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Reply to Domain Name Importance?     
Old 12-21-2015, 07:50 PM   #1
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Brian F 11 on Domain Name Importance?
 
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State: Brian F 11 is an Insurance Agent from Florida
Domain Name Importance? Domain Name Importance?
I have been reading on the importance of domain name in this forum and online for the last several months. I see many of the posts are older and the information changes every year. I am seeking fresh info here. I also understand that websites and domain name importance is a little different in our industry for lead gen, and now social media must also be tied into it.

All things being equal, marketing campaign, SEO and local marketing for two given websites, aside from having a catchy name that is easy to remember, how much of a role does the domain name play for lead gen website? To return for local search results? Will it make a difference for each line of business?

The reason I am asking is because I bit the bullet and opened my own insurance agency this year. Business is Ok, not great. We are running out of capital coming into the final stretch of the open enrollment period for ACA. Raising some capital to invest in lead purchase is a priority. This is our first year so borrowing money is not a realistic option.

I purchased many insurance related domains that we planned on using for lead gen in the future. I have been kicking around the idea of selling some of them off to raise capital. I really don't want to sell of something that may be worth a fortune a couple years from now. All info I come across shows more and more of the customers in our industry are trending towards the internet while shopping for insurance. Unfortunately, we need capital asap, so we may not have a choice. I am curious to know what this will actually cost me in the long run.

I appreciate the advice.
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Old 12-21-2015, 08:08 PM   #2
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Domain Name Importance?
Good luck! Time to cut the fat and get lean. Things will turn around.
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Old 12-21-2015, 11:08 PM   #3
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Brian F 11 on Domain Name Importance?
 
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State: Brian F 11 is an Insurance Agent from Florida
Domain Name Importance? Brian F 11 is the thread starter for: Domain Name Importance?

Originally Posted by HCCIA View Post
Good luck! Time to cut the fat and get lean. Things will turn around.
Thanks HCCIA. That's good advice. We run it lean and mean. We have experience in the industry but still learning how to run the agency/business. So far, it's a three-man operation, 2 of us being 50/50 owners, one 1099, we have very low operating expenses, but honestly could use some improvement in a few areas so those expenses will only increase next year.

When I say I appreciate the advice, I mean that I genuinely, honestly thank you for it.

We do not have the luxury of a big brother mentor. We could use one who knows online marketing/SEO. With every mistake we make, we have to payoff that gangster, 'BabyFace' Due Diligence. We been lucky so far, keeping problems small and easily/quickly correctible.

In the past, working under a seasoned agent in exchange for comm split, leads, and mentoring are how things are done. Unfortunately, times are a changing. Most agents here are independent and comfortable, one-man operations who got into the business 5-10 years ago and who have no interest in an exit plan other than a quick book sale. No 80/20 or 70/30 commission only. The rest that I come across are looking to make you into their slave. Multi-Level Marketing, MLM Pyramids or similar and Insurance Mills that exploit agents, keep you in the dark offering you nothing more than empty promises. Way too many of them around who's idea of selling insurance involves shoving a script in front of you that you bark at every customer for 12 hours each day while paying you $10-$50 for processing 1 enrollment application, no salary, no benefits, no renewals, no equity, sounds too much like.....no future to me. Since your name is NOT listed as the Agent of Record, doubt you will get paid for all the work you actually do. Too much greed, too much focus on quantity rather quality that will last long term.

As far as my own business, every penny is accounted for. Of course we had to pay our dues, learning what works and what does not.

The absolute biggest, most important, thing I have learned since going on my own is this:
if you offer a product or service, marketing is everything. Be a marketer first, agent/salesman second. We are learning that lesson now.

We didn't budget enough money for marketing. There are some other problems that we didn't have the foresight to anticipate or prepare for, causing the deficit in our marketing budget.

First, didn't anticipate the marketplace would aggressively seek customers like they are this year. I would go as far to say that the Marketplace is ignoring state laws by:

- allowing navigators/advisors to transact insurance without an insurance license, provide insurance advice to customers (although they do not claim to, they do it anyway)
-engage in super high pressure marketing tactics. I entered my e-mail address in there and get 6 or 7 e-mails EVERY DAY - "It's not too late to enroll". " Enroll Now" "Call Now" "You must apply or else"!!!

-I called the marketplace and made the mistake of entering my phone number and they call me EVERY DAY and try to get ME to enroll lol

Other Problems

3. Insurance companies appear to have invested more money than every into TV Commercials, radio, internet, and so on. I may go 15 minutes before I come in contact with some type of marketing

4. Everyone and their mother is advertising and selling health insurance now. Went into my local credit union, seen a sign/advertisement offering healthcare. Walked into Walmart, same thing, except Walmart has a HUGE sign and person standing there handing out flyers. (Do I really have to compete with Walmart now)?

5. Local Market is dominated primarily by one insurance carrier that does not work with independents. They offer $0 premium AND $0 deductible, all on the same local HMO network. What happens when they enroll 10x more people than anticipated or more than the network can realistically handle? 3 -6 month wait to see a Dr?? Curious to see how that works out.

6. Market Place Games! One carrier hall but killed their ACA program and the rest of the insurance companies we offer are either not on-market, or not competitive in rates and/or plan benefits, leaving us with one carrier to write business with. Only problem is no one has heard of them. No brand recognition in comparison to the other. Leaves us with a lot of wasted time and little enrollments to show for it.

Although we are in one of the best markets in the US, we did not align ourselves properly. Additionally, local marketing is not treating us well. We have other licenses in other states, and the rest of this state we can draw business from. Aside from online marketing, which we are late to the dance on, we need to draw leads from other areas and we need to do it ASAP. That takes capital. We looked into giving up a percentage of ownership in the agency in-exchange for investment. Finding the right partner was like stepping into an episode of 'Shark Tank'. The only other thing we can do is leverage some assets and sell off others.

I am confident we will make it in the long run. We have some very good things going for us, I mentioned we are in the best market not only for ACA but also Medicare, the majority of the agents I come across are nearing (or past) retirement age and do not keep up with the changes, we are young enough and everything we do is high quality enough to take over. We have some very unique marketing ideas and are committed to building a virtual agency as well as building a strong local market presence, unfortunately didn't have the capital to execute much of it this year.

Buying leads is not a good long term strategy I understand, however, it is a must for now, in addition to doing some last minute, online marketing.

I am interested to see what everyone's opinion is.

Adding to my previous questions:

I understand that quality SEO takes some time and requires some investment. But I have seen others in this forum mention some turn key website operations be made to work pretty well with a small initial investment.

How quickly can one set up a site and see quality leads come in?

Again, I appreciate your help.
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Old 12-22-2015, 08:59 AM   #4
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Bevo on Domain Name Importance?
 
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State: Bevo is an Insurance Agent from Texas
Domain Name Importance? Re: Domain Name Importance?
Domain names are as relevant as ever, but the same rules apply. Someone can come in with more links and better SEO and beat your EMD (exact match domain) with a branded site and domain. If I were you I would start throwing sites up and testing them. SEO and online marketing is ALL about testing...over...and over....and over...it never stops.

As for you selling them off to get capital, well most people over value their domains, unless you got in early and have some really hot super duper ones. You're correct in that marketing is everything, because it is. Making mistakes and failing at it for a while is part of the dues paying and worth all of your effort, but only if you continue on which most of your competition won't. But you have to put the time in and not be afraid to fail.

Of course you had problems finding a partner, anyone who's put the massive amount of time and revenue in being able to generate enough marketing to supply an agency would certainly want a huge return on their investment. They're bringing you the pot of gold. Sounds like you're just bringing agents to the table, and those can be found anywhere. Might sound Shark-Tank like, but man that's just business. The compensation should equal the value of what one is bringing to the business with risk factored in.

I would agree most people on this forum are likely 1-person shops and honestly that's a pretty smart move. Everyone I know (myself included) who has an agency has thoughts of how it was back in the day when they were just a one-person show. It's called the E-Myth in many circles, based off a book by Michael Gerber. Highly recommended reading BTW.

You've hit the wall that so many agencies hit and even if you did borrow money it would like only be enough until you have this same problem next year. The successful ones who have broken through this without a massive bankroll (And there aren't many, and even with a huge bankroll the others are likely running a huge debt balance but can afford not to care) are the ones who went out and decided to learn and do what the others aren't willing to do. Are you that person? The problem with that is it takes a massive amount of sacrifice, perseverance, and a huge set of balls.

You can jump in the SEO Rabbit-hole, just know what you're getting yourself into. Only the strongest of the strongest survive, it's not just about the money. I've seen players with the deepest of pockets come in claiming that they have "World class SEO guys" who are going to blow me out of the water and dominate the niches from here to eternity. Now they're all gone, like treasure hunters on Oak Island.
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Old 12-22-2015, 09:34 AM   #5
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somarco on Domain Name Importance?
 
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Domain Name Importance? Re: Domain Name Importance?
You could (can still?) make good money buying domains, putting up a website then flipping for profit. I don't know how easy or difficult it is now.

One person on the forum has done this for years. Buy an aged domain, put up a 2 - 3 page site, create links, build up the traffic then sells it off at a handsome profit.

You need to be careful about aged domains, and sites that are supposedly profitable. Sometimes you buy then right before Google puts them in the sandbox and you are stuck with a domain that is essentially worthless.

Generating leads takes time, money and dedication. If you are patient you can do it on a shoestring and supplement web generated leads with bought leads.

The thing about lead gen is finding what works today. Then when that stops working find what works at that point.

About the time you learn all the answers someone changes the questions.

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The doctor is in. Five cents please.
Georgia Medicare Plans
GA Medicare Supplement Rates
(404) 252-5859
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Old 12-23-2015, 10:56 AM   #6
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Domain Name Importance? Re: Domain Name Importance?
I feel your pain, Brian. I'm going through a lot of pain myself. I live in Alaska where unions, gov entities and Native (American) corporations dominate everything concerning insurance and employee benefits. Then there's the handful of agencies who have been here since statehood that's been passed down from generation to generation to compete with. To your point, the banks and credit unions all offer health insurance to their members as well.
Last year, I bought an enrollment platforms for both the Federal Exchange and Medicare supplements (Medicare Advantage is not offered in Alaska) and both were a waste of money and time. I saw the one for the Exchange on Fox News and jumped on it when they finally gave me a special of $350 to get started and $100 a month to use their platform. They promised good quality leads and all the companies I'm contracted with would be on the Federal Exchange. Well, EVERY lead was total garbage..to sum it up, it was a waste of time and money.

As for the Medicare platform, one of my FMOs sold me the ability to have a kiosk in WalMart with promotions from UHC. I paid $500 for the kiosk and $35 for a mandatory branded polo shirt. The WalMart management had no idea I was supposed to be there, the kiosk never showed up, CMS put major restrictions on approaching customers and to top it off, all my carriers jumped ship and did not provide coverage in Alaska for that promotion. Since I had no carriers in Alaska except UHC, I got am email DAILY that stated for me not to show up to the store. Again, another bust.

My experience with buying leads and enrollment platforms have put a bad experience in my mouth. So, I decided to change directions. I'm only offering health insurance if the prospect inquires or I fall into a small group opportunity. My focus is going to be on life, retirement and end of life planning.

For marketing, I'm going to focus on adding new content and pictures with SEO rich descriptions and develop a newsletter from my current and past clients emails. The newsletter will be filled with useful information and avoid any sales pitches. I also joined a non-profit where I'll host classes on financial education and get appointments that way. The problem I ran into is timing. The local library here is renovating and the space they use for non profits is booked through the end of Feb. Ugh! So I found a cool concept of shared office space called The Boardroom. As a member, I can rent a fully furnished room to hold me classes and use of office space for one on one meetings as I need to. Every newsletter is going to have my class schedule, plus I'm going to advertise free on Eventbrite and at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce membership page. Recently, I someone told me one of his agents buys ad space in those tiny publications place in the entry way of Denny's and places like that. He gets tons of calls each month from those alone.

Once I get this ball rolling, I'm not going to spend any more money on internet marketing than I have to. Oh, I recently learned the local Yellow Pages helps you target specific areas and demographics so I can stop paying for services like Yodle who has been unsuccessful so far. Google also has a service that helps you find the SEO that will make you successful. Search "Google Analytics" and you will get to their page. At the bottom, you will see the links to the other Google for business services. I'm going straight to Google and avoid using third party companies who over promise and over deliver.

As for leads, I'm only going to buy leads with money earned from the FMOs. When I get those leads, I am going to knock on the lead door and introduce myself as part of the non profit and invite them to a workshop. A few days ago, I requested to be a part of Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) broker services. They will be a huge lead generator and AARP's biggest competitor.

Hope I didn't ramble on or confuse you. I spend countless days and dollars trying to find my niche' here in Alaska. I finally found it by way of educating those who want to be educated and not bothering those who are not inquiring.
Feel free to contact me directly to discuss my plan for 2016 a success for me.

Brent Laube
907-223-1991
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Old 12-23-2015, 11:50 AM   #7
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Brian F 11 on Domain Name Importance?
 
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State: Brian F 11 is an Insurance Agent from Florida
Domain Name Importance? Brian F 11 is the thread starter for: Domain Name Importance?

Bevo & Somarco,

Thanks for the advice. I appreciate it.

We have no debt other than personal debt used to start it up.

Very good advice, opened my eyes a little. Seems like a worth while investment as far as time and money is concerned. I am one of those who believes you get back what you put into it, so I will be patient and try to make a few high quality sites. I will let you know how it goes.

I was surprised to hear there are so many worthless SEO Companies out there. I looked into several local companies and independent webmasters 7 or 8 months ago. Seems like they are all peddling the same junk. More than half of them guarantee an HQ website, charge between $500-$800 for it and when you question their methods you find out they really don't do much of anything but build a vista print or wix website for you that can be done all on your own for $10, and build in cheater links, etc. one guy said he would go in and copy/paste articles in the site based on latest keywords. I did enough planning and research to know enough not to fall for that foolishness. I see when it comes to quality, lasting SEO there is no real short cut. Have to put in the work. Hopefully the domains name will help things take off a little faster. Yes, I have several rockstar domain names, for each keyword, line of business. I will sell a few of them and hope that is enough to get me through the storm. I don't write code so hopefully I can get the Wordpress templates to workout for now.

I am getting schooled on this business, everything is constantly changing, must be like water my friends (Mr. Lee).

Living and learning........

Thanks again for the great advice gentlemen.

Anyone else like to share????
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Old 12-23-2015, 02:23 PM   #8
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somarco on Domain Name Importance?
 
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Domain Name Importance? Re: Domain Name Importance?
You can get some very good Wordpress plugins for free from Yoast. Premium services are something to consider once you get a handle on what you are doing.

Very good self study courses at Yoast Academy

Once you are up and running consider investing $700 or so for a site review.

Good content and a workable site with help from someone like Yoast is a much better investment than throwing thousands at an SEO guru. Plus you get to learn a little about how to manage your site(s) yourself
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:12 PM   #9
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CHUMPS FROM OXFORD on Domain Name Importance?
 
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Domain Name Importance? Re: Domain Name Importance?
I shouldn't do this...But in the Festivus spirit...I will

For a one-time payment of $400 (Reduced from $425), and a monthly monitoring fee of $65 (reduced from $67), you get the following:

We buy a top domain for you at no charge (You simply pay a small $50 handling fee).

We guarantee your website will rank Page 4 or better for three key phrases unrelated to your website.

For an extra $125, we will guarantee an additional key phrase related to your website to rank on Page 6 or better.

We will provide expert content at no charge. It must work because we give the same content to all of other clients and nobody complains.

After one year, if you are not satisfied, we will refund any future payments you make to us.

This offer is good through December 31st.

Blyleven SEO Services
Service Since 1983
Minneapolis, MN.
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Last edited by CHUMPS FROM OXFORD; 12-23-2015 at 03:13 PM. Reason: Why are you reading this? Go away. Go FAR away! Get out now! I mean it!
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Old 12-24-2015, 12:04 AM   #10
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pcbinsurance on Domain Name Importance?
 
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Domain Name Importance? Re: Domain Name Importance?
You may think "Yes, I have several rockstar domain names, for each keyword, line of business. but as someone said earlier, most people overvalue their own domains.

Why not put them up for sale? Your domain is only worth what someone is willing to pay. I think you might end up humbled.
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