We are seeing more and more insurance brokers using WordPress to power their websites, which is a really good thing.
However, simply using WordPress is not enough – there are a number of ways you can enhance the power of your WordPress installation to help drive traffic and sales.
Here are a number of plugins we recommend site owners use to really help their sites. With nearly 50,000 plugins in the WordPress plugin directory and countless numbers outside of it, it is hard to find the best plugins for your needs.
We have been building WordPress sites for clients for nearly 10 years and now have come up with a number of go-to plugins to help a site run smoothly and to get the site working as hard as possible to drive traffic, engage with visitors and get them to take action.
It can then feed into marketing automation funnels to really drive traffic and sales.
We have split these into operational and marketing plugins – some are free but there are some paid for plugins we recommend, and they will be easily worth their investment.
Now you may not be managing your WordPress site yourself but you might want to check with your site developers to ensure you have these operational plugins in place as they can really help.
When setting up a new WordPress site, there can be a lot of amends initially to get a site live and with changes to content. WordPress is great in that is stores all your amends. But after time this can ‘bloat’ your site. So like a trashcan on your computer, you want to empty it out from time to time. We use a plugin to do this for us, which can free up a lot of space and speed up your site.
WP Optimise – you don’t need to run it all the time, but every couple of months if you are adding regular content and making changes, it is worth rerunning it.
With site load speeds being a growing key factor in Google rankings, having pages that load quickly are a strategy for helping to get higher rankings in Google. Caching basically allows you to deliver pages much quicker.
There are a number of plugins available but we like either W3 Total Cache or WP SuperCache. One thing we always suggest is if you make changes to existing site pages or posts, to flush the cache out – otherwise sometimes your changes don’t show up on the site and you can spend a while scratching your head.
One of the key things is to make sure you take regular site backups. With plugins you can automate this operation to run a backup and then automatically have uploaded to a secure space such as Dropbox or Google Drive. In this way, you are having a site backed up and stored offsite – weekly or monthly depending how often you are updating your site.
Backup Buddy– one of the most popular WordPress back up plugin , it is a paid for service but allows you to backup and restore sites if you need to, as well as having a great premium support service. It is also not a subscription model so you just pay for it once and you are done.
BackWPUp – is a free easy to use plugin that will allow you to set up backups and send them to Dropbox, GoogleDrive or Amazon for storage. They also have a pro version to help with restores if you need it.
With WordPress being an open source and very popula, there are lots of people that try and exploit site weaknesses through unsecure installations; via plugin backdoors; or, trying to drop malware on your site.
These security issues are there on all sites not just WordPress ones, but the WordPress community works hard to fight them, so making sure you have the latest stable version of WordPress installed and updated plugins is one way to ensure you reduce your risks. The other is using a plugin to help your site stay secure.
Do ensure you check your WordPress dashboard regularly to see if you have recommended core or plugin updates. These could be in response to a potential security issue.
There are two products on the market we recommend. Both have free versions and paid for versions. It is your choice which option you choose from.
If you have had your site hacked you might want to look at the paid for options which can first clean your site before securing it against further issues.
WordFence – offers a free level service to protect your website from a range of potential hacks, malware and denial of service attacks. The free version is a great starting point to protect your site. The premium levels then takes this a next step further and offers live scanning of your site to give you that extra peace of mind about site security.
Sucuri – is a great tool if you have had your site hacked and need to it cleaned before having it secured. Sucuri have a range of paid, managed services to help secure your website and then protect it ongoing.
While the main reason you used WordPress for your site was for its free, open source and easy to use content management system, the main reason we recommend it and use it for clients is its ability support your marketing efforts.
Here are the plugins we recommend you use. If you see a plugin you are not using because you are not using that marketing activity such as email newsletters or social media posting, you should look hard at these things as WordPress can do a lot of the work for you.
One of the key ways to see if your website is working for you is to simply count the number of enquiries or leads it is generating for you. If you are not able to do that, it will be hard to justify any marketing investment. The easiest way to manage this is to use a form system that allows you to not only send your enquiries via email, but also store them in the WordPress backend – that way you can a backup of all your leads that can then be easily exported in the CSV or XLS so you can see where your leads are coming from.
We also recommend a system that allows it to integrate with other tools and services to really automate some of your marketing efforts.
Gravity Forms – this is our go-to form management and build plugin and have used it since day one. It allows you to create easy or complex multi page forms easily. It has extra plugins to connect forms with other services such as Mailchimp, Dropbox, Paypal, Zapier, and huge number of other tools.
ThriveLeads – this allows you to easily add in calls to actions on your site for newsletter sign ups or content reveals / locks (get extra content revealed if you signup or download an expanded version of this content via email) which is great for building your newsletter lists or driving specific enquiries. It connects to your major autoresponder services such as Mailchimp and GetResponse.
AffiliateWP – if you have considered running your own affiliate programme but feel you can’t justify affiliate network costs or you don’t have control over the quote and buy system which would mean you can’t add tracking facilities, you could set up a lead based affiliate programme. We talk a lot more about that here, but for now let me just say AffiliateWP is the go-to tool to allow you to setup and run a lead based affiliate programme.
Email marketing, while thought of as ‘old school’ these days by some, is still a great way to engage and stay in touch with customer and potential customers. Email newsletters can be a great way to drive leads, sales and getting people back to your site. Your website should be making every effort to get people into your email newsletter database.
The beauty is there are a number of tools that can integrate with WordPress to make it seamless and hands free. Using a tool such as Mailchimp will allow people to manage their subscriptions and remove themselves from your list, while keeping you compliant.
You can set up multiple lists so you can have a prospects list, a client list and / or a renewals list – so you can be sending different content to different groups of people.
Mailchimp – the Mailchimp plugin allows you to connect your forms on your website into your email lists in Mailchimp so any lead that comes in can be automatically added to your email newsletter list or can be added to a autoresponder sequence to follow up with a prospect on a particular enquiry.
This is a great way to automate part of your online marketing follow ups. If you don’t have a Mailchimp account you can get one here. Initially you can set one up for free.
GetResponse – another email newsletter management service which has a plugin to allow API connection so that your site forms can feed your email databases.
Getresponse also has marketing automation tools built in so you can easily carry out quite complex follow ups with enquirers depending on what actions they do or don’t take.
Again if you don’t have a GetResponse account you can set up a free trial here.
Sendgrid – Sendgrid is one of those tools we recently came across to help emails from web forms make sure they are delivered. Sometimes forms just don’t send email, and it is not a server issue or an email issue.
This can be frustrating as you know people are filling in your forms but they are simply not arriving. Sendgrid allows you to set up a free account to connect your forms system to it and you send the email via Sendgrid. In this way, it is guaranteed to be delivered. You can sign up for a free account here.
One thing a WordPress site can really help with is supporting your social media efforts, yet this is one of the most overlooked elements. There are a number of plugins that can automatically share content when it is posted. This allows you to be consistent and making sure you are sharing your content as far and wide as possible. Here are just a few plugins you can and should utilise to help you.
SNAP – Social Media Auto Poster (SNAP) does pretty much what it says on the tin – it will autoshare your content as soon as it goes live on any number of platforms you set up. There are two versions and we always recommend to clients they go ‘Pro’ as it will have many more options to share across platforms and scheduled posts, and even older posts too.
Revive Old Post – As well as SNAP, Revive Old Post is a tool you can configure to allow it to reshare your older content This means you can be driving more people back to you site and helps you to reengage and get your content working harder for you. Again they have a ‘Pro’ version which will allow you to share across more than one platform at a time.
Mashshare – this plugin allows you to add really nice looking social share buttons and counts on your site at the top and bottom of your posts and pages if you choose. It is a great way to get people sharing your content across social media. You can set up each page to deliver the right image, link and message so when it is shared, you stand the best chance of other people clicking on your content and visiting your site.
Click to Tweet – this plugin allows you to set up short code that site visits can simply click on to tweet. This works well with quotes or data. Again, it is about sharing your site content across social media, so having a range of ways for people to do this is only a good thing. This doesn’t impact on your visitors’ journey and is quick and simple to do.
As well as simply adding content, there will be times where you need your content to be better presented or give users options so they can better navigate it. Especially, like this article you are reading now, which is a few thousand words. You want the content to be easy to move around.
The other thing you want to do is get people deeper into your content, so adding in options for reading more relevant content and other related posts is a great way to increase the amount of time people spend on your site. This is a good thing in the eyes of Google if nothing else.
Inline Related Posts – allows you to automatically set up placements on your pages with links to relevant content. It allows up to 3 extra links to be added at the top, middle and bottom of your content and is a useful way to get people moving around your site. And it is set and forget, meaning the system will add links for you.
WP Author Box – if you have multiple authors on your website, you can add an author box to showcase the author to your readers. This plugin allows for a range of great formatted options including social media contact buttons to really boost the effectiveness of an author box. This is also useful if you allow guest authors to post.
Table of Contents – this is a great plugin if you have a large piece of content. By using different H tag headers, you can automatically add a clickable table of contents to your pages. You don’t have to use it on all pages but those where you have a large amount of content on one page, it can be a useful way for users to navigate the page.
WordPress CTA – Call To Action (CTA) is the reason for every piece of content on your website, or at least it should be. These calls to actions can be calls, email sign ups, email enquiries or quote and buy online. But these will need to stand out and WordPress CTA plugin is a valuable tool to help create calls to action that work.
YoastSEO – Last but by no means least, we recommend YoastSEO. This plugin helps you create content that it feels is more Google friendly. It uses a traffic light system to help you identify ways to improve your onsite SEO scores. It is a useful tool to help you find ways to improve your rankings.
That said, we also find it is not always worth worrying too much about green lighting pages at the expense of good copy.
YoastSEO also helps by connecting your Google Analytics and Webmaster tool accounts and can create and submit XML sitemaps for you as well. They have a free version and a Pro version – we tend to find we can get all we need from it via the free version.
There are a large number of add on plugins that can really boost your site’s effectiveness and provide that return on marketing investment. Spending some time investigating these tools and deploying them on your WordPress site can really drive more traffic and engagement with your site traffic.