Ron Hettler is the President of HIA, an independent agency with five employees that has served businesses and individuals in Lubbock, TX since 1992.
Seventy percent of the business revenue is from personal lines of insurance (life, auto, health, property and umbrella) while 30% is from business lines of insurance (surety bonds, general liability, worker’s comp and more). With so many lines of insurance, Hettler had many local competitors. In addition, there were competitors state-wide, as the agency could write policies all over Texas.
HIA was already visible for many competitive keywords in Google (organic search results). The website homepage, captured 90% of all visitors. However, poor conversion rates and a lack of long-tail content meant a big opportunity.
HIA was missing from the local map pack. This was an issue as the local pack:
- Is at the top of Google for many key insurance queries
- Captures most of the non-paid traffic on mobile
- Improves the (CTR: click through rate) for a business that is visible in organic and local pack results
- Allows for a business to rank twice on the first page of results
An office move months’ prior was causing confusion with Google and customers. The client would receive phone calls from frustrated patrons that were still visiting the old address.
For a local business, changing the address, phone number or even the business name can be as detrimental as changing a website domain.
Like many other small businesses, HIA didn’t have a strategy for the blog or time to contribute. The content that was written, wasn’t getting read by potential customers and social media shares were lackluster.
The path for earning leads online isn’t simply to be first in Google search results. Instead, earning leads in search engines, industry sites, social media, press and more, work in tandem for customer acquisition. Ranking once, for a keyword phrase, at the top of Google isn’t enough. Customers use multiple search terms, multiple paths to purchase, and multiple tools for research and consideration.
Engagement is another critical component to conversion online. Creating fans on social media has a long term payoff, but the benefits outweigh the time investment. Web of mouth is amplified for socially active brands, promotion of content reaches farther and a brand’s reputation becomes more credible.
The final solution had several objectives: get HIA visible in the local pack, improve the brand’s online reputation, engage the local community on social media and earn the agency recognition throughout Texas.
Local SEO Campaign
A local campaign begins with an analysis on how customers are finding the business – target keywords, the intent of keywords and the layout of search result pages (is there a local pack, are there secondary lead sites, what is the reputation of competitors, etc.) Tracking keyword visibility is a critical step and allows for measurement of the first interaction most customers have with a business, Google search results.
Once keyword research was completed, it was time to confirm HIA was visible and listed accurately on the more than 35 insurance carriers it sold. Another check was done on other industry sites, and authoritative local citations (such as Google Maps, Yelp, Yellow Pages and more).
Reviews were another priority and a key component to conversion and a positive online reputation. HIA had failed to earn any reviews on Google or Yelp during twenty-three years of business.
Review postcards were created. They were mailed to customers and handed out by sales reps in the office. Email signatures were updated with a logo asking customers to write a review. Within a few months, five reviews were earned and HIA now has close to 10 as the process for earning reviews is executed each week.
Content Marketing + Social
Cleverly Engaged Marketing (CEM) created regular blog content as a feed for social media growth, customer engagement and long tail search queries. Timely and engaging content was written with the customer’s interest in mind.
In addition, local reporters and national publications were pitched, earning quotes, interviews and articles on Trulia, Value Penguin, Investopedia, Independent Agent and more. This added credibility to HIA nationwide and within the insurance industry.
HIA had originally succeeded online, by developing in depth content on a variety of insurance services. However, much of the service content was now lackluster. Over time, all website content was overhauled and new services were expanded. Meta titles and descriptions were improved.
One visible result from these changes was on earthquake insurance. In January, an earthquake affected Irving TX, and despite having only a single location in Lubbock (400 miles away), HIA was the first insurance agency in Google for earthquake terms state wide. Traffic spiked online and a dozen earthquake policies were written in the next few weeks, all attributed to organic visibility.
CEM continued this strategy, and HIA is now the first agency in Texas for cyber liability insurance, terrorism insurance and solar homeowner’s insurance.
From the start, website traffic increased month after month. An 87% increase in unique users was recorded. HIA started the engagement with an average of 400 web visitors each month, doubling to 800 after six months of working with CEM.
Figure 1 – Comparing the 10 months with Cleverly Engaged vs. the 10 months before. Old Sessions and old unique users are even inflated, due to removing the HIA Office IP from influencing website metrics.
Figure 2 – Showing Texas website traffic growth for the full period of being a client. HIA started in September of 2014. February 2016 was the peak of traffic, due to health insurance deadlines.
Figure 3 – Showing Texas organic website growth for the full period of HIA being a client.
Local visibility in the map pack quickly improved, despite high competition. Today, HIA is visible for all areas of personal insurance and business insurance in Lubbock. Even in life insurance, a market dominated by large financial firms such as New York Life, HIA is an option during the research and consideration process.
View an online dashboard, highlighting the keywords being tracked, and HIA’s appearance in Google and Bing over time.
Figure 4 – Showing organic traffic growth using SEMRush, an online tool that estimates rankings based on keyword visibility. September 2014 was the start of the engagement. The Red line indicates an SEMRush algorithm update.
HIA has grown to become the most well-liked insurance agency in Lubbock, according to Facebook. Major Facebook campaigns were planned throughout the year, combined with regular updates on content from the blog.
Key to this client’s growth has been the promotion of content on Facebook. Since 2014, Facebook has severely limited a brand’s ability to capture organic visibility in news feeds. Instead, paid promotion is now a necessity, however those ads can and should be highly targeted and relevant.
Below are several of the top Facebook campaigns generated for HIA:
- A campaign that continues to drive thousands of visitors each month
- Timely content gets the best engagement on Facebook.
- Classic April Fools Campaign!
- Great pictures are critically important!
Cleverly Engaged Marketing helps business owners with problems and opportunities online, period. After nine months of our engagement, HIA became overwhelmed with too many leads, so our task was to find and help hire the next agent for a growing team. Two weeks later, the agency was able to hire a qualified candidate from our online recruiting efforts! We didn’t even spend any money on the task, ignoring costly job posting sites.
HIA is dominating their industry online in Lubbock, but that doesn’t mean CEM is no longer needed.
HIA has revealed, 2016 revenue is up 30% from 2015 and phone calls are up 50%. HIA receives close to 15,000 phone calls each year.
Through several strategy sessions, HIA aims to compete by offering “the kayak.com of insurance”. CEM is currently developing a quote engine similar to the following competitors:
Still an early market with significant growth potential, Cleverly Engaged Marketing is creating a new website presence and brand for HIA in this exciting new online-only world of insurance.