Underwriter with a cool new website

It’s fair to say that most underwriters and insurance companies have fairly unexciting websites.

That’s not to say they don’t do their job well and provide value to users, but they certainly don’t leave any sort of memorable impression.

Brooklyn Underwriting have bucked the trend with their new website, which it’s fair to say is quite different to any other insurance related website I can think of.

brooklyn

What makes this even more interesting is that Brooklyn only deal through intermediaries, so all the effort is mainly for the benefit of insurance brokers rather than consumers.

Denver Van Gramberg, Brooklyn’s Marketing & Distribution Manager, had the following to say to Insurance Business:

“Brokers spend a lot of time on insurer websites.  The idea was to make the time being spent on the website a bit special.  We had a look at some of our competitors and the market in general.  We found there was no real interaction or interest factor.  People go onto the site, do what they have to do and get off.

“We wanted to provide a bit of entertainment around the business use of the website – and try and have a little bit of fun, rather than being stoic.”

Personally I think the look and functionality of the new site is fantastic, and is certainly a lot different to the websites of other insurers, underwriters and brokers.

One area that I particularly like is the team section, in which all of the Brooklyn staff are depicted in a police line-up.

Brooklyn Team

By clicking on any of the staff members you are taken to another page with a more casual photo of the team member along with additional information about their current role and their background.

Insurance really is a people business, so it’s great to see a bit more personality in the team profiles and in the overall website.

I can’t recall the source, but earlier this year I read that no matter how ‘boring’ the product or service promoted on your website is, it is still important to ‘surprise’ visitors to your website with interesting design features.

Brooklyn’s new website may not necessarily mean that brokers will be inundating them with new business, but a website that is more enjoyable to visit and interact with will certainly not hurt.

ASIC targets insurance websites

ASICIt has been reported today that Insure 247 were rapped over the knuckles by ASIC over their online marketing of insurance.

In a statement released by ASIC it was revealed that four of the websites operated by Insure 247 were believed to contain “misleading or deceptive advertising”.

That’s a pretty serious allegation, but it appears that the parties involved have been able to make the necessary changes to the websites without too much drama.

There were two main issues involved.

Misleading text

The statement from ASIC shows that they had serious concerns with some of the text used on the websites:

“ASIC was concerned the websites gave the impression consumers were accessing an online tool which compared the features and the cost of different insurance products. ASIC’s review found there was no evaluation or comparison of the products.”

One such example was the text “compare thousands of insurances from fifty different insurers”, but upon investigation there was no such comparison offered.

In my opinion this was probably just a copywriter getting a little over excited, but the fact is you simply cannot make claims on an insurance related website unless they are factual.

Insure 247 are not alone however, as over the years I’ve seen plenty of misleading text on insurance related websites.

I don’t think there is a deliberate intention to mislead people in most cases, but if someone can be misled then it doesn’t really matter whether it was deliberate or not.

Insurance company logos

The second issue was the use of insurance company logos, which ASIC made the following comments about:

“Further, ASIC found Insure 247 displayed the logos of insurance providers that were not offering quotes for the product featured on that page of the website. For some insurance products, only one insurance provider received consumer details through the website when consumers were likely to think their details would be passed on to many insurers.”

Using the logos of the big insurance companies is a great way to build some credibility for a financial adviser or insurance broker’s website.

There is nothing wrong with doing so, and I even have a selection of logos on my own firm’s website, but don’t go displaying logos of insurance companies if you don’t use them!

It’s fair enough for a consumer to expect that if they see certain logos on your website then you’ll be using or at least comparing the products offered by those insurers.

The lesson here for website owners, regardless of whether you’re an AFSL holder, an authorised representative or just an online marketer, is that you need to make sure your website does not have the potential to mislead or deceive.

Lifebroker sold to TAL

lifebrokerOne of Australia’s biggest online life insurance providers has been acquired by TAL.

Lifebroker was founded in 2004 and has grown to be one of the top two largest online providers of life insurance.

TAL has owned a 10% stake in the business for the last three years, and this week moved to full ownership of the business.

Of most interest to me was the amount paid for the remaining 90%, but sadly the purchase price has not been released.

What we do know is that TAL’s parent company, The Dai-ichi Life Company, valued Lifebroker at $28 million in June this year.

Presumably the existing owners would have sought a premium in return for relinquishing their entire shareholding, in which case it would be safe to assume that the final valuation was somewhere in excess of $30 million.

That’s a hefty chunk of money in anyone’s language, and it shows the level of confidence that TAL has in the continued growth of online life insurance.

Unfortunately it also shows how focused TAL is on the direct insurance market, which in my opinion could lead to more Australians taking the DIY approach instead of seeking professional advice.

In case you didn’t know, TAL also owns the InsuranceLine brand which is heavily promoted on television.

What is Lifebroker?

So what exactly has TAL bought themselves?

Lifebroker is a website that allows consumers to compare premiums for life insurance from a range of insurance providers.

In addition to life insurance, consumers can also access trauma, TPD, income protection, mortgage protection and funeral insurance.

Lifebroker compares policies from a range of insurers including AIA, AMP, Asteron, BT, Comminsure, Macquarie, MLC, OnePath, Zurich and of course TAL.

It’s not clear whether or not Lifebroker will continue offering non-TAL products, but based on comments from TAL’s CEO, Brett Clark, it would appear that they will:

“Lifebroker has built a reputation on the objective comparison on life insurance products from a range of different life insurers.”

“We strongly support consumer choice and a competitive life insurance market.”

That’s good news in my opinion, because the last thing we need is another so-called comparison website which only compares products from a single insurer.

Personally I still believe there is a big conflict of interest in an insurance company owning a comparison website.

Hopefully TAL does the right thing and makes very clear disclosures on the Lifebroker website rather than burying it in the FSG.

Provided that they do that, then good luck to them and I take my hat off to TAL for investing in online assets whilst the others are left behind.

Access WHM cPanel from WiFi

This blog entry will probably be of little interest to my regular readers, but I had plenty of trouble finding this information for myself, so I feel the need to share!

I am writing this from Paris where I am enjoying a holiday with my wife.  Whilst not a working holiday, I do have to keep fresh content on my websites to ensure those Google rankings stay strong during my six week absence.

I’m using wifi wherever I can whilst overseas, which is fine for everything else, but when I tried to upload some new content via my FTP program I couldn’t get in.  I tried instead to use the File Manager function through my WHM (web host manager) but that wouldn’t let me in either.

The thought of not being able to update my websites for six weeks almost made me sick!  This wouldn’t be a problem if I used WordPress for all my sites, but for various reasons I don’t for my main business sites.

So anyway I searched and searched for a workaround and couldn’t find a solution, but finally I came across a gold nugget which saved the day!

If you are trying to access WHM from a wifi or other network which won’t allow access to the required port, simply use the following link as a workaround:

http://whm.yourdomain.com

It’s as easy as that!  From here you can access the cPanel for each domain you have hosted within your WHM.

This is instead of the usual IP address based URL which would look something like 123.456.789:2086

So disaster averted and I once again have access to upload new content to my non-Wordpress websites.

For more information on accessing WHM from an overseas or wifi network please visit the original page (link here) that saved me.

Online Enquiry Forms

As a financial adviser, why do you have a website?  Some of you will say it’s about branding or profile building, but ultimately it is to attract leads.

Once your website has gained the lead, then it’s your job to convert that lead into a happy – and profitable – client.

Getting prospective clients to your website is often the biggest hurdle, but in this article I’m going to skip that step and assume that the visitor has already made their way to your website.

There are many different styles of adviser websites out there, and just as many different styles of enquiry forms.

I’ve delved deeply into many financial advisers’ websites; firstly as part of my compliance role when I was approving adviser websites for a large dealer group, and more recently as part of my research for both my own websites and those of the advisers I partner with.

Many adviser websites use a very basic enquiry form that simply collects contact details and perhaps some brief details about the type of service the client is looking for.  This type of enquiry form often features prominently on the front page of the website.

Whilst I like the idea of having the enquiry form as a ‘call to action’ on the front page of the website, I do wonder about the effectiveness of such forms, and the large amount of front page real estate that is lost in making space for the enquiry form.

If someone is only providing their name and contact details, they know very well that all you’re going to do with that information is use it to call them back.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if the prospective client knows that will be the case, why wouldn’t they just call you themselves?

On the other hand you have the more complex enquiry forms.  These are generally far too large to place on the front page of the website, and will instead have their own dedicated page.  Obviously you would still be placing prominent links to this page from your front page, and every other page of your website.

I have had plenty of advisers – and so called web experts – tell me that the shorter enquiry forms are far more effective.  Their rational is that a prospective client is much more likely to complete a form that takes thirty seconds rather than one that takes ten minutes.

But I disagree.

My company owns a portfolio of websites that gather life insurance leads.  Over the years we have used short and long enquiry forms, placed in different sections of the websites, and the results have been very different.

We have found that short contact forms on the front page deliver far fewer leads than our more complex forms, and furthermore the leads from the complex forms convert into paying clients at a much higher rate.

One of our most successful websites actually features our most complex enquiry form.  Over the years we have continually added more questions to the form and made it more difficult to complete, yet the number of enquiries we receive continues to increase every month.

The form on this website is now so comprehensive that two dealer groups have accepted it as a fully completed fact finder.  That saves a huge amount of time, and also makes for an extremely good lead.  Not only do we know a lot about the client before the first phone call, but we also know how serious that person is due to the amount of time they have invested in completing our lengthy form.

You may be thinking that a lot of prospective clients will leave the form half-finished when they get tired of answering questions, but our statistics show that we have very few ‘dropouts’ with our forms.  If someone isn’t committed to filling out the form we probably don’t want the lead anyway.

I know that most web designers will keep telling advisers that short enquiry forms are better, but if you take that advice then I believe you are costing yourself business.  I have spoken to plenty of financial advisers who have spent thousands on their websites, only to receive not a single lead from it.

Now I’m not saying that a longer and more complex enquiry form will result in a flood of leads for any old website.  What I do believe is that a well designed website that ‘funnels’ visitors through to a comprehensive enquiry form will be more effective than one that expects the visitor to enter their contact details on the front page without having had a chance to read through the website.

Online strategy is all about experimentation.  If you currently use a short enquiry form on the front page of your website, try investing a few dollars in having your web designer implement a more detailed form, and use the saved space on your front page to further promote your services.  If it doesn’t work, little has been lost.  If it does work, you could have a lot to gain.

Lead generating websites

You probably don’t know it, but there is a huge subculture in Australia – and around the world – that revolves around internet domain names.

Some of the people are involved are just ‘cybersquaters’ who register trademark domains and misspellings, but there are many legitimate ‘domainers’ out there who register generic finance related terms and build lead generating websites.

It’s a system that works pretty well.  The domainers (effectively publishers) create content and attract visitors to their website.  Then they legitimately collect the client’s information, usually via a secure online enquiry or quote request form, and then they sell the lead to someone just like you.

They publisher gets money for their efforts, and you get a targeted warm lead without having to do much other than paying around $50 a pop.

But here’s my problem with this system – as an adviser you may be getting all of the golden eggs, but you’ll never get the goose.  Of course the goose is the lead generating website.

So how do you get your own lead generating website?  Many so-called online gurus will just tell you to build a better corporate website, but I disagree.  Yes of course a better corporate website won’t hurt, but you’ll never compete with the lead generating masters.

Why not you ask?  Well let’s start with your domain name.  If you were to search Google for “financial advice Brisbane”, which of the following two results would you be more likely to click on:

  1. www.equita.com.au
  2. www.financialadvicebrisbane.com.au

I know which one I’d be clicking on, because I’d know just from looking at the domain that it’s probably what I’m looking for.

Furthermore, Google will also treat the second domain much more favourably as it contains the specific words the user was searching for.  This means result number 2 will come up much higher and therefore be more likely to be clicked on.

Now you might be thinking that option 2 (financialadvicebrisbane.com.au) doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue too well, nor is it particularly good for memorable branding.

But that’s the trick – you wouldn’t use financialadvicebrisbane.com.au as your corporate website, it would simply be a doorway for people to find your business more easily.  You could either have an enquiry form on the website, or could just direct visitors from this feeder site to your main corporate site.

I used this exact strategy with great success in my own advice business, and was able to gain so many extra leads that I had to sell them to other advisers myself!

So yes, get yourself a great corporate site to impress your existing and prospective clients, but to really drive the lead generation side you need to get some generic feeder websites in place.

Of course I can help you with all aspects of this process, so if you’d like more information please contact me.

Financial Adviser Websites

It amazes me how many financial advisers and planners don’t have a website.  Even some of those that do have one may as well not have bothered since they are so bad!

The internet has allowed many small businesses and sole traders to look much bigger and more professional than they perhaps may be.  You may run your small practice from the spare bedroom of your house, but to a perspective client looking at your website you could be located in a big city skyscraper with a team of 100 staff!

Now I’m certainly not saying that you should be misleading people on your website.  What I am saying is that first impressions count, and with more people using the internet to research goods and services you may find that the first impression you give is not when you call them or phone them, but when they Google you and look at your website.

And that’s the thing.  Even if a client has been referred to you via another client, there is still a very good chance that they will Google you before the first appointment.  If they find no website or a bad website, you could find yourself on the back foot before you’ve even started!

There are two different types of websites that will suit advisers, and most businesses for that matter:

1.       A basic site for existing and prospective clients to find out about you

2.       A more complex site designed to attract new clients

It’s my opinion that all advisers should have a website that not only provides basic information for existing clients, but also works for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week attracting new clients and leads.

But even if you’re not ready for a full website, I implore you to at the very least get SOMETHING online!  Even if it’s just a single page website showing your logo and some contact details, at least it’s something that people can find when they Google you.