Canadian Underwriter

Why you should accelerate your digital expansion

July 17, 2019   by Adam Malik

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Growing your bottom line and developing a stronger bond with clients are just two reasons why brokerages need to ensure their online presence is strong, according to a recent study. Brokers also need to use every tool at their disposal in a hard market, making a digital presence even more critical for success.

BDC, a bank that specializes in working with entrepreneurs, recently released its findings that 60% of Canadian small businesses are missing out on growth opportunities available online.

“A strong digital presence is required for any business looking to grow,” said Norah Black, marketing and communications director at the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario. “People shop online. Whether that final purchase is made online or not, people search for products and businesses to make comparisons between features, price, availability. If everything lines up, they’re judging what your business looks like. If you’re not online, you’re being overlooked.”

Pierre Cléroux, BDC’s vice president of research and chief economist, agreed. Too many businesses are leaving money on the table for their competitors who are more engaged online. That is why “it is vital that Canadian business owners take their digital presence seriously,” he said. “A strong online presence should be at the heart of any business that wants to continue growing and remain competitive.”

There are many ways in which being online can drive a brokerage’s growth, Black explained, including attracting new business thanks to your digital presence increasing your reach and visibility and boosting your customer service levels by giving customers more ways to reach you.

“It creates a stronger brand for your business, adding credibility and improving your online reputation,” she added. “Online platforms offer more opportunities to connect with your clients. They’re relationship builders — an investment in your client base — providing the opportunity to demonstrate your business’s personality to improve retention. Being active online helps you stand out. It’s another way to communicate, whether formally or informally.”

Communication is ever more important in a hard market. A strong online presence gives a brokerage another way to communicate changes and challenges that will face consumers.

“Look at online platforms as an extension of your business,” Black advised. “Explaining why auto rates are increasing through your own content or through other sources is the perfect complement to the conversations you’re already having.”

BDC did find that some barriers for small businesses included a lack of knowledge and having the right talent. Black said she’s heard the same complaints, making it all the more important to take the time to invest in a proper strategy.

Where do you start? Evaluate your current web presence to see what your brokerage looks like from the customer’s point of view.

“Are you active, consistent, engaging? A good strategy is multi-channel, segmented and incorporates at least a small degree of automation,” Black said.

Tools like Google Analytics and search engine optimization are essential, she added. “Be creative. If you don’t have time to generate custom content, share things you find informative, useful or entertaining. Consider teaser content that doesn’t take long but generates interest and drives traffic to your business. Ask long-time clients to leave you a review — probably the simplest way to stand out online.”

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