Insurance lead services have come on strong over the past few years making traditional lead generation methods an after thought many agents.
There are plenty of pros and cons that come with paid insurance leads, but they definitely have their place and we recommend all agents consider them in their marketing strategy.
- Things To Keep In Mind Going Into Paid Leads
- Insurance Lead Buying Guide
- Shared vs. Exclusive Leads
- Shared Leads
- Exclusive Leads
- Internet Lead Buying Expectations
- How To Get Started Working Insurance Leads
Finding a good lead service for your particular needs does require some time and effort. The payoff can equate to a reliable source of new leads and profit center for your business.
The paid leads versus lead generation argument is one that will go on forever (we recommend both for the record), but in the end, it is a game of numbers to determine the best options for your business.
While paid leads do obviously cost money they can also save a lot of time if worked properly. As any good business owner knows, time is always the most valuable asset.
It takes a concerted effort and rigid tracking to determine the best ratio paid leads to pure lead generation but finding the best use of your time and resources is critical to building your business.
Things To Keep In Mind Going Into Paid Leads
- Many agents will speak poorly of all paid insurance lead options. You might hear good things about a service from one agent and horrible things about the same service from another agent. There are several factors at play here and it is important to understand all of them.
- Not all lead services are going to be a fit for each insurance line and/or geographical region.
- Most agents aren’t going to disclose a good lead source. A good source is very valuable and many agents will protect their sources to the point that they tell others that the service is very bad.
- There are many questionable insurance lead services and it is important that an agent do as much due diligence and testing with a lead service as possible.
- Many agents do not work paid leads in a profitable manner and in turn have a poor opinion of them. This is a biggie and we cover proper lead working technique in this guide.
Get the most out of your paid and earned leads with our free cheat sheet.
Insurance Lead Buying Guide
When getting started with buying internet insurance leads many agents will tend to put too much emphasis on lead price.
Lead price is completely relative to an array of other variables which makes a price point decision flawed. There are many other variables in the lead buying equation that can determine if a $30 shared lead is cheap or a $3 lead with another company is expensive.
A primary piece of the equation is lead quality. Unlike the price of a lead, quality isn’t known at the beginning of the process. An agent will typically have to do some lead testing to get a good feel of the quality a lead company has to offer.
Before getting to that point you can increase your odds by qualifying a lead company against the following criteria.
How does the lead company generate their leads?
It’s perfectly reasonable to ask this question.
Most companies will tell you they generate leads through paid search (PPC programs like Google Adwords) or through their own websites. The leads generated through their own websites could come from organic search results, paid ads or through affiliate partners that send traffic to the lead companies site for a paid commission.
Many lead buyers take issue with affiliate generated traffic as it can be very low quality with some programs. We don’t really see affiliate traffic as a negative across the board like some agents do though.
Affiliate traffic can be very high quality if the affiliate program is managed properly. Lead companies that have affiliate programs need to keep tight control of their affiliates and incoming traffic quality.
Paid search is generally seen as an acceptable form of traffic generation but it can be a source of poor leads if the lead company is bidding on keywords that don’t align with consumer intent.
Affiliate and search traffic can result in good or poor quality leads depending on how the traffic sources are managed.
Organic search is typically the best traffic source. If a lead company claims organic search as a traffic source, ask them for the website URLs. If they do have a property that is listed on the first page of Google for your preferred terms you can expect to see some good leads come through.
The data that a service provides with a lead is critical information. You want as much relevant information as possible which is collected at the point of quote generation.
Most companies will have freely available lead samples on their websites so you can see this information prior to buying the leads. If they do not, by all means ask them for a copy of a sample lead before spending any money.
Lead companies are constantly looking to apply new technologies to scrub leads against bogus data prior to lead delivery.
This is quite a tall task considering most leads are delivered in near real-time. The bottom line is that you will get bogus and fake leads with every insurance lead company.
Of course you don’t want every lead to be bogus but you will see plenty as it is just part of the game. The thing that matters the most in regards to bogus leads is the credit policy of the lead company. You want to look for a company that is very flexible with crediting bogus leads and makes the process as easy for you as possible.
Although not all the good services offer online crediting we do prefer it. Time is money and if you have to spend a lot of time fighting to get bogus lead credits then you have to ask yourself if the business relationship is worthwhile.
The amount of leads an insurance lead company can provide is another aspect to consider when selecting a lead source.
Some companies have better coverage both by line of insurance and geographic areas which can play into the amount of leads that will be sent to you.
It is nice to have a consistent and dependable flow of leads but this factor is not one that we would consider a deal breaker. If a lead company can provide high quality leads you’ll probably want to stick with them even if they only send you a few leads per month.
Leads Per Agent
When considering shared insurance leads the lead to agent ratio can play a big factor in your ability to close a sale.
Some companies will disclose their average ratio on their website. If they do not go ahead and ask them. The average agents per lead sold and maximum agents per lead are the important pieces of information.
Typically, you want an average under 4-5 agents (or less) per lead sold with no more than 8 agents max per lead.
Lead filtering is where an agent can take some control in the quality of lead they purchase with aggressive audience targeting.
Most of the top lead companies will offer pre-set filters and/or custom filter options. Most of the custom filters will increase the price per lead but many agents find the extra expense to be money well spent.
The best way to determine if custom filtered leads are a good fit for your needs is to simply test, test, test.
When and how a lead is delivered plays a vital role in the insurance sales process. When working internet insurance leads the rate of success is much higher when you are the first agent to contact a prospect.
Because of this, the timing and medium of lead delivery play into the value of a lead.
The playing field has evened out a bit recently among the top lead companies in this respect. If you are paying for shared leads they should be delivered in near real-time unless you are specifically buying aged leads.
You should also look for the available options to receive a shared lead. Most vendors will offer email delivery, text message or direct to your CRM / Quoting platform.
Volume purchase discounts can be a huge benefit when working with an insurance lead company. These discounts aren’t always advertised so if you do get to a point that you are buying a lot of leads from one company go ahead and ask if they offer discounts for volume buyers.
Marketing & Training Content
Some lead companies offer marketing content and training programs to their customers. This material can be especially useful for a new agent that is learning the ropes. We see it as a sign of good customer service and extra effort to take care of the customer which is always a positive.
The last factor we are covering is the first that most agents will look at, Price.
With everything else considered, price can be helpful in determining if a lead company is worth testing. We recommend putting little weight on the price point upfront as it is a relative variable to lead quality.
We recommend testing a lead service first to determine what kind of closing ratio you can achieve then factoring price to see if they are going to meet your return on investment expectations.
Ready to start working new leads today? Get started by reading our lead vendor review page.
One of the first things to consider when searching for an insurance lead company is the type of lead you want to buy, Shared or Exclusive.
Most internet lead companies offered shared leads meaning they sell them to more than one agent.
Companies are able to generate more income per lead selling them on a shared basis which explains why it is the most popular model. With most of the more reputable and larger services an agent can expect any given lead to be sold to 2-8 agents depending how the location and lead type. The competition is obviously much higher with shared leads but at the same time most lead companies do offer carrier exclusivity which means you shouldn’t be competing with other agents from the same company if you are captive.
Shared leads average around $10-18 per lead depending on the line and can go up from there if you opt to add custom filter options or limit competition levels.
Exclusive leads are tougher to find and are often available with smaller lead companies that don’t have the large volume to sell shared leads.
They take away the competition factor that you have with shared leads but that comes with a price. Depending on the service and type of insurance exclusive leads can cost from $20 to $50 or more per lead. Exclusive leads are often generated in different ways than a typical shared lead including telemarketing and direct mail. One of the more popular types of exclusive insurance lead is the live transfer lead.
Live call transfer leads are normally generated via telemarketing and are transferred via phone directly to the agent.
One important note about exclusive leads is that they are exclusive to the lead provider, not the consumer. The consumer that generated your exclusive lead could have called 5 other agents or submitted for another quote before going through your exclusive lead source.
Internet Lead Buying Expectations
Having the right expectations when buying internet insurance leads is a vital part of a successful campaign.
You will hear agents complain about lead services and say things like, “half the leads I paid for were junk”. The thing is, they are probably right, yet that does not matter. If there were companies that offered only perfect leads that are guaranteed to close then insurance agents would be lined up around the internet block waiting to pay ten times the going rate.
Reality is that most leads cost a around $10-20. Although many services tout how well they scrub their leads, there will still be some junk that makes it through in order to deliver in real time.
Most successful agents only covert around 8% to 12% of their internet leads to the book. Close rate varies on the line being sold. Some producers will close 15% or more of their shared leads, especially with P&C.
When it is all said and done the only thing that matters is ROI (Return on Investment). Internet leads are all about numbers.
If you have a positive ROI with a lead source and there isn’t a better use of your sales time then you should continue with that source. The key to this game is to test, track and repeat.
Internet leads aren’t golden sales tickets. They have to be worked thoroughly and consistently or they will not be profitable.
Each lead company has it’s own strengths and we encourage agents buying insurance leads to test as many companies as possible to see which ones perform the best for their location and line of business.
Testing the top providers takes some time and effort but it is the best way to maximize your lead buying dollar. You’ll probably find 2 or 3 companies that are profitable and may want to consider using all of them on a regular basis.
Many services have discount promotions and trial leads which are an excellent way to minimize the financial impact to test a new source. We recommend starting with at least 50 leads per vendor to get a good feel for the product and service.
How To Get Started Working Insurance Leads
The approach that an agent takes to work insurance leads is the key to running a successful lead buying campaign.
It is no doubt easier to say an insurance lead provider does not provide good leads than it is to work them correctly. Simply put, an agent must have a consistent and persistent approach to making the sale once a lead is obtained. Merely making one call and throwing the lead away if it doesn’t work out will result in a negative outcome.
Every producer has their own approach. We are not saying our methods are the only way to effectively work insurance leads, but they are methods that have proven out among a group of experienced agents.
The following are suggested actions to work insurance leads.
As previously mentioned one contact is not going to net profitable results with internet leads. Yes, you should call as soon as possible when the lead comes in as the prospect is engaged. If you aren’t able to make contact or were not able to close the deal on first contact, by all means do not stop. Get set up with a good autoresponder email service (such as Active Campaign, Drip or Aweber) and engage the prospect via email. Follow up at every reasonable opportunity and DO NOT throw the lead away.
Know Your Product & Offer Solutions
Making contact with a prospect is only part of the battle. There is a good chance there are several other agents calling as well so you need to have a unique angle and offer quality solutions.
This means knowing your product extensively. Instead of simply running up an auto generated quote listen to your prospect and offer a sound solution tailored to their unique needs.
Cross sell complimentary lines when the situation lends its self as often as possible for added value. The key is establishing a good relationship with the prospect is listening and putting paying more attention to detail than your competition. Come up with a unique angle and use it to provide a quality solution.
Record as much information as possible when speaking with your prospect. Take note of every detail you can down as you talk or immediately following your conversation. Ask questions to determine the prospect’s current needs and if they are currently insured try to determine what company they are with. Also try to determine how often they pay for insurance and when they renew.
This information allows you to follow up at peak times such as immediately following a price increase or just before a renewal period.
No information is too trivial to record including personal info such as pets, kids, or anything else that is mentioned in conversation. All of this information helps establish ongoing rapport and allows you to follow up and engage quickly into meaningful conversation with the prospect.
Now that you have detailed prospect information and data points you need to organize it in a searchable and readily available manner. Many agents still like to use spreadsheets or index cards, but this method takes considerable time to manage and doesn’t allow for easy access or follow-up automation. We highly recommend recording all prospect info in a CRM software, Lead management solution or other contact management system to streamline this process.
Keep in Touch
So what if you didn’t make the sale on the first attempt. That doesn’t mean you should give up.
There are plenty of producers that book meaningful business 6 months or longer after initially contacting a lead.
We recommend a drip marketing method which includes periodical contact via direct mail, email newsletter and occasional phone calls at strategically important times. Holidays, birthdays, renewal periods and times of rate changes with their current provider are all ideal opportunities to make contact.