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How Checking Out can help you Check Back In

How Checking Out can help you Check Back In

at the seaside


Did you know that the US is the only developed country in the world to not require even one paid vacation day or holiday? That means fewer and fewer of us are taking days off for leisure, and that’s a shame. Here at AIMS, we believe that checking out for a while is important to staying engaged and on top of your game.


Here are five reasons why checking out helps you check back in:

  1. Vacations help you de-stress. Did you know that too much time in front of a computer screen has been linked to stress, loss of sleep and depression? Our solution? Power down for a while.
  2. They’re good for the heart. Okay, so we could have tied this one in with number one, but it bears mentioning: According to the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine middle aged men with a high risk of coronary heart (CHD) are less likely to suffer a debilitating attack if they take regular vacations.
  3. You can catch up on your reading. No, we’re not just talking business books. But we have found that reading for fun can actually help spur on ideas in the workplace.
  4. Vacations help clear your mind. Have you ever found yourself thinking about that one problem at work that just won’t take care of itself? You’ve invested so much time, but nothing seems to be working. Stepping away for a while can be helpful if only to allow you to clear your mind. After all, a clear mind is an open mind.
  5. After a vacation you’re ready to get back at it. We don’t know about you, but when we take a few days (or weeks) off, we come back refreshed and ready to go! Everything seems shiny and new again, which bodes well for creating a positive work environment.


So now you know why we like vacations, what are your reasons?


Photo – © olly – Fotolia.com

Thumbs-Down to Too Many Thumbs-Up Stock Photos

Thumbs-Down to too many Thumbs-Up Stock Photos

We all know that a thumbs-up is the international symbol of approval (hello, Facebook!), and it is showing up in more and more stock photos. It doesn’t seem to matter what we search for, we ALWAYS find at least one. Really, any topic, any time.

The problem with these photos is that they don’t always inspire confidence. And to be honest, they can be pretty cheesy. So we thought this week it would be fun to share with you some of the thumbs-up photos we come across each week. Check them out below, as well as our first thoughts when we saw them!

Searched for: Health Insurance

Portrait female doctor giving thumbs up, hospital background
© pathdoc – Fotolia.com

Our thoughts: Nothing says, “I got this” quite like a doctor giving you the double thumbs up.

Searched for: RV Insurance

© Lisa F. Young - Fotolia.com
© Lisa F. Young – Fotolia.com

At first glance: Oh look, thumbs up in front of an RV! Of course I can trust them! Their RV must be the best!

Searched for: Motorcycle Insurance

© Monika Wisniewska - Fotolia.com
© Monika Wisniewska – Fotolia.com

At first glance: Oh man, this is just not good. First of all, I searched for “motorcycle insurance” and she’s not even wearing a helmet? Sorry girl, we just can’t return the thumbs-up to you.

Searched for: Life Insurance

© bsilvia - Fotolia.com
© bsilvia – Fotolia.com

At first glance: So, thumbs-up for an empty life insurance folder, huh? Even she doesn’t look too sure about this.

Searched for: Teen Driver Safety

© Kurhan - Fotolia.com
© Kurhan – Fotolia.com


At first glance: Sorry sir, you are most certainly not a teen driver, and not even a thumbs-up can assure that you are. Actually, I may trust your safe driving skills less because of this. Nice try though.

So there you have it. A small sampling of the thumbs-up we deal with every day.


Why Social Media is like owning a Pet

Why Social Media is like owning a Pet

Illustration with glamour Poodle dog

You don’t just buy a dog and not feed it or take it on walks. (Well, some people do, but that’s a whole other rant.) The same thing can be said for Social Media. Do NOT set up a social media account if it is not something you are going to take care of! Like a pet, it is something you need to pay attention to, feed and play with on a regular basis.

Why? Here are four reasons:

4 Reasons Social Media is like owning a Pet

1. Social media needs to be fed

As any pet parent would know, nutrition is important and social media accounts are hungry. Their favorite food? Fresh content. Without it, you can’t expect your social media accounts to grow big and strong.

Social media is dependent on interaction between users. After all, aren’t we all just searching for that illusive retweet or social network share? If you can’t engage your followers, you can’t grow your brand, and you can’t get clicks if you don’t have anything to say.

2. Social media accounts need to go for ‘walks’

Walks are important for pets. Not only are they a great form of exercise, but they also play a major role in socialization. Social media is similar in that you really need to get out there and meet the neighbors, so to speak, so that you can get feedback on how your social media branding is being received.

Is it interesting? Are you getting clicks? Is your content being shared? These are questions you can get answered by engaging with other users, or better yet, by networking with others in the business. Just like pet owners at the dog park share their experiences, you can share yours with others in a similar situation. Conferences are a great place to do so!

3. Social media needs grooming

Social media is like a show-dog; it needs grooming. You can’t just put it all out there and hope that people are going to engage. You need to entice them.

How? By wrapping it up in a pretty package. That may mean mixing it up – add pictures to your blog posts, tweet an interesting video, share relevant materials. Sometimes, that may even mean cutting down on your posting.

I know, we just harped on the importance of feeding your social media accounts, but it is possible to go overboard. Have you ever followed a company on Facebook or Twitter only to be bombarded with a litany of advertisements or overt marketing messages? Yeah, it’s off putting. Knowing where to draw the line is important.

4. Sometimes social media needs to be ‘fixed’

You know the signs that your pet needs to be fixed, right? They may be a little over zealous or territorial, perhaps even aggressive. So you take them to the vet and get it taken care of. The same thing needs to be done for your social media accounts.

How do you know your accounts need to be fixed? Let’s start with the most obvious one: You have no interactions. Another? You are losing followers. If ever there was a sign that you are doing it wrong, then that is it. Now, we all lose followers, but if you are losing at a higher rate than you are gaining, it is a problem.

Recognize the signs and get it fixed.




Photo – © Annykos – Fotolia.com

The Great Email Signature Debate

The Great Email Signature Debate

Modern communicationsAdding your signature to an email is a great way to help establish branding. The problem however is that a lot of people out there take it too far. They want to make themselves seem accessible, so much so that that they become too accessible.


We here at AIMS value our quality of life, and often times that means disconnecting for a bit, be it a few hours or even, heaven forbid, an entire weekend (holidays included). But if you are listing every possible way to contact you on your email signature then you just might run the risk of losing that little bit of personal freedom you do have.


Not only that, but it can really come off a little bit desperate. It’s like you’re back in middle school PE lined up waiting to be picked for a kickball team and you’re that kid bouncing around in the front row begging to be chosen.


So how do you balance accessibility without seeming overly eager in your email signature? Here are a few tips.


What to Include:

As a general rule, your email signature should never be longer than the email itself. So keep it short.

  • Your name
  • Your business name and position within the company
  • The best way to contact you (work phone, email)

You may also include a SMALL logo and your business address if it something you are comfortable sharing (i.e. work from home).


DON’T do this:

  • Include personal handles for social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.), your business social media handles are okay if kept small
  • Personal phone number – Unless you like having your clients waking you up at 4 a.m. (Don’t have a business phone number, get one for free from Google.)
  • Quotes, inspiring or otherwise – Remember, keep it concise
  • Make your entire signature an image – Yes, it will look exactly how you would like it too, but if it won’t load on certain browsers or devices it is useless



Photo – © Ronald Hudson – Fotolia.com

Insurance Blogging: Why Words Matter

Insurance Blogging: Why Words Matter

blah stickers

Here at AIMS we like to keep up with the industry, so we read a lot of blogs. Some of our favorites are Search Engine Watch, Good Copy, Bad Copy, and more recently Boost Blog Traffic. We really do believe that there are a lot of good ideas out there in the blogosphere, and it is only wise to keep up.

Recently we came across a blog post from Boost Blog Traffic that listed 317 Power Words The Will Instantly Make You A Better Writer and it got us thinking: What are some of the best words to use when writing an insurance blog? And no, this isn’t about SEO, it is about engaging your readers. So let’s get this going and give you our list of the best insurance blogging words.

Get them EXCITED!

Here are 10 words to get your readers excited about something (a special offer maybe?):

  • Amazing
  • Astonishing
  • Astounding
  • Exciting
  • Hope
  • Magical
  • Opportunity
  • Stunning
  • Savvy
  • Wonderful

Scare them a little.

Need to induce a little fear? Try these words:

  • Crippling
  • Destroy
  • Devastating
  • Disaster
  • Dupe
  • Eradicate
  • Expel
  • Frightening
  • Horrific
  • Loss
  • Risk

Entice them.

Everyone likes a good deal, right? Especially after they’ve gotten a little scare put into them. Help your readers along and close the deal with these words:

  • Best
  • Discount
  • Extra
  • FREE (*That one really reels them in)
  • Inclusive
  • More
  • Prize
  • Profit
  • Save
  • Special


Remember, we write to evoke empathy. Connecting with your readers is important. With so many blogs out there, and so many different writers and styles, you need to really hit on your readers emotions – in other words, your blogs need to register. Power words are a great place to start!

So get out there and spice up your writing! And hey, check out the other great industry blogs out there for more ideas on improving your writing.


Photo – © Yury Zap – Fotolia.com

Is Your Content Worth Reading?

Is Your Content Worth Reading?

We believe in content marketing, in fact, we preach its importance. blog wordBut just because you create it, doesn’t mean that it is worth reading. Content Marketing is dependent on creating a following. If you can’t get people to read your blog posts, you can’t convert them to hits on your website.

So how do you create content worth reading? Here are a few tips from the AIMS teams:


Don’t just regurgitate another author’s work – add your own spin.

Now, there is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from outside sources (so long as you cite it properly and/or contact the original author for their permission to use said materials). But if you fail to add your own spin, what is stopping the reader from skipping out on your article to read the original?


Write with purpose.

Know your angle; if you have an agenda, make it clear from the get go. Getting on the same page with your readers early will keep them engaged throughout.


Don’t get too wordy.

We know that you want to follow general SEO practices so that your article will get found in the first place, but remember, there is such a thing as too much content. Truth is, most people just scan blog posts, searching for the tastiest tid-bits. Make it too long and you are bound to scare them away. We recommend that you keep your blog posts in the 300-500 words range.


Write to be read.
If we’ve said it once, we’ll say it again – cut out the jargon. Too much industry speak is a turn off. You should be writing for the everyman. Most likely, you will are trying to attract potential clients; the type of people who aren’t necessarily up on your lingo. Too many technical terms can make your writing too formal, exclusive even. So avoid the pitfalls of jargon-speak.



Photo – © Yury Zap – Fotolia.com

Protect Your Passwords


Protect Your Passwords


Have you heard about Heartbleed yet? It’s an encryption flaw in the security framework of OpenSSL security software. More simply put, it’s a bad thing and a big deal.  Some 500,000 websites are estimated to have been affect by the bug, which means your personal information, and your business’s information may have been compromised.

The Heartbleed bug allows hackers to access your usernames, passwords and even browser history 64 kilobytes at a time. For those of you in the know, that isn’t a whole lot of data, but if you repeat the process say a few, oh million times, it adds up.

If you are like us, then you have your information spread out in a lot of places. Do you run your own Facebook page? It’s time to change the password. How about Pinterest – or Tumblr and Flickr accounts? CNN Money has compiled a list of some of the big name companies who have already applied the patch to their network, making it safe to go ahead and change your passwords. You can find that list here.

Here at AIMS, we manage a lot of accounts, which means a whole lot of passwords to remember. We are fortunate in that we already use a password manager to keep track of them all. LastPass has been a great resource for us.  While there are other password management systems out there, we haven’t found one we like more than last pass.  Instead of trying to remember the literally hundreds of passwords under our charge, we just have to remember one master. And lucky for us, even though LastPass does utilize OpenSSL, it is only one of multiple layers of encryption, which helps to ensures that all our data is safe. If you also use LastPass run your security check the site will tell you which passwords need to be changed to protect your personal information from Heartbleed. We did update a few of our social passwords which gave us the chance to change from our favorite color to more complex password like ERi3w29C.

If you don’t already use a password manager like LastPass, then it is time to get started with one. Not only will it store all your passwords for you, it will also help you randomly generate news ones. Further, you can access LastPass from your mobile device or tablet, so it is with you wherever you go.

As a business owner, protecting your passwords starts with you. Don’t let your business get hacked.





Source – Heartbleed bug: What you need to know
Photo – © jamdesign – Fotolia.com

Are These Emails Automated or Real?

Are These Emails Automated or Real?

Mail flat icon

Marketing automation tools are awesome. If you use them right, they can really help you connect with your clients on another level. The problem is that not everyone out there is using their tools the way they was meant to be used. Some people are still slapping the old “Dear Valued Customer” on their emails or inserting sales pitches directly into the subject line. From our experience, nothing turns a potential client off more than in your face marketing and generic content.

Today we want to talk to you about making your emails more personable, and thus more likely to be read.

Merge Fields

First of all, let’s all get on the same page and start using merge fields. Many of the marketing automation software out there even makes this easy for you – If you are an Ontraport/Agency Revolution user for example, all you have to do after logging into your DIO and opening up a new email is to scroll on down to the “Mail Merge” section where you can pick out which contact information you would like to use to address your clients. ALWAYS personalize your emails.

Write Original Content

This should be a given, but jeez, have you seen some of the form emails that go around out there? You start in reading the first sentence and have already clicked “delete” before you even get half way through. And if you do that, then you can bet your customers do to.

So when you start working on your next date sequence or step sequence, try to work in some fresh content. Instead of “Dear Sir, It has come to our attention that you are underinsured for your auto insurance…” try something more along the lines of “Dear [First Name], We’ve just finished reviewing your [Type of Insurance] insurance policy for the year and thought we’d let you know…”

The key here is that it doesn’t have to be so formal and stuffy, it can be personable and even friendly. Instead of a computer telling someone something, your emails should sound like a human being actually wrote them. That means you can use a conversational tone.

Try using emails you have sent in the past or even have a professional writer help you create your automated email responses. I find some of the best emails are easy to read and tend to be short and to the point.

Watch Your Subject Lines

We’ve already alluded to it, but don’t put your sales pitch directly into your subject line. Just don’t.

Speaking of Sequences…

Speaking of date and step sequences, let’s just take a moment to remember that no one likes hearing their phone ding at 3 o’clock in the morning. When you are sending out an automated email be sure that your are sending it out during working hours. We all know you’re not really thinking about my auto insurance in the middle of the night.





Photo – © dacianlogan – Fotolia.com

Showers of April Blog Ideas

Showers of April Blog Ideas

calendar 2014 april

April is here and that means we want to shower you with a month’s worth of ideas for your insurance blog!

Before we even start coming up with ideas for blogs each month, out first step is to open up a calendar with all the holidays listed on it. That way we can tailor our coverage to answer the questions your clients are most likely ask this month.

There are a lot of options for writing topics in April. You’ve got World Health Day, Tax Day, Easter, Passover, Earth Day and Arbor Day. But you don’t have to write something holiday related, you could also write about the changing of the seasons and how that affects your home prep this spring. You can write about driving on wet roads, or tips for riding your motorcycle on a windy day; you can even write about watching out for potholes!

The important thing here is to be creative. Look at each holiday or event as an opportunity to spread the word about staying safe or protecting yourself. Remember, your viewers have to come to your blog for handy information that might not otherwise have gotten. You don’t need to pump out tired marketing clichés or in your face sales tactics, you just need to put out a quality product that makes people stop and say, “Hey, they really know their stuff.”

So without further ado, here are a few April blog ideas from Actively Implementing Marketing Solutions:

April Insurance Blog Ideas

  • World Health Day Health Insurance Update Blog (The Obamacare deadline is here!)
  • Easter/Passover Social Host Liability Blog
  • Tax Day Reminder Blog/Insurance Write-Offs
  • Arbor Day Landscape Contractors Blog
  • Earth Day General Liability Blog for Homeowners Having Work Done on the House/Yard
  • Driving in Wet/Windy Weather
  • Riding a Motorcycle in the Wind/Rain
  • Dewinterizing a Home/Boat/Classic Car/RV
  • Spring Cleaning Tips/Tricks
  • Teen Driver Education
  • Blowing Out a Sprinkler System
  • Spring Kids Sports Safety

Happy writings!


Start blogging like a pro every month, with our Service or 12 Insurance Blogs for 1 Year.


Photo – © visualhunter – Fotolia.com

It Can’t All Be SEO: Why Word Of Mouth Still Works

People design

As online marketers, you’d think we adhere strictly to the Book of SEO. We don’t.

SEO is great, it really does help direct search traffic to your site when done properly, but that’s the thing, it is not always done properly; although not for a lack of trying.  With all the updates to the Google, Yahoo and Bing crawlers, what worked five years ago, even five weeks ago, your SEO practices may be outdated.

And it seems like something is always changing. We do our best to keep our clients current on the latest trends in SEO, but we also believe that success can’t be achieved solely from inputting the right keyword into the right space the right number of times. Yes, it will bring people to your site, it may even result in a few sales, but without word of mouth, it’s not likely you’ll be reaping the full benefits of having a well-optimized site.

Websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Foursquare are popular because people want to hear from other people why your business is great (or not so great). We can send out postcards, emails, even populate a Twitter and Facebook page extoling your business’s virtues, but unless your business has positive online feedback, it may very well be for naught.

As a small business owner, it can be tough (some say impossible) to get that number one ranking on Google, and you shouldn’t count on it happening just because you pay someone to optimize your site. A lot of how your business ranks (for now at least) is based on its ‘trust score’. A trust score is determined from a lot of different, and sometimes confusing factors. What you need to know though, is that Google is just as concerned with reputation and the number of inbound links flowing to your website as it is with your use of long tail keywords.

So how do you increase the value of your site? Talk to your customers and ask them to review your business online. Send them to Google to write a review or have them check-in to your business on Foursquare when coming to your office. The more positive vibes you’re getting, the more traffic that is on its way as well.


Photo – © Gstudio Group – Fotolia.com