Social media marketing has helped countless local businesses – including insurance industry leaders – achieve greater visibility. It’s no wonder that an increasing number of insurance agents are investing time and effort in generating more Facebook likes, Twitter mentions, Instagram followers, or LinkedIn shares.
But many still are neglecting what could be one of the biggest, most important factors in digital marketing today: online reviews.
If you’re interested in the business reputation and visibility of your insurance agency, keep in mind that reviews and ratings posted by clients on sites like Google+, Yelp, Citysearch, and YP.com, can affect your bottom line in ways that a Facebook “like” or a Twitter mention can never do.
Moreover, according to research, review quantity (and even quality) impact your local search performance more than social signals. Here are some facts and figures worth considering:
Trustworthiness: Reviews > Social: Trustworthiness is obviously one of the most crucial drivers in decision-making – especially in an industry like insurance. A study by About.com called “The Trust Factor” revealed that online reviews inspired trust twice as much as general social networking “likes.”
In fact, 50 percent of consumers agree that having positive reviews – without hiding the negative reviews – is the best peer-to-peer contribution to trust. Meanwhile, only 26 percent believe that a business having lots of “likes” contributes to trust; the rest aren’t sure what “likes” really mean.
Local Search: Reviews > Social: Late last year, SEO software company Moz released the results of a comprehensive study on what really affects local search. What does Google look at when determining which – and in what order – businesses appear in local search results? The study showed that one of the top 5 ranking factors is reviews, ranking ahead of social signals like Facebook “likes” or Twitter followers.
“Get reviews,” emphasized Matthew Hunt of Powered by Search in an analysis. “It ain’t brain surgery that getting those golden stars next to your listing will bring more traffic and phone calls.”
Reviews Influence Decisions: People who are ready to make a purchase, a booking, or an appointment rarely turn to social networks to finalize their decision; instead, they consult online review sites. Multiple research studies reinforce this. A Merchant Warehouse study revealed that 93 percent of consumers who use Yelp typically go on to make purchases at the business they looked up and researched through the review site. An eMarketer report, meanwhile, shows that 88 percent of Internet users now read reviews in order to determine the quality of a local business.
Even research findings by Forrester have reinforced the swaying power of reviews. According to the firm, consumers trust online reviews over natural search engine results. In terms of trustworthiness, content found in consumer-written online reviews (46 percent) rank ahead of posts by companies or brands on social networks like Facebook and Twitter (15 percent).
The key takeaway from all these numbers is this: Facebook likes don’t have the potential to make or break a business. But reviews do.
If you’re managing and marketing an insurance agency, it’s simply critical for you to engage with clients more effectively, and to recognize the power of online reviews. In an industry as highly competitive as insurance, it’s not a popularity contest. It’s a trust contest. That’s why monitoring, managing, and responding to reviews can deliver more significant business results for you than generating Facebook “likes” ever could.