By Vik Palan
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More bang for your e-buck | Canadian Insurance

More bang for your e-buck

Designing and developing effective insurance websites.

In today’s day and age more and more people are turning to the Internet to look for all kinds of products and services. Even if most transactions still take place in the bricks-and-mortar world, many consumers utilize the Internet as a primary tool to research, comparison-shop and initiate contact. That alone makes web presence an essential component to any marketing strategy.

But how can you design your web presence for maximum value?

When designing (or re-designing) your site, it’s important to understand why consumers use the Internet for insurance purposes.

Typically, consumers seeking either an insurance broker, company or risk manager are searching for four essential pieces of information:

  • To find out what type of insurance they require (to understand the extent of their insurable risks)
  • To shop around for different insurance companies
  • To shop around for different types of insurance products
  • To order insurance

Websites for Insurance Brokers
Insurance brokers truly provide gateway services to the insurance industry. A broker’s primary professional responsibility is to help businesses and individuals find the most appropriate (and affordable) insurance products to meet their specific needs, goals and objectives.

The website design for an insurance broker needs to recognize this gateway service functionality above all else, since it dictates the type of information a broker must have readily accessible on the site:

  • Basic information about the insurance companies affiliated with the broker;
  • Information about the specific types of coverage available from the affiliated insurers;
  • A non-binding but yet reasonably accurate quote regarding the costs to obtain particular insurance coverage;
  • A highly functional and user-friendly communication tool through which the consumer can obtain additional information (that is designed in such a manner as to provide that individual with an immediate acknowledgment of the request for information);
  • Biographical and associated professional information pertaining to the broker(s) that is easily accessible to that consumer;
  • Site navigation must be simple and user-friendly.

Indeed, the best broker’s website is one in which all this information can be obtained within a click or two after reaching the site. If a consumer cannot gain access to basic questions, or obtain basic information quickly, they can easily find another broker site.

The benefit of online marketing is that Internet advertising is completely auditable and trackable—to the dollar.

Online Marketing
Once you have a website, it is extremely important to market it.

Having a website and not marketing it is like getting thousands of flyers printed and not distributing them—it simply does not make sense.

The benefit of online marketing is that Internet advertising is completely auditable and trackable—to the dollar.

However, there are several factors that will influence the cost and time required to market your website on the search engines. These factors include your competition (who they are; how big they are; how much market share they own and how much they spend on online marketing); how much marketing you have already done for your website; your website’s content and theme; your business objectives; and your search engine marketing budget.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via “organic” search results. The organic search results are the ones that pull up in the main body of the search results page.

Studies have shown that these organic search listings are clicked on more often than the sponsored search listing—which is why it is so crucial that companies optimize their websites for the best possible placement.

A growing number of website design companies have started providing services to specific industries, including the insurance industry. Armed with these tips, any person or company should be able to find the right expert at the right price point.

Vik Palan is senior vice president, Business Development, iToolPro Systems Inc., a web-based software solutions company.

© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the February 2010 edition of Canadian Insurance magazine.