Finding new insurance leads is hard work.
Everyone has their own lead generation suggestions but it can be difficult to keep track of all the options.
That’s where this lead generation guide comes in – to save the valuable time you could spend actually generating new leads instead of browsing through countless websites or scribbling down notes, you can simply read through all the methods below, choose the ones most suitable for your business, and get right to work.
Why 42, you might ask?
Well, it is really just the final number we landed on after tallying our list of tried and tested lead generation methods.
That said, 42 is a really nice number. After all, it’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything …
… so it might not be Deep Thought and it didn’t take 7.5 million years to come up with all these methods, but I believe it can still be a very valuable resource if your question to life, the universe, etc. is “How do I get more leads for my insurance business?” 🙂
So how do we get all these new leads?
Well, there are two alternatives out there: you either buy leads (our first option, but we are diversifying here) or generate them yourself.
While buying can work in a number of ways (for starters, you could read our guide about buying leads), generating them yourself has its advantages.
Yes, it’ll be much more time-consuming, but the quality of the leads you acquire might surprise you.
Moreover, these leads are all yours – you don’t have to share them with other local agents (as is the case with shared leads).
We sorted our lead generation methods into five categories: referrals, advertising, events, online marketing, and personal contact. While some methods might fall into a few categories the final result seemed to be the most rational and convenient fits.
You’d probably like to go straight to the matter at hand now, so let’s start our list with …
Most old-school agents will tell you that there’s no better way of getting high quality leads than referrals. And they’re right … to an extent.
With countless other ways to increase your exposure and accessibility for your target demographics, you can hardly rely solely on referrals to get ahead in business.
Still, it’s a proven source of great leads, so there’s no question whether you should or shouldn’t do it, especially when you’re just getting started.
- Direct requests. Sometimes, simply asking your clients and prospects (especially the former, as you’ve already built trust with them) to recommend you to their friends, relatives, colleagues, and other acquaintances can work wonderfully. Most people don’t even think about recommending a product or a service to someone else, but if you directly ask them to do that, they’ll be much more likely to remember you once they hear that someone needs insurance.
- Partnerships. Another way to generate leads from referrals is striking up partnerships with other businesses. You can either pay for leads from your partners or simply do the same for them by recommending their services to your clients. Either way, instead of simply giving out phone numbers or business cards to get prospective clients to call you, it’s much better to set up a system where your partner would ask a person for permission to have you call them.
- Network development. You can try building a network of people who could recommend you to any prospects who need the line of insurance you’re selling. Some of the ways to get into the circles of related professionals such as CPAs include participation in local events, activity in business groups, and involvement in speaking engagements. As your network grows, you’ll notice that you can get more and more referrals from respectable people (while doing the same for them).
- Lead exchange groups. There might be some exchange groups operating in your area already, but you can always organize one with your network as well. In lead exchange groups, successful local businesspersons gather for lunch or breakfast every other week and exchange high quality leads with one another. The best part here is that the environment is not competitive at all, as only one member of any particular industry is usually allowed in.
- Co-registration. This can fall into online advertising category as well as it’s happening on the Internet, but co-registration is a great way of getting high quality leads through referrals of other companies. Once your prospective clients register on a website of another business, they can choose whether they agree to be contacted with other offers. If they do, your partners get the prospect’s contact information over to you and you can communicate with them directly.
- Incentives. If asking your clients for referrals doesn’t seem to work, you might need to present them with an incentive to recommend your services to whoever needs insurance (check your state regulations first). The incentive can vary but it needs to be something that is motivating enough to get action. It’s important to decide and communicate up front if the client will be rewarded for a lead or only for new business.
When the well of initial referrals (friends, family, former colleagues, etc.) runs dry, you should certainly consider some traditional advertising methods to introduce yourself to wider circles.
Even though plenty of people choose the Internet to get their daily dose of news, entertainment, and information, traditional advertising is still very much alive and kicking.
You probably can’t do all of these techniques at once, but picking one or two at a time and seeing what works and what doesn’t can certainly help you to generate more leads which you couldn’t access any other way.
- Newspaper advertisements. A US consumer survey conducted by Nielsen in 2013 determined that newspapers are among the most engaging, trustworthy, ethical, and inspiring media sources. With a better aggregate advertising score than all other forms of media, print newspapers can certainly be employed to generate new insurance leads. There are several matters to consider though, including the ability to reach your target audience, the size and location of the ad, and the circulation of the newspaper – all of these points have a large influence on the ad’s price and effectiveness.
- Yellow Pages advertisements. While Yellow Pages have been considered to be dead and done for quite some time now, they still can serve as a way of reaching a few types of leads, especially senior ones. If you’ve never done YP advertising before, there are certainly plenty of better ways to invest your money (YP ads are still unbelievably expensive despite waning popularity). However, if you’ve been advertising on your local pages for a while, you should definitely check where your leads are coming from – it might be worth it to extend your subscription for another year.
- Radio advertisements. Surprisingly, radio scored a higher advertising rating in the 2013 Nielsen survey than the Internet, with 82% of respondents listening to local radio programs at least once every week. You should pick the time slot very carefully as radio advertisements can be pricey, but some options are more obvious than others: for example, if you’re selling auto insurance, an ad on your local car enthusiast talk show can be very effective. It’s also important to create an ad which stands out from the static, which will definitely need some time and money.
- TV advertisements. TV is consumed even more than radio according to the Nielsen survey, as 90% of people watch their local programs every single week. While advertising on TV is even more expensive, it beats radio and print ads in a handful of ways. For instance, it’s been determined that people tend to remember only 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read, but the retention rate for seeing something is as high as 80%. TV might not be an option if you’re just starting up, but you should take it into consideration once your business grows.
- Specialized advertisements. Theme-specific magazines, trade publications, and niche classifieds all provide a really nice environment for getting your message across. People reading them are already dedicated to the topic and there’s a much higher chance they’ll be interested in your services. Be sure to think outside the box though: it certainly doesn’t end with advertising your home insurance services in home decor publications – why not try out attracting T65 leads with an aptly placed ad in a gardening magazine?
- Flyers and door hangers. While it’s a simple and cost-conscious way to get your message across, flyers and door hangers will usually go straight to the trashcan in most residences. However, some people might just need the type of insurance you’re offering, so while it’s certainly not the most reliable way to generate leads, its relatively small cost makes it worth taking a shot, especially if you’re just starting up. Nicely designed flyers are good at attracting a person’s attention, but it’s the copy which matters the most, so make sure you get your value proposition across in the most compelling way possible.
- Sponsorships. Brought to you by… Mike’s Insurance. Sponsoring local events or booking a sponsorship ad on your local radio show can certainly result in positive publicity for your business. Keep your target audience in mind however: while your message will always have exposure, you want it to reach the right ears. In addition to that, you should also make sure that the event or TV / radio program stands for the same things as you or your agency – your name will be associated with everything that’s being said or done there after all.
- Freebie distribution. We all love free stuff, so producing pens, pencils, notebooks, water bottles, lighters, and other objects with your business name and contact details is a great idea. You don’t even have to distribute these things all around the place: just give them to your existing clients, prospects, or new acquaintances as a nice little touch and see them change hands by themselves. Objects such as pens tend to get lost and found all the time, so there’s a pretty high chance it will end up in the possession of a new lead.
- Guerilla marketing. Coined by Jay Conrad Levinson, the term “guerilla marketing” is usually defined as getting your message across using unconventional, untypical marketing tools with a limited or non-existent budget. While it previously included mostly local (and barely legal) marketing methods such as graffiti, sticker bombing, or flyer posting, current guerilla marketing practices include flash mobs, viral campaigns, and some types of online marketing as well. If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend reading Levinson’s book on the subject.
- Information booklets / Reports. Providing some valuable information doesn’t necessarily require a personal contact: you can also develop an information booklet or a report on any useful or relevant topic and distribute it for free by mail or in places where interested people could find them, such as community centers, libraries, or hospitals. You shouldn’t try and offer your products in there – just ask the readers to contact you for more information or a free consultation.
- Scholarships. Offering a scholarship for a gifted student can cost you as little as a few hundred bucks, but it can result in a lot new leads for your business. In addition to genuinely helping someone out, you’re getting word-of-mouth exposure and (if you work towards it) local publicity. There are also places online where you can list your offering, increasing the coverage even more.
Events combine traditional advertising and personal contact, meaning you can communicate the value of your services to more people at a time than when having a personal one-on-one conversation.
Most of the people gathering at the events listed below are already concerned about insurance issues, so you’re already halfway to turning them into high quality leads.
Sure, organizing events takes time, effort, and knowledge about the industry, but getting 30-40 interested people into a room is a dream of every insurance agent.
- Seminars. Organizing free seminars on useful insurance topics provides you with the chance to reach a large audience of interested prospects at the same time. However, you have to present a very relevant topic and keep your audience listening throughout the seminar to get them interested in buying insurance from you. Don’t make the whole presentation a sales pitch – you have to be ready to genuinely educate people on the topics which are important to them in the first place to be successful.
- Q&A sessions. It works in a similar way as the seminar, but has a more laid-back approach and no particular topic you’d be talking about. If you’re knowledgeable in your line of the industry, you’ll have no problems trying to help people out with any questions they might have. You can organize it in local community centers, libraries, or even bars and advertise it prior to let people know you’ll be there. Once again, you have to be willing to help anyone even if they won’t buy from you – but giving a business card to someone after answering their question certainly won’t hurt.
- Dinner seminars. These events are certainly more expensive than your usual seminars (as you’re buying dinner to everyone participating), yet they might prove to be more effective as well. As people are much more inclined to participate if they’re getting free dinner, you can choose your prospective participants much more carefully (direct mail is probably the best way to send out invitations). Then it’s up to you to enchant the audience and set private appointments with everyone interested afterwards.
- Local sponsorship / Charities. Corporate social responsibility is extremely important for large companies looking to stay ahead of the competition, but it can work on a much smaller scale as well. Giving back to your local community can certainly have a positive influence on the public opinion about you or your agency, which, in turn, can help you to generate leads. So participating in or organizing a local charitable event is certainly a good idea – in addition to getting more leads, you’re doing something from which everyone can benefit.
If you don’t exist on the Internet, you don’t exist at all.
You’ve heard that a hundred times before, but it’s as true in insurance business as it is in most other lines.
Here are a few stats provided by Simply Business to get you fired up: 97% of Internet users search for local businesses online, with local content amounting for as many as 73% of all online activity. Moreover, 9 out of 10 people call or visit a local business when they find it online, with almost two thirds of all local searches ending in phone calls.
Any doubts? Didn’t think so – let’s move on then.
- Web presence. According to a survey carried out by Simply Business, 55% of small business owners believe that having an online presence is extremely important, while only 4% think that it’s not vital for the well-being of a business. The first step towards having a presence online is your website. There are a few approaches here: while including only a value proposition and contact information works for some, most of us do have to provide some relevant and engaging content to get prospective leads to visit the website in the first place.
- Local directories. This is one of the very few types of achieving online exposure which don’t require having a website. You can add your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) information to a handful of online directories, Yellow Pages, and classified websites. While some of them require a fee to include your details, there’s also a selection of free directories as well. In addition to driving direct traffic, they’re really good for your local search engine optimization, meaning you’ll show up higher in local online searches for insurance.
You can find more more about directory sources here and here.
- Content marketing. Interesting, relevant, and engaging content (including text, images, videos… you name it) provides you with an opportunity to engage targeted visitors. However, putting content up is only half the battle. Active marketing and influencer outreach is needed to max out your content creation efforts. If prospects find what they were looking for, they’ll be much more inclined to contact you or book an appointment to learn what you can offer.
- Search engine optimization. SEO methods are used to get your website higher in the search engine rankings for certain keywords. There are plenty of different techniques which involve both on-site and off-site work, so it might be overwhelming at first. However, I believe anyone can optimize their website, so hiring SEO “gurus” or “experts” might be a waste of money better invested elsewhere. For plenty of valuable information about SEO, I highly recommend taking a peek at the Moz Learn SEO guide.
- Pay-per-click advertising. When you search for something on Google, Bing, Yahoo!, or most other search engines, you’ll notice that some of the listings are sponsored and show up above the organic results with highest rankings. Most of the PPC advertising systems (including Google Ads and Facebook Ads) are bid-based, so a higher bid for a certain keyword means there’s a higher chance of your ad appearing in the search results pages. The best part here is that you’re paying only when a user clicks the link – they’re already interested in your services, so it’s up to you whether you get their contact info or not.
- Banner ads. While banner ads are among the oldest forms on online advertising, they still work – remember what we said about the effectiveness of visual information? There are some concerns here, as it’s important to get your ad on a website with users who fall into your target demographics. Most of the time, you’ll be paying for impressions instead of clicks (only a small number of users who see the ad will click on it), so both response and price need to be considered.
- Blogging. Content marketing usually starts with a blog. Valuable, relevant blog articles can work wonders in attracting the right crowd to your website. When blogging, it’s essential to remember what your target market is – there are plenty of insurance agents who post information relevant to other agents instead of their potential customer base. While it’s true that you’re building your authority among peers this way, you’ll hardly attract any new leads without providing them with information they are interested in.
- Guest blogging. Posting your own content on other authors’ blogs can also be a great way to generate new leads. First of all, you’re accessing their readership and communities, meaning if people find your article interesting, they’ll be sure to click the link to your website. Secondly, other bloggers might repay the favor, and getting some high quality content for free is always welcome.
- Link requests. Backlinks (links to your website or blog article) on other relevant websites are among the most important parts of SEO. Having plenty of quality content on your website is usually not enough to get other authors to link to it, so sometimes you’ll just have to ask. For some excellent techniques of getting backlinks and SEO in general, be sure to check out Brian Dean’s blog at Backlinko.
- Social media. According to the Simply Business survey, small business owners who spend at least 6 hours every week utilizing social media are twice as likely to generate new leads as those who spend 5 hours or less. The benefits of social media include additional exposure, increased traffic, and improved search rankings among other things, all of which have a direct influence on your ability to generate high quality leads for your business.
- Podcasts. With people spending hours every day driving or commuting, podcasts are a great opportunity to provide your potential leads with information they’re interested in. If you’d like to know more about Medicare insurance possibilities, why not listen to a quality podcast on your way to work? It’s even easier if you already have a collection of relevant, up-to-date blog posts, as you can easily turn them into podcasts available to listen online or download for free.
- Webinars. Depending on your target market, you might be even more successful with live video webinars than conventional seminars, as you don’t need to spend money on the venue, while the prospects can listen to you in the comfort of their home. It might be a little harder to get contact information or book appointments this way (as there’s no personal contact with any of the participants), but minimal expenses and extra convenience can make webinars really effective.
- Video marketing. According to Forbes Insight, 59% of senior executives prefer watching video over reading text on the same issue. The stats should be similar for other target markets out there, and there are a few ways to get the message about you or your agency across through online video. While straight-up advertising also seems to work, presenting your prospective leads with tips or tricks on certain topics might be an even better choice. Either way, you have around 10 seconds to get the user’s attention, so be sure to point out the value of the video right in the beginning.
- Email newsletters. With constant changes in the insurance industry, most people have a hard time keeping up with the times. That’s where you come in: if you manage to provide information about the events that are taking place and the influence it might have on their insurance plans, you should certainly expect people to subscribe to your newsletter and recommend it to their circles. This way, you’re constantly building your authority and trust with your existing clients or prospects, while getting new high quality referrals along the way.
- Contact information requests. If you have some really valuable content on your website (especially long-form alternatives such as reports or in-depth articles), you can always ask the visitors for their contact information in exchange for giving them free access to the content in question. You should remember to ask them for permission to contact them over the phone or send them email – you’ll notice that most people will agree if you offer them something valuable in return.
While most of the above techniques involve getting your message across to a number of people at the same time, good old personal contact doesn’t have to come in only when you have a lead – it can also serve as a way to generate one in the first place.
Of course, personal contact is usually more price in terms of time than other alternatives, but showing a prospective lead personal interest in them can certainly set you apart from other agents in the area.
- Random conversations. It doesn’t mean you should approach a person and ask whether they’d like to buy insurance from you, but you can definitely try and join a conversation in any public place if you overhear that the topic is something you’re knowledgeable in (even if it’s not insurance). If you manage to appeal to the person(s) in question, you should say goodbye by giving them your business card – if they’ll need insurance in the near future, the “random stranger” may just be the first option that comes to their mind.
- Free consultations. Being accessible to anyone is a great way to incline people to choose you over the competition. Of course, no one will ask for a consultation if they don’t know they can, so it might be a good idea to include information about free advice in your advertisements. As it’s free, people think that they don’t have to buy something from you in exchange for your help, but starting a conversation with someone is already halfway to closing the deal.
- Direct mail. While most flyers are usually thrown out without a single glance, an envelope with a person’s name (or, at least, the address) usually makes them open it to see what’s inside. A professionally designed and written letter will usually have a larger impact on the recipient, but it all comes to testing what works and what doesn’t for a particular target audience. Direct mail campaigns are rather expensive, but plenty of agents use them because they are still effective when done properly.
- Mail newsletters. Your direct mailing efforts don’t have to stop with advertising material – you can send out newsletters covering news in the insurance industry (or your agency) which is pertinent to current clients. If the content is helpful and interesting you will be building your authority and adding value to your clients. You can also partner up with someone from another line of insurance to provide your prospects with even more expert information.
- Cold calling. Even with the increase in online marketing possibilities, cold calling is still one of the most popular ways of insurance lead generation. Most people hate unsolicited calls, but you might hit the right spot if you have the sales chops and/or have a high quality calling list. For a good list you can either try and generate one yourself or buy it from a broker, but it will still have to contain people who might be interested in the insurance you’re selling. When calling someone, you shouldn’t try to push the sale right away – just try to book an appointment where you’ll be able to explain all the possibilities in detail.
- Door knocking. People hate unannounced visits even more than phone calls, but a carefully planned approach in the right neighborhood can still produce enough interest to make the practice worthwhile (for some). This typically works better for senior lines when free time is less of a constraint for the prospect.
… and that about does it.
Although I really like the number 42, I’d love to update the list with any lead generation methods I might have missed.
The goal of this guide is to be the most comprehensive and extensive online resource for insurance agents looking for new ways to generate leads.
So if you have anything to add, I’d be really happy if you could let me know in the comments.