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How To Attract Online Consumers To Your Web Site And Your Products

Today, more than 73 percent of Americans use the Internet. Many conduct their day-today activities online, such as paying bills, buying products, looking for a job or reading the news.

Across the board, the Internet is playing a more significant role in how people gather information. In the past few years, companies in every industry have recognized the importance of a robust, easy-to-use, good quality Web site when trying to attract customers. Home Depot, Nike, Ford and even the White House have established strong, interactive Web sites to engage their target audiences and raise the level of awareness for their brand or ideas. How does the Internet factor into consumers' behavior when buying life insurance?

A 2009 consumer study by LIMRA found that 52 percent of consumers who were seeking information on individual insurance or annuities looked online, in comparison with only 38 percent in 2006. The most common sources are Web sites of insurance companies.

LIMRA researchers found that while insurance professionals still remain the top source for information, most consumers are enlisting help from employers, friends, family or Web sites.

LIMRA estimates that 13 million U.S. households have purchased life insurance through a direct channel (mail, phone or Internet). Furthermore, one in three consumers who purchased life insurance after shopping for it chose a direct channel.

As more Americans-especially the younger generations-look to the Internet for information, companies need to ensure that their Web sites are userfriendly and have the information that consumers want prominently available. So what kinds of information do consumers say they want to see?

Price, product and details about your company remain the top interests online. Therefore, it is important to offer information on these three areas, with access from the home page. Other features are popular, too, and can add value for the increasing number of online consumers. Consumers specifically have mentioned that they'd like to see online calculators and other interactive tools to help educate themselves on products.

Today, online information continues to be far more useful than online purchase options, so your site should emphasize education. Eighty-six percent of consumers view the Internet as a good source of information and 73 percent would turn to it for advice. The perceived value has increased significantly since 2006.

But consumers also said they wanted other information, like options to locate an agent, contact the company or purchase products.

Making it easy for consumers is important. Almost two in three said they were looking for convenience when they purchase online. Relative to 2006, today's consumers buy online far more often because they are comfortable with the Web site, know the product they want and find a company with good financial ratings.

Online insurance sales are likely to increase as consumers become more confident that they will have the customer support and security with online transactions that they experience with traditional sales methods.

Mary M. Art, research director of LIMRA's technology in marketing and distribution research, is responsible for new research in the technology area. Contact her at [email protected] [email protected].

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