Don’t spam your insurance clients
By Justin R. Brown
Has this happened to you yet today? An unexpected email shows up in your inbox from someone who found you on LinkedIn or Facebook and wants to connect with you.The message is worded in such a way that it sounds like it’s from someone you know, but the name just doesn’t sound familiar. Sometimes these requests are legitimately from someone you once worked with, or a long-lost high school pal or family friend; but more often than not, they are from some marketer trying to sell you something.
People have gotten wise to the fact that they are being marketed to online and are more likely to hit delete than to respond. Not to mention that spamming presents you in a negative light. Social networks are great, but they can destroy your reputation if used incorrectly.
So, instead of trying to connect with random insurance prospects you don’t really know online, use your existing contacts or position yourself more strategically — just don’t be a pest.
Here are some tips for using today's media channels to promote your business:
Do more than sell online. Plugging your product or service some of the time is fine, but don’t do it all of the time. Change things up a bit. In addition to disseminating information about the things you and your clients are doing, post links to news in your industry and interesting topics people in your network are discussing. The more relevant your content, the less likely you are to lose your customers attention.
Know your rights (and your clients'). The CAN-SPAM act gives consumers rights for when businesses email them with commercial information. The law requires emails to clearly state who they are coming from, and what the email is about. The email must also be marked in some way or form as an advertisement, and provide customers with an option to “opt out” of future emails. Penalties for not complying with the requirements of the law can be severe. According to the FTC: "Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000..."
Quick tip: Combine transactional and promotional messages into one. The law states that, "When an email contains both kinds of content, the primary purpose of the message is the deciding factor." The FTC goes on to say that "...when a message contains both kinds of content – commercial and transactional or relationship – if the subject line would lead the recipient to think it’s a commercial message, it’s a commercial message for CAN-SPAM purposes." Ensure that your transactional messages are seen as such, but provide a soft pitch for other services to maximize your marketing dollar. Show some personality. Don’t always be so formal in your online communication. If you are more conversational, people will find it easier to relate to you. Along the same lines, let your employees be themselves online. Don’t try to keep all the communication coming out of your company in the same voice or you’ll start to get boring. Emails can offer you an opportunity to show your company culture through photos and other media. If you have a company video, link to it or your YouTube channel.
Join the conversation. Participate and make yourself known within industry groups by contributing to online conversations and social networks. By regularly contributing to conversations and answering people’s questions, you can position yourself as a trusted source of information. But resist the urge to always post a link to your company online or advertise a product or offer. Just getting your name out there is often enough. People who really want to connect with you will find you. Not to mention some news groups will ban people who try to market themselves.
Be consistent. In order to establish yourself as a credible source to turn to online, you need to be there for your insurance clients. If people see your comments online all the time, they will come to count on you as a trusted source. Then, when it comes time to get a quote for insurance, they will call you.
Check your facts and then recheck. You are only as good as the content you produce. Establishing yourself as an industry expert also means producing accurate content. You can create blog posts 14 time a day or send emails weekly to your entire client base, but if you provide inaccurate information, you'll create a large target for distrust.
The worst spammer is an ignorant spammer. I was looking for insurance several years ago and a local agent marketed their services to me after an online quote request. His tactics were great up until the point when he sent a printed coupon for a free meal at a local fast food chain. It might seem harmless, however, when I went to redeem the meal, I was told it was a scam and that these exact coupons were circulating the Internet and were fraudulent. In the agent's defense, I'm fairly certain he did not know this at the time he republished them, but it proves that conducitng a quick Web search and recirculating material should be conducted with a grain of salt or, at the very least, checked for accuracy. The agent had a good sense to market his products by offering this coupon, but I imagine he mass mailed these prior to finding out the truth and alienating a good majority of his prospective and active insurance clients.