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Web Presence & the Independent Agency

01/27/2010

A great article popped up in P&C Underwriter this week, entitled Gen-Xers Key For Insurance Web Sales, Poll Finds which prompted me to think about web presence and the independent agent.

A recent survey by Wells Fargo shows that consumers (largely Gen-X and younger) utilize the web for personal banking and insurance needs. It will come as no surprise that the more technically savvy the user, the more they seek the web to assist them is transferring money, paying bills online and researching insurance. P&C Underwriter cites the following from their survey:

60 percent of Generation Y (roughly those between the ages of 18 to 29) and Generation X (30 and older up to mid-40’s) use online research in their auto insurance buying experience. The numbers drop from there, she said, with 50 percent of those in their 50’s going online for buying information. However, when it comes to purchasing, people want an agent to talk to before making the final buy, she said.

The article mentioned above goes on to discuss the trends that Wells Fargo has seen in purchase habits of Renters v. Auto insurance. It seems that people are generally more willing to purchase a renters policy unassisted by an agent online than auto insurance. Their survey showed that people still want to speak to an agent before making a purchase.

This is good news…for now.  But as we know, trends change. The landscape may look different when the high school seniors of today are buying houses and getting married in 10 years. (My apologies to any parents experiencing shortness of breath as that comment sinks in.)

So what does that mean to the independent agent? It means that the maintenance of a web presence is important. When I think of having a web presence, I envision a multi-pronged approach. Having your business found in multiple spots across the web differs from having a website and a yellow pages listing.  

The challenge however is like anything worth building, building a web presence takes time and commitment. It involves more than Just Showing Up. There are a lot of articles out there with instructions on how to help individuals build their web presence, expend their reach and increase their connections. I think much of that advice, if tweaked just a bit is valid for small businesses.

Are you wondering, Do I even have a web presence? Ask yourself this: Where else can I find you beside your home page?

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