Gettin’ Busy: Growing Your Business Online

October 2, 2009

Last week I traveled to Boston for Safeco‘s “Bricks & Clicks: Growing Your Business Online” workshop. I was a bit apprehensive because I thought I already knew everything there is to know about using the internet and the resources which it has to offer (ooh, the arrogance of today’s youth)!  My apprehension was met, though, by an incredibly informative workshop led by sharp, knowledgeable instructors. They were able to artfully deliver engaging presentations on topics that normally would have lulled me to sleep.  The wealth of information, ideas, advice, tools and resources the workshop provided was almost overwhelming, but exciting nonetheless.

I’ll share with you some of the valuable INSIDER information (ooh la la)! I learned and will be implementing on our re-vamped site!

What Your Customers Want:

  • People want to manage their affairs and finances online
  • …and they want to do it on their own time—are you there (with your online presence) when they need you?
  • Online shoppers (i.e. looking for insurance quotes) want speed, convenience & objectivity à they want a virtual producer, available after the 9-5
  • People network online; they refer, endorse and review
  • Users look for relevancy, familiarity, quick answers/info and calls to action—what should they do next?
  • LISTEN! They’ll tell you what they want! If not, ASK! 

How You Can Deliver with Your Website:

  • Clarify: What you need, want and don’t want. Create a PLAN.
  • Find out: Who is visiting and from where are they navigating?
  • Ask: What do my customers/prospects expect when they get to my site?
  • Address: User needs in terms of aesthetics, content, usability—you know what they say about first impressions!
  • Try: The 5-sec test & have others test it for you: what will people glean from your site in 5 seconds? Will they know who you are and what you do?
  • Engage: Identify valuable content! Keep it current and succinct.
  • Use: Free advertising in your favor! Put customer feedback & testimonials on your website and use them to your advantage—they show your value to prospective customers!
  • Create: a plan to review your site regularly. Keep it current!
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Improve the volume & quality of traffic to a website from search engines via search results
  • Use: Free SEO tools like Google’s—www.google.com/webmasters/start  and check your page rank here: www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php  
  • Or: Hire a SEO company. They improve your organic rating, ensure search-engine friendly content, conform to search engine guidelines, improve your site’s relevance in search results
  • Use: E-mail marketing to build and strengthen customer relationships (marketing, upselling/cross-selling, newsletter); measure your results
  • Have: A strategy! Be creative, implement an organized deployment plan (have a database or hire vendors/e-mail services that do it for you [i-contact, constant contact, jango mail, mail chimp, responsys, cheetah mail, epsilon, yes mail, exact target]
  • Track and measure: Your marketing efforts! Is it working? What can you do to make it better?

Social Networking

Visit us on:

Asset Security Insurance on Facebook Asset Security Insurance on Twitter Jaime Randle on Linked In

  • It’s your digital business card! Extend your hub of connection, control your online reputation and reach out!
  • A human approach to business and marketing
  • Have a conversation w/ your audience & clients
  • Engage audiences in an authentic way to provide helpful info, solve problems & build relationships to achieve business goals
  • Address problems, concerns, what’s going on in your industry, news, relevant seasonal info, self-written articles, guest spots on your blog, community events and info
  • Listen (gather feedback & customer insight)! Talk (spread the message about your company/product/service)! Energize (enthusiastic customers use the power of word of mouth)! Support (tools to help customers engage w/ you and each other)! Embrace (integrate customers into how your business works & use their help for new products or improved services)!

If you are a Safeco agent, seriously consider attending a Bricks & Clicks workshop in your area. I enthusiastically endorse the program!

Now go get busy!

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Uh, It’s 2009!

September 23, 2009

I am always surprised at the number of people who ask, “this button?” when asked to snap a photograph on a digital camera. Maybe it’s because I’m young, sprightly and technology savvy, but I can’t help but think, “Uh, it’s 2009! Yes, it’s that big button on the top, in the same position the button has been for decades, even on those ancient 35 mms.”

In the same vein, I realized, “Uh, it’s 2009(!) and our company has yet to establish a strong online presence!” Incorporated 3 years ago, the owners of Asset Security (with 40+ years of combined experience) have dedicated their focus to serving their clients. While nothing is more important than our loyal clients, something had to be done about getting savvy for 2009 and beyond! After all, this is an age where everyone and their grandmas (but not my grandma, in fact) are interacting with the world online. In my own internet experiences, I have realized that if a company does not have website, I immediately furrow my brows as a bewildered looks washes over my face and I think, “Uh, it’s 2009! Who doesn’t have a website?”

To bring Asset Security up to speed, a great team at Safeco (one of the excellent insurance companies Asset Security represents) laid a phenomenal foundation for our website as a gift, recognizing Asset Security as one of the top agents in the country (Safeco Conference of Champions 2009). To augment the design element of our site, we hired a company found through Elance. Elance is a great resource for any individual or business, as it offers an “immediate, cost-effective and flexible way to hire, manage and pay independent professionals and contractors online.”

A website is only the first step, though. Social media trends are growing faster than the speed of light (this is a rough estimate, as it has not yet been scientifically tested) and is THE way to connect, converse and share information. Facebook began as the college student’s online playground and as a recent college graduate, I know the ins and outs, ups (great way to connect with friends!) and downs (great way to procrastinate studying!) of utilizing Facebook for social purposes. Now that I’m all grown up, it is time to get the most out of Facebook (become a fan!), Twitter (follow us!) and other avenues of networking for business.