Canadian Underwriter

Outshine the gaggle on Google

August 3, 2019   by Adam Malik, Managing Editor

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Just about everyone goes online to find what they’re looking for. In need of car repair? Look for a shop nearby on Google. Need an optometrist? Google it. An insurance broker? That’s right, Google.
So, is your brokerage on Google? If you can’t be found on the world’s biggest search engine, you’re likely missing out on bringing in new clients.
“Google accounts for about 95% of all global searches,” according to Seth Owens, senior account executive at Podium, a customer interaction platform. “So, your presence on Google is almost every single time the first place somebody’s finding your business.”

How do you get noticed on Google? It takes more than just setting up a company website. A more conspicuous route is to set up a Google My Business page. It’s a less-publicized option for businesses but a must-have — especially for smaller brokerages who don’t have the funds required to set up something elaborate on their own. Even if a brokerage has a website, setting up a profile here is essential.

A Google My Business page is similar to having a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram profile. Businesses input their vital statistics – hours of operation, phone number, and so on – and your brokerage shows up when someone performs a search. Google makes it a fairly simple process. It’s designed like a form: Input the information in the right spots and you’re off and running.

“That information you provide to Google is immediately and automatically listed on the Google search engine,” says Garrett Wasny, a Vancouver-based technology skills advisor who works with professionals. “I can’t name a better way to improve your visibility and enhance your credibility than to use the Google My Business page. You can use that as a branding tool.”

The Google My Business page makes up part of a four-pronged digital strategy. First is having the Google page so that people know about your business. Second, you are now tied into the search engine so your brokerage can be found. Third, people can now find you through Google Maps, where anyone can search for “insurance brokers near me” and find you, even though they didn’t directly search for your brokerage. Finally, there’s YouTube: Including a video on your page will bring you up in the video-sharing site.

An essential part of a Google page is the reviews. Even if someone recommends a brokerage to their neighbour, the neighbour will still likely look up the business online and read the reviews. Traditional word-of-mouth marketing has fallen by the wayside. Instead of conversations happening over a fence, they’re taking place online.

“All the information [consumers] need to make that decision is online, and that’s where those decisions are being made – online,” Owens said. “Reviews heavily impact that. By the time they walk through your door, they’ve likely already made their decision.”

Google places a lot of weight on the online reviewers’ star ratings, how many reviews the business has received, and how recent those reviews are. When it comes down to one brokerage versus another, a 4.5-star rating versus a 4.1-star rating can be the deciding factor.

“If you don’t have a good reputation, if people don’t feel like they can trust you, you’re dead in the water,” Owens says.

Many businesses, from restaurants to physio clinics, hang signs in their business encouraging customers to give feedback on Google. The challenge is actually getting them to do so.
People typically leave feedback when they want to complain about something. Since good service is expected, people don’t feel the need to praise a person or business for doing what they were supposed to do. That’s why Owens recommends asking for reviews at the end of a transaction when the customer is happy about the service they received.

Reviews on a Google profile speak to four main traits that customers look for in a business — reliability, expertise, experience and professionalism.

“If your question is, ‘Do reviews affect my business?’ the answer is, ‘Absolutely,’” says Owens. “People are hanging on to every word of that review.”

Images are also important. As with any social media platform, people want visuals, Wasny says. They want to know what your office looks like. Is it a place that appeals to them? Who works there? Pictures help reduce any anxiety associated with not knowing who the broker is.

What’s more, having a Google page with reviews, images and more demonstrates to your potential clients that you have some tech savvy. Otherwise, you’re deemed to be behind-the-times.
Consumers will ask: “If you’re illiterate in technology, what else are you illiterate at? Why should I trust you with my business, with my money?” Wasny says. “Especially in insurance, which is literally life and death, you’re not on the most important channel for communication? No thank you. That is a huge red flag.”

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