The famous hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, said “ A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” The challenge of being great at hockey is that the puck is always moving. The same can be said for the insurance business.
Fifteen years ago the hot new development was a website; now you can't imagine starting a business without one. Five years ago it was having a social media presence; now, do you know any business that doesn't have a link to its Facebook page?
There have been hundreds of other modest and major technology developments and tools that have come along over the past two decades, adding to the hype and the hope of large and small businesses around the globe. None have had the impact that smartphones and tablets have had on the collective mindset.
After the Internet became ubiquitous and part of our cultural landscape, so too did online businesses, skipping the whole notion that “brick and mortar” was essential to success. In the same manner, as the idea of a “mobile first” strategy is taking hold, businesses are skipping the need for a browser-based website.
The growth of mobile has been constant over the past five years to the point that we now spend four hours a day on our smart devices, and that puck is continuing to move.
Social interactions, even in face-to-face settings, are accepting of the mobile device presence. For example, when parents are out with friends and their young children are along, the often-interruptive communications with said children are accepted by nearly everyone. So too, is the checking of e-mail, posting on Facebook or responding to a text message.
Carving out the opportunity
Taken to the extreme, these moments of mobile opportunity have become the norm, and I contend that, for businesses, carving out a share of those moments can be the most powerful branding and marketing opportunities they can get. Having a mobile app is the easiest, most effective way to do that.
For more people these days, it's mobile only. If you can't be found conveniently and easily on a mobile device, you don't exist as far as many consumers are concerned. That's why “Mobile-geddon” occurred: When Google changed its algorithm to bump up mobile-friendly websites on mobile searches, mobile's importance became clear.
Now with the whole movement to deep linking, Google can include information found inside apps when returning search results, once again demonstrating the power and importance of mobile apps to businesses being found online.
As mobile-friendly websites move up in Google search rankings, the inverse is also true. If you don't have a mobile-friendly website and no app, your search results will drop to the bottom of the list. Having either a responsive website that is easy to navigate and view on a mobile deice or a customized native app will bump you much higher in the search results; having both puts your agency at the top.
Mobile represents 'where the puck is going to be' for your incoming market. (Photo: iStock)
Another reason why you’ll want to implement an app for your agency is what it will do for your client relationships that your website can't. A website is great to attract new customers, but a mobile app is the way you deliver benefits to your best clients. Because the majority of your business comes from existing customers, growing their lifetime value is a valuable expenditure.
Also, websites are passive — prospects have to search, visit, then figure out website navigation to get the information they want. With an app and push notifications you can be proactive in delivering key education and information directly into the palms of their hands. Whether it's straight copy, video, the latest blog post, survey or lead capture forms, or redirecting them to specific information inside the app, your website or elsewhere, a mobile app push-notification controls the experience and responds to the specific interest of your client.
The referral key
Finally, the bonus value to a mobile app is the ease with which users can share their experience with their friends and followers over their own social media pages directly inside the app.
The reliability of reviews and referrals is dependent on two key factors, according to a BrightLocal 2014 survey: first, how many there are and, second, how authentic they feel. The ability of app users to click a button inside the app, while they are getting great value from your agency, and share that experience with their circle of influence is an effective way to deliver both numbers and authenticity.
With Amazon.com's recent lawsuit against more than 1,000 online reviewers accusing them of publishing fake and fraudulent reviews, the reliability of referrals and reviews has never been more important.
3 reasons you need an app
First, mobile represents “where the puck is going to be,” and for your incoming market, your agency needs to be there in order to stay relevant. Of the current four hours we spend on our mobile devices, 85% of it is on apps. Don't you want to carve out some of that time for your agency?
Second, providing quality and valuable content is important, but successfully delivering it into your clients’ hands is key. Push notifications have a 50% to 80% open rate usually within three minutes or less, a vast improvement over e-mail delivery alone.
Third, the in-app sharing function leverages the viral nature of social media and gives your agency brand a reach it otherwise wouldn't be able to achieve alone.
The success of any endeavor is dependent on the way it's executed. Websites and mobile apps can't be based on a “build it and they will come” mentality. Changing content, interactive experiences and ease of use all based upon a relationship focus are must haves to achieve success. If you would like to understand how to accomplish this, shoot me an e-mail; I would be happy to help you through the process.
Rick Gilman is the executive director of the Personal Lines Growth Alliance. Contact him at email@example.com.
Related: 5 mobile apps for insurance agents
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