The first thing many of us do as consumers before making reservations at a restaurant, calling for an appointment at a hairdresser, or dropping off a car for repairs is check the online reviews of a particular business, so that we know we’re picking the best and most reliable option out there.
“People actually read [online reviews] and they trust them,” said Becky Schroeder, chief marketing officer at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC). In fact, she added, “86% of consumers read reviews of local businesses and 57% won’t even use a business that has fewer than four stars.”
With a lot of people looking at reviews and using them to make purchasing decisions, insurance agencies should take advantage of this feature to stand out in the marketplace. Not only can reviews help an agency establish consumer trust, but they can also improve rankings in local search results.
“If someone is searching for home insurance in Carrollton, Texas, and an agency in Carrollton has reviews, that will help them in that search rank higher,” explained Schroeder.
When an agency receives a two-thumbs-up online review, they can do a few things on their website to use it to their business’s benefit.
“To use it to drive traffic and engagement, when you get a good review, you want to put it where people who are in a buying position are going to see it. You want to put that on your website, on a line of business page, for example, so if they’re on your website reading about home insurance because they are wanting to buy home insurance, you put a testimonial there to add social proof of why you are good to work with,” said Schroeder.
The most obvious place to put a review on a website is in a testimonial section. Agencies can set up a page dedicated solely to these testimonials so that consumers can have a one-stop shop for all of the best reviews.
“If you have multiple locations, and you have testimonials and reviews that mentioned a specific location, you can put those testimonials on your location pages or if you have reviews that mentioned a specific employee, you could put that in the employee directory or on the employee’s page, if you have a dedicated page per employee,” said Schroeder.
In addition to putting testimonials on the website, agencies can use them in offline marketing materials, like in flyers or postcards or any other marketing materials that they might put together. Then, if they have email campaigns to prospect or cross-sell, the agency can include a testimonial near the call to action to encourage engagement with that email, and get clicks and conversions from the campaign.
Agencies also shouldn’t fear bad reviews – it’s a learning opportunity, says the ITC expert.
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“If you think of a negative view, or any review, negative or positive, as feedback on how your agency does, you can learn from it and you can take something from that. You can highlight gaps in your process where you’re maybe missing out on better service or people are falling through those cracks that you don’t know about until you get that feedback,” Schroeder explained.
So, how can insurance agencies collect online reviews? The first thing they have to do is ask for them.
“No-one is going to give you a review if you don’t ask for it. I would frame it as feedback – ‘I am looking as your agent to get feedback on how we did because that helps us improve and make sure we’re doing the best that we can,’” said Schroeder.
Agents also need to time this ask, and not just come out of the blue demanding reviews at random times of the year.
“Time it in moments where you’re most likely to get it. After you provide a great service to somebody, after you’ve saved them money, after someone says ‘thank you’ so much for helping me, that’s your moment to ask for a review,” Schroeder told Insurance Business. “Then, you want to make sure that if you have staff, you create an incentive program for the staff to ask for reviews, and then you want to educate your staff on why that’s important to ask for and coach them on how to ask.”
However, Schroeder wants to be clear – never incentivize the consumer to leave reviews because that’s essentially buying reviews, which can skew the results.
“You can also use email marketing tools to ask for reviews. So again, you want to time it in those moments when people are most likely to give you a review and make it easy for them to do so,” said Schroeder. “Give them a link, tell them exactly where you want them to leave their review, whether that’s on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or somewhere else – you want to put a link directly to that page where they can leave that review.”