Short Takes: Tip sheets

Check out practical information about how you can develop and grow customer relationships online. You’ll get ideas and tips about things you can do today to help transform your agency to compete in the digital world.

Take Your Community Involvement Online

Many of you are active members of your communities, supporting local sports teams, contributing to charities, offering advice to businesses and other givebacks. You know it’s helped grow your brands.

How does it work in a virtual world?

Good news, online engagement can be even more powerful and help expand your reach.

Take your community involvement online

From sponsoring a local sports team and conducting a food drive to offering free insurance tutorials to new small businesses, agencies can amplify the good work they are doing in their communities online.

Social media

Your presence on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter can help keep your agency brand top of mind even if people are not actively searching for coverage. Explore newer, trendier platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

What you can do

  • Take pictures of your staff celebrating different holidays/events. You can even have a single day where you take pictures for various holidays so they are ready to go. Posting the red, white and blue attire on July 4th will go a lot farther in building connections than that generic fireworks stock photo.

  • Document team members out and about in the community. Take pictures or videos of volunteer activities, local town meetings, or sporting events.

  • Make short videos of different staff members talking to your customers. Before the start of hurricane season, record tips on what homeowners should check to make sure they have the right coverage. You could even do a series targeting Millennials and GenZs about first time insurance buyers and post on TikTok.

  • Take advantage of social media apps that focus on individual communities, such as Nextdoor. Create a profile and get your customers to endorse you. Participate in community discussions, especially where you can offer expertise.


Podcasts are gaining in popularity and can be a way to meet others in your community. Videoconferencing tools make it easy to record.

What you can do

  • Invite local business leaders to be guests on your podcasts. While you can touch on insurance issues, also talk about other interests they have as well as general community issues.

  • Don’t just do audio—let the cameras roll. You can post the video of the discussions on platforms like YouTube, Facebook or Instagram TV as well as share the audio on the podcast platform.

  • Not ready to start your own podcast? See what local podcasts are in your area and reach out and ask to be a guest. Include in your note what kind of insight you can bring and why it would be of interest to local listeners. Remember to not only focus on your insurance expertise but your other activities in the community.

Add an online component to the community work you are already doing

In the past, your community involvement may have just been through actual events. But given everyone’s increased comfort with connecting digitally, look for ways to extend interaction beyond just in-person meetings.

What you can do

  • Sponsoring a team? Supporting a local charity? If that team or organization has a social media presence, connect with them and interact. Post comments, like updates, share photos and tag them.

  • Consider creating special online events that allow you to interact more with the community. For example, partner with the charity to host an online meet and greet with other businesses in the community that might also be interested in supporting the cause. If sponsoring a local sports team, maybe determine what might be a big insurance issue for parents of the players (e.g. is a large portion of the community located in a flood zone?) and host a risk and insurance education session for them.

Going beyond your immediate, physical community

Online, your community goes beyond physical distance.

What you can do

  • If you are taking pictures of your office employees for certain holidays or events, make sure your remote employees have the option to participate by sending their own photos in.

  • Ask customers who are located in different areas to record short videos.

  • Look for podcast guests in all areas where you have business.

  • While thinking local is great – also consider if there is an opportunity on the national level. Perhaps, a non-profit you support is the local chapter of a national organization. Or is there a national group for a cause you are passionate about (e.g. cancer, MS)? Not only would you be helping out, but it would enable you to connect with prospects and customers beyond your immediate community and ultimately grow.

Technologies that can help

Smartphones and videoconferencing platforms have made creating content easier. Use a smartphone to take pictures of your staff or record videos of your team giving advice to followers. These can then easily be uploaded to social platforms.

For podcasting, platforms like Zoom allow you to record the conversation. They even give you the option to download just the audio, so you don’t have to convert the video file. Podcasts are an easy medium because conversations are casual and unrehearsed, so editing is not required. But if you would like to edit, free tools like Audacity make it easy.

Visit PIA Partnership’s Winning@Virtual for more details on solutions.

Using Humor and Entertainment to Connect

As the old saying goes: leave ‘em laughing. Using humor is a great way to connect with customers. It helps humanize the agency, build rapport, and increase relatability.

Humor can help you stand out from others in the insurance industry. Insurance is something people need – it is not something they get excited to shop for. The products can be complex and reading through policy language can be dull. An agency will have a competitive edge if it can not only provide an informative experience but also give customers a little entertainment while shopping.

Humor can also make it easier to sell coverage. According to a Stanford study, adding a lighthearted line at the end of a sales pitch like, “my final offer is X and – throw in my pet frog” increases customers’ willingness to pay by 18%.

Incorporating humor into your agency customer communications

Email marketing, websites, and sales decks – there are many touchpoints where it is easy to add levity to attract customers.


  • Website copy should be informative – but it doesn’t have to be dull. Let the personality of your agency shine through. Look for ways to add wit and your own voice into the text. If you use live chat or chatbots on the site, make sure their conversation is casual, like they were having a dialogue. Utilize emojis when engaging with customers and prospects via chat.

  • The About page on your site is a great way to show your character. While headshots of agency members are good – consider adding more fun photos of the team. Along with a headshot, include a less serious photo of the individual or ask them to also share a fun fact about themselves (i.e. my Hogwarts house is Hufflepuff) Do a group shot of the whole team having fun. If you have office mascots (i.e. pets) name them as honorary agents.

  • If you have a blog on the site, think of creative ways to share useful information. For example, perhaps create a fictional character such as Worry-free William who doesn’t think about risks to his home or property and thus always is unprepared when something happens. Use the character to teach about the importance of different policy coverages.

  • Think of creative ways to label call to action buttons or tell someone that their request has been submitted. For example, if a prospect submits a request for a quote. Instead of a notification saying, “Thank you for your quote. We will get back to you soon,” use something like, “You made our day, we love quote requests! We’re hunkered down finding you the best option. We’ll be in touch lickety – split.”

Client interactions

  • If doing a virtual video meeting with a customer or prospect, use a fun background. Not only can this cause a chuckle, but it can help break the ice and begin the conversation because most likely the person will ask about it.

  • Liven up your PowerPoint decks. If you regularly use slides to review policy coverage – don’t just have bullets with the information. Find photos that can make the content engaging such as cartoons, animal photos or even memes. Just make sure there is some connection between the photo and the content.

Email marketing and social media

  • For email marketing, think of fun and engaging subject lines. Also if there is something in the subject line that can be communicated with an emoji (such as thumbs up) use the image rather than the words.

  • Develop a voice for email communication and social media posts. It should be casual, informative but also witty.

  • For social, don’t be afraid to use memes and gifs. These are now relatable elements of online culture and can easily add humor to a post.

Keeping humor is check

While humor and entertainment are great ways to engage customers – going too far can have the opposite effect. Keep it relatable – people often find humor in situations they can connect with. Avoid dark humor. Also don’t make self-deprecating jokes – while they might get a laugh, it diminishes confidence.

Also be aware of current events to make sure a humorous comment doesn’t seem in poor taste. For example, say you had a funny cartoon around a home flooding and want to share on social with a comment about flood insurance. If an area was currently experiencing severe flooding this post would seem out of touch. If you are unsure if something is appropriate, don’t use it.

Creating a Website Your Customers Love to Engage With

You’ve heard this time and time again: a well-designed, engaging website is vital for growing your business. While most people will eventually need to talk with an agent before completing their insurance purchase, most begin their search online. In fact, 69% of consumers ran a search before making an insurance purchase and 68% did not have one company in mind before starting their search.

There are many reasons for creating a well-designed and easy to interact with website. It provides a better customer experience to the user. It also helps increase your agency’s search engine optimization (SEO) so you rank higher in Google searches. But most importantly, it begins to build trust with the prospect.

Keep it simple, yet interesting

The most engaging websites have simple navigation, digestible information, and clear contact details.

What you can do

    • Avoid text heavy pages. Use bullet points to highlight key features.

    • Use interesting copy. Avoid jargon. Let your personality shine through and feel free to incorporate some wit and humor. For more about how to use levity to engage, view our brief above about using humor and entertainment in communication.

    • Make navigation simple. Organize with clear menus to make it navigable.
    • Don’t put everything on a single page. For example, create one page for personal lines coverage such as auto and home and another for commercial lines offerings such as BOP and Workers Comp.

    • Make the site visually appealing. Avoid overly generic stock photo images. While some stock photos are okay, but make sure to include some real images of your agency and your team.

    • Use real photos of your team on the About Us page.

    • Include videos, such as clips of your agents discussing different types of coverage and addressing some common questions.

    • Add a search box so people can input key terms.

    • Make contact information easy to find.

    • Use automatic notifications so people know their requests have been received.

    • Respond to questions and requests quickly.

    • Offer guidance and best practices.

    • Consider adding a blog that addresses common concerns and offers tips.

    • Consider implementing a live chat or chatbot feature. This will enable users to get questions to some of the most routine questions instantly.

    Building trust with your website

    A website is your digital storefront – and it can be used to establish trust with visitors and prospects.

    What you can do

    • Make sure all links work. If you hyperlink to a third party resource, double check that it doesn’t result in an error page. 

    • Proofread. Insurance involves attention to detail and if a site has errors, it can cause visitors to lost trust.

    • Use a domain that reflects your business. If the exact agency name is not available, try variations that work in key words.

    • Add testimonials. One of the best ways to build trust is to have others tell your story for you.

    • Include logos of your carrier partners. If you can gain permission from the carriers you work with to add their logos, it further solidifies your working relationship with these insurers.

    Technology that can help

    Visit PIA Partnership’s Winning@Virtual for more details on solutions

    Grow and Expand with Virtual Offices

    The nature of work is changing. With the pandemic forcing many to work from home, many industries saw that not only was remote work possible – it was productive. This is leading many to shift their work structure – including those in the insurance industry. According to a Vertafore report, only 15% of independent agents surveyed said they want to go back to the office full time. Two-thirds want a hybrid remote work/in office model and 1 out of 5 said they want to work remote full time.

    Virtual offices and allowing employees to work remotely expands your talent pool. Now rural agencies can have the same access to expertise as those in larger areas. It also enables agencies to become diverse – as they are no longer limited to the demographics of their immediate area. Virtual offices can make the agency more attractive to younger insurance professionals who enjoy flexible working conditions.

    Expanding your agency with virtual offices can ultimately help grow your business. With agents located in other areas, they can reach out to potential customers in their community – increasing your client base.

    Technologies to take your agency virtual

    If you have the right solutions that make connecting with remote employees seamless – it can be easy to grow your agency virtually. And because COVID-19 required most agencies to operate remotely for a period of time – many already have a head start.

    What you can do

    • Get in the cloud. All programs that are vital for agents to operate including agency management systems, customer relationship management systems, quoting portals, etc. should be accessible in the cloud. This will enable agents to login and do work even if they are not in the physical office location.

    • Utilize collaboration tools. Solutions like Slack or Microsoft Teams enable employees to communicate with one another in real time. They also make it easy to share and edit documents. If you have to work on a project together, you can do a video call and share screens.

    • Adopt video conferencing solutions. While platforms like Zoom became popular during the pandemic – even when offices reopen they can still be useful if some staff members continue to work remotely. When you have meetings those who can’t join in-person can attend via video. These platforms make it easier to engage than if just dialing into a conference call number.  If a remote employee is located in a different area than the customer, videoconferencing enables them to still have a face-to-face meeting without having to travel.

    • Explore virtual assistants. These professionals can help you complete some of the administrative tasks - such as answering inbound calls, creating marketing content, and preparing proposals - giving your agents more time to work with customers.

    • Make sure you have safeguards to protect your customers’ data. While going virtual has many benefits, it can also increase your risk of falling victim to a cyber-attack. Implement training so your employees can identify potential scams.

    PIA recently created Winning@Virtual, a website dedicated to providing in-depth information about tools to help your agency go virtual. To take a deeper dive into these tools visit: Winning@Virtual.

    Taking your agency culture virtual 

    If you are growing your agency by adding remote workers – they shouldn’t feel like second-class team members, who miss out on the culture and fun that goes on at your agency.

    What you can do

    • Structure team meetings to ensure participation: Optimize engagement during team meetings if some will be joining via video. Allow for questions either through the chat function or by using the tool to “raise their hand.” Assign roles so everyone can have an active part. When the meeting begins, don’t just dive into the agenda, but enable attendees to share a little about what has been going on personally (e.g. exciting weekend plans, a great meal they had, etc. )

    • Stay connected between meetings: Don’t just check in with remote employees during virtual meetings. Use collaboration tools for casual check-ins even to just ask, “How are you doing?” But balance maintaining a connection with being overly present. You don’t want remote employees to feel like you are looking over their shoulder the entire time.

    • Don’t forget remote employees when showcasing team members: Remote employees should be just as visible as in-office staff. If you have a group shot of in-agency staff on the website, make sure you have images of your remote team as well. For example, ask everyone to join a Zoom call and take a screen shot once everyone has signed on. On social media, if you share pictures of in-office agents dressed up for holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day, ask remote employees to also take a picture of themselves in green so it can be included.

    • Find ways for remote staff to participate in agency activities: Working in an office can have many perks – such as Friday happy hours, or the occasional pizza party at lunch. Add a video component, where remote workers can join. Not only will this make them feel part of the team, but it will enable them to have casual interactions and facetime with colleagues – who they might only be really communicating with via email during working hours.

    Optimizing the Virtual Experience

    Digital interactions are here to stay. Many prefer the ease and speed of hopping on a video call rather than traveling hours for a meeting.

    Agents that can make meaningful and trusted relationships online as well as in-person will have a competitive advantage.

    Developing trusted virtual relationships

    The foundation for building a strong digital relationship is the same for in-person relationships. Clients want to feel valued and understood, and believe that the service you provide will be available to them in a time of crisis.

    But when you’re building a strong relationship over digital, there are specific considerations.

    What you can do

    • There’s a higher expectation for speed and you need to be responsive to it. Whether you’re connecting with a prospect or customer over text, email or voice, make sure you answer quickly. Even if it will take some time to get the information they need, acknowledge receipt and let them know you’re working on it.

    • Technology doesn’t have to be cold and formal.  You can show emotion in your communication. You’re not limited to formal business speak for everything. If they are asking a question through live chat, chatbot or text, consider adding emojis. You want to look for every opportunity to humanize your communications.

    • Tune-in to sentiment. This is really important if you’re texting. Some responses can come off as rude if the person you are corresponding with doesn’t know you that well. Double check responses to make sure there can’t be any misinterpretation. As the relationship grows, and the customer gets to understand your communication style, you might then be able to revert to shorter responses without offending.

    • Use video especially for introductory calls. This makes the interaction more personal and can help that relationship form faster. On a video call, don’t jump right into business, but take time for some small talk. Not only does it help make it seem less like a sales push but finding out more can help you better understand what types of coverage they might need.

    • Meet the customers where they are. Utilize the communication modes that your customer prefers. Also try to be accommodating to last minute video meeting requests. Treat these similar to walk-ins to your agency—an opportunity to advance the relationship in real-time. You could even consider hosting walk-in video hours for anyone to just pop-in.

    • Follow up after online interactions. Whether it is talking through live chat or doing a presentation via video, you should send a note afterwards. This helps reinforce your value. Consider using an email automation tool so that personalized messages can be automatically sent after an interactions.

    • Online relationships should not just be about selling, but also informing. Create virtual roundtables where clients and prospects can attend to learn about key insurance issues. Don’t just email them about their coverage, send them best practices and tips so they can make sure they are protected.

    Making technology simple

    One of the quickest ways to turn off a prospect or customer is if they have trouble using the technology to communicate with you or manage their policies.

    What you can do

    • Be aware. Ask them about their experience with technology you may be using.

    • Be willing to teach. Prepare and share short guides to introduce them to the platform they are unfamiliar with. Offer demos. Many videoconferencing tools have a screen share option, so you can both tour the portal together and make sure they know how to use it.

    Technologies that can help

    Visit PIA Partnership’s Winning@Virtual for more details on solutions.