Most agents today are well aware of the importance of an online presence. With the right website, you are giving prospects the ability to not only get in touch but to learn more about you and your service offerings.
Unfortunately, many agents continually look past the importance of a high quality website. Instead, they rely heavily on more traditional methods of client and prospect engagement such as cold calling and direct mail.
If you are interested in taking your web presence to the next level, there are three basic options to consider. Each one has its own set of pros and cons.
This is typically the option for captive agents. In short, when you opt for a carrier website/page you are getting the same “look and feel” as every other agent who works for the company.
- Simple to get started
- Carrier name recognition
- Perfect for agents who do not have any online experience
- Very little to No control over the design or content
- Easy for your website to be confused with that of another agent
If you have access to a carrier sponsored website, you might as well take full advantage. Your company likely knows what does and does not work online. However, you don’t want to hinge all of your online success on this type of site.
Your best bet is to take what is given to you but also build out your own website. This is the best of both worlds in terms of functionality and flexibility.
Are you aware of the services that provide a hands off website design and marketing solution to insurance agents? While there are many of these companies out there, some have more to offer than others.
In terms of flexibility and offerings, this is a step up from relying solely on a carrier website.
- The advice and expertise of a company that has years of experience working on web design for insurance agents
- Hands off approach, allowing you to focus on selling while all of the webiste work is done for you
- Some level of flexibility in terms of the design, content, and overall functionality
- Less overall control
- Many services are “cookie cutter” meaning that your design and content can be identical or very similar to many other sites
- Often times difficult to make even the smallest changes
- Charged a monthly fee for the service
- Dependency on this type of full service option can make it painful to switch later
While this is a great option to consider, duplicate content can be a big issue with some providers. In the eyes of Google, this is a big no-no. If your site has duplicate content, you are going to find it next to impossible to rank high in the search engines.
If you decide on this method of creating a website, use Copyscape.com upon completion to ensure that every bit of content is 100 percent unique.
Tip: Never let a web development company register and hold control of your domain name. You should be the owner of the domain name, even if you are working with another company. If you are not, your site can be “stolen” or taken down at anytime.
Self Made or Outsourced
Do you have the skills necessary to build your own website from scratch? Would you rather outsource this project to a project based design and development professional?
In the past, this option was the least popular because of the time commitment and daunting nature of such a project. However, a growing number of insurance agents are realizing that this is the best way to go.
When you design your own site or hire a freelancer, you will have full control over the project from beginning to end. You decide on everything from the layout to the color scheme to the content and much more.
- Full control from beginning to end – if you can dream it up, it can be done
- Easy to update and make changes, big and small, since you were involved with the process from the beginning
- Full customization to meet the exact needs of your insurance business
- Lots of skilled labor, designs and plugins readily available when using open sourced options such as WordPress
- It will take more time for the site to be developed – especially if you are doing it yourself
- You will need to “learn the industry ropes” if you plan on outsourcing the project
- If outsourced, this can be the most expensive method
If you don’t have any web design experience and are interested in this option, you might consider outsourcing the entire project. On the surface, this sounds easy enough. All you have to do is find a designer and move forward.
Unfortunately, the process is not quite that simple. It is important to spend the time upfront to write a detailed scope of the project to get what you are looking for. If outsourcing reference live examples on the web and be sure to check reviews and references before choosing a provider to work with.
To protect against wasted time and money, follow these tips:
- Compare at least three design and development professionals
- Ask for several samples
- Clearly define requirements and expectations
- Agree to the terms of the project, including when payment will be dispersed and when the site is expected to be delivered (I suggest paying upon delivery)
One of the major disadvantages of a self made or outsourced website is that you have to do make a variety of solution decisions on your own. This is good from a flexibility point of view, but it also means that you have to be more “hands on” throughout the process.
Fortunately, there are many resources that can make your life much easier. Below are a few I use and recommend.
- Domain: GoDaddy, NameCheap, Moniker
- Hosting: HostGator
- Software/Content Management System: WordPress
- WordPress Themes: Theme Forest
- Custom Theme Design: 99Designs
- Freelance Sites for Design and Development: Elance, Freelancer.com, and oDesk
At this point, you are faced with a tough decision: which of these three options are you going to choose? As noted above, you may want to take advantage of any website service that is offered by the carrier that you work for. If nothing else, this is a good way to “get your name out there” and begin to establish an online presence.
If you are ready to make the internet work for you, it is time to consider building your own website or outsourcing the project. This gives you full control as well as the flexibility you need to get exactly what you want.
What matters most is that you compare all three options and that you make a decision sooner rather than later. Your competition is online right now, drumming up new leads and taking advantage of all that the internet has to offer. Are you going to be the next insurance professional to do the same?