As we approach 2020, an important deadline nears. No, it’s not the presidential election. It’s the complete transition to the 2017 CSOs.
Commissioners Standard Ordinary Mortality Tables (CSOs) are actuarial tables developed by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the American Academy of Actuaries on behalf of NAIC. These calculations have been used to develop underwriting guidelines and reserve targets for insurance companies for almost 80 years now. While client-focused advisors may not delve too deep into the actuarial aspects of our industry, CSOs can have a significant impact on products, pricing, and procedures. Which for the smart advisor, means sales opportunities.
First a little background. CSOs were originally implemented in 1941. The first CSOs were based on the experience of sixteen life insurance companies in the United States and Canada, drawing on policy information from years 1931 to 1940. Since this, there have been four major iterations of CSOs, in years 1958, 1980, 2001, and 2017. Like the first CSOs, subsequent versions were based on industry experience from a set period of time preceding their development. The idea is to provide a base standard for carriers while accounting for changes over the decades. With each CSO, more carriers participated, more data was provided, and more analysis prepared.
Why you should care about 2017 figures in 2019
Each CSO has a three-year transitional period, at the end of which all carriers are required to implement the new tables in reserve values and underwriting. The deadline for full implementation of the 2017 tables is January 1, 2020. While every company will have their own specific underwriting process, the CSOs are used as a common base.
The adjustment of reserve values impacts how carriers price their products. Additionally, features such as guaranteed cash values and other non-forfeiture benefits see a relationship to reserves (which again, has a key relationship with the most current CSOs).
Amongst insurance carriers, you will find a variation of who has already adopted the new CSOs and who is waiting until the deadline. The main difference between the 2017 tables and the 2001 version—the most recent—are the mortality rates. As life expectancies have generally improved in the sixteen years between the versions, new mortality rates will generally be lower. Consider that since 2001, tables have been calculated to age attained of 120 years. This has led to some surprising developments, like 35- and 40-year term life insurance policies available with a few carriers.
With the 2017 tables, there is also the creation of a new reserves calculation method called the Principle-Based Reserve formula (PBR). This formula seeks parity on reserves requirements; under current methods carriers can carry an excess of reserves on one group of products while maintaining inadequate reserves on another.
In general, the new CSOs will likely result in lower premiums on term life and GUL policies. For cash value products target premiums will likely stay static, while cash value growth accounts may see diminished accumulation.
With cheaper insurance on the market, a client who was previously priced out of a product may be better positioned after the CSO adoption. Or there may be alternatives to their current coverage which not only incurs lower premiums but possibly additional features. As we near the CSO implementation deadline, policy reviews will become an even more valuable prospecting and sales technique.
September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Request our complimentary 2019 LIAM Sales Kit today.
Educating clients is among the top priorities for an advisor. This typically involves information on the products most suitable for their situation, long-term savings strategies, or how to set up a balanced household budget. Thanks to a swelling wave of online criminal activity, advisors can add one more item to their list of talking points: cybersecurity.
According to PrivacyRights.org, the last five years have seen roughly 9,000 reported breaches, which compromised more than 11 trillion records. Servers for everything from the popular online video game Fortnite to Capital One have fallen prey to hackers. The attacks have exposed a wealth of personally identifiable information, including in some cases Social Security and credit card numbers. The need for data security awareness is more important than ever. As a trusted advisor, it’s up to you be someone clients can turn to for answers.
Oversight agencies are taking the increase in data breaches very seriously, especially as it pertains to the financial industry. Advisors need to stay up to date with any new moves made by the SEC and FINRA regarding the safety of client data. For example, the SEC has made fraud prevention/cybersecurity a top exam priority and will frequently post new risk alerts related to safeguarding client records and personal information.
Transparency has long been a crucial part of the client-advisor relationship. With the constant threat of cybercrime and data leaks looming overhead, an upfront approach is now more important than ever. This is a lesson software firm Redtail Technology, which develops CRM solutions for advisors, learned the hard way. In March, Redtail discovered a glitch that dumped a file with clients’ personal information online for anyone to download. The company waited more than two months before giving notice to those whose info might have leaked. The time between discovery and disclosure was longer than regulations for all 50 states allow. The leak was caused by an internal error, and not related to an outside hacker, but Redtail’s hesitation could lead to legal issues for the company.
Obviously, advisors with clients affected by the leak were likely unable to sound any alarms until they were notified themselves. However, the Redtail incident highlights the need for advisors to develop their own set of safety protocols and internal policies regarding data protection and how to handle the fallout from a breach.
Beyond keeping your business practices regarding personal data in compliance, it’s important to make every effort to safeguard your own information. For one, taking steps to protect yourself is an exercise in common sense and a necessity. As many victims of fraud could attest to, identity and information theft can leave a huge mess to clean up and take months, if not longer, to recover from.
Another benefit of walking yourself through the protection process is the experience yourself. When talking to clients about the why and how of data protection, you’ll be able to speak from a “when the rubber hits the road” perspective. Instead of rambling through a scripted “How To Protect Your Data” spiel, you will be more relatable and credible by sharing your personal experience with the matter.
Extend an Invitation to Educate
Advisors looking for the next consumer engagement opportunity can find one in data protection awareness. As concern over cybersecurity grows, clients and prospects are becoming more receptive to learning how to protect themselves. Call your existing clients and schedule a time to sit down and determine how well they are protected, and what holes need to be filled.
The issue of safeguarding one’s data can also be a good prospecting strategy. With cybersecurity and data breaches in the news on almost a daily basis, it’s become nearly impossible to not think about. This means prospects in your drip list are more likely to open and read an email on the topic. And as a trending topic, SEO and social media campaigns have a higher potential for engagement.
Data protection might not be within the traditional wheelhouse of an advisor, but changing times demand a changing approach. As someone in the finance industry, many consumers probably already consider you a trusted source of advice and assistance. Taking the time to help people safeguard their personal information can lead to a long-term advisor-client relationship rooted in trust and credibility.
We all know that many consumers walk into an appointment with some form of behavioral finance bias. Common forms of these biases include Snake-Bite Effect, Loss Aversion, and Confirmation Bias. No matter how you define them, they can all be tough obstacles to overcome. Seasoned advisors have learned over the years how to both recognize a biased client when they see one, and how to set their mind at ease. That said, some of you might not recognize the obstacles you’re creating for yourself.
Advisors can be just as biased as consumers when it comes to financial products and planning. According to a recent survey by SEI, more than 25% of advisors admitted to being overconfident in their own skills. Another 21% stated that “regret avoidance” has affected the decisions they make when mapping out client’s plan. Are you among those who might be standing in their own way? Spend some time reflecting on any biases you might be bringing to the table.
As the SEI survey revealed, advisors who are a little too sure of themselves are also those causing the biggest problems for themselves. While confidence is an invaluable asset, overconfidence can often be interpreted as arrogance. This can lead to hastily made recommendations that don’t fully account for the client’s unique situation. After all, it worked for the last person, why wouldn’t it work for the next? As great as that sounds, we all know it isn’t true. For the client, an overconfident advisor can come across as driven more by making the sale than meeting their needs. This is a great way to help your competition land the client you’ve been working so hard to convert. If this sounds like a familiar situation, take your foot off the gas pedal. Using an approach that combines active listening, probing skills and a soft touch will help overcome overconfidence.
This one is obviously at the opposite end of the spectrum. Referred to in the survey as regret avoidance, and similar to the snake-bite effect that many clients carry, an under-confident advisor will often second-guess themselves into losing the client. This often stems from a string of recommendations that don’t pan out as well as they should have. It’s natural to keep swinging for the fences, but easy to forget that even Babe Ruth struck out on occasion. When stuck in a rut, consider ways to break out of your own box. Dedicate time to reading industry-related articles, product updates, and marketing tips for a dose of inspiration. Colleagues who are willing to share their insight can also help refresh your mindset and get you back on track. An even better source can be found at the FMO you partner with (or should be partnering with). Most importantly, keep in mind that you’ve had success in the past and will have success again. Everyone gets stuck in a rut from time to time. The key to getting yourself is to remain confident in your own abilities.
This can be a difficult bias to recognize and even harder to overcome for some advisors. Seasoned advisors might have years of experience in creating long-term strategies for young families. The flipside of that experience is that you’re getting older, but those new families and prospects you’ve become so used to working with stay the same age. Over time, you might notice a growing disconnect between you and those prospects. Each new generation enters the “real world” with its own set of values, needs, and situations. These might be vastly different from those you adhere to, making it easy to get out of step with your target market. Some of you might prefer to age with your target market, which is all well and good. However, Millennials now make up the largest portion of the American workforce and will inherit the largest transfer of wealth ever. Is this really a ship you want to abandon? Probably not. An open mind and a little research can go a long way toward bridging the generational gap that divides you and a new crop of long-term clients.
Have you unintentionally been carrying any of the biases listed above? Or maybe you’re dealing with one we haven’t explored here. If so, what sort of bias-born obstacle are you dealing with and how are you trying to overcome it? We’d love to hear your story. And might even be able to offer some advice. Drop us a line and we’ll talk about it.
What started as a celebrity-fueled trend is quickly becoming another focal point in the ongoing conversation about privacy in the digital era. Even those living under a rock are struggling to escape the FaceApp craze. The mobile photo-editing app that uses AI-driven biometric tech to render realistic transformations of faces has been downloaded by more than 100 million people on the Google Store alone and ranks #1 with Apple users. A few days after we all started using the app to post digitally-aged selfies, the privacy concerns emerged.
The integration of biometric tech into our mobile devices (among other facets of our daily lives) is nothing “new,” at least in technological terms. The facial recognition software that powers FaceApp is also used to unlock our mobile devices, aid law enforcement, and is being tested by the service and retail industry for enhanced consumer experience. We can include the insurance industry into the growing list of those getting in on the action.
As covered in a previous edition of Marketing Corner, insuretech company Lapetus Solutions in 2017 rolled out a software platform that makes use of facial recognition and biometrics for several insurance-related purposes. The platform is designed to not only boost security and prevent fraud, but can reportedly determine the longevity, health, and overall risk of a policy applicant. By scanning the image of an applicant’s face, the software creates a profile based on biological, physical, genetic, and behavioral information. This data is intended to give insurance carriers a comprehensive assessment of the applicant’s life expectancy and mortality risk. For the consumer, this can streamline the application process by foregoing a trip to the doctor, and instead use a selfie and questionnaire. As recently as two years ago, the platform was in the “coming soon” stage. Today, it’s here.
Legal & General was the first carrier to implement the software into their Term Life application process. The company’s “SelfieQuote” service was launched in order to estimate age, gender, and BMI in order to provide a quick and easy life insurance quote. The carrier’s website states that the self-quoting experiment is in beta testing phase. However, the actual selfie submission portal is not currently online.
That said, the selfie quote is becoming a reality for insurers. The simplicity and affordability are undoubtedly a selling point for younger consumers, who tend to jump headfirst into emerging tech, and favor apps over websites. However, the privacy concerns surrounding facial recognition software could be another life insurance objection for agents to overcome, especially when dealing with baby boomers and at least a portion of Gen-Xers. Millennials, stereotypically known for taking and posting selfies for just about any occasion, are much more likely to snap another for a life insurance quote.
It’s important for agents and advisors to think about the pros and cons of selfie-quoting technology. The chances are high that we’re only a few years away at most from this becoming commonplace, so it might benefit you to get a little insight before that happens. Next time you’re sitting with a client, find a way to work the topic into your conversation. Getting a sense of how your target market feels about the technology will help you prepare for the day it joins your current list of products and services.
A website is among the most valuable marketing tools an agent or advisor has at their disposal. As the “digital face” of your brand, this is typically where consumers will come to form their first impression of your business and the value you can provide. Because most people will only spend a couple of minutes browsing your pages before moving on, it’s vital that your site looks professional, is easy to navigate, and gives a clear overview of everything you offer. Anything less will likely be a bigger asset to your competition than to you.
There are three key ingredients that go into creating a well-designed website – time, effort, and money. The process usually starts when you take out the credit card to purchase a domain name and hosting services. Then come the hours you can spend and work that goes into crafting content, such as service overviews, your professional credentials, and general information about your business. Once that’s all covered, it’s time to put it all together and click publish. Simple enough, right? It is if you moonlight as a web designer, but most advisors are more focused on finances than they are coding and layout.
Sure, there are plenty of services available that provide cheap and easy ways to “get your website online in minutes.” As great as this sounds, these are often generic alternatives offering limited functionality and design options. The end result is usually a bland website that does little to set your site apart from others using these services. Today’s consumers value experience when visiting a website. First impressions are often based on the “wow factor” of your site. The actual content featured on your pages is secondary to the overall look and feel of the site.
Although drag-and-drop builders and templates have improved over the last couple of years, there are still a few things to consider before locking yourself into a long-term plan with one of these services. You want prospects to believe that you stand apart from other advisors, right? This starts with a website that promotes brand identity. In other words, if you don’t look any different than the competition, consumers won’t think you’re any different. Because many templates are built with specific businesses and industries in mind, chances are good that the advisor down the street is using the same one you just bought. And, because of service agreements, your site’s hosting, its content, and even its domain may be scuttled if you decide to go somewhere else. In short, even though you paid for your site and put effort into it, you do not truly own it. Many FMOs that provide marketing function this way as well.
Going back to the time factor, how many hours can you put each week toward your site? You have business to write, clients to meet with, prospects to engage, and a laundry list of administrative duties to keep up with. Most independent agents and advisors can’t afford to put things on hold to focus on maintenance and posting fresh content. And what happens if your site goes down? Can you stop everything in the middle of the day for a lengthy phone call with tech support?
Many independents have come to rely upon the services of a professional web developer. While this comes with added expenses, hiring a team to manage your online presence is often a worthwhile investment. This will not only provide you with a site that is customized to your brand and services, it will help keep things up-to-date and running smoothly. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about spending time building temporary landing pages when promoting a specific product or seminar.
For those working in the financial industry, it’s important to have a team that understands your business and services. Many web design firms cast a broad net and develop sites for a variety of different businesses. They might not have the insight needed to craft content tailor-made for your target market. For many, partnering with a quality FMO is the best solution, but again, this can come with locking an agent into service level agreements. This is why Legacy Financial Partners strives to provide top-tier digital and web services. Our creative team is able to create customized and fluent websites, that not only look and feel professional but include content made to engage prospects. And you own it. Beyond your website, our digital services include SEO, microsite design, social media, email campaigns, and more. Learn more about how we can help amplify your digital presence here.
The 116th U.S. Congress took office on January 3, 2019. Since that day, the spotlight has been permanently affixed on Capitol Hill. With all the attention Congress has been getting this year, it seems one very significant piece of legislation has gone largely unnoticed – The SECURE Act of 2019.
Introduced in late March by Rep. Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act restructures current retirement and pension laws. With overwhelming bipartisan support, the bill passed the House in late May and has since been waiting to be picked up by the Senate.
The SECURE Act consists of nearly 30 provisions, many of which would have a direct impact on small businesses and their employees. As summarized on Congress.gov, the bill would bring the following changes to employer-provided retirement plans:
- multiple employer plans;
- automatic enrollment and nonelective contributions;
- tax credits for small employers that establish certain plans;
- lifetime income options;
- the treatment of custodial accounts upon termination of section 403(b) plans;
- retirement income accounts for church-controlled organizations;
- the eligibility rules for certain long-term, part-time employees;
- required minimum distributions;
- nondiscrimination rules;
- minimum funding standards for community newspaper plans; and
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation premiums for CSEC plans (multiple employer plans maintained by certain charities or cooperatives).
In short, Congress is trying to make it easier and more affordable for small business owners to provide their employees with retirement plans. This would boost retirement security for nearly 60 million American workers by loosening the rules dictating multiple employer plans. Currently, MEPs are allowed for employers who are connected through various professional associations or share similar economic interests. The SECURE Act would remove those restrictions and make it easier for unrelated employers to enter these types of arrangements. This would cut costs, cut red tape, and reduce legal liability for businesses.
Additional items included in the bill, many of which advisors should keep an eye on, involve lifetime income options. The bill would open the door for employers to offer annuities options as part of their retirement packages. Also of interest to many of your clients are the incentives it gives to employers to give part-time workers access to 401(k) plans. For advisors, this could mean a new segment of prospects whose employment status has limited access to retirement products.
Something else that could impact clients with retirement accounts is the provision that raises the Required Minimum Distribution age from 70 to 72. According to the Tax Policy Center, this will help offset the cost of longer lifespans, which have risen significantly since the current RMD rules were enacted in the 1970s.
While the SECURE Act brings numerous additional changes to the current retirement laws, advisors should pinpoint those that will most directly affect their clients and work to ensure they understand the ins and outs, pros and cons of the bill should it be passed into law. Will it survive the Senate and land in the White House? Only time will tell. Use that time to do your homework and be ready in case it does.
Read the full text of the bill here.
Annuities have been a hot product as of late. In the final quarter of 2018, total annuity sales topped $62 billion (Insurance News Net). This was a 22% increase when compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. Most of that growth came from fixed annuities, while variable products in Q4 2018 dropped by 3% from the previous year. But that has little bearing on the fact that annuities are on the rise. According to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, annuity sales are projected to jump by another 5% this year. This trend is expected to continue through 2023. What does this momentum mean for advisors? The answer is obvious. Strike while the iron is hot. Here are five ways to do so.
Watch Your Language
With the wide variety of options available, annuities can seem complex, even confusing, for many people. For those whose long-term financial well-being hinges on making the right decision, sorting through the intricacies can be overwhelming. This is why you should choose your words carefully when educating clients and prospects. Use clear, concise language and try to put things into layman’s terms. Jargon and industry terms can be intimidating for the average consumer. At the same time, under-explaining can be just as confusing as being overly verbose. Find the middle ground between dumbing it down and going over their heads.
Seminars are ideal for reaching multiple prospects at once. Take a room full of people who walk through the door interested in annuities, add in a well-spoken expert advisor such as yourself and you have a recipe for conversion. Use the same smooth and concise delivery as you would during a one-on-one meeting, but don’t be afraid to turn up the volume. Keeping an audience engaged for the entire presentation can be tough if charisma is not your strong suit. Be personable, maybe even a little excited about annuities. A little humor never hurts either. When it comes time to get to the nuts and bolts of annuity products, use slideshow presentations and other visual aids to add clarity.
Social Media and Web Content
No matter what product or service you’re offering, social media is your friend. Eye-catching ads and well-crafted posts targeted to the appropriate audience are valuable tools. Use your social platforms to pique consumer interest and drive traffic to your website. Whether you’re pushing out an educational blog post or article, a seminar registration page, or your home page, make sure your content is as flawless as possible. Even the smallest typo rarely goes unnoticed and can kill your credibility. The key here is to know the audience you’re trying to reach and post content relevant to them. You also want to be consistent across the board. If your social media post delivers one message, but the linked page says something different, the consumer will likely move on almost immediately.
Asking the right questions and being an active and engaged listener are two keys to any productive conversation. Before you even start chatting about annuities, spend some time getting to know the person sitting across from you. Without getting too personal, find out who they are and why they came to you. Ask about their career, hobbies, or interests. Be relatable. Try to find some common ground between you and the client and use that to break the ice and make them more comfortable. A smooth transition from casual conversation to annuity awareness can boost your chances for conversion.
Whether it’s a one-on-one appointment or crowded seminar, you’re going to put forth a lot of information for the prospect(s) to take in. Chances are, you aren’t going to make the sale right then and right there. Most people will want to go home, process it all, and put some dedicated thought into their final decision. However, it can be difficult for many people to retain and recall the details of your conversation. Send them home with a packet of informative materials (brochures, one-sheets, booklets, etc.). Encourage them to spend some time with materials, take some notes, and call if they have any questions. And, again, consistency is key. The information you deliver in person should match that of the reading material you hand them afterward. It might not hurt to keep a highlighter handy to mark anything that pertains directly to their situation.
If you need access to any consumer-facing marketing resources, our complimentary 2019 Annuity Awareness Month Sales Kit features up-to-date and comprehensive content that has helped many advisors with annuity sales.
The kit includes:
- Annuity Basics Guide
- Annuity Slide Presentation
- 2019 Quick Tax Guide
- 2019 Annual Tax Equivalent Tax Yields
- CD Alternative V. Split Annuity Concept Sheet
Marketing is a necessity for agents and advisors. If consumers don’t know you exist, you aren’t going to get their business. Those of you who have been in business long enough probably remember when your options were limited to what we now call “traditional” marketing methods. For years, we had to rely upon TV, radio, print, and direct mail to get our messages out to consumers.
Fortunately, this is no longer the case. The digital era has opened us up to a wide variety of ways to get in front of prospects and communicate with consumers. But that doesn’t mean digital is the be-all-end-all of marketing your business. Traditional methods are still viable and, in many cases, necessary. A good marketing strategy requires balance. And balance, in turn, requires insight. To help agents and advisors make the most of their marketing efforts, we look at some the key difference between digital and traditional marketing.
The money you spend on traditional methods will depend on the medium used and the frequency of the campaign. For TV or radio ads to be effective, they need to run multiple times a day and during times when more people are tuned in. This can get expensive as most outlets charge more for peak air time. When you factor in production costs (or layout, print and postage fees for direct mail), these campaigns can quickly consume your marketing budget.
By comparison, digital marketing and advertising is very cost-friendly and flexible. Social media platforms allow you to set a budget before launching the campaign and make adjustments as needed. While it will cost more to run an extended and high-frequency campaign, you have the ability to dial things back and change course mid-stream if the campaign isn’t going as well as expected. This is where the benefits of analytics come into play. You can get real-time results on the performance of your campaign, measure ROI, and gain valuable, data-driven insights so you know what’s working and (more importantly) what isn’t working.
Reach, Control & Presence
Unless you buy ad space/air time with an outlet that caters to a niche audience, you have little to no control over who might (or might not) be exposed to your message. Even then, there’s no guarantee that your target market will be actively watching or listening when your ad runs. The same concerns apply to print and direct mail. Will the consumer stick your mailer on the fridge so they can come back to it later? Or will it land in the recycling bin?
Digital ads and sponsored posts follow the consumer and can be shared across multiple channels. Social media, Google AdWords, email services all provide the benefits of segmentation, customized audiences, and geo-targeting. This hyper-focused delivery allows you to target specific demographics, regions, and markets. Digital also comes with an inherent “always on” factor. This means that anytime a consumer is online, they could potentially come across your content.
Traditional methods of content delivery are a one-sided conversation. There is little to no opportunity for active participation or engagement from consumers. Basically, once you launch the campaign, it’s up to the consumer to respond and start the conversation.
Consumer experience is a key ingredient to a successful marketing campaign. Digital content provides an opportunity for businesses and consumers to interact and communicate with one another. This is a great way to build credibility and foster real relationships with your prospects before they sit down for the first appointment.
These comparisons aside, traditional marketing still has a place at the table. Print and radio ads are great for brand awareness and can help boost your professional status within your community. But this is the digital era. With more and more people abandoning print and broadcast in favor of their online and streaming counterparts, you need to consider how many eggs to put in each basket. That balance largely depends on your services, target market, budget, and other factors. This can be a difficult, but important decision to make.
Did these points speak to you? Stay tuned for information on how we can help turn you into a digital marketing rockstar.
Thanks to a calendar full of finance and retirement-related awareness campaigns, agents and advisors are rarely short on reasons to reach out to consumers. Most of you have probably taken advantage of the resources made available by Life Happens for September’s Life Insurance Awareness Month. April and October, both recognized as CD Renewal months, offer two chances to discuss products that might serve clients’ needs better than a Certificate of Deposit.
As May comes to a close, so too does Disability Insurance Awareness Month (covered in a recent edition of Marketing Corner). Fortunately, you don’t have to wait long for the next round. June is designated as Annuity Awareness Month, a campaign that serves to educate consumers on, you guessed it, annuities. Use this time to start the conversation with clients and prospects about how an annuity might help their retirement goals.
Two big features they might find appealing are 1) The ability to accumulate tax-deferred cash value (as with fixed and fixed indexed annuities); and 2) The ability to trigger a source of income that cannot be outlived (as with a lifetime income rider).
Of course, some consumers may not even be familiar with the fundamental structure of an annuity. So successfully selling a prospect on an annuity can depend on educating them on the basics and clearly illustrating how an annuity product can fit within their retirement goals. However, you need to make the connection before starting the conversation. Try these simple engagement tips to reach more consumers during Annuity Awareness Month.
Social Media marketing is an absolute necessity for agents and advisors. So, it makes sense that a good portion of your Annuity Awareness Month efforts take place on social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. One of the most effective ways to do so is by sharing articles that cover the ins and outs of how annuities work. Ideally, at least a few of these articles will be original content posted to your blog/website. But any well-written, consumer-facing pieces will work if they catch the consumer’s attention. When crafting your posts, use relevant hashtags to help boost engagement. A few trending this month include:
Take a quick look at your email distribution list. Do you have a segment of subscribers who have previously expressed interest in annuities? Or maybe you already have a drip campaign going for those prospects. Now is the time to crank up the volume on those campaigns just a bit. While you should avoid overdoing the email blasts, an extra message this month might be enough to get a few prospects to pick up the phone. Make sure to use personalization and a strong call-to-action to make the email a little more enticing. Additionally, those of you who blast out a monthly newsletter should definitely focus on annuity education this month.
Pick Up the Phone
Calling existing clients or even prospects who might be close to conversion is perhaps the most straight-forward and personal way to get them thinking about annuities. Start with clients who are due for a policy review or any you might need to catch up with. From there, work through your list and strike up a conversation. This is much more time consuming than other marketing efforts, but it never hurts to reach out and say hello to your valued clients anyway, right? Even if they aren’t interested in annuities, this is your opportunity to chat about other products that might match their current needs.
Whitepapers, fact sheets, presentations, and other consumer-facing materials can all be very powerful and effective marketing tools. These resources are a great visual aid and, oftentimes, help consumers better understand how an annuity can benefit their situation. Emails and social media posts that offer free downloadable resources are not only more engaging, they drive traffic to your website and can be a great way to get their contact information. Customizing these materials to your brand and business is a subtle, yet effective way to boost your credibility and professionalism in the eyes of a potential client.
If you need access to updated and comprehensive annuity marketing resources, we can help. Our complimentary 2019 Annuity Awareness Month Sales Kit includes:
Annuity Basics Guide
Annuity Slide Presentation
2019 Quick Tax Guide
2019 Annual Tax Equivalent Tax Yields
CD Alternative V. Split Annuity Concept Sheet
Fill out the form to request your copy of our Annuity Awareness Month Kit.
In an ideal world, your agent website is enhanced for both passive and active marketing activities. If there is good, SEO-rich content, your target market will naturally engage with your web collateral. And if you’ve got great calls to action and active marketing processes, you can lead consumers to your web properties, which may inspire them to take further actions (such as submitting their information or calling you directly).
Below you will find ten simple steps to optimizing your website to generate good online leads.
Appeal to Your Target Market
A clean, well-designed website is the key to making a good first impression to online consumers. Generally speaking, your site should be user-friendly, responsive, easy to navigate, and support multiple devices. It’s also important that your contact information and social media links are easy to find. Now consider what your specific target market would find appealing and adjust the content and design of your site accordingly. You want prospects to visit your site and feel like they’ve found someone who understands—and can provide solutions for—their needs and concerns.
Identify & Use Pertinent Keywords
Make a list of keywords and search terms that relate to the products and services you provide. When a consumer in your target market is searching online for information, you want them to land on your site for the answer, right? Think about what those consumers might be searching for. Are they looking for ‘top annuity rates,’ ‘how does life insurance work’ or ‘financial advisors in my area?’ Identify those keywords and layer them into the content of your site. This will better index your site, making it more likely to appear near the top of the consumer’s search results.
Say NO to Templates
You’ve seen those ads that offer quick and easy business websites. Avoid these at all costs! You want your website to be unique and stand out from the competition. What you don’t want is for the consumer to see a generic website and leave with the impression that you aren’t invested enough in your own business (or clients) to sink any resources into a quality online presence. Furthermore, template sites offer limited functionality and do not allow for proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Contact us if you’re interested in a functional, custom-built website.
Create a Call to Action
The prospect is on your site, now what? Why should they pick up the phone or submit their information? Your Call to Action should give them that answer before they ask the question. An effective CTA is concise, visually-appealing, and tailored to your target market. You could offer anything from a white paper, video or complimentary appointment; just give the prospect as many reasons as possible to contact you. See our recent post on landing pages and calls to action.
Work to minimize jargon, acronyms and complex terminology from your content. Write to the consumers, not over their heads. Jargon-heavy content can be intimidating or confusing to many consumers. If they struggle to grasp the meaning of your message, you’ve lost them. Additionally, buzzwords like “turnkey” and “cutting-edge” will likely find the prospect rolling their eyes as they exit your site. What you say, and how you say it, plays a huge role in whether or not the prospect contacts you.
Create a Blog
Fresh content drives traffic. All things being equal, the website with the freshest, most relevant content will index better. Well-written and informative blog posts can also do wonders for your credibility. Sending e-newsletters with a link to your blog is another good way to drive additional traffic to your site.
Implement Email Marketing
It’s unlikely that prospects will make visits to your website a part of their daily routine. This is why we recommend sending regularly scheduled email blasts. Keeping your prospects updated with your latest blog posts and relevant news can be a good way to convert them into clients. If you have questions about how an e-newsletter campaign can benefit your business, or if you’d like us to design one for you, call us today.
Leverage Social Media
Spreading your message across all mediums is key to generating measurable results. The average prospect has to be touched 6-9 times before they buy. Many of those prospects spend roughly one-third of their time online actively engaged in one or more social media platforms. Use your social media channels to boost your online presence, interact with consumers and build a loyal following. Additionally, sharing links to your blog, website, landing pages, etc. will boost web traffic and search engine ranking, which ultimately leads to more conversions.
Test & Track
Your website has a call to action, but how effective is it? You can’t just put it up there, walk away and expect results. Keep track of how well (or poorly) your CTA is performing and make changes as needed. Switch out different gives and see what generates the highest conversion. If you’re curious about what offers and gives typically yield the highest response rates, call us for a complimentary report.
Partner with an FMO
Work with an FMO that understands how digital marketing works and can help implement your plan. This can be the difference between having an online business card and an online marketing engine. Contact us now if you want to take your business to the next level.