TrustedChoice.com debuted the online quoting tool for Massachusetts this year
There has been a definite trend in Agency Checklists of late concerning articles about the rise of online quoting tools for Massachusetts insurance agents (PRIME, MassDRIVE, SinglePoint Leads…). Therefore, it is only appropriate that an update about TrustedChoice.com’s online comparative rating tool be included in that group.
As most Massachusetts insurance professionals know, TrustedChoice.com, was created as an answer to the rise of direct writers and as a way for independent agents to reach and compete for consumer market share online. The site now entering its third year was formed through an alliance of insurance carriers and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association of America (the Big “I”).
In January of this year, TrustedChoice introduced its real-time auto insurance quoting capability for the Massachusetts market using Boston Software’s SinglePoint platform.
To get a feel for how the TrustedChoice.com has been doing over the last nine months, Agency Checklists spoke with Trusted Choice Vice President Ryan Hanley. Mr. Hanley is the Head of Marketing for both the consumer and the agent sides of TrustedChoice.com.
An independent agent himself, Mr. Hanley, is also the creative force behind Agency Nation, a free website powered by Trusted Choice which helps independent agents learn how to dominate the insurance marketplace through digital marketing.
The Trusted Choice numbers in Massachusetts
According to Mr. Hanley, during the month of August, Massachusetts had a total of 154 referrals delivered to various independent agents within the Commonwealth.
As for actual traffic to the site, Mr. Hanley says there were over 5,000 hits in total to the Trusted Choice website from consumers in Massachusetts. In comparison, in March of 2014, the Massachusetts received 3,366 visits to its site. In January 2014 the site received 2,342 and in February 2014 it received 2,979.
Nationally, the site forwarded over 7,000 referrals to agents across the country last month and the site is on pace to hit 3,000,000 million visitors for the year. In addition, six more insurance carriers have joined TrustedChoice.com and five existing carriers have increased their participation level with the site, adding to this year’s achievements.
3,000,000 visitors on the site for the year will be an incredible achievement considering, two years ago we were barely getting to a 100,000, so. – Ryan Hanley
While Mr. Hanley did not have the exact numbers for new Mass. agent sign-ups to the site, he did say that the site was continuing to grow in the Commonwealth. “Massachusetts has been by far one of our strongest supportive base,” he noted, “And, it continues to be as more agents continue to sign up and that’s a very good thing.”
As for these currents statistics, Mr. Hanley says that the most recent traffic numbers rank Massachusetts in the middle of the pack versus the number of agents the Commonwealth has.
He noted, however, that Massachusetts agency impression is really “weird.” “One of the things that we [Trusted Choice] found is that, in terms of traffic, Massachusetts is in the upper portion of the pack, with regards to agency impressions,” explains Mr. Hanley. “Meaning as for consumers who actually saw Massachusetts agents on the platform, you are number one.”
He noted, however, that it’s a strange story here in the Commonwealth. “Consumers are looking, they’re finding our site they’re clicking through, they’re seeing agencies, they’re clicking on profiles…what they’re not doing is actually picking up the phone or emailing,” continuing, “Which is very odd, versus what we are seeing in other states.”
Ultimately, he believes it’s the history that Massachusetts has with regards to insurance and the way in which the auto insurance market used be has something to do with the unusual results the Commonwealth logs on TrustedChoice.com.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the history that Massachusetts has with insurance in terms of the way the auto insurance market used to be and some of the other things.” Ultimately, Mr. Hanley believes that the lags in referrals versus page views of Massachusetts agents is a stat that will rise over time. “Even…referrals [are] ultimately our strongest KPI, the fact that more Massachusetts insurance agents are being shown to insurance consumers than any other state I think, is a strong indicator that referrals is just a lagging stat and that over time that number will start to come back up to where it should be versus other states.”
In any case, TrustedChoice.com has begun to run some specific campaigns in Massachusetts, in an effort to rectify that discrepancy. “Massachusetts is a tough state for some reason to generate referrals. But I think, over all, we’re generating a ton of interest,” Mr. Hanley emphasized. “We’re getting a lot of impressions, we’re getting a lot of the branding side of what we do – the actual referrals delivered has been, however, like I said, middle of the pack.” But, he says that it is something that the TrustedChoice.com team is working on every month to increase and from his point of view he said:
“I’m happy with our progress and, you know, every month we’re setting new referral records and this month we’re on pace to set a new traffic record for a single month in September and all of that just means more exposure for agents, more exposure for the Trusted Choice brand and the agents that use it so … It’s good stuff.”
How agents can help maximize their presence on TrustedChoice.com
While TrustedChoice.com is charged with the marketing and up keeping of the site, Mr. Hanley says there are still things that independent agents can do on their end to help maximize a consumer’s experience on TrustedChoice.com.
“First off, hopefully every agent in Massachusetts knows that we are always working to get more referrals,” said Mr. Hanley. “We’re never complacent. It’s not like we hit a certain number and then we say that, oh, we’re done.”
With that in mind, Mr. Hanley suggests that the most important way agents can maximize their presence on TrustedChoice.com is by making sure they have a full profile. In optimizing your agency profile, Mr. Hanley urges agents to select a headshot versus an agency logo on their agency profile.
“The worst thing you can do is use the Trusted Choice logo as your profile image on TrustedChoice.com,” cautions Mr. Hanley. “They’re [the consumer] already on TrustedChoice.com, your Trusted Choice … The Trusted Choice logo at that point in the process doesn’t help you. So a good headshot of the owner or a producer or whoever is handling the business, is a really good way to attract people,” he adds. Mr. Hanley also notes that the site now supports video, so another good way to make your profile stand out is to add a video to your TrustedChoice.com profile that gives an overview of your agency.
Mr. Hanley also encourages agents to make sure that they have clicked and checked off all the carriers that your agency is appointed to, as well as including all the lines of insurance business that you would like to write. “If an agent goes in and checks “Home” and doesn’t check anything else, that agent is only going to show for homeowners referrals,” asserts Mr Hanley. “They are not going to show up for in an auto insurance search… You really have to go in and, and spend … I mean it takes no more than ten minutes. So ten minutes of your life and you just click through each tab, make sure the information is accurate,” Mr. Hanley suggests. “If you just kind of bought the thing and never went in and didn’t spend any time on it that could be the reason you’re not getting your referrals. You know, I’m not saying that’s the case in Massachusetts, [more nationally], but just something to consider.
Commercial lines makes up 45% of TrustedChoice’s site traffic but 55% of all referrals
Another consideration to note is that if an agent does not have commercial lines selected on their profile, then it might be something they should consider doing. “That means that you [an agent] do not have access to any commercial lines referrals that come to our site, if you haven’t also signed up for commercial lines,” explains Mr. Hanley. Agents have to have both products in order to get both types of referrals.”
Interestingly, while only 45 percent of the TrustedChoice.com site traffic is interested in commercial lines, 55 percent of all referrals come from it. “So there’s actually a much larger percentage of our referrals that are being sent through the system are commercial lines referrals versus personal lines,” he said, adding:
“So what most people do when the sign up for TrustedChoice.com is they sign up for just personal lines. Or if you were part of the platform before November of last year you just have personal lines. So only a third of our agents who have personal lines actually have commercial lines as well.”
The states where TrustedChoice.com has the most referral generation, however, are the ones that also have the most commercial lines agents.
“At TrustedChoice.com, we do a lot of marketing and work very hard to accumulate and capture, and ultimately distribute the insurance buyers that come to our site,” Mr. Hanley asserts. “But, in general, the overall awareness of the brand could definitely use as much support as agents are willing to give it…At its core the Trusted Choice brand is meant to be a foundation…” he added.
To that end, Mr. Hanley suggests that agents should emphasize their allegiance to the Trusted Choice brand and logo and to help educate people on what that exactly means: “…That you are getting a good quality product from a professional.”
Agency Nation for agents
Finally, another way in which TrustedChoice.com is trying to help agents is through Agency Nation. Powered by TrustedChoice.com and run by Mr. Hanley, it is a “sister” site to TrustedChoice.com offering free articles, videos, support and advice on how agents can better dominate the digital marketing world. As Mr. Hanley explains:
“So what Agency Nation has become is really the sales and marketing resource for independent [agents]. At least that’s what we want it to be…a place for agents to come and get free information. Everything on the site today is free, we have no paid stuff. We may, in the future come out with some really, specific coursework that may have a paid option, but three to four articles a week, every week, including podcasts and webinars are there for agents completely free… it’s been a really nice experience. We have almost 3,000 agents that subscribe to email updates on the site.”
In addition to the free digital marketing content, Agency Nation will be launching in the next couple of weeks a new help desk with step by step guides and video tutorials on how to do better optimize your TrustedChoice.com profile.