A look at the art and science behind our insurance agency website designs

There’s more to building a great insurance agency website than you might think.

At Advisor Evolved we’ve spent countless hours testing a multitude of different layouts, colors, and calls-to-actions. Why? Because a website either helps you or hurts you.

There’s no in between.

Based on our research and testing, we’ve got it pretty close to a science as to what works and what doesn’t.

You see, having a good website for your insurance agency is about more than just looking good. It has to function great as well.

It has to have the looks of a Rolls Royce, and but with the engine and performance of a Porsche. Without both, you’ll miss opportunities for new business, and could actually be hurting your brand unknowingly.

Like SEO, a great website is the combination of art and science. Your agency website needs both if you want to be successful online. What’s more, your website needs you to be an active participant in the process.

You might not realize it, but you are the most important variable in your online success.

With that said, your agency website provides you with the foundation you need to be successful.

Here are some of the reasons why an Advisor Evolved website could be the perfect fit for your insurance agency:

Code Quality & Speed

code-quality

A lot of websites look good, but not all of them are built well.

Bad code can cause all types of problems from slow page load times, to technical SEO errors and usability issues. Needless to say, the quality of code of which your website is built is extremely important.

Unfortunately, unless you are a developer yourself, it can be hard, if not impossible to spot bad code. Even though a website looks nice in a browser, doesn’t mean it’s technically sound under the hood.

Beware of off-the-shelf templates and page builder tools

Always be cautious of companies or people who are using off-the-shelf templates created by theme marketplace authors.

Why I point that out is when you work with someone who does that, not only could it be a red flag that they actually don’t understand web development best practices or how to write code, but they have absolutely zero control over the code base of that template.

It’s like buying a used car from a dealership who offers no warranty and doesn’t have a service department. The car might look nice on the lot, but you have no idea what you’re really buying, and no one will be around to help you if something goes wrong.

We’ve seen hobbyists, and people posing as developers/designers who are doing all kinds of crazy stuff like re-selling $15 landing page templates for hundreds or thousands of dollars. The worst part is, many agents just don’t understand what they are buying.

There are also various page builder tools out there that allow people with little to no development or design experience piece together a website. These page builder tools are what we call “duct tape” builders because they’re actually styled short-code generators, meaning that if you use a page builder to build your entire site, you’re stuck with it forever because if you attempt to move to a different design or template, your site will be quite literally littered with un-styled short-codes.

We’ve had to rescue a number of sites from these page builders and believe me when I tell you, they’re a complete mess both in terms of usability and also performance.

On the contrary, Advisor Evolved websites are coded from the ground up, in-house by myself and our development team, using HTML5 and CSS3, and other code libraries that help us optimize the performance of our client sites. If you’re not familiar with code that’s fine, just know that these are the current coding standards, which all of our sites are built with.

Our designs are stress tested for weeks prior to being available to our users, to if your website is with us, you can rest assured that it not only looks good, but is built well too.

Speaking of which…

Built on WordPress

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Our sites are built on top of WordPress, which is the largest, most mature open source content management system in the world, powering roughly 25% of all websites on the internet. That’s quite incredible actually considering that there are 100’s of millions of websites on the web.

Why I bring this up is because it’s important that when you build on top of WordPress, that you’re as close as possible to WordPress core and the code quality standards that go along with that.

Our codebase is one of the leanest, and most efficient you’ll ever find. While other developers pack in as many features as possible, our code is fast, bloat-free, and performs like a well oiled machine under the hood.

What’s more, with WordPress, managing your content is a breeze. If you can type into a Microsoft Word document, you can manage the content on our agency websites with ease. We have a customized admin experience for our users with training videos and other nifty guides that allow them to create content quickly and easily.

Lastly, because WordPress is open-source, with Advisor Evolved, you’re not locked into some kind of proprietary CMS. You have complete freedom with your content, which you own.

Schema Markup (Structured Data)

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While we’re on the topic of code, it’s also worth mentioning that we sweat the details here at Advisor Evolved. Not only are our sites built with HTML5, but they are also built with Schema markup for added SEO benefits.

Schema is a highly under utilized form of micro data that blends in with the existing HTML your website is built with.

Schema is huge in terms of SEO because it helps Google understand not only what your site is, but what it’s content is about. It helps Google return more relevant search results to users because it gives them more information about your site.

The more information you can give to Google, the better you will be.

What’s more, not only are our sites built with Schema, but we actually fine tune it specifically for insurance agency websites. This is huge, because it lets Google know that your site is an insurance agency website, so when people are searching for a local insurance agency, Google knows more about your website if it’s using Schema markup, so your website has a higher chance of being returned to the searcher if utilizing Schema.

Pretty cool right? Again, details folks 🙂

Mobile Responsive


With more than 60% of all web traffic now coming from mobile devices, having a mobile responsive website is not just a nice feature to have, it’s an absolute must now.

Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly), some of our competitors have yet to convert their client sites to mobile responsive sites, and are even up-charging clients to do it.

With Google openly admitting to giving priority to mobile responsive sites, you’d be foolish to not have a mobile responsive insurance agency website in today’s online environment.

All Advisor Evolved websites are coded with a responsive stylesheet. This means that no matter what device someone views your agency website on, whether it be a laptop, iPhone, Android device, or any kind of tablet, your agency website will conform, or “respond” to that devices screen size — automatically.

This greatly improves the user experience, and also helps you in terms of SEO since Google is now using this as a ranking variable in their algorithm.

Mobile Friendly vs Mobile Responsive

While we’re on the topic of mobile, I wanted to point something out.

There’s a difference between having a mobile friendly site, and a mobile responsive site, so I wanted to clarify the difference and show you what’s actually better.

Mobile friendly is when your website has two separate “versions”. A desktop version, and a mobile version. This means that there are two different versions of your site being served up to Google which is not necessarily ideal.

Mobile responsive means that your website conforms, or responds to any viewport, whether it be a desktop computer, all the way down to a smartphone screen.

In short, mobile responsive is better (and how all of our sites are built) than mobile friendly, because you’re serving up the same consistent version of your website to Google at all times, which is better in terms of SEO, and and let’s be honest, it just looks better and is more cohesive to the end user.

Conversion Optimized Visual Hierarchy

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I talk about conversion optimization a lot, but what does that actually mean?

The visual hierarchy of the content on your site (specifically your home page) can make a huge impact on your ability to generate leads. If your content is out of order, you can lose and confuse people pretty easily, and thus your conversion opportunities will decrease big time.

There should be a flow to your website’s layout, especially as it relates to a small business, or insurance agency website.

Now there are certain characteristics that make people take action that we’ve borrowed from the well known phycologist and author of the book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, Robert Cialdini.

They are:

  • Reciprocation
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Social Proof/Trust indicators
  • Liking
  • Scarcity
  • Authority

With that in mind, we’ve included some of these characteristics into our agency website designs. Here is an example of what I’m talking about, and the logic we use in our designs.

Notice the order of the content on the page:

  1. Engaging image
  2. Who, what, where, contact info, value prop
  3. Call-to-action
  4. Services offered
  5. Social proof/Trust indicators
  6. Call-to-action again after social proof
  7. Authority and/or Scarcity
  8. Personalization (Liking)
  9. Call-to-action

Our site designs are strategic, intentional, and based on proven psychological triggers.

They’re designed to build trust and credibility with the visitor as they scroll down the page. The more trust you can build, the higher chance you’ll have at converting a visitor into a lead.

However, we’ve also planned for situations where they might not scroll down, and if that happens, we put critical information about your agency above the fold, so at the very least, the visitor will see your contact information, name, and call-to-action.

What’s more, we’ve done extensive user testing including heat-map studies to see where people actually click when they come to one of our sites. We then use that data to build future designs, so our layouts are designed based on hard data, not just design trends, or what we thing looks nice.

Speaking of design though…

Modern Design

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While we’re talking about visual elements, let’s talk about design itself. Great design is marketing. In 2016 and beyond, you must be able to engage your audience visually.

People can be shallow when it comes to appearances, and the importance of good design must not be understated, especially when it comes to an insurance agency website.

The digital curb appeal of your business matters folks.

Great design is a differentiator for your insurance agency

You have to remember (and I’m sure you do) that you’re in a saturated industry, competing with giant brands who can easily out-spend you online. You’re already at a disadvantage in many ways.

You simply can’t afford to make mistakes online.

Your website is an extension of your brand and unlike your physical office space, you’re website has the ability to scale, and be seen by many more people than your actual office.

If you were to drive by an old, dated, beat down insurance agency, would you want to go inside and buy insurance from them? Of course not. Same thing goes for your website.

You could have really good content, but if the site looks bad visually, no one will ever get far enough to read it because they already left.

At Advisor Evolved, design is something we take seriously, and we put a lot of time into making sure that all of our designs are modern, clean, and easy to navigate.

Calls-to-Action

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I was talking to an agency owner once who told me they didn’t want a button on their website that asked people to request a quote because it took away from the look of the site. They then told me they rarely ever got leads from the site.

Yep, true story.

One thing you need to understand is, sometimes people visiting your website need to be pointed in the right direction. Furthermore, some people need to be told what to do.

People aren’t going to take action if you don’t give them a reason, or a way to do it. 

Our sites are designed with calls-to-action strategically placed throughout your website, which helps people take action and improves your conversions. Here are a few places where you’ll find them in our designs:

  1. Header
  2. Under the header
  3. Mid-section
  4. Footer
  5. After every blog post
  6. Sidebar

This means that with our designs you’re giving people ample opportunities, and making it clear to them how they can do business with your agency.

If you don’t have a clear value proposition and call to action, people simply won’t take any action on your website.

Retargeting with Drip Email & Lead Capture

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You can have the best website and marketing campaign in the world, but the harsh reality is that 90% of the people who come to your site will most likely never return.

That’s life on the internet.

Because of this, you need to have a retargeting mechanism in place to capture lead data or emails, so you can get these visitors back into your sales funnel.

Notice when you visit this site here, that when you try to leave the site, you’re presented with a popup that appears, and offers the visitor some kind of downloadable resource.

This is called a lead magnet, or opt-in bribe. In order to get this piece of information or resource from you, the visitor must enter their email address.

No matter what industry you’re in, building your email list is absolutely crucial. Email marketing has a 400% higher ROI than social media marketing, and it allows you to build your own audience, that you control.

If you’re using some kind of email automation tool (we love and use Active Campaign) you’ll be able to automatically deliver your lead magnet to the visitor, as well as drip market to them, which in many cases if done right, will bring them back to your site, or prompt them to get a quote from you, thus improving your conversion percentages.

If you can continue to deliver valuable content to that subscriber, you will build trust and credibility with them, which is in the end, is the currency of sales and digital marketing.

If you’re running any kind of paid SEO or ad campaigns, and aren’t capturing emails from visitors, you are literally throwing money down the drain.

Custom Layout Engine

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If you know about WordPress, you know how easy it is to manage content on the back end of your website. However, if you want to change the physical appearance of your site on the front end, you either have to know how to write code, or have some liquid assets available to pay a professional developer.

With Advisor Evolved websites, we’ve made it super easy to extend the look and feel of your site by building in a custom layout engine into every client website, for free.

This means that in addition to the awesome “stock” design you get from us (which is already very flexible in and of itself), you can create custom layouts in a matter of minutes without having to write one line of code.

It’s all done by dragging-and-dropping elements in place, from the front end of your page, so you can see your changes take shape in real time.

This functionality comes in handy in the event you wanted to run an ad campaign like our customer Simple Life Quoting, and drive traffic back to a custom landing or sales page.

Or perhaps you have a niche insurance product you want to feature in a special way on your site. Or maybe you just want one of the pages on your site too look extra special.

It’s all possible with Advisor Evolved.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, there are many variables that go into maintaining a successful online presence. Your insurance agency website serves as the hub and foundation of everything you might do online, whether it’s blogging, podcasting, or running paid ad campaigns.

Given the way that consumers now interact with brands online, you can make the argument that your insurance agency website is the most important tool your agency has, online or off.

With Advisor Evolved you can be sure that our platform and core product (websites) was designed and built with the specific needs of an independent insurance agency in mind.

We don’t want you to just look good, we want you to operate like a Porsche under the hood too.

If you’re interested in looking at our plans, or have some pre-sale questions, you can check them out here 🙂

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