Prepare your agency for the Zero Moment of Truth
By Adam DeGraide
You don't have to look far to think ahead—look around you. America has gone mobile. Two years ago we reached the point of more Americans owning a mobile phone than a personal computer. Today, Pew Research Center reports that half of all American adults own a smartphone.
When more people have Internet access on phones than computers, what does that mean for you, as an insurance agency principal?
Google reports that 79% of consumers say they use a smartphone to help them shop before they buy—and it doesn't seem to matter if they're shopping for houses, cars, insurance, or Band-Aids. If 79% of consumers are using smartphones to shop, then 100% of sellers need to leverage smartphones to market and sell. Local insurance agencies are no exception.
Embrace the change
Mobile devices are changing the buying habits of America, and it's important to embrace that change so you can have success in the future. What kind of change?
People now have Internet access at their fingertips at all times. Having immediate access to information allows consumers to comparison-shop or read reviews just as they are about to buy. In fact, Google even coined a term for this marketing moment: ZMOT, the Zero Moment of Truth.
Local agencies need to adjust their marketing to capture these "zero moments" and change their sales process to serve these mobile shoppers.
To help you figure this out, do a little research yourself. Use your smartphone to search for insurance in your city. What do the search results look like, and how are different agencies or companies positioning themselves? Then specifically search for some of the agencies from the results to see their reviews. At this point, consider what any insurance shopper would do, using a phone, e-mail, and their social networks. Will they go home and fill out a lengthy quote form? Doubtful. They're more likely to call immediately from their smartphone and expect to get started right away.
Is your agency positioned to stand out to this kind of shopper? Is your sales process prepared to serve them? Local agents need to understand how this technology is changing consumers, and then adapt. If you don't change the way you do business to accommodate the way consumers want to interact with you, someone else will.
Optimize your Web site
Having a great Web site is one thing, but being optimized for mobile Web is another. Building a mobile version of your site to accommodate the mobile viewing experience is a new necessity.
If you have searched the Internet on a mobile phone, you'll see that most Web sites have two versions—one for a computer screen and one for a mobile screen. The screen sizes are different, and browsing with your finger is much different than browsing with a mouse. Your mobile site will need big buttons and less text to accommodate the experience.
There are also programming components to consider. Many mobile devices cannot handle certain programming languages like Flash, or certain types of multimedia. Whether in part or in total, if your site fails to load, a consumer is likely to impatiently skip over your site. Your mobile site needs to take this into consideration.
Driving new business through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns can also be set up specifically for mobile devices. Your PPC mobile campaigns should have landing pages built for the mobile experience. Information about your agency and products should be concise and relevant. Consumers are less likely to spend time browsing, so make calls to action simple with big buttons to move them to the next step.
Again, experience this for yourself on a smartphone to determine how you can best optimize your Web presence for mobile.
Get mobile with sales
Smartphones and tablet computers are revolutionizing business—especially sales-centered organizations. Agencies that sell commercial insurance should think about how commercial producers can use mobile technology to enhance their selling capabilities. Many of the best producers in the country—whether prospecting or walking in for face-to-face meetings with clients—are using tablets to enhance their sales presentation.
On a basic level, tablets add immediate value and credibility to a presentation because they are visually impressive. You can build slideshow presentations that are interactive and hands-on, able to be passed back and forth between people, and accessed with your fingertips. This is more engaging than a traditional PowerPoint presentation.
Tablets also make the act of buying more immediate. Some forward-thinking companies, MGAs, and wholesalers have actually built their own applications that allow them to quote and bind insurance on the spot. There are even small, plug-in hardware devices like Square that allow you to swipe credit cards on a mobile device to receive immediate payment.
Finally, customer relationship management (CRM) tools are becoming mobile-compatible as well. Information can now be entered immediately into your CRM tool from mobile devices. This allows you to start automated marketing campaigns to people you meet in person immediately. It also allows you to keep track of every sales opportunity for future use, from anywhere. Forward-thinking agencies are preparing now to understand these mobile capabilities and discover how to use them to profit.
Get moving with mobile
Mobile America isn't going away. Smartphones and tablet computers aren't a fad. Four years ago, this enhanced mobile technology didn't exist for mainstream consumers. In addition to half of all American adults having a smartphone, the next generation is being raised on mobile devices. As technology advances and prices decrease, more and more people will be buying smartphones and tablets. From a consumer perspective, these are incredibly helpful tools to help them stay engaged with their world and be smart shoppers.
From your perspective, you must be looking at how these tools can positively affect your business through sales and marketing. Are you truly prepared to service the modern mobile consumer? America has gone mobile, and it's time to start moving with them.
Adam DeGraide is a veteran Internet marketer, sales guru, entrepreneur, record producer, and motivational speaker. In 2006 he founded Astonish Results, a digital marketing company, and since then he has been encouraging independent agencies across the country to "Join the Internet marketing revolution, or get left behind!"