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Is Bankrate Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is Regarding Lead Quality?

Is Bankrate Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is Regarding Lead Quality?

Bankrate Insurance, the parent company of NetQuote, Agent Insider and InsureMe, has recently made a big push to improve lead quality across its brands with a new Bankrate Insurance Verified 2.0 initiative.  We have been hearing about the drive for higher lead quality industry wide for well over a year now and there does seem to be some traction in the right direction.

This quality surge was actually started by Bankrate with the acquisition of NetQuote in 2010, a few years after acquiring InsureMe.  As we have previously discussed the company’s method of acquiring brands and keeping them somewhat separated has been a keen move to gain more quality control within the lead sharing model.  At the time of the lead company acquisition frenzy the industry was propelled by lead volume.  While all the major players had sophisticated filters and lead scrubbing methods the controls over lead sources was minimal.  There were also no viable methods to filter out real user information that had been submitted fraudulently.  The market was driven by volume and although quality was not great it was a numbers game that could bring solid returns if worked properly.  However, there were two real problems with this model for many agents.

  1. Bad leads cost time.  Time is money. Even agents who were making good sales from shared leads were dissatisfied with the ongoing time required to request lead credits after calling a bogus lead.
  2. Expectations were not met.  Shared leads are, and always will be, a numbers game.  With recent shared lead pricing models an 8-10% conversion rate with most lines would bring profitability.  When new agents start buying leads expecting to close at much higher rates they are not happy.  This typically results in a lost customer for the lead company and a poor reputation for the industry.

How is Quality Changing?

With the Bankrate Insurance Verified 2.0 effort the company has stated it will filter out more of the bad leads up front and will offer much higher quality leads across the board.  The methods for implementing this change include eliminating poor lead sources, raising the quality requirements for a lead and moving more of its lead acquisition efforts to become “self-sourced”, which provides more quality control.

Is It Just Lip Service?

At this point many of you are probably saying to yourself, “Yeah, Yeah…I’ve heard this before”.  I have heard a lot of talk myself over the past year and would not blame anyone for having a guarded position.

However, I can tell you that this is NOT just lip service.  Besides hearing from more than a few lead buyers that quality is improving the push was made abundantly clear in Bankrate’s Q3 earnings reported on November 1st. Earnings fell 63% primarily due to a quality correction within the insurance lead brands.  The quality push resulted in eliminating over 500,000 lower quality leads per month!

Here is the full statement from Thomas R Evans, Bankrate President and CEO.

“The additional adjustments we have made in our insurance leads business to aggressively cut back on sources to drive higher conversion and quality has resulted in a short term reduction to our results and guidance,” Evans stated in a news release. “We will continue to execute on our strategy to move our insurance leads platform to higher quality, higher converting traffic which we believe will drive higher value and open up new product opportunities to drive growth in 2013.”

Bottom line (literally)–Bankrate is indeed putting its money where its mouth is and I am officially impressed. If you have tried NetQuote, InsureMe or Agent Insider in the past you might want to give them another look.  Please let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.


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