Imagine being a potential insurance buyer and finding an independent agency website that says this: “We are dedicated to providing our customers with the best coverage at competitive rates. Just make one call to our agency, and we can shop your coverage through many top rated companies. Our professional staff provides one on one service …” You click on different links to learn more about this agency and its professional staff. All you find is a “Contact Us” link to an online form and maybe a phone number and an office email address.
What’s missing? Personal connection between the consumer and the people behind the agency. Not making that connection can cost an agency opportunities, according to Kathleen Slattery Booth, vice-president of marketing at cybersecurity startup Attila Security and host of The Inbound Success Podcast. She has written about best practices agencies should follow when designing their websites.
Data analytics company Chartbeat has estimated that visitors give websites approximately 15 seconds to capture their attention. In that kind of environment, differentiation from competitors is crucial. Unfortunately, that is where many agencies’ websites fail.
Booth says the biggest issue she sees with agency websites is “sameness,” with smaller agencies relying on website templates or carrier-provided marketing content. “What happens in any market where differentiation is lacking?” she asks. “Companies are forced to compete on price, and that’s not a business that anyone wants to be in.”
“Insurance agencies miss out on a major opportunity to establish and build trust and ultimately, win new customers” when they hide information about their teams. What makes one agency different from another is the people running it; the owners have a vision for how to serve customers. At the very least, the agency should have a profile of the owners on the site or executive staff if it’s not owner operated. They set the agency’s tone and direction.
Providing this information builds trust, and no business can succeed without the trust of its customers. Booth says that in more than a decade in the marketing agency world, she has seen the marketing performance data of hundreds of companies across a multitude of industries. “In every single case,” she says, “the team page on the website was one of the top three to five most visited pages on the site. Why? Because your website visitors want to know who the people are behind the corporate brand. It’s one of the primary ways they determine whether they can trust your business.”
It isn’t just information about the principals customers want; Booth says providing staff information is important as well. Agency owners have given Booth many reasons for not having staff information on their websites. “I’ve heard everything from ‘we want to look like a bigger company’ to ‘we don’t want to get spammed’ to ‘I don’t want my employees to get poached by the competition.’” However, hiding staff information will not prevent spamming or recruiting by competitors. “If someone wants to find the phone number or email address of your team members,” she notes, “there are plenty of other ways that they can easily get them.”
How much should agencies reveal on their sites about the owners and staff? Booth recommends including for each principal and team member:
- A picture
- Their name and job title
- Contact information, including links to any social media profiles
- A brief biography
The bio should include “interesting or quirky personal details that fit with your brand,” such as favorite sports teams or hobbies.
An agency’s website is an opportunity to stand out, Booth says. Original content that showcases the principals’ expertise can set it apart. She calls this “an excellent opportunity to educate buyers who are, quite frankly, tired of being sold to.”
In the end, it comes back to building trust. “Customers choose to work with companies – and people – they trust. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or how big or small the business is, if your potential buyers don’t trust you, they won’t do business with you.” For this reason, Booth urges agency owners to set aside concerns about potential downsides. “The value you will get from making your team more accessible to clients and prospects,” she says, “will far outweigh any hassle that might result from including their contact information on your website.”