Independent insurance agents spend less time on administrative tasks while focusing on relationship-building and revenue-generating work by embracing digital tools. Your toolkit for a paperless office includes eSignatures, welcome emails and task automation. In other words, focus on the things you truly enjoy while providing the same level of service as a captive agent backed by a large insurance carrier.
There is a sea of digital tools to explore and consider. It's great to have options but this can certainly be a blessing and a curse. We’ve rounded up five of our favorite paperless office resources for your independent insurance agent digital toolkit. (And we'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments, too.) While you may not have a big budget to spend on marketing and process improvements each year, these digital tools will help you stay competitive and attract more business on any budget.
Email may be old, but it's still effective. Email marketing remains an important component in your digital toolkit. Unlike your connections on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook, you own your email contact list. Make the most of it with welcome emails and an email newsletter.
There are many email marketing vendors to choose from that are suitable for independent insurance agents including MailChimp and Mad Mimi. MailChimp offers a starter plan at no cost for up to 2,000 subscribers. Mad Mimi plans start at $10/month with 500 contacts.
A welcome email is an automated message sent to each individual who subscribes to your email list. The average open rate for welcome emails is 50%, making them 86% more effective than email newsletters. However, only 57.7% of companies greet new subscribers with a welcome note. You will stand out from your competition by using a welcome email. (Source: Emma infographic. Email address required to view.)
Creating a welcome email auto-responder in your email marketing tool only takes a few minutes but goes a very long way in establishing a relationship with each of your subscribers.
Consistent communication with customers and prospects is an important part of your digital toolkit. Establish a schedule to write and send a monthly email newsletter. Save time by repurposing existing content from your blog by creating a short paragraph that quotes the first paragraph or two from the blog article and then link to the full article. If you don't have a blog, consider starting one!
Customer Relationship Manager (CRM)
Looking for a way to keep your contact information organized? An online customer relationship manager (CRM) is an invaluable tool. By using a CRM you can easily keep track of correspondence and notes about each of your prospects and customers. Add personalization to your correspondence with details you've added to your CRM such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Similar to the other resources we've shared for your digital toolkit, there are many CRM vendors to choose from including BatchBook and Highrise. Both services are cloud-based CRMs so you can access your data from any device. BatchBook was created with small businesses in mind with plans that start at $35/month with 5,000 contacts. Highrise is a product from 37Signals and integrates with their other services including Basecamp for project management. HighRise's basic plan is $24/month for up to six users.
eSignature Sofware and Apps
The paperless office is on its way to becoming a reality in part thanks to eSignature solutions such as our very own here at HelloSign. Our product is suited for the independent insurance agent who appreciates simplicity and is not interested in overly complicated enterprise grade solutions. Here are some of the reasons you can go paperless with an eSignature solution such as HelloSign.
- Deals close faster — The less time it takes to get documents signed, you'll see an increased likelihood of closing the deal
- Secure and legally binding — HelloSign is compliant with eSignature laws in the U.S. and the European Union and offers two-factor authentication for signer
- Audit trail — You have peace of mind knowing there’s an audit trail included with each deal you close with HelloSign to ensure the document has not been tampered
- Easy and intuitive — The process is straightforward, simple for everyone and integrates into the other services you already use
- Sign anywhere — Sign documents from an iPhone, iPad, our forthcoming Android app, or right in a Gmail account
Task Automation & Virtual Assistance
Looking to clone yourself and get even more hours out of each day? It's not that far-fetched of an idea! Task automation and virtual assistance services are here to help. With Zapier, you connect the service to 300+ web apps to move your data and use simple, event-based automation to avoid tedious and repetitive tasks. For example, if you've set up BatchBook as your CRM and MailChimp as your email marketing tool, you can automatically add new MailChimp subscribers to Batchbook. Create your own custom “zaps” or use existing zaps shared by other Zapier users such as these automated tasks for BatchBook. Pricing starts at the very affordable price of free for 5 zaps each month. As you continue to use the service, additional plans are available including 20 zaps for $15/month.
FancyHands is a virtual assistance service that quickly connects you with an assistant. The assignments can be anything that doesn't require the assistant to physically go somewhere for you and tasks that can be completed within 15 minutes. (Pro tip: if you have a task that requires more than 15 minutes, break it out into separate assignments such as a research project updating a spreadsheet.) By noting “time sensitive” in your task description you can often receive even faster turnaround. Your FancyHands assistant is available for personal tasks such as scheduling a home repair and business tasks including scheduling appointments with prospects and clients. You can even give your assistant a name (regardless of who the actual assistant may be for any given task). Pricing starts at $25/month for 5 tasks.
The insurance industry is in flux; but you can still be competitive and stand out. Take the next step and develop your independent insurance agent digital toolkit. Read the following articles from around the web to improve your agency's ability to compete for more business.