Insurance Agency Automation Without Going Broke or Pulling Your Hair Out

Do you want to generate more online leads faster and easier with insurance agency automation? Do you want to automate the on-boarding of those leads so you can literally sit back and relax while prospects are giving you their information? How about staying in front of prospects and customers with strategic drip retargeting campaigns?

Do you want to have a multi-step process that helps new customers get acclimated to your agency, while generating referrals and online reviews?

I think you all agree that this is something that would help your business tremendously right?

Well move over SEO, there’s a new buzzword taking the world by storm — marketing automation.

The topic of automation has been around for years, but has recently exploded lately in the insurance space. Like any other tool (or shiny object), there is a right way and a wrong way to do automation, especially when it comes to the business of insurance.

If you’re brand new to automation, or know what it is, but never truly got past the “dabble” stage, we’re going to explore a few things you could use it for, so you’re in luck!

First of all, why automation for your insurance agency?

If done correctly, automation can save you a ton of money, aggravation and time. The latter being of utmost importance as many business owners are simply not good at managing their time to begin with.

Automation allows you to run a leaner business by executing tasks that would otherwise require hours of manual labor and follow up.

We all know that manual labor costs money, so at the end of the day, while automation is typically used to streamline workflows, it can also be used as a bonafide cost cutting mechanism in your business.

While not feasible for everyone, there are companies and agencies out there who have completely replaced employees with automation. That’s how powerful it can be if implemented correctly.

What can you automate in your insurance agency?

I’ve talked about automation with agency owners before and sometimes they are so confused by it, they truly don’t know what they can use it for. No folks, automation is not going to automate the process of someone taking out your trash or getting you coffee. Sorry ;(

We’re talking purely about automating client communication workflows and internal and external touch points.

Sometimes you’ll hear people refer to it as “customer journey automation”.

In an insurance agency setting where much of the service work is reactionary, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what you can automate when you don’t know what’s coming at you next, and what communication channel it’s coming through.

Most of the time in this business, you have to just pick up the phone and get stuff done the old fashioned way, especially when it comes to a claim or policy change. Those are things you simply can’t automate, and honestly you shouldn’t try to.

However, there are obviously other, more static and predictable processes and tasks that you do in your agency on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, that never change. These can and should be streamlined pretty easily with automation!

We’ll talk about various things you’d want to automate here shortly, but by far the three most common and important reasons to use automation are:

  • Online Lead intake & processing
  • New client on-boarding process
  • Retargeting

How can these things be automated?

In short, automation is done with software. Now I know you’re thinking, “not another program I need?!?!?!”, but you’ll see in a minute why it’s not that bad.

That said, if you open up Google and search for “automation tools” you’ll be presented with hundreds of results. It can be very confusing because if you’re new to automation, the descriptions of each of these tools are all very much the same, and the pricing is all over the place.

Many people can’t tell the difference between a good one and a bad one — almost like insurance agents!

What’s more, most of these tools can seem very intimidating to a novice user, so price aside, if you decide to experiment, it’s important to choose an automation software that isn’t overly complicated to the point where you can’t actually use it.

Which is the best automation software for my agency?

Through the years I’ve had a chance to use a number of different automation softwares like Ontraport, InfusionSoft, Active Campaign, Hubspot, Marketo, Salesforce and several others, and I can truly tell you that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

There simply is no “best” option.

It really depends on what your needs, budget, and capabilities are. Automation tools come in many different flavors when it comes to complexity, pricing, and functionality.

There’s no right or wrong answer — but again it really depends on you. If you want to manage things yourself to save on cost, you’ll want to steer clear of programs that have steep learning curves.

If you can afford to pay with your money instead of your time and hire someone to build it all for you, it doesn’t make a difference which automation tool you choose or how complicated it is because you won’t be the one actually using it anyway.

That being said, the title of this article speaks to automating things with minimal learning curve and/or financial investment, and with that in mind, the automation tool that I’ve personally used more than any other tool, and often recommend to clients is called Active Campaign.

Again, I’m not saying this is the best, but I have yet to find a tool as robust, easy to use, and affordable than this, and again I’ve tried many of them. It’s what I personally use here at Advisor Evolved, and I know many other agents who are using it as well who love it.

In the video series below, I’ll give you a quick run-through of setting things up optimally inside of Active Campaign.

The limitations of automation tools Agency Management Systems

Agency management systems as a whole have made pretty huge strides in the last 5 years. I remember when I first started my agency I used, wait for it,……….DORIS from Applied Systems. It’s okay, you can laugh. It actually wasn’t my decision. I swear.

If you’re not familiar with DORIS, it was literally like looking at a DOS computer screen, or an Atari game from 1984. It was about as old-school as you’d ever see — the Great Grand-daddy (literally) of them all. I’m honestly not even sure if it qualified as software back then, but for the time, it was actually a good program to use.

It got the job done, although I’m pretty sure that behind the scenes there was a team of railroaders shoveling coal into the back of their servers like an locomotive train from the 1900’s, or an entire floor dedicated to hamster wheels that kept DORIS running each day.

I’m here all night folks 😉

But now these programs have turned a major corner, and you have systems like AMS360, QQ Solutions, EZLynx, Hawksoft and some other up-and-coming startups who are changing the way agency management systems look, feel, and perform. This is a very good thing for this industry!

With all that being said, there are still some significant shortcomings with these systems that no doubt limit what an agency can to in terms of marketing automation.

Agency Management systems started out purely as storage tools — lightweight CRM’s that stored contact information, policy information, and that communicated with carriers for policy download information.

While these functions are still critical to an agency, they (AMSs) didn’t and still don’t do much in the way of marketing and/or customer journey workflows.

One of the biggest constraints currently is that a large majority of them still do not have open API’s, meaning they can’t fully integrate and/or communicate with 3rd party tools such as Active Campaign, InfusionSoft, etc., at least not easily.

The few of the agency management systems that actually do have API’s are typically not advanced/robust enough to communicate with 3rd party tools without a plethora of bugs, connectivity issues, or heavy customizations to get them to work the way they promise.

I’ve heard from more than a few agency owners that most automation or drip marketing tools that integrate with their AMS, “never work the way they should” or “we’re constantly having problems with it so we really don’t use it”.

This is a major bummer and something that I hope will one day change, because until it does, there are a lot of limitations to what you can actually automate in your agency based on actions that occur inside of your AMS.

You can make the argument that automation without integration isn’t worth the trouble, but I still believe there is tremendous value in using an automation tool, even if it doesn’t connect to your AMS in any way.

One of the biggest reasons I say this, is that your automation tool does things that your AMS simply doesn’t do, and more importantly, can actually function as a backup of your AMS. With more and more AMS’s becoming browser and cloud based, if your AMS was to ever go down for an extended period of time, how would you be able to contact your customers, in mass, if there was ever a problem?

Well, if you had all your customers in your automation app, you could easily contact them all within minutes!

With all of that being said, the take-away here is, automating things is awesome, but don’t expect it to run your entire business for you, especially given the disconnect between the software and agency management systems.

Should I dive into automation for my agency?

I say go for it.

Automating your leads and new customer on-boarding processes alone are worth the money and effort to get familiar with it.

As you saw in the video, it’s not terribly hard to get started.

You can also do other cool things like offer PDF guides as a way to retarget customers by collecting their emails and dripping content on them over time. There are definitely a lot of advantages to it!

If you get stuck or have any other questions, be sure to drop us a comment below and let us know how you’re making out!

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