ASIC is watching you on Facebook!

ASICAccording to a recent report by Insurance Business, ASIC are keeping an eye on the Facebook and other social media pages run by insurance firms.

For the full report follow this link.

I personally have experience with ASIC querying one of my company’s websites, and I’m planning on writing about this shortly as a lesson to other website owners and managers.

Stay tuned!

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.

Who owns the big insurance domains?

Regular readers will know how valuable generic domain names can be in the insurance sector.

Super premium domains in the finance sector have sold for six figures in the past, and we decided to have a look at who owns the super premium insurance domains and what they’re doing with them.

For each domain we have used the whois records to reveal the owner and have also looked at how the domain is being utilised.

We’ve also provided valuations on each domain name with assistance from some of the experts at DNtrade.  The valuations are based on the domain name only, and not the associated website.

Insurance.com.au

insurance.com.au

Owner:  Insurance Consulting Services Pty Ltd

Value:  $200,000 – $250,000

Usage:  Stand-alone website which offers quotes for life insurance products and referrals for general insurance products.

Comments:  The most generic of all insurance domains is surprisingly not owned by one of the major insurers, and is instead owned by a financial planning company.  It’s not a bad looking website, but is fairly light on information.

LifeInsurance.com.au

lifeinsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $150,000 – $250,000

Usage:  Redirects to the life insurance page on the main iSelect website.

Comments:  With online life insurance being a red-hot sector, this would be one of the most sought after domain names out there.  By using the domain as a redirect iSelect would not be getting an major SEO benefit, but given that they already rank number 1 in Google for ‘life insurance’ I don’t think they’ll be too concerned.

CarInsurance.com.au

carinsurance.com.au

Owner:  Luke Donnelley

Value:  $150,000 – $200,000

Usage:  A very basic one page website with no ability to request a quote or contact them.

Comments:  It’s almost unbelievable that such a premium domain has remained in private hands and is still so underutilised.  No doubt the owner is fully aware of its value and has received countless offers over the years.

HomeInsurance.com.au

homeinsurance.com.au

Owner:  REA (realestate.com.au)

Value:  $30,000 – $50,000

Usage:  Redirects to the realestate.com.au website.

Comments:  It’s not a huge surprise to see this domain used by the owners of realestate.com.au, but it is surprising to see that it is very underutilised.  There is an insurance section on the website, but this domain does not redirect to that area.  I should add that I believe ‘realestate.com.au’ is the best use of ANY premium generic domain name in Australia.

IncomeProtection.com.au

incomeprotection.com.au

Owner:  Income Protection Pty Ltd

Value:  $50,000 – $100,000

Usage:  Main website for the business of the same name.

Comments:  Out of all the premium insurance domains, this would be the best utilised.  In this case an entire business has been built around the domain name, and having met the original owner who started the business around 15 years ago, it has been quite successful.

TPDInsurance.com.au

tpdinsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $5,000 – $10,000

Usage:  None.

Comments:  This is the second entry for iSelect, but unlike lifeinsurance.com.au which redirects to the relevant page of the iSelect website, tpdinsurance.com.au simply returns an error message.  This certainly seems to be a lost oportunity, however iSelect already rank #2 for the term in Google and would probably get limited benefit from using this domain any differently.

TraumaInsurance.com.au

traumainsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $5,000 – $10,000

Usage:  None.

Comments:  iSelect have scooped the trifecta with lifeinsurance.com.au, tpdinsurance.com.au and traumainsurance.com.au.  Unfortunately this one also returns a nil result, but iSelect won’t be too upset since they also rank #1 for this term.

IncomeProtectionInsurance.com.au

incomeprotectioninsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $20,000 – $50,000

Usage:  None.

Comments:  Ordinarily a domain name with three words would no be considered as ‘super premium, but this particular domain would be one of the rare exceptions.  Unsurprisingly this domain is also owned by iSelect, and as with their TPD and trauma domains it simply returns an error message when you attempt to visit the site.

TravelInsurance.com.au

travelinsurance.com.au

Owner:  TIOTN Pty Ltd

Value:  $150,000 – $250,000

Usage:  Travel insurance business of the same name.

Comments:  Finally we have a second premium domain name which is being properly utilised.  Travelinsurance.com.au is a fully branded website offering travel insurance as a fully fledged business.  Unfortunately for the owners of this website it does not rank very well in Google at all, which is a little unusual for a well used premium domain.

BusinessInsurance.com.au

businessinsurance.com.au

Owner:  H and N (Nominees) Pty Limited

Value:  $20,000 – $50,000

Usage:  Insurance brokerage of the same name.

Comments:  The last domain we’ll look at is businessinsurance.com.au, and it’s pleasing to see that this is another very well utilised domain.  The website is owned by an AFSL holder and contains plenty of great information about business insurance and about their company.

Small Business v Big Business

It’s interesting to see that other than those owned by iSelect and REA, many of the super premium domain names are not owned by big corporates.

It’s also clear that the smaller sized owners are utilising their domains in a far better fashion than the big corporates.

The reason for this may be that the big corporates can afford to buy up valuable domains and sit on them, whilst smaller businesses really need to generate a return on what will have been a fairly large investment in most cases.

iSelect

Going back to iSelect, they own four of the best insurance domains available, being lifeinsurance.com.au, tpdinsurance.com.au, traumainsurance.com.au and incomeprotectioninsurance.com.au.

These four domains have a combined value of anywhere between $200,000 and $400,000 depending on who you ask, and potentially even up to one million dollars.

But each of the domains are completely underutilised, and there is probably little need for iSelect to develop the domains since they already rank #1 or #2 in Google for each term.

So why would they spend up big on buying them?  One possible reason is to simply stop anyone else from getting them and doing something more substantial with the domains which could compete with iSelect’s main website.

To Be Continued

In part 2 of this article we will be asking some of the owners of these websites why they decided to invest in a premium domain name.

We hope to get some interesting answers to share over the next few months.

Benefiting from the latest Google changes

This article was originally written by Shane for Adviser Voice.

We should all know by now that website content is important for our visitors as well as the search engines, but recent changes by Google could give smart financial advisers an advantage.

The online space is getting more competitive every day when it comes to financial services websites.  There is competition from other financial services firms, as well as the growing number of lead generation websites that are coming from outside of the industry.

Financial advisers should already know the importance of original website content, but this week Google have made further changes to their search algorithm that means original content on its own will no longer be good enough, and they now want your content to be kept fresh as well.

Google states that more than one-in-three search queries will be affected, which is certainly a significant number.  They had this to say in their release:

“Given the incredibly fast pace at which information moves in today’s world, the most recent information can be from the last week, day or even minute, and depending on the search terms, the algorithm needs to be able to figure out if a result from a week ago about a TV show is recent, or if a result from a week ago about breaking news is too old.”

So how can smart financial advisers benefit from these changes?

Let’s take a look at the average financial services firm website.  Generally they will look very pretty, and they’ll have the standard pages that cover the firm’s services, staff profiles, contact details and maybe a few technical articles.

Some firm’s websites will have a blog or news section, but the majority I’ve seen are rarely updated, with some showing the ‘latest news’ from three years ago!

When combined with some link-building from the firm’s SEO provider, currently these sites tend to rank fairly well for search phrases such as ‘Sydney Financial Planner’ etc.

But with the latest Google changes, there is a window of opportunity for smart financial advisers to leap ahead of their competitors by adding fresh and original content to their websites on a regular basis.

So how can you do this?

Well the first step is to get a blog or news section onto your website that you can easily update yourself.  The next step is to start typing!

As financial professionals we do a huge amount of reading and listening every week.  There are CPD articles to be read, conferences to attend, product updates from the insurers and fund managers and plenty of news in the press.

There are many of sources of new information in our industry, so why not spend half an hour putting together a quick summary for your website?  You don’t have to be a Walkley Award winner; you just need to throw together 500 words of content that are relevant to the industry and the clients that you want to attract.

If you can do this once a month you’ll give your website a healthy boost in the rankings.  If you can increase it to once a week you should see some major results, and if you can start pumping out multiple items every week, the sky (or the number one ranking in Google) is the limit!

An additional benefit of regular content is that you can send out more frequent Facebook and Twitter updates, which gives more chances to interact with your current and potential clients.

The internet is increasingly the first place that people go to when searching for information on life insurance and investment, so if your website can out-rank your competitors you will have the greatest chance of attracting new clients at the expense of your rivals.

Start updating your website today with fresh and original content, and you will be rewarded.

PS.  If you’re not up the task of creating your own regular content, talk to me about how I can help you.

How content can help your advice business

Content is king!

Well that’s what they say in the world of online marketing and publishing.

There are two great reasons why content is so important in today’s online world:

  1. It attracts visitors to your website via search engines (eg. Google)
  2. It gives visitors a reason to stay on your website, and ultimately become a client

How does good content achieve this?

Content for search engine optimisation

If you’ve been in business for more than a week, you will have heard of search engine optimisation, or SEO.

SEO is simply the art of getting your website and its pages as high as possible in the Google (or other search engine) results.

The higher you are in the results, the more likely you are to be clicked on.  And the more you are clicked on, the better chance you have of securing new clients.

There is only one thing that Google loves more than original and relevant content, and that is original and relevant content that is fresh!

If your website doesn’t contain much relevant content, the content you’ve used is not original, or the content has not been updated for a while, then you’re really letting yourself down and missing out on potential clients.

By having original and relevant content on your website Google will recognise that you are an authority on the subject, and will know to put your website higher up in the search results.

If your content is also kept fresh and is continually updated, they will give your website even more authority and therefore rank it even higher in the results.

But be warned, because Google is smarter than you might think.  If you believe that you can take generic articles from other sources and just change a few words around, or that you can just stuff your content full of terms like ‘cheapest life insurance’ and ‘best income protection’ – you better think again!

Google knows when you’ve tried to use non-original content (even if you change a few words around) and it also knows when you are “keyword stuffing” your content just so you can rank well for certain terms.

If Google catches you, you may well find yourself heading south in the search results very quickly.

Content for your visitors

It’s all good and well to write content that is designed to please Google and the search engines, but what’s the point if your website visitors are turned off by this style of writing?

If you have the term ‘cheapest life insurance’ forced into every paragraph of your content, the visitor is quickly going to sniff a rat and may disregard your website as spam or some other unprofessional website.

You need your content to make your website visitors feel comfortable with you.  You want the content to instil a feeling of trust into the reader, and to have them feel that you must be an authority on the subject.

If your website can make your potential client feel comfortable, have some level of trust, and think of you as an authority, then 80% of the job is done before you’ve even spoken to them!

Getting the mix right

It’s important to get a good balance in your content to keep Google happy as well as your website visitors and prospective clients.  There is definitely an art to this style of writing, and when it comes to financial services it is not easy to find a writer who can pull it off.

Thanks to my decade in the financial services industry and time as a financial adviser, combined with my love of writing and experience in website development, I have been able to develop a writing style that will please both the search engines as well as your clients.

I have written content for dozens of financial websites in Australia, many of which rank in the top three results for very competitive search terms.  Of course my content isn’t the only reason they rank so highly, but it certainly helps.

If you would like some professionally written content for your financial services website, please give Shane a call on contact someone else as I no longer provide content for others. 🙂

You may be very surprised by how inexpensive good content can be…