Success in insurance requires constant juggling of numerous issues. The wealth of existing technology streamlines handling clients, regulations and marketing. Choosing the right tools requires time and research. However, once implemented, great online tools for agents make business (and life!) simpler.
The Power of Well-Run Businesses
Poor office organization undermines many agents’ best efforts. Sometimes it is a matter of streamlining organization processes. Other situations require exploring new ways of solving problems. Utilizing the right technology improves all facets of the business.
Lost documents are the bane of businesses. Going paperless is a solution with added benefits. Agents can obtain immediate client signatures, regardless of location. Using paperless technology speeds up processing times and increases productivity since there is no need for overnighting or faxing documents. DocuSign enables storing, signing and transmitting just about any document. Documents stored in the cloud are sent out for signature via email. Document “tags” direct signing parties’ attention to areas requiring action. Most importantly, electronic signatures are secure and widely accepted.
Individual DocuSign accounts start at $10 per month, and Business Premium plans cost $125 per month. Agents with remote clients, or who need to expedite a transaction find DocuSign incredibly helpful.
Kaggle helps you get a handle on your data, even if you’re not a data scientist. A competition-for-hire style service, you can upload a data-based problem (such as identifying fraudulent claims within your database) to the Kaggle community, who will then come up with different models to solve the problem. You can use the winning model to protect against future instances. Tapping into the minds of several data scientists via one service encourages creative thinking and helps you get to the best solution possible.
While some competitions award millions of dollars, not all competitions require such lucrative payouts. A 2012 article in The Atlantic stated, “Prizes for winning solutions ranged from $3,000 to $250,000.” For the right problem, that could be a small price to pay.
Strong reviews back up cloud service Evernote’s claim that “For everything you’ll do, Evernote is the workspace to get it done,” making it a potentially game-changing tool for on-the-go agents. Insurance agents can use Evernote to:
- Write in any format, from lists to extensive research
- Collect items such as Web articles, handwritten notes and photos
- Discuss, share and communicate projects with others in real time
- Present work as it progresses without creating slides
By working within Evernote, all your documents and files are accessible from any device that supports the apps.
Basic Evernote is free. However, Plus ($24.99 per year) and Premium ($49.99 per year) plans provide useful features, from saving emails to Evernote to digitizing business cards. Evernote also offers “Business-level” accounts featuring multiple Premium licenses along with single sign-on authentication, data control and account management.
On any given day, insurance agents find themselves working away from the office. Yet certain issues inevitably require the attention of several people, none of whom are in (or near) the office. InnoCentive@Work allows you to create a closed crowdsourcing groups of specific employees and individuals. This private network makes it easy to bringing together employees, partners and even clients, leading to quicker, more efficient problem resolution and idea generation.
In addition to InnoCentive’s “collaborative SaaS-based innovation management software,” the company offers InnoCentive Challenge Programs for solutions generated through externally crowdsourced programs and competitions. Prices depend upon the program used and/or the expertise required to meet the challenge.
- Dragon Dictation
For the busy insurance agent, speech recognition software is a beautiful thing. Dragon Dictation converts dictated notes into text, for use as social network posts, emails and blogs. The Dragon Professional Group package allows different team members to create documents—from reports to spreadsheets—from any location.
The Dragon Professional package costs close to $600. There are also individual and group packages available.
Marketing Tools That Make a Difference
Great online insurance marketing tools should also be a part of every successful agent’s arsenal. The insurance business is highly competitive. Taking advantage of the best apps available gives agents an edge over competition.
- PR Underground
Getting the word out about an agency’s successes makes people take notice. This is why press releases are such effective marketing tools for insurance agents. A self-described “search engine optimized social media news release tool,” PR Underground facilitates and manages the release of businesses’ news and promotions using Google News and social networks.
Plan prices range from $39 per month to $119 per month, with volume pricing available for agencies. Extra available features include pre-release editorial moderation, release analysis and SEO tag insertion.
With the proven power of social media marketing, any app claiming that it will “Take your social sharing to the next level” deserves some attention. Buffer helps agencies maintain their social media presence by allowing agents to create and schedule a series of social media posts at one sitting. Buffer covers many major social media platforms:
The result is constant social media presence with no need for creating constant updates or manually posting on the weekends. Buffer also provides users with analytics and trends for tracking results and allows you to export analytic data for further evaluation.
Buffer offers basic individual accounts, in addition to expanded plans with additional features. Business accounts range in price from $50 to $250 per month.
Moz gives agents a clear picture into their site rankings and marketing efforts. Moz Local focuses on improving local visibility and analytics. Moz Pro analytics provide deeper reporting and performance insight for rankings, traffic, links, social media and content—tools and insight agents need to out-market the competition. Moz features tools that ferret out errors as well site optimization tools.
Moz offers a 30-day free trial. Four levels of service, standard to premium, cost between $237 and $1437 annually.
Harried agents, take note: InfusionSoft commands you to “Organize. Automate. Grow.” Specializing in automated marketing software geared toward smaller businesses, the beauty of InfusionSoft is that it uses one system for addressing several areas:
- Organize business contacts and tasks
- Create follow-up marketing programs
- Track down leads
- Maintain a streamlined sales process
In one fell swoop, agents using InfusionSoft can gain a competitive marketing and outreach advantage.
Four levels of service are offered, Essentials, Deluxe, Complete and Team. Pricing ranges from $199 per month to $599 per month.
Formerly known as oDesk, Upwork helps agencies find freelancers to “tackle any job, any size, any time.” Upwork freelancers perform a wide range of jobs, from analytics to marketing copy to clerical support. Even professional services, such as legal advice, are available on Upwork. For agencies, Upwork simplifies finding someone with the right skills to handle specific projects.
After registering (including verifying a payment method), employers post job opportunities, or may also invite specific individuals or groups to apply for the offered position. Payment is made on an hourly or project basis, with Upwork receiving 10 percent of the amount charged for the services. Highly qualified freelancers with outstanding ratings command higher rates.