When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Agents pride themselves on their sales skills — to meet a prospect face-to-face, take their measure, and craft an insurance package to fit their needs. Many studies show today’s insurance buyers, including millennials, want a relationship with an insurance agent they know and trust. The problem, however, is that the vast majority of buyers start their journey online. In too many cases, a prospect will decide to move on and the agent never gets the chance to look them in the eye.

Aside from creating a compelling digital presence that attracts prospects to an agency website or social media, agents possess another powerful tool in their marketing kit – the data that can be derived from these sites. The fact is, prospects and clients send out a lot of signals about what they are looking for, are interested in and willing to take action on when they visit online. Call it “digital body language,” a phrase coined by Steve Woods and Paul Teshima, two of the co-founders of Eloqua and now of Nudge Software.

Digital body language comprises everything an online visitor does with an agency. For the agency website, this includes questions such as: How long does a visitor spend on the site and what do they look at? How does a visitor’s behavior change on the site? After the first 10 seconds, what clicks, scrolls, and mouse movements take place and over what period of time? What pages do visitors linger over most and what actions are more likely to produce a phone or email inquiry? To what extent does the agency’s social media activity drive traffic to the website? Taken together, these actions can guide agents in understanding how to frame their online messaging and adjust accordingly. Unfortunately, too many agents don’t take the time to access this information or if they do, to understand fully its implications and what actions to take.

Without this information, agents are “marketing in the dark,” according to Brian Bartosh, president of Top O’ Michigan Insurance Agency Inc. in Alpena.

Marc McNulty, vice president of Insurance Operations for The Uhl Agency in Dayton, Ohio, adds that he is not aware of any agency in his area that actively tracks website and social media activity.

So why don’t more agents access this information?

“I think business intelligence and use of it is new and ‘scary’ for many,” said Bartosh. “It appears that they have under-utilized technology and have not seen the value of data.” Bartosh says use data – it is searchable and mineable.

Another possible explanation: agency management systems generally do not access this data. Agents must collect it from other sources such as Google Analytics and then import to track the characteristics of prospects and clients.

“We don’t monitor this as closely as we probably should,” McNulty said. However, the data he collects is helpful. “I like to see the numbers regarding pages/session, average session duration, and what the most visited pages on our site are.”

Bartosh is an advocate for using data. “We want to know as much as we can so that we can pinpoint our marketing efforts,” he said. “This has taken our results from the traditional 1 percent to 2 percent response to double-digit response because we know more and can target our messages.”

It’s also important that the data be current to be useful, he added. “We are mining data monthly for various purposes including cross-sell, win-back and new prospecting efforts.

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