Let’s Plan a Website

The last time we talked about strategy and a clear understanding of what you want out of your insurance website. Many of us have preconceived notions about what works and what doesn’t work in terms of management and marketing. Most of our notions are based on experience. Telemarketing works; emails are intrusive; I don’t like direct mail; ad infinitum.

Before you decide on your Internet marketing strategy, consider how quickly insurance marketing has changed in the last ten years. Ten years ago Facebook didn’t exist, there was no cloud computing, or SAS, Sarbanes Oxely was brand new, gasoline was 1.50-1.75, and Twitter didn’t exist. Notions that Internet marketing is only for personal lines and social media is not an effective platform for insurance will only inhibit your ability to realize an ROI. Things may be changing more quickly than you think, so keep an open mind during this process.

Is your site going to be purely informational, or do want an informational site with an emphasis on new business development? My experience is most agencies want to generate leads and sales with their websites. Think about your target audience and design your website and write your copy accordingly. Every page on your site has to be designed with your business objectives in mind. For example, if you want to generate leads, make sure you include a call-to-action on every page.

The first step is to form a team. A team keeps individual members accountable and splits up the work according to competency and interest. Even if you outsource, the more you are involved in the purpose, planning and approval, the better you will like the result.

"Shackel’s Acceptability Paradigm" which says
1. Utility; Does it work? How Well does it work? Is it relevant? Can it be found organically on the search engines? Does it answer the questions my customers will be asking?
2. Likability; How do I like it compared to other insurance websites? Do I like using it? Would I recommend it to someone else?
3. Usability; Is it easy to perform a task? Is the navigation simple? How easy is it to use?
4. Speed; Does it load quickly (4-5 seconds) ? Speed is essential. Without it, people will just move on to the next site. Successfully accomplishing 1-3 will keep people on your site.

So, who do you need to build your site. The key person is you. You are the stakeholder. The decision maker. It starts and ends with your direction. Take advice but stay involved. There may be times when you ask yourself; why am I paying these people? You are paying them for their internet marketing expertise. They need your direction in order to apply your vision and personality to the site. You may have to read two versions of copy or look at three or four designs before you are happy, or you might like what you see in the first draft. Either way don’t get discouraged. Stay with it and stay involved and you will be truly happy with the outcome.

The architect defines features and functions and develops a skeleton (wireframe) for delivering the of the information to each page.

The copy writer writes the copy carefully placing the key search terms within the body of the content and making sure there is enough content on each page.

The designer establishes the look and feel and selects the color scheme and graphics and then translates this into CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) which separates the graphics from the HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) text.

The developer translates the design into code which enables the functionality of the site.

Once you have your team, in place, you are ready to get started. The next time we’ll talk about best practices for design including conventions, descriptions, search, and navigation and how they relate to Insurance Internet Marketing