your target audience. The modern social media user can easily distinguish between blatant self-promotion and quality content, trusting the latter over the former. So the first step is to build trust among your audience members. Do this by:

Delivering High-Quality Content

Content is the backbone of your social media marketing strategy. Your posts should be informative, educational, and helpful for the consumer—not just obvious we’re the best! self-promotions.

A good rule of thumb is to educate them about a general topic—such as “The Top 5 Things To Know Before Buying Your First Home”—and then offer reasons why your company is the best solution for home insurance. Insurance agencies can also leverage quick explainer videos with digestible language, FAQs with simplified answers, and interactive forms like investment and expense calculators.

In the end, you want to provide content that prospects might look for in the early stages of their customer journey. If they trust your content, they’re more likely to trust your brand when it comes to buying.

Understanding Different Social Media Platforms

People interact differently with content between social media channels, and the creative media you choose will be different too. For example, a high-quality text post on LinkedIn might not have the same effect on Instagram, which itself is shifting from prioritizing photos to video content Ensure you understand the tone of each social media platform and generate content tailored to those tones.

LinkedIn can be thought of as a business networking event—be friendly but professional, educate your prospects, peers, and partners, and talk about results and ROI. Videos and longer text posts work well here, as do illustrative slides.

Facebook is like going to an old high school friend's party—you know a few people very well, lots of acquaintances, and even more friends of friends that you barely know. Share first-hand experiences, retell compelling stories you've heard, and give just a bit behind the scenes.

Instagram is similar to Facebook but leading with video content. So put your phone on a selfie-stick or tri-pod and tell those stories—or better yet show those stories, but start strong to capture and hold the audiences attention before the keep on scrolling.

TikTok is the new kid on the block, and there's a lot of opportunity to grow quickly if you put out the right video content. TikTok is interest-based which means it's less about followers, and more about showing your video to people that are interested in your video's content itself, and then showing your video to people that are interested in similar things as the people that watched your video. It's not uncommon for something to get thousands of views with only 20 followers and having published 10 videos.

Engaging with Your Followers

Social media platforms foster back-and-forth conversations. Posting and ignoring your commenters is an easy way to betray your audience’s trust. Instead, take the time to interact with them—respond with a human answer while staying on-brand.

For example, if they pose a question about a specific policy, provide a quick answer with a link to more information. Keep your tone in check when responding to positive and negative comments, and consult the customer success team when unsure how to proceed.

Leveraging Online Reviews

While customer reviews and comments can be daunting, they are integral to your social media marketing campaign. Think of them as the social proof new customers need before proceeding. Photos, testimonial videos, and client success stories are a few ways to humanize your brand for new clients. Even a slight increase in satisfaction can have exponential windfalls.

Consideration Stage: Be Found, Then Educate

At this stage in the customer journey, prospects know their issues and pain points. They’re seeking solutions, but for the most part, are still researching different insurance providers. You can think of it as education mode. Prospects seek and absorb information to feel more knowledgeable and confident. As an insurance agent, it’s your job to be there when they look for you.

3. Reach Prospects in the Community Through Hyperlocal Marketing and SEO

Hyperlocal marketing narrows your focus within a small community—perhaps even a specific neighborhood in a large town. This approach helps attract prospects within your community, allowing you to build your business on a local level before expanding outward. You can rank significantly higher in geo-based searches by fine-tuning your local SEO.

A survey of 3500 digital marketers found that 63% are leaning on local marketing with plans to increase budget spending in those markets. This trend doesn’t come without robust backing data either. According to Google, ‘near me’ searches increased by 500% between 2016 and 2018.

Consumers want providers that meet their immediate needs. If your hyperlocal marketing strategies aren’t up to par, you may lose business to your neighbor.

How can insurance agents leverage hyperlocal marketing to reach new customers within their communities?

Google Listings

Almost all of your new customers will Google your company. If Google doesn't tell them your location, operating hours, contact info, and website, they’ll probably move on to the next result. Make sure you’re Googling your business to see what comes up and how you can improve your listing.

Hyperlocal Email Campaigns

Take your mailing list to the next level by sending various emails to customers in different locations, offering special promotions in their specific areas. The more relevant your emails are to the prospect, the more likely they are to open and engage.

Google Business Profiles

The most important thing you can do regarding your local SEO is to claim and complete your Google Business Profile. Include as many details as possible specific to your insurance agency. A well-rounded profile increases your chances of appearing in the first three listings next to the map—and most people don’t scroll beyond the first few results.

For the best local SEO results:

  • Maintain consistency among your NAP (name, address, and phone number) listings. These need to be consistent everywhere on the internet where customers can find your business (your website, Google listing, Yelp, social media)
  • Keep mobile users in mind when building your website
  • Perform keyword research to see what’s trending in specific areas

You can also do a little groundwork by networking with local businesses. People want to see you’re part of the community, and not just here to make money.

Local Podcasts

Podcasts are great for local PR. You can seek out sponsorship opportunities, request to be a guest on a podcast, or better yet–start your own podcast!

Starting a local podcast to interview prospective clients and potential referral partners is also an amazing network-building strategy that will assist potential customers along in the consideration stage.

Guests get to talk about their business and their place in the industry and in turn you promote their business to the public. By showcasing them instead of pitching them, you build a relationship with more opportunities than just a single transaction sale.

In the podcast, you can chat about their struggles and challenges and offer insight as not only an insurance agent but as a business connection. Conversations like these build strong trust. The goal is to offer value as an insurance agent operating a business. It’s a win/win!

The reason why I started that local podcast is so I could interview prospective clients and referral partners, letting them come on my show, me interviewing them, letting them talk about their business.
Mitch Gibson, Host of The MVP Podcast and Inside Hancock County podcast

4. Educate Using Compelling Content

Insurance policies contain industry jargon, complicated language, and fine print. Potential customers may struggle to understand what you’re offering, and will likely choose a provider that gives them simple answers to complex questions.

At this stage in the customer journey, you double as an agent and educator who'll guide prospects through the purchase procedure. In this insurance classroom, you build trust and confidence with potential buyers.

More often than not, the internet is the first place people turn when they have a question. Make sure your content ranks among the top Google results and answers their questions in a way they understand. Don’t focus on the hard sell when building your content strategy. Instead, inform or enlighten your customers about general problems in their lives. How-to blogs, tips and tricks, and listicles are a few high-quality topics you can tackle.

Example Video from The McBride Agency
At The McBride Agency, we understand that everyone learns or wants to consume content in a way that works best for them. That's why we decided to create videos as well as written content to better serve our customers and prospects.

Videos are a great way to provide information in an engaging and visually appealing way. They're also great for people who prefer to learn by watching and listening, rather than reading. Plus, video content is easy to share, making it a great marketing tool. We're confident that our video content will help us reach more people and better serve our audience.

Patrick McBride, Owner of The McBride Agency

But some prospects have different learning styles and may not be interested in reading blog posts. Make sure you’re leveraging other mediums to deliver quality, educational content. Consider infographics, slide decks, and videos for visual learners. Podcasts are great for people with long work commutes, and easy FAQs help customers find specific answers to common questions. Test these mediums to see how your customers respond.

You may have the most informative content in the world, but it still has to pass the SEO litmus test. Google loves content that backlinks to authoritative sources. Network with other brands and blog pages, and build credibility by linking back to your company. Google also favors companies that produce regular content—just don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

Social media to promote and share your educational content. Engaging headlines, taglines, and feature images are a few ways to get people to click off Facebook and onto your insurance company’s blog post.

Decision Stage: Provide Seamless Client Engagement and Closing

Every customer journey ends the same way—with a decision. They’ll either choose your company, a competitor company or just forgo coverage altogether. Your goal is to be there when they’re ready to decide (ideally choosing your agency).

At this stage, prospects are aware of their problem and think they know how to fix it. They’ve done their research, and now they’re on your website. Maybe they’re even trying to call your office! It’s crucial that you’re able to connect with them and guide them through to the end. Don’t let them think they know how to fix their problem. Engage them with the answers they need and close the sale.

5. Optimize Your Forms for Seamless Client Information Collection

Nobody enjoys filling out forms. They’re confusing, cumbersome, time-consuming, and frustrating. And because there are so many factors to consider when setting rates, insurance agencies have some of the most complex forms around.

Giving new prospects a physical or digital clipboard of paperwork is the easiest way to turn them off. They want quick quotes without the hassle of unnecessary inquiries and long forms. So what are some best practices you can adopt to optimize your forms, in order to streamline the customer journey?

Be Up-Front

Let your customers know the information they need before beginning the form. For example, most people don’t know their car’s VIN by heart. Nobody wants to run to the glove box mid-way through an insurance form. Curate a bulleted list of everything a prospect will need to complete the form, ensuring you’re only asking for essential information.

Use Multiple Pages

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, most people would rather click through 10 pages with one or two questions each than stare at a single page asking them 25 questions. Group-related questions on individual pages—and then move on to the next.

Leverage Inline Validation

Have you ever filled out a form, clicked Submit, and received an error message saying something was wrong? It’s annoying, isn’t it? When building your insurance forms, make sure they provide inline validation—they tell customers when they’ve made a mistake as soon as they make it. For example, if they miss a digit in their SS number or forget the area code in their phone number, alert them right away.

Consider Canopy Connect

What if your customers didn’t have to fill out any forms? What if they could log into their current provider’s account and quickly provide all the necessary information in seconds?

Canopy Connect lets insurance agents see their prospect’s current policies, limits, deductibles, premiums, and VINs within seconds. This helps uncover valuable upsell opportunities quickly—and can save upwards of 30 minutes per customer.

With Canopy Connect, all agents need to do is send their prospect a link via email, text, or QR code. Then, the customer will authorize Canopy Connect to share their insurance data in seconds.

Canopy Connect works with nearly 200 carriers, making it easy for prospects to find their providers from a drop-down menu or search bar. The only forms they’ll need to fill out are their username and password. Canopy Connect handles the rest.

6. Closing While on the Call

Sales calls and sales meetings are two different animals. Face-to-face meetings allow you to read a prospect's body language and adjust your pitch accordingly. A sales call strips all that non-verbal communication away. You won’t even know if they’re paying attention. Still, sales calls are the most efficient way to reach more prospects in less time. Despite their limitations, you can still close more sales if you employ the right tactics.

Less is More

You might think people want more options, but that’s not necessarily true. Too many options can cause anxiety and doubt. It’s hard to recognize the nuances between each policy when confronted with 15 choices.

Instead, present prospects with options directly relevant to their needs and situations. Only touch on a handful of bullet points related to each, and then go into more detail once they’ve made a decision. Ideally, you’ve sourced enough information through the phone call to whittle your policy options down to two or three.

Nobody Likes to Lose

Leverage the fear of losing something instead of telling prospects how much they could save.

For example, say, “You could lose $5,000 annually if you don’t have this kind of coverage” instead of “This kind of coverage could save you $5,000 annually.” The difference is subtle, but it goes a long way. People, by nature, try to avoid risk. Highlighting the potential for loss triggers that risk aversion.

Get Emotional

No, we don’t mean to beg and plead until they agree to buy insurance. Instead, play on basic human emotions like pride, fear, altruism, and shame to close more sales. We know how powerful fear is—but what about the others?

  • Altruism is about how buying this product will affect others. If you’re selling life insurance, you might say, “Think about how buying this policy will benefit your family if something happens to you.”
  • Pride makes the prospect feel better about themselves. The same life insurance agent could say, “You’ll be a step ahead of your peers by setting up this policy.”
  • Shame magnifies the consequences of not buying the policy. You might say, “Imagine if something happened to you. Could your family afford the cost of care?”

Sell Value

Some prospects might hear your entire pitch and then hang up when you mention the price. That’s because you didn’t sell them on the value of this policy and how it relates to them specifically.

As soon as possible, determine what the prospect values in their life: family, assets, financial security, integrity, or peace of mind. Then, sell that value alongside the insurance.

Streamline Your Insurance Customer Journey With Canopy Connect

Every step of the customer journey features important milestones that you need to hit. You must connect with them before they pick up the phone—even before they think they need insurance. Digital marketing strategies, SEO-friendly content, and hyperlocal marketing techniques can help get the ball rolling.

But getting the word out doesn’t stop at posting on social media and buying ad time on local radio shows. Insurance agencies must produce regular, informative, and authoritative content to build trust among their prospects. Then they must nurture that trust through genuine engagement.

Don’t waste all that effort with complicated forms that drive customers away. Instead, partner with Canopy Connect and send all your digital forms through the proverbial shredder. Canopy Connect allows you to access all your prospect’s key insurance information in seconds, saving you time and money.

Sign up with Canopy Connect today to streamline the customer journey, generate new customers, and boost company revenue.