Naked Web Marketing – Part 1

Less means more

It’s possible to do too much and it happens with SEO where sites get penalized by search engines for stuffing keywords. It happens with web design where the graphics compete too much by complicating the navigation and minimizing the marketing content. It happens in web marketing when the sales hype or the boastful language gets too repetitive and turns customers away.

The thing to remember about bragging is that when you really are that good other people do the bragging for you.

Is naked web marketing a frightening thought?

Marketing without pretense should be a welcome idea. You cannot get close to your market when you are not yourself. When you look and sound like something you are not how can your web market relate? And why is it so important to relate to your web market?

If you can’t relate to the person you are talking to then how can you create a customer relationship? But even before we build relationships we have to understand how different the web is from all other marketing mediums.

The web is not like anything we have known before, so we can toss out the idea that we can market like newspapers. We can toss out the idea that our web site can market like television with a bit of video. Nor is our web confined to marketing like print advertising. All of the above are too limiting.

There is no time or space on the web

The reality is that the web swallowed all those marketing mediums and then altered how they would be used on the web. It was not the web that adapted to earlier media, but rather the other way around.

In a medium that has eliminated time and distance the rules for marketing are going to change. The only limitations about time or distance for the web is that of hardware issues and the speed of light. For all intent when a web site gets published it is available to all people everywhere in the world – at once.

And then consider the volume of space that any web site can make use of. For small business web sites we can say the space is limitless because the hosted space is megabytes more than we need.

Our small business web site can pack enormous amounts of info and be accessible everywhere at once. We can work toward turning the accessibility into more visibility as we shuck off those pretentious robes and get real.

We can’t run out of time

Suppose your web site just went live today. In a year it will still be there. In 4 years it will still be there. Just keep paying your hosting fee and the site will always be there.

Newspapers come and go, TV channels come and go, Best sellers come and go, but your web is isn’t going anywhere. This is important to know.

Your web site is not going anywhere because it is actually a destination – not a vehicle. We are conditioned to think that our business web site is going somewhere, like up the ranks with search engines or maybe Oprah will feature our site and it will really get going.

The truth is that our web site is stationary and the only thing that moves is our market if, and when, we attract them.

The web has a huge marketing potential

So why is our business web site not reaching anywhere near its potential? The main reason, in my mind, is because we are not letting our web sites live up to the web’s potential. Our marketing is too limiting as it is based on old offline marketing concepts. The world has changed and we are still using 20th century marketing concepts.

The 20th century marketing methods were always based on our business, our products, our location and our services. This focus is no longer appropriate for web marketing.

Small business web sites will need to look away from their own self interests and use their web site to cater to the needs of their market. No business web sites are doing this, other than just paying lip service. Do you see your market as the boss and do you take the time to know them and to give them what they want?

Imagine your market as millions of tiny kings and queens which require your attention, and your web site as the servant giving them that attention. How would you like to serve a million kings and queens and take their gold?

What does the web do better than any other marketing medium?

I keep asking this question because the answer is going to put wind beneath your wings. The answer is simple and in hindsight it stands out as a no-brainer, and yet it seemed like a revelation at the time.

Do you want to try and answer that question on your own?

Naked web marketing (part 2) will start off answering this question and tie it into other naked marketing methods. The goal is to see how a shift in awareness can be an experience where you have both a change of mind – and a change of heart.

Insurance Agency Web Marketing Plans

As insurance agencies create their marketing plans for the upcoming year, many will focus on insurance agency web marketing as a key marketing driver to generate insurance agency leads. Web marketing is not merely a trend; it is a new way of doing business, and one which agencies cannot ignore. The days of agency growth from a purely referral driven perspective are gone, as more and more communication becomes virtual in nature, as networking moves from handshaking to internet surfing, and younger buyers embrace digital communication over face to face meetings.

Yet what does web marketing mean these days? According to Wikipedia, web marketing “refers to the placement of media along many different stages of the customer engagement cycle through search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), banner ads on specific websites, e-mail marketing, and Web 2.0 strategies.” This serves as a reasonable definition for our discussion, as we answer important questions relating to insurance agency web marketing: Let’s begin by identifying the key components of an insurance agency web marketing plan:

  • Agency Web Seminar Marketing
  • Blogging and Vlogging
  • Insurance Agency Website Design
  • Insurance eMarketing Campaigns
  • Insurance Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Insurance SEO (Insurance Agency Search Engine Optimization)
  • Pay Per Click (Google PPC, LinkedIn PPC, etc.)
  • Social Media Marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon)
  • Insurance Agency Telemarketing (augments web marketing)

Arguably, insurance agency web marketing always begins with a comprehensive insurance website redesign, unless the agency website was recently completed and is up to date. An insurance agency website must be graphically attractive, it should have current and compelling content, a blog (and vlog if possible), and industry news to mention a few important elements. Video is becoming increasingly more important as it provides a medium for the quick conveyance of information in a compelling and personal manner. Website video can also be leveraged on YouTube to further increase insurance agency internet presence. Vlogs, which are video blogs, can be very helpful to a website. Vlogs can be a talking head video, recorded PowerPoint presentation or even voice over photographs. They integrate the contextual power of a blog with the enhanced impact of a video or PowerPoint.

Content is king on the internet, and insurance agents should take great care in the creation of their website content. A graphically attractive website, short on content, will result in a sub-optimized insurance search engine marketing result, adversely impacting insurance agency SEO efforts and mitigating website stickiness and efficacy. These days, a key aspect of any insurance agency web marketing plan should include an annual review of website content. Further, the content should be of interest to both prospects and clients alike.

Social media marketing incorporates Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and StumbleUpon to mention just a few of the major opportunities, allowing agencies to dramatically expand their marketing reach. Social media marketing offers insurance agencies the ability to expand branding, share content, establish subject matter expertise and participate in discussions. There are many aspects of insurance social media marketing to consider. For example, a simple blog entry can be utilized in many ways to expand reach. A blog can be tweeted, reblogged, ePublished, and incorporated in a newsletter or eMarketing campaign. In this case, one blog is reused five times, though there are methods where one blog can be used ten or more times, dramatically expanding internet reach and enhancing cyber presence and insurance SEO. Why is social media marketing a critical component of an overall insurance agency web marketing plan? Social media marketing creates a cyber foundation for an agency to build upon. Ultimately, social media marketing, if used correctly, can become one of the key drivers for insurance agency leads. For the purposes of this article, we’ll add blogging and ePublishing to the social media marketing category since these are tightly interconnected. Blogs which are repurposed as articles can then be shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and StumbleUpon, helping insurance agency SEO.

Social media marketing along with insurance agency SEO help with organic search engine rankings. Another option is paid engine ranking placement otherwise known as PPC or Pay Per Click advertising. At the top and side of the organic SERP (search engine results page) are paid PPC ads. When an internet user clicks on one of these, your agency is charged a fee. These fees can range from under a dollar to $15 or more depending upon the competitiveness of the search term. For example, let’s say that your PPC keyword phrase is New York Business Insurance, and when someone types in that keyword phrase your PPC ad appears. Depending upon your budget and keyword phrase bid, you might appear on the top, and when someone clicks on the ad, you are charge a PPC fee, let’s say five dollars. The great thing about this is that the volume, efficacy and conversion ratio are really easy to track. The negative is, of course, that you are constantly paying out ad fees. Thus the difference between organic and PPC, and predicated on your insurance agency web marketing plan, you may have budget for only one or the other, or perhaps for both.

Web seminar and eMarketing campaigns represent a compelling outbound approach for agents. Agency webinars offer the ability to communicate on a high level with B2B prospects. eMarketing campaigns that offer educational content are much better received than insurance product offers or pitches. A long term approach to agency web seminar marketing can yield significant dividends, though it is important to note that eMarketing and web seminar programs can often take up to 6 months to establish a following.

Lastly, where and how does telemarketing fit in, after all, it is not technically a web marketing solution. Telemarketing, or in this case perhaps appointment setting is a better description, can be an important component of an overall web marketing plan. After all, these web marketing leads need to be followed up upon. If producers are busy with renewals, or if they only have time for warm prospects, the outsourcing an appointment setter can be very helpful to an agency’s overall pipeline building effort. For example, when doing an eMarketing campaign, all prospects who click through to an agency website and all webinar registrants should be called directly after the web seminar to ensure that the agency has taken advantage of their web marketing efforts. If producers don’t have the time to call, the calls should be done with a qualified appointment setter. After all, the primary purpose of any web marketing plan is to drive qualified leads into the pipeline.

Web Marketing Channels Work As A Team, Not Individuals

If you read the excellent Hubspot blog, you readily come across the statement that “email marketing converts higher than any other form of web marketing.” One of the reasons I believe this to be true, is down to the fact that an email is very much like a one on one conversation, we’re focused on it’s contents. This is in contrast to social media, or generic web pages where there are all kinds of distractions to take us away from a specific message. Now this doesn’t mean that we should focus all of our assets and attention on email marketing exclusively. I never really see web channels as been better or worse than each other, instead I find it’s more a case of looking at where they fit in to the overall goal of discovering and converting new people to your tribe. How do your web marketing channels play as part of your web marketing team?

If we see an email in our inbox from someone whom we trust, or want to connect with, we read it with a more focused intention then we would do a quick, fun post on someone’s Facebook page. Email and social media are very different kinds of web marketing channel. As briefly discussed above, email is more like a one-on-one conversation. Provided we feel a certain trust with the person who originally sent the email, we are happy to give its contents the same kind of attention as if they were speaking to us via the phone.

On the other hand, social media pages are bit like being in a bar – often a very crowded bar! We don’t have a lot of airspace to say too much or to be too sophisticated. If it wasn’t enough to have many others messaging around us, social media also often limits the number of characters we can actually type. To entice people to listen to us on social media, we have to deliver a message quickly and with lots of strong energy. We can use images, or video, to capture people’s eyes, but whether we use words or more, our overall aim should be to entice them enough to click through and join us somewhere less crowded, i.e. our own web pages.

Even when people are on our own web pages we still can’t quite get all deep and meaningful with them like we can on email! Right now, we need to impress them. We have their attention, now we need to fuel it further. What better way than giving them something really useful, interesting and above all, free? In other words, we are treating them – because we want to get to know them better. This also sounds very much like we’re bringing in another web marketing channel commonly known as content marketing too.If our treat is enticing enough, we should get our visitors email address and permission to contact them again soon. It’s from here that we can really start to bring email marketing to the fore, we’ve moved from the noisy web marketing channel of social media, through the enticing temptations of content marketing to the more personal and thoughtful channel of email.

How long should we leave before we contact our new connections? We probably need to give them enough time to digests whatever it is we gave them as our treat. Things move quickly in the online world, the noisy bars of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have lots of beautiful and enticing messages to click on instead. So, a good guide is to leave your people alone for a couple of days and then email. We’re within our email channel now and we can be more thoughtful and insightful, provided we don’t become boring. Ask how they got on with our treat? Do they have any questions? Then cover off a common question that we are often asked that we want to share the answer to with them. Include information on who we are and what we believe in, what makes us different to everybody else they can find out there within our world. Always invite responses, questions and feedback – after all, you’re getting to know your new connection a lot better now. Managed well, by combining the different merits of social media and email marketing together within one overall web marketing strategy, you’ll start to turn complete strangers into leads who open your emails and seek to do business with you, when their need arises.

For the purpose of this article, we have focused on social media and email marketing as two web marketing channels working together, albeit with a little help from content marketing too. Instead of being viewed as individual lead generation channels, they actually all need each other in order to entice and develop new relationships online. On its own, email marketing will struggle to entice the connections that social media can bring, whilst social media will struggle to convey the deeper conversations that email can. Both of them would achieve little without the content “treat” on offer. Your web marketing channels are a team, each with their own strengths and weaknesses that in turn, help them play an important part within your overall web marketing goals. It’s really less about what working and what isn’t, and more about how everything is working together and how that can be maximised that leads to successful web marketing overall.