Improve your web output, enhance your client uptake

Rural broker showing benefits of digital marketing, despite having “every excuse not to change”

Improve your web output, enhance your client uptake


By Sam Boyer

When it comes to Canadian brokerages leading the advancement of digital marketing, you probably don’t expect a small-town Ontario broker to be pushing the boundaries in web management.

So it will likely come as a surprise that Excalibur Insurance Group – a brokerage headquartered in tiny Clinton, ON, is way ahead of the curve when it comes to leveraging web marketing to harness insurance sales. But, quite simply, that is the reality of the situation.

“The bottom line is this: I live in a town of 3,200 people and I’ve been in the business 27 years. I had every excuse not to change,” said Excalibur president and CEO Jeff Roy.

“But we’re changing, and that means anyone can change. If I can change, and you can teach an old dog new tricks, then anyone can do it.

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“For the consumer, 70% of people are starting their journey online. So, basically, if you don’t have a good digital footprint, and you don’t look good [online] then you don’t have a chance.”

The insurance industry has a (self-confessed) reputation for being slow to adapt. And that is as true for independent brokers as it is for carriers. But “status quo” is no excuse for lagging behind.

Roy, 47, is a huge advocate for digital change, or, as he has called it, reinventing.

“I embrace digital,” he said. “We probably first looked at reinventing ourselves in 2011, 2012, because I just didn’t feel like we were doing a good enough job and we saw the landscape was changing around how people bought insurance. We rebranded and re-did our website – and we’re on our second version in the last two years. We’re still not done, there’s no finishing line.”

And brokerages the world over should also be investing time and resources into similarly upping their web presence, he said.

“A lot of agency owners are stuck on, ‘Show me the ROI on social media,’ ‘I can’t prove it makes any money so I’m not going to do it,’” he said. “People just haven’t been able to measure it well enough, but at Excalibur we measure how people find us, we can digitally track how the leads are coming in, we can track our return on investment and cost per lead. We feel there’s a good ROI by doing digital marketing. We feel it’s just the natural evolution of business.

“People can still walk into our offices. But we probably would get 300-500 leads a month coming in here digitally through the internet right now. We have a sales process that when a lead comes in we handle it … in 5-10 minutes. If you don’t respond within 5-10 minutes, the person is gone. Your close ratios are hundreds of percent better if you respond in 5-10 minutes.”

The brokerage, which has offices in Clinton, Wingham (2,900 population), Exeter (4,800), and Mitchell (4,500), posts regular e-newsletters, blog posts, YouTube videos, and other helpful web content through its website, including an artificial-intelligence-powered chatbot to answer queries around-the-clock.

“You need to have a strategy to be able to do this, but I think all brokers should do this,” he said. “For some brokers, the traditional way of doing things is still working. There’s still room for the traditional client. If you want to get 100% of the clients, you have to do business 100% of the ways [they want to interact].

“It’s not cheap to do [this] but we feel it’s important to stay in the game. We’re basically becoming our own marketing and content creation company … to make sure we’re relevant longer term.”

Related stories:
Why brokers must embrace digital innovation
Embracing digital: Where to start?

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