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Category: Digital · 6 min read

Thriving in the Digital Age, Part 4: Websites, Collateral, Emails, Oh My!

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on July 25, 2019

author profile photo

on July 25, 2019

several professionals going over notes

Let’s talk about where the rubber really meets the road when it comes to your brand and the digital age. The final step in creating a brand that people will find credible is to execute your brand professionally, effectively, and consistently through a variety of digital channels. You wouldn’t go to a business meeting in your sweats would you? Of course not! So, make sure your brand is wearing a nice, tailored suit that looks right for the party. 

To reach your customers, it helps to understand the key channels to market to them, know how to navigate them, and highlight what makes you different. What are the key channels? We’ll start with three out of the four: websites, collateral, and emails. Let’s go through each of them and identify how you can optimize them for your brand. 

 

1. Websites 

Websites tell us a lot about a business. Do they seem legitimate, professional, or friendly? What are they passionate about and focused on? What do they do and offer? It also lends credibility and helps a customer feel like they are working with a professional. People come to your website to learn more about you, what you do, and most importantly, what you can do for them. This may be their first impression of your company and your brand, and you only get one chance to make a first impression, so it has to be good. How’s your ”about us” page? That’s one of the first places people go. 

 

A Clear Objective 

To create an effective website, start by setting an objective. A website without a clear objective is doomed from the start. Your objective may be to build awareness of your business by sharing your information, get customers to set appointments with you, or attend your events, etc. It’s important to think about “what do I want it to do” when it comes to your overall objective, and remember that this is how you bring your brand to life.  

Next, it’s a good idea to take a look at websites you like or use a lot. What do you like about them? What makes them work well? How is the information organized? Use this to help organize your own website.  

You’ve likely done this one, but make sure to check your competitor’s sites and see what they are saying and how they are saying it. Remember, you want to make sure you set yourself apart, so that means you need to be unique and different than your competitors.  

Because your site is so important, let’s stay on the website topic a little longer and look at a few easy ways to make your website better serve your visitors and potential clients.  

 

Make it Mobile Optimized 

If you’re like me, you count on your mobile device to get you where you need to be, look up information, you name it. I hate to admit it, but I would definitely be lost without my phone. It shouldn’t really be a surprise then that more people today access the internet on their mobile devices than they do on their desktop.1

So, clearly, it’s important to think about how it will work on mobile when building your website, but you’re probably wondering what a BAD (non-optimized) site might look like on mobile. 
 
Let’s take a look!  

mobile optimized example
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Pizza Hut example clearly shows the difference between these two experiences. Imagine you’re like me and you’re busy on the weekend, getting the kids from one soccer game to another, and you decide to hop on your phone and order pizza to pick up on your way home. Consider the frustration you would have trying to complete this order with the tiny text and miniature version of the site on the left. How much easier would it be to use the site on the right to complete that task? No brainer, right? Don’t frustrate your customers with something as avoidable as this.  

Wondering if your site is already mobile-optimized? Try Google’s free mobile-friendly website test. Just plug in your website URL and hit “Run Test.”  

So, how do you go about making a site that is optimized and responsive? I’m glad you asked. It’s really not too tough. 

 

Hire Someone or Do it Yourself 

If you don’t want the hassle of trying to do it yourself, your first option is to hire someone. They can handle everything from building your site and developing the content to tell your story, to handling all the details of hosting and designing, as well as analytics. You can do a Google search for a local marketing firm or design shop in your area (although they don’t have to be local). They may cost a bit more, but usually they can handle the entire thing for you.  

Another option is to consider hiring a freelancer. And, the truth is, in this digital age, they don’t necessarily need to be local. If you go the “hire-a-pro” route, be prepared to spend $8,000 to $20,000. Here are some sites where you can hire a freelancer: Fiverr, Upwork, or Behance. Each of these operate a bit differently, but most will give you the opportunity to post your assignment and have people reach out to you, or you can select a designer that you like from the site. Again, this can be an easy and affordable way to have a truly professional and functioning site. One important thing to consider when going the freelance route is whether or not you’ll need help telling your story. Don’t underestimate the power of compelling copywriting and writing, specifically with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind, so that you show up in searches as much as possible.  

The second option is to do it yourself. If you’re a hands-on person and you are pretty tech-savvy, this can be an affordable alternative. You could have your site up and running for less than $1,000 a year. There are some really great resources out there with very customizable professional templates and a drag-and-drop kind of design experience that are fairly easy to use. Let’s cover some of those now. 

There are several companies that are killing it out there in the professional template site space. Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly are a few of the leaders in the category. You don’t have to know any code or programming. It’s all pretty drag-and-drop. You can customize as much or as little as you like, and each of them have stock photography options available for your site. They are subscription-based models, so check them out to see which service is right for you. I recommend going to each one and exploring the templates to see if there is something you like, and checking out some of their videos on how it all works before committing.  

Don’t underestimate the power of compelling copywriting and writing, specifically with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind, so that you show up in searches as much as possible.

No matter the options or web partner you choose, make sure your website checks all of these boxes to build a site that really works: 

  1. You have a clear objective for your site. Like we talked about earlier…what do we want it to do for us? 
  2. It needs to tell your brand’s story. Make sure your points of differentiation that make you different from the guy down the street are being told. 
  3. How will it answer the “why should I care” question for the customer? Make sure it matters to the customer and it’s built with a customer-first mindset. 
  4. It needs to be easy to navigate. Can people find what they are looking for easily? Is information organized clearly? A good way to test this out is to share a link with your friends and family before you launch. Give them a task to do on the site and see if it’s easy for them to complete.  
  5. It must display well on your phone or tablet. Like we mentioned before, it’s very likely that much of your site traffic will be from a mobile device.  
  6. Does each page have a clear call-to-action? Each page on your site has a different reason for being there. What do you want the customer to do on that page? Learn more, read more, contact you, or get started? Think about what is right based on what you are saying on the page.  

 

2. Collateral 

Now let’s move on to collateral. When you think of collateral like brochures, sales sheets, and fact sheets, digital probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But let’s say you’ve got a big meeting with a prospect and you want to send them something on your company. What do you do? Not unlike your website, collateral is an important part of your marketing toolkit.  

Now, chances are you aren’t a graphic designer. That’s okay. I’m not either, but just like we discussed with your website, you can hire someone to help you with this. In fact, if you use a marketing firm or a freelancer, you can have them develop some of the toolkit pieces at one time to ensure a solid cohesive story and look to them all.  

There are also templates you can find at places like iStock, but it can be tricky without access to the right design software. I really advise you to leave this one up to the pros. Remember the freelance resources we discussed earlier when talking about web design? Those same resources are a few options that apply here, too: Fiverr, Upwork, and Behance. 

One important tip for you: Don’t try to be all things to all people. There’s a temptation to put everything in your brochure and jam-pack it full of information. DO NOT do that. Remember, it’s important to stay focused on what truly matters, and cut the rest. Take what makes you different and include that. That’s the sweet spot. That’s where you can make an impact with your marketing.  

At the same time, make sure you keep all of your collateral compliant by following your state insurance department’s guidelines for advertising. And, don’t forget, because we’re in a digital age, to have those sales sheets, brochures, and collateral available as a PDF for email use and downloads on your site. 

 

3. Emails 

Your brand also extends to the emails you send your clients. Whether it’s an appointment reminder, a promotional email, or a check-in, your emails should have the same tone and messaging—focused on your brand position and key points that set you apart. This drives home your value, and keeps your touchpoints consistent.  

Sending email is a great way to stay top of mind with your customers and prospects. Here are a few basic questions to ask before you send your email. This will help your emails stay focused and effective. 

  • What is THE objective with this email?  
  • What do we HOPE the reader will do?  
  • What is our call-to-action to GET them to do it? 

Answer these basic questions and you are well on your way to email success. Next, we have a few more tips to make sure your email sings. 

 

When to Send  

Did you know that when you send an email can be nearly as important as what you’re sending? Don’t let your email get buried in the inbox. Send email when they are the most likely to get opened. That means not sending emails on Mondays, not sending them over major holidays or typical vacation times, and not sending them first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. Tuesdays through Thursdays are the prime times to send emails, and usually the middle of the day and the afternoon work well.  

Also, remember that email subject lines are the knock on the door. They serve to get the email opened. You don’t have to tell the entire story in the subject line, and it can help to be enticing. Once you’ve mastered your subject lines, try testing more than one to see which one works the best.  

 

Try Automating Them 

Did you know you can automate your emails? Programs like Hubspot, Salesforce, and Mailchimp can all help you do this. At its core, automation exists to save you time and help you with your day-to-day activities. Basically, it automatically does certain steps and things for you, like send emails. So, the two major benefits of automation are cost and time. And it’s pretty easy to do. It’s a great way to make it easier to stay in front of clients regularly. These platforms are great in helping you filter your list by the interest of the customer, letting you deliver tailored content to the right audience, all in a couple of clicks of a button. 

Why does automation save you money and time? Two words: retention marketing. Retention marketing is the act of keeping your current clients engaged and happy, and sending them regular emails to keep the communication line open and keep you in the forefront of your clients’ minds. HubSpot Research revealed that it can cost five to 25 times more to acquire a new client than retain an existing client.2 So, focus on the clients you already have, and try using automation to do it well.  

One more thing: when it comes to sending emails, whether they’re automated or not, make sure everyone you’re emailing has opted in to receive your emails, and that you have a spot on each email where they can opt out or unsubscribe.  

It can cost five to 25 times more to acquire a new client than retain an existing client.2 So, focus on the clients you already have, and try using automation to do it well.  

We’ve talked a lot about websites, collateral, and emails, and a lot of these things are easier said than done. What do you want to focus on doing well when it comes to your brand materials and communications? Start with what you want to do well, and then build from there.  

For more ways to build your brand digitally, check out our Digital Builder tools.  

 

Sources:  

1. Statcounter. “Desktop vs Mobile vs Tablet Market Share Worldwide – January 2019.” GlobalStats. http://gs.statcounter.com/platform-market-share/desktop-mobile-tablet 

2. Redbord, Michael. “The Hard Truth About Acquisition Costs (and How Your Customers Can Save You).” HubSpot Research. 2018. https://blog.hubspot.com/news-trends/customer-acquisition-study#LINK3 

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Written By

Mark Williams

President and CEO

Mark Williams is the President/CEO of Brokers International. Over his more than 25 years of financial services experience, Mark has been both a producing independent agent in the field and a home office leader consulting to agencies and field marketing organizations. Currently, Mark is focused on the future of the insurance industry, from the disruptions of InsurTech and robo-advisors to the changing demographics and needs of customers. He also is an avid mentor, helping financial professionals navigate the industry.

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