Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

Broker Website Ratings Updated for 2010

May 6, 2010

One of the most popular features on the Industry Radar is our Broker Website Ratings which drew nearly 25,000 page views last year alone.

The survey debuted last year with around 400 firms rated. This year we reviewed nearly double – 775 – and the results are quite interesting.

You can see our rating criteria here.

Ratings are from 1 to 4:

  1. Billboard -129 firms (17%) – plain, basic, little to no marketing value
  2. Brochureware – 353 firms (46%) – either an online brochure or design is “old” or poorly executed with limited marketing value
  3. Basic Website – 252 firms (32%) – design is OK, some content, mostly focused on telling firm’s story
  4. Marketing Site – 42 firms (5%) – Creative, visually appealing, online tools, good content

The baseline for a good site of a “3” only applies to about a third of all brokerage firms half are “2” and overall 63% are either a “1” or a “2”.

In 2009 the percentages were 7%/53%/34%/6%. Not a lot of difference for the 2-4’s but as we extended our survey to include smaller firms, i.e, those under $2 million in revenue, NFP, UBA and HRBA members and others the lack of marketing savvy became more apparent with the “1” rankings more than doubling.

One area where there was a big improvement was in firms that could be found when googling “employee benefits their city, their state”.  Last year only 30 were found in the Top 10 in their market, now 246 are, a huge jump helped though to a large degree by the fact that is we found firms in the top 10 in our research, that had a website we added them to our survey.

The fact that we created our webpages and they got nearly 25,ooo hits also helped boost the visibility in general of brokers in general.

Check out this year’s results? How did your firm fare? Has your work over the last year paid off or are you still in the dark ages and viewing your website as not an important component of how prospects and customers view your organization?

We will be blogging more on this over the next week but if you are a “1” or “2” you really need to think about your firm’s image online because prospects and customers use the web as a way to research and “pre shop” for help and if your site isn’t up to snuff you are losing potential business.

In fact our broker website ranking page drew nearly 25,000 page views in the last year of people googling specific firm names, or looking for brokers and ratings in a given geography. So do you still think that you website is not important to your business?

PS – if you would like to be rated or have updated your site since we did our review and would like us to update it please email us here.

“Going Mobile” – The Industry Radar’s New Site

April 26, 2010

On of my enduring memories of the fall of 1971 when I started college was the Who’s “Going Mobile” blasting across the quad. So now 39 years later  I am really “Going Mobile”!

Of course or nearly 3 years we have had mobile versions of most of our feeds but never a mobile site until now.

Bookmark this page and enjoy The Industry Radar home page and our always popular daily cartoon and 6 main Radars on any mobile device!

We will also be launching a dedicated mobile support center soon as well as sites for each main radar.

Still one of my favorite songs and albums you can hear it hear if you would like to.

I don’t care about pollution
I’m an air-conditioned gypsy
That’s my solution
Watch the police and the taxman miss me!
I’m mobile!

Ahh those were the days…

Agents and Brokers – How to Build A Strong Online Presence for Free (Part1)

February 20, 2010

I am sure everyone’s first question is why is Julia Child’s picture in an insurance blog?

Simple, we are going to give you the recipe to create, build and maintain an online presence – website, social media and search engine visibility for free with out any techy, geeky html programming or knowledge.

Yes free. It is called ‘Web 2.0″  and if you will invest a little time, use the tools available to you it is easy, fun and powerful.

The two major components that we are going to need are a website and a social media presence.

Website – Did you know that blogs are actually websites? In fact the blog platforms like www.wordpress.com are really easy to use tools like Microsoft Word online. They allow you to “blog”, ie add comments and ideas but also use pictures, video, links to other sites and more in a very easy to use package.

So go to www.wordpress.com and get a free account, pick a theme from the hundreds they have that match your logo and get started. You can have multiple pages like a website, links to carriers, forms etc, news feeds et al

This is a far better way to create a website than the free tools from Yahoo and others and much easier and more powerful to use and maintain and it will connect to your social media tools as well.

Social Media – Are you a LinkedIn member yet? If not go to www.linkedin.com and become one. You will be amazed at how many people you know are there and how easy it is to add contacts to people you want to know there.

OK now go to Twitter – www.twitter.com – and setup a free account there as well.

Step 1 is complete. Our next post on this will get into how we tie all these together, add some other free tools and create a truly professional online image for solopreneurs like you….for free or almost free!

Cliff Notes – HIPAA HITECH Webinar for Brokers and Consultants

January 29, 2010

Resources to help you – HITECH Survival Center

We had a very successful initial webinar – with a slight technical glitch early- and attendees from over 90 benefits consulting firms attended along with some carrier, employer and other vendors.

Click here to view the ‘Cliff Notes” version of our Webinar – HIPAA HITECH Webinar for Brokers and Consultants

and to download the slide deck and special White Paper for all participants.

The feedback and follow up I have already had is very positive and look for us to do more in the near future on this critical topic.

Yes – Our Readers Listen!! Dinosaurs Disappearing..

August 16, 2009

In early May we posted about how backward the insurance industry was in just the browsers they used.

Apparently some of you paid attention and acted to improve your web experience!! In fact over 10% of you already have in just 90 days!!!

In April Internet Explorer made up 91.2% of all of our site visits and the dinosaur from the pre – 9/11 days – IE6 was 58.3% of the IE total.

At the end of July IE made up only 87.4% of our visits and IE 6 had dropped to 50.2% of all IE visits.

The big gainer was IE8 which went from 1.2% to 9.89% of the IE totals. Firefox grew nicely from 7% to 9.14% or nearly a third.

Safari is nearly 2% now (up from 1.2%) and Opera (my favorite) and  Google Chrome both are approaching 1% from nearly nothing earlier this year.

Mobile access is now about 1% of all visits – it should be MUCH more. Look for the Mobile icon and try it on your Blackberry, iPhone  et al….they are really useful on your smartphone.

If you are still part of the 44% of our viewers using IE6 – PLEASE – try a modern browser.

All the new browsers let you subscribe to the newsfeeds you like directly in them as well as offer a more secure and faster web browsing experience.

Go hear to learn more…and join the 21st century on the web!!

Are You Googleable? Have You Ever Been…

July 27, 2009

hendrix Check our our Broker website survey and if your firm is in the Top 10 on Google for your area...

UBA – “David” Outshines the Goliath Brokers on the Web

July 27, 2009

Now my final site for this first group of posts – United Benefit Advisors (UBA). The only overall “4” ranking I gave. They are the David among the Goliaths here with a focus, plan and strong local focus.

I am sure many of you readers from the large firms reviewed here are snickering at this comparison but be sure you read what is said here in its entirety.

Comparing UBA directly to all the largest US brokerage firms is impossible on one level – size – but very realisitic in terms of how an employer, looking for a real partner to help them would view them and their “local offices” or member firms.

Even Aon and Marsh have new initiatives in the mid market and most of the other firms all compete already in the 50-3000 employer space.  That is HRH’s sweetspot for Willis as well.

The reason I included them is that their firms compete solely in the employee benefits part of the business. Some are very small, most are mid sized and a few are larger. How each member firm’s expertise stacks up to all the other benefits brokers in their markets I cannot say but their local approach online is much more friendly and engaging than the Borg-like websites of the national brands.

To start with UBA describes themselves in a different and interesting way:

“Shared Wisdom. Powerful Results.”

“..a unique community of nearly 140 of the most successful and most trusted independent employee benefits advisory firms in North America…”

Unlike any of the other broker websites their “corporate” site exists to promote their local member’s presence and expertise. How do I get referrals to the right member as fast as possible – not let me tell you all about me then make you search all over our site for a local office. They are everything an NFP is not.

Their site is clear on UBA’s mission -the value they add for firms. If a prospect clicks on the UBA logo on a member’s website they see exactly the value adds that they will get from their local broker being part of this organization. For example The lead item on their site is also employer focused and forward thinking:

Electronic Distribution of SPDs and other Participant Communications:
As e-mail, IM, and Twitter become the norm, and with “green” being the color of the day, benefit plan sponsors and administrators are naturally interested in meeting their participant communication obligations via electronic means. Unfortunately, the applicable statutes and regulations have not kept up with reality.

Their local firms have some of the best websites we have reviewed  – and a great many that are not – but at least the main UBA site gets a well informed viewer delivered to the local “door” – that is their job or reinforces what they saw on the local site in terms of the tools they provide customers. At that point the local firm has to be ready to deliver.

This type of umbrella site to a nice local web presence is the way all the large firms sites should operate to help drive business locally and raise their web visibility locally.

Don’t laugh – more UBA firms are in the top 10 in their local market on Google than any of the national firms.

Per the BI survey this is still a relationship business done at a local level and technology levels the playing field even more…

Tomorrow – “Googleability