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Email Newsletter Best Practices

Develop more valuable connections to your prospects with a well-written and optimized newsletter. 

Are you looking to ramp up the marketing of your small agency? If so, consider making an email newsletter part of your toolkit. It may be tempting, especially these days, to think that email is no longer effective. Guess again. According to recent data, email marketing has an average ROI of $42 for every dollar spent. 80 percent of professionals say email is an effective tool for customer acquisition and retention.[i] Get started with your newsletter marketing and start building sustainable demand by implementing the following best practices. 

Subject Lines are Key

It is hard to overstate the importance of your email’s subject line, as prospects need to open your email before they can read it. The subject line is essentially your best opportunity to sell the reader on your email’s contents, so you need to make it count. Some main points to remember are to keep your subject lines short, convey the email’s main point or thesis, and avoid using characters like excessive exclamation points, which increase the possibility of your email getting stuck in a spam filter. 

Emphasize Your Value Proposition 

With any marketing strategy, it’s critical to make it primarily about the customer, not your business. The same idea holds true for your newsletter content. People will open and read your newsletter only if they understand there is something in it for them. Think about how you can deliver content that is exclusive, educational and actionable. For instance, your agency could put together a helpful video explaining how consumers can help keep their escrow funds safe from scammers and include it in your newsletter. You could even solicit participation from your audience, asking them to submit their own topics to be covered in a future newsletter. 

Optimize for Readability

Having strong content is only one-half of the equation; you also need to ensure that your newsletter is laid out in an aesthetically pleasing way. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Use strong, active verbs. Whatever you do, do not neglect including images. Nothing will turn readers off quicker than encountering walls of text within the body of an email. Many email marketing platforms now include free graphics that you can easily insert into your newsletter, and several sites offer stock photography either for free or at a relatively low cost. 

Stick to a Schedule

 Amidst all the other responsibilities that come with running an agency, making sure that your newsletter goes out at roughly the same time can seem challenging. Yet it is important to prioritize consistency if you are going to maximize your readership. Sending your newsletter at the same time will make it feel more professional, and it will also help you stick out in your recipients’ crowded inboxes. 

Toward More Meaningful Customer Relationships 

The marketing landscape is growing ever more complicated, with marketers having access to a variety of different channels and technology. But sometimes tried-and-true methods remain the way to go. Despite being decades old, email is still a viable marketing method that belongs in your arsenal. And when executed correctly, an email newsletter can help you build more meaningful and valuable customer relationships. 

[i]10 Email Marketing Statistics You Need to Know (Updated 2021) (constantcontact.com)

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Demystifying Social Media Analytics

Social media has its own language. Be sure to become fluent.

A great benefit of social media marketing is the analytics that are available for little to no cost. However, sometimes when evaluating a campaign, it can feel as if you are drowning in data and that more questions are being raised than answers. From understanding what analytics to prioritize to knowing what each metric means, reviewing your work on social media can be far from straightforward. The following tips can serve as a helpful primer on setting your campaign’s goals and properly interpreting the results.

Determine Your Goals

Before you can start evaluating your social media campaigns, you must determine what your goal was in the first place. Was it to drive more people to your website? Develop a broader reach on social media? Cultivate leads for your business? Generate sales? Once you clarify your goal, you’re ready to zero in on which metrics to scrutinize further.

Awareness Metrics

A helpful way to think about which social media metrics to examine is to decide if your campaign is intended to increase awareness or drive action and engagement. Let’s say you are trying to increase awareness of your agency. Some major metrics to look at could include:

  • Impressions
  • Net follower gains
  • Page reach

Impressions capture how many people saw a post on a given platform, while net follower gains describe the number of people who followed your page and are now receiving updates on your activities.

Both are simple to track. You can see impression figures for an individual post with a simple click. If you are looking to track them over time, you can access the built-in analytics on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Follower numbers are also prominently displayed on a user’s profile on each site – allowing for easy review.

Page reach is used on Facebook and describes the total number of unique people who saw your page’s content within a specified time frame. LinkedIn has a similar metric called “page views,” which is the total number of page views in a designated period. To view this metric and collect necessary data, navigate to the analytics platforms within Facebook or LinkedIn. Twitter does not contain a comparable metric, but you can view impression data for your tweets (both individual and cumulative) by visiting https://analytics.twitter.com/ and logging into your account.

These metrics are important for agents to be mindful of, as social media is about building brand identity and fostering community just as much as it is about driving people to your website or inspiring sales. Agents should evaluate how their output on social is resonating, making tweaks to language, messaging and hashtags based on the results they are seeing.

If emotional-based messages are not working, you could try posting about the tangible benefits you can provide to your customers. And if the hashtags you’re incorporating don’t seem to increase the number of people viewing your content, you can always apply a hashtag research tool to improve how your posts are connecting with your audience. 

Action or Engagement Metrics

What are the analytics you should focus on if your goal is to drive action with your content? Some pertinent metrics would include:

  • Likes and favorites
  • Post shares and retweets
  • Conversions and click-through rate (CTR)

Not all metrics are created equally. While it can be satisfying to receive likes on a carefully crafted post, they may not do much for your brand or make an impact toward your campaign goal.

Typically, it is more valuable to receive engagement based around a business priority. For example, although sharing or retweeting a post is technically an engagement, it provides the type of organic awareness of an agent’s operations that cannot be matched by your own posting.

Conversions, which means that a user has navigated to your site and performed a specific action, and CTR, which measures how many people have clicked on a link embedded in your post, are usually the most valuable form of engagement. The main social media platforms provide an easy mechanism for tracking CTR. LinkedIn, for instance, offers several metrics (including CTR) to review at the bottom of each post, while Facebook offers a similar array of helpful insights in the same location.

Tracking conversions is a bit more complicated and can require some familiarity with additional technologies like Google Analytics. However, numerous online resources can walk you through how to gauge whether your social media is inspiring the actions you want to see on your website, such as people signing up for consultations or joining your agency’s email list.

Take Advantage of Social’s Power

Social media has changed how people connect, obtain information and conduct business. While these technologies can take some time to master, they can be incredibly advantageous for an agent’s operations. The trick is to have a strong idea of what it is you are trying to accomplish via social media and a firm understanding of how to measure your results. By applying these principles, you will start seeing a positive impact and ultimately make progress toward your business goals.

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Optimize your Facebook profile like a pro

Put your best foot forward on the world’s largest social platform with these easy-to-implement tips.

You’ve done it. You’ve finally set up a Facebook page for your business. It’s time to leverage the platform’s nearly 2 billion subscribers, engage directly with your customers and promote your products. But before you start crafting your first posts or preparing your weekly hashtags, you must ask yourself a key question: Are the basics of my profile optimized?

If you are brand new to using Facebook for business, the answer is likely no. While it is tempting to immediately start marketing on the platform, it’s critical to not skip optimizing your profile. For many businesses, Facebook is the number one way in which their customers will connect with them and form long-term judgments about their brand. You want to be sure that you are putting your best foot forward by implementing the following tips.

Beautiful Photos

Any Facebook page includes both a profile photo and a cover photo, each of which needs to be formatted correctly. Begin with your profile photo. Typically, for most businesses, this will be your company logo. It is highly recommended that you resize your image before you upload it, as Facebook will compress photos to make them fit the platform’s specifications. For instance, your profile photo will be displayed 170×170 pixels on computers, 128×128 pixels on smartphones and 36×36 pixels on most phones.

Remember that your photo will also be snipped to fit within a circular-shape template that Facebook uses for profile photos. You will need to ensure that your logo image has excess whitespace around it, which will then guarantee that the entirety of your logo shows up within the circle. Utilizing photo editing software like Photoshop or a free online platform like Pixlr can help you make this change.

Your page’s cover photo needs to be approached the same way. The ideal dimensions for your cover photo are 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall for computers and 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall on mobile devices. To make things easier on yourself, seek out an online tutorial. Hubspot’s guide to the Facebook cover photo is particularly helpful and includes a free, downloadable template to help you optimize it.

There are other considerations to keep in mind regarding your profile’s photos. You will want to make sure they accurately reflect your brand. Is your logo the correct version? Do the colors, words and imagery that are in your cover photo fit with your organization’s style guide? Be sure you can answer “yes” to both of these questions before you proceed.  

Keep It Fresh and Accurate

Once you have some great-looking photos in place, you’ll need to update your profile’s logistical information. A freshly updated page has become even more important during the coronavirus pandemic, as more people are online than ever before. While you don’t need to necessarily use every field that Facebook offers, you should strongly consider providing responses for the following sections:

  • Category: This field will increase your chances of your company showing up in Facebook’s internal search.
  • Address, Hours and Additional Contact Info: While always meaningful, these fields have become exponentially more important for businesses during the pandemic. With some customers now limiting their face-to-face engagement with businesses do to health concerns, you will want your customer-base to be aware of any changes to your hours and to know how they can get in touch with you regarding questions or concerns.
  • About: This is your opportunity to offer an “elevator pitch” that sums up who you are and what you’re offering. Make it short and succinct. Additionally, consider knitting together your digital presence by providing links to other social profiles and your website.

Don’t Forget Your Call to Action

In addition to its other functionality, Facebook provides what is known as a “call to action” (CTA) button. With a bright blue color, and given its prominent location near the top of a business page, this is another aspect of Facebook that merits careful optimization.

Facebook allows you to modify the button’s text and choose from a variety of different CTAs. You can direct people to click on the button to book an appointment, call you, download an app and much more. Don’t forget to insert a URL into the button and that your URL’s destination aligns effectively with your chosen CTA.

Onward and Upward

Now that you’ve got a fully-optimized profile, you’re truly ready to begin taking advantage of the world’s largest social network. Once you start pulling people into your business page’s orbit by creating great content, they will have everything they need to learn who you are and what you have to offer. From there, it is onward and upward. Continue nurturing your profile. The more work you put in, the more progress you’ll make toward your business goals of achieving greater recognition, reach and additional sales.

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The Alliant National Team: Driven to Serve

Alliant National team members have an important role: to support the independent agents that help make the American Dream possible. Service is central to the field and at the core of the company’s mission. It should be no surprise that service-oriented professionals gravitate toward Alliant National, individuals compelled to make a positive impact in both their professional and personal lives.

One such group is the Alliant National Claims Team, based out of Florida, which has a long history of philanthropic activity. “In 2015, Alliant National went through the process of identifying the company’s stakeholders. One identified stakeholder was our community,” says Noemi Dedouh, Vice President and Chief Claims Council for Alliant National. “That process inspired our team to begin charitable campaigns in 2016.”

Alliant's Rachel Ryan working at Habitat for Humanity

In 2016 and 2017, the Claims Team participated in two Habitat for Humanity projects. They helped build homes from the ground up in collaboration with several other departments within Alliant National, and beautified several homes in a subdivision the following year.

In 2018, the Claims Team donated time to the Ronald McDonald House charity. The team took a day during the workweek to make a home-cooked meal for the families staying at the House. Their work was supported by Alliant National as well, as the company donated all the food to the event.

2019 found the team participating in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Claims selected this charity in honor of a former employee whose mother had passed away from cancer. During that volunteer project, the Claims Team raised over $5,700 in donations, and the company added $1,000 toward the initiative. 

West Orange Foundation Annual Food Drive 2020

This year, the Alliant National Claims Team kicked their service work into overdrive, taking on two charitable drives during the holidays. The first drive was completed during Thanksgiving. Partnering with the West Orange Foundation, which supports the communities of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, the Alliant National Claims Team raised over $2,400 to help buy food for needy families. Once again, this fundraising initiative was supplemented by Alliant National’s $1,000 donation. 

In December the Claims Team partnered with Toys for Tots for its second fundraising drive. Toys for Tots is a program with a mission that has been in operation for nearly 75 years. Between donations from staff, friends, family, outside counsel, and a company donation of $1,000, the drive raised a total over $4,500. The funds will provide toys to underprivileged children, a perfect cause for the holiday season. 

2020-Toys-for-Tots
2020-Toys-for-Tots

“Alliant National and its employees donate time and money every chance they get to local charities,” says Dedouh. “We are so grateful that Alliant National supports our local communities and that we can bring greater awareness to these important charities.”

The philanthropy practiced by its staff and supported by its leadership is a natural extension of Alliant National’s efforts to empower the independent agent. The spirit of service flows through the organization, helping people build better lives and enabling the creation of stronger communities.         

Interested in participating in Alliant National’s charitable activities throughout Florida? Contact Noemi Dedouh at ndedouh@alliantnational.com.

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Building Buyer Personas

To market effectively, understand your customers

When preparing any marketing campaign, sometimes there is the desire to put the cart before the horse. Such impulses are understandable. Creating marketing collateral often provides the greatest opportunity for marketers to exercise their creativity. However, jumping directly to a campaign’s deliverables misses a critical step of the process. Before you can think about how you’re going to unroll your marketing efforts, first you must think about who you are trying to reach.

One effective strategy to accomplish this is the use of buyer personas, a fictional representation of your ideal audience. Generating these representations can be enormously helpful for the entirety of your campaign, guiding the channels you select and the marketing material you create. The following tips can help you start creating these personas and have a better chance of ensuring your campaign’s success.

Use Real-World Data

When creating buyer personas, it’s best to trust real-world data over gut instincts. Start by conducting a top-level audit of your current customers. You can gather this information from a wide variety of sources. From social media analytics to your customer database, we live in a data-rich world where important insights can be easily gleaned. Even a cursory look at this data can yield demographical information such as gender, age, geographical location, language, education level, career level, interests and more. Gathering this information can help build the foundation of your buyer personas, serving as a strong starting point for compiling additional insights.

Dig Deeper

Once you have sketched a rough demographical outline of your various customers, you will want to dig deeper into their psychology – identifying goals, needs and pain points in the process. To obtain this information, you can carry out customer interviews or surveys, gain insights from your sales team or look at analytic platforms like Google Analytics or Google Trends. Use these sources to build out a psychological profile for your various customer segments and go so far as to write down your customers’ potential motivations, goals and frustrations.

Channels and Technology

After you have obtained a clearer picture of who your customers are and what motivates them, you need to flesh out their behavior. Ask yourself how your customers go about finding the information they need for obtaining solutions to the problems that plague them. This question can help you better understand how your customers behave online, what publications or websites they read and even what devices they use to access the internet. This knowledge can assist you in tailoring your campaigns, allocating marketing dollars to the correct channels and ensuring whether you need to create collateral optimized for mobile technology or not.  

Final Thoughts

It is hard to overstate the importance of buyer personas or how they can act as a lynchpin for the overall success of your marketing endeavors. Built correctly, buyer personas can guide other steps in the marketing process, governing how you segment your potential customers, how you select your marketing channels and even how you package your marketing copy. In short, by putting your marketing in front of the right people, with the right message, at the right time, you will have a greater likelihood of meeting your sales goals and taking your business to the next level.

This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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