Hi, I'm Tyler Willis and I've been helping businesses optimize their digital marketing and web development efforts for over 10 years. I excel at teaching and helping companies understand complex digital solutions, and applying them to their businesses.
Insurance companies are integral to the every day lives of regular citizens. The average person has insurance for at least 3-4 different areas or possessions in their life:
- Health/dental/eye insurance
- Life insurance
- Car insurance
- Home/renter's insurance
- Pet insurance
And then there are things like extended warranties and protection plans which are a form of insurance as well.
As a consumer, we don't necessarily love the process of researching and selecting the best insurance. We often don't even understand everything that we're looking at. But once we know we're covered, we can often sleep a little bit better at night knowing that if something unexpected happened, we at least wouldn't be without some financial support.
Now, if you're an insurance agency, the biggest challenge for you is not having a large enough audience or market to sell your coverage to. Rather, it's how can you stand out amongst the competition, especially the large, name-brand insurance solutions, and be the one to earn the trust of a consumer.
Much of that trust-building is done during correspondence and the life of the plan, but before you can even get to that point, you have to position yourself and your marketing, digital and non, to be able to get the conversation started with a prospective client.
In this case study, we're going to look at the Davis & Towle Insurance Group of Concord, New Hampshire - how I can see that they are or are not leveraging digital marketing and website optimization, and some recommendations that I might make to boost their marketing and performance of their website.
Note: As of this writing, I have not talked with Davis & Towle Insurance Group so I don't have a complete understanding of their existing digital growth strategy. I may make certain assumptions but will do so by leaning toward typical scenarios.
Search engine optimization
The first thing I looked at was how optimized the company and website was for search engines - can they easily be found by users searching for insurance coverage on Google, and how are they doing compared to their competitors.
It looks like their website has a lot of the basic SEO components covered such as page titles, descriptions, etc. It looks like they have a WordPress website and are leveraging the Yoast SEO plugin which can easily help with that.
Davis & Towle also has a Google Business page set up which is great for local search engine optimization as it will help with regional and map-based searches. It can also be a place to send happy clients when asking for public testimonials. In fact, I currently see 16 Google reviews for an average rating of 4.8 which is excellent, and the administrator also does a great job and replying to testimonials.
But I think that the Google Business page could be build out a bit better. For example, there is only 1 service listed for homeowners insurance.
Since Google relies on the information from the Google Business page a lot for local search engine optimization, it would be a wise idea to add each and every insurance coverage option offered by Davis & Towle as well as update any out of date business information.
The agency also does a fair to good job at content creation for its website. I'm a big proponent of content creation for websites, believing that there's nothing better you can do for the long-term growth of your website than high quality content.
From what I can see, Davis & Towle has added a new blog post or news article to their website every month since 2017. As far as consistency is concerned, I'll give that an A+ for sure. It appears they've found a strategy that works for them in terms of a workload that they can handle and schedule they can stick with.
To improve the content creation strategy even further, I would recommend a few things:
Content pages can rank on their own in Google search which is why they're so valuable (and I recommend them), but they work better when part of a team.
Yes, your website will develop, at its foundation, a sort of "score" with Google and your webpages will benefit or suffer from that score, but to give your webpages a solid boost, you should inter-link them with other relevant, quality pages. This sort of passes the "score" of one quality webpage to another.
For example, Davis & Towle has a great blog post about New Hampshire auto insurance discounts. However, during the post there isn't a link to the agency's own car insurance coverage page until at the very end of the post.
There's actually a link to an external website that is higher on the page. It's definitely a good idea to have a sort of post summary with a link to the "next steps", but did you know that links at the very end of a page's content actually do little to pass the page score to that linked-to page?
The best links should be placed in the upper-half of the page's content. And, in addition to linking to just one other page, are there any other relevant blog posts that could be linked to as well? Don't force the issue, but you can link with multiple internal pages.
Expand on content
This one is quick, but if there's an opportunity for you to put something as text on a webpage instead of only linking away to a PDF or displaying it in an image, do it.
For example, there appears to be a great post that includes a list of tips, but upon visiting the page there are only 2 lines of text and a link to a PDF. From what I can tell, the PDF was created by another company which is fine. But can you put that content into your own words and add it to your website?
The reason why I recommend this is because all of the content on your website is indexed by Google. Since each individual webpage can rank in search engines and possibly be the difference between a prospect finding and choosing you as their agency, you should give Google as much of your content to index as possible!
Quality content is great because it gives Google something to index and send users to. However, Google also takes into account the user's activity - how they receive your content. If they visit your webpage and then leave after 5 seconds, your webpage will incur a high "bounce rate" which could lead to negative rankings.
Simply, we want users to stay on our page's and take in all of our content before leaving the page. To make that more likely to happen, we should try to improve their experience while on our website - how fast it loads, how easy the content is to read, etc.
Keeping that in mind, it's often a wise idea to simplify the formatting a bit - reducing the use of various HTML tags to a degree in favor of plain text. Here's a section of content that I identified on one of the blog posts and how I'd clean it up a bit:
Keep content relevant
The last thing I'd identify on the website's content, is to make sure that all posts are highly-relevant to what it is that you're trying to sell as a product or service.
This can be difficult and even frustrating at times because many businesses struggle with what to create content about. However, when browsing the content from the Davis & Towle website, I found content targeted to other businesses about customer satisfaction, energy saving ideas, and leading remote teams.
Now, note the disclaimer above and remember that, as of this writing, I haven't had any conversations with Davis & Towle, but I struggle to see how the next step for readers of that content is to sign up for insurance coverage.
Remember what the purpose of your website is. It's not to just entertain or inform site visitors, but turn them into paying and loyal customers.
Leveraging a programmatic SEO strategy would also be beneficial as it would allow Davis & Towle to create content targeting low-volume, long-tailed keywords and greatly increase their organic traffic.
The first thing I noticed when first visiting the website was the "request a quote" form, so that's perfect. They're immediately drawing the user's attention to the purpose of their website which is turning visitors into potential clients.
It's accompanied with a simple, to-the-point banner with some sort of mission or purpose statement.
As I look from the top to the bottom of the home page, I noticed a few small things here and there. Having contact information on the ribbon at the very top of all pages is good - always make it easy for user's to contact you. However, I'd remove the social links or maybe move them to the footer. You already got the user to your site, why are you trying to get them to leave?
There are some blocks with text and links a bit beneath the main banner. I like how they identify features of working with Davis & Towle, but they should be simplified a bit. And this is sort of a general observation of the entire site, but a lot of the text is overly-formatted.
There's too much bold text, capitalized text, italicized text and sometimes all of the above. It makes it a bit difficult, as a user, to scan the site as I try to learn more about the company and what my options are.
Even just simplifying the text a bit and removing the miscellaneous text links so the user can focus on what action at a time would be an improvement, I believe. Here is how that might look:
Side note, it appears that the links used in those blocks are actually <h4> header elements. Header elements should never be used simply for styling purposes but only for page structure purposes.
Looking down the page, I think it's great to have the logos of carriers. People will recognize these from commercial and national advertisements, so having something familiar like that will help the user to relate and maybe cause the user to think that Davis & Towle is the company that can help them learn and unleash the full value that some of those carriers can offer.
However, I would move them up the page a bit as they are sort of a selling feature. I would put them directly beneath the banner.
And I would see what we could do about removing some of the obvious stock photos, or at least replacing them with some that don't look so obvious.
The last item I'll mention about the design is that I think we should try to simplify the navigation menu a bit. It's pretty crowded and I think there are ways that we can still make it simple for a user to navigate to where they'd like while us still being able to keep the user focused on the main products we're trying to sell.
Website sales funnels & lead generation
A website's home page should sort of be one giant navigation menu. Not a list of links to every single page of a website, but a jumping off point to the various areas of the website.
In the case of Davis & Towle, their website does a good job of linking users to subpages, which is good. But the problem is that there are perhaps too many links. There lacks a clear focus and I think the problem is the mindset that you're trying to make it easy for every user who may possibly visit your site, to get to where they want to go.
That's flawed thinking, however. Your goal should be to filter site visitors to where you want them to go.
So, Davis & Towle would need to ask themselves what insurance products are best for them to sell:
- Which ones make them the most money
- Are the easiest to sell/manage
- Provide the greatest customer retention
- The lowest overhead
And maybe other factors as well.
So, what about the other products? The ones that maybe aren't your primary focus but you still want to sell? Well, remember what I talked about above - how each individual webpage can rank on Google search and bring in its own traffic?
You can still build out those pages, and they can have their own sales funnels, but when someone visits your home page you don't have to add that to the enormous list of options they're presented with.
The purpose here is 2-fold:
- To sell what you as a business want to sell
- And to make it easy for users to understand where it is you want them to go
Improve your profits and efficiency by focusing on your best products.
Above and beyond: Automated quote request and management functionality
There are many different marketing tactics and platforms that we could consider for taking Davis & Towle's digital growth strategy to a new level, but I want to focus on some functionalities that I think could seamlessly be added to the website which could be a huge boost to the business and sales operations.
Now, I haven't submitted a quote request form so I'm not sure what the entire process looks like, but I'm assuming that it goes something like this:
- The user fills out the "quote request" form.
- Someone in the Davis & Towle's office is notified and reaches out to the client with requests for additional information (since the initial form is so small, I'm sure there's a lot of other information needed for an actual quote).
- The user is sent a few more forms to fill out including requests for personal information such as a Driver's License, marriage license, proof of address, etc.
- The user fills out the forms, then uploads them somewhere or emails them to someone from Davis & Towles.
- Davis & Towles runs the numbers and then gets back to the user with a quote.
I'm not positive that's the process, but based on my experiences that's my guess.
As I analyze that process, I see a lot of pain points, for both the user and the company. But the focus here is Davis & Towle, and how some new, automated functionalities can help the prospect onboarding process.
If I were a developer hired by Davis & Towle, I would build a process for optimizing the signup process which would take the user from quote request, to quote, to customer management. It would go something like this:
- The users fills out the "quote request" form.
- Upon submission, they are immediately sent a confirmation email along with any additional forms necessary to provide a quote request. They'll also be given steps to sign up as a user on our on-site customer portal, of sorts.
- The user will take care of the additional information needed online, and file uploads. Then they will click to submit for review once everything has been submitted.
- Someone at Davis & Towle will be notified based on the type of request, region and anything else that could differentiate between representatives at the company.
- The user will then be able to track the progress of their request online.
- The rep will then update the user's account with the results of the quote request.
- Finally, the user will receive an email about the results and be provided with an option to set up a meeting with a representative via a service like Calendly, if desired.
A concern might be - "what about the personal touch?" Honestly, there's a serious shift away from personal service in the form of emails and phone calls toward automation and self-service.
In summary ...
The Davis & Towle Insurance Group has done well with many basics of web and digital marketing, such as basic search engine optimization, content creation, and general design.
There are a few things that could be done in an effort to boost a digital growth strategy, such as improving the quality of the website's content, internal linking, optimization of the Google Business page and adding some advanced, automated functionality to its business processes.