There has been a lot of talk lately about the damage technology is doing or may do to the independent insurance agent. How technology is changing the job of an agent and has the potential to put agents out of business. I have always looked at technology as a way to strengthen what the independent agent is doing.
One magnificent use for technology is to generate leads.
Buyers who traditionally would find a local agent, are going online and searching for an agent who can best handle their needs and not necessarily someone who is local.
In this article, we are going to discuss the best way to generate insurance leads online for your agency.
The Power of Online Lead Generation
Many people are still skeptical of the power of online lead generation. Many question the validity of someone shopping for insurance online. Are they just price shoppers? Are they just millennials? Is it that no one else wanted to write them so they had to search online? From our experience, the quality of lead is no different then the people who come to your store front. Some are good and some are bad.
For our insurance agency, we got to the point where we were generating around 200 contacts a month from the internet. However, these were not 18-year-old shoppers exploring how much insurance will cost after their parents kick them off the policy. They were small business owners, farmers, moms, and dads. We were able to attract exactly who we wanted to come via our website.
Think about the impact on your agency for a moment. What if you could generate 1/4 of those contacts. 25 new people every month that were your ideal customers, wanting a quote from you. It’s like having another producer who works 7 days a week with no paid time off, sick days or holidays.
Don’t listen to the naysayers who do not believe you can generate high quality leads online. We did it and many other agencies have done it as well.
The best way to generate leads online
From our experience, the best way to generate online leads is through blogging and SEO. People are searching for different insurance products online and you can be the agent they find first.
Below is a snapshot at a few potential searches for homeowners insurance. Thousands of people searching for homeowners insurance. And this is only a small snapshot of different home insurance searches.
Then take every other insurance offering you have. Auto, life, business, retirement services, non profits, etc… Whatever market you want to attract there is likely someone searching for it online.
(Don’t believe me? Contact me with a niche or market and see if I can’t find a search term that your ideal customer is searching for online.)
Here is how the strategy works in a nutshell:
- People are searching for specific terms or questions relating to services you provide in Search Engines (i.e. Google, Bing, etc…)
- Google then populates search results based on what they believe is the best content for that searcher.
- The person then decides (often from the top results) which site they will visit. And from our experience they usually expect to do business with the site owner if possible.
For this to work, you have to blog about what people are searching for online.
Where many agents go wrong, is that they do not know what people are searching for an instead talk about risk management or safety which does not necessarily attract anyone to do business with you.
I am not going to go into great detail about how this works, (If you want to learn more about how SEO and Blogging works you can read this previous article we wrote.) because there are many additional strategies to explore.
Additional lead generation strategies
The cool thing about this digital era is that there is no absolute way to reach your ideal customer. Your clients could be looking on search engines or they could be on 1 of many social channels. Here are some strategies that will help you attract your ideal customer and ultimately generate more leads for your business.
The first strategy I want to talk about is the most practical for most agencies who have never done anything digitally. This is the easiest to get into because you essentially take your current traditional ads and turn them into online ads. You can run ads on social media, YouTube or in Search Engines.
However, you will want to find an expert to help you do this affordably and in the right way.
Insurance agencies are using social media in about 1001 different ways right now. Even for lead generation there are a few different tactics you can choose from. The best tactics really come from your agency’s culture, but I will give you a couple ideas to get started.
One way is to grow you follower base and provide educational content (videos, blogs, white papers, etc…) that will educate people and drive them to start a conversation with you about a product.
Another way would be to use contests or outreaches to get your clients to give you referrals via social media. Encourage people to share their experience with you so that their connections can see how great you are.
A final strategy I will mention, which I believe is the best way, is to make connections and real relationships on social media. Yes there are tricks and strategies to draw people in to doing business with you but the best way is to do what you do best. Build relationships and allow that relationship to foster into a business connection.
Education through webinars and guides
People are constantly trying to “figure it out.” We live in a knowledge age where people everyone wants to know. This is the same in the insurance industry. People want to know what they are buying and why. You can use your expertise and people’s search for knowledge to generate leads.
You offer your expertise via a webinar or guide and in turn, they provide their contact information to attend or to download the guide. You will educate them, building trust and you will also have their contact info and know their needs.
Above are just a couple of ideas that agents are using that are working, but we live in a constantly changing digital world where strategies can constantly change and new ideas can easy present themselves. So try to think of your own ideas. Watch how people are engaging online and see if you can capitalize on it.
Make strategic connections and create an event together. The digital world is still relatively new for agents and it is constantly changing. So take advantage of that and make something happen.
Expectations for the first few months of online lead generation
For many agents this is new territory and they do not know what to expect. Unfortunately, we have patience like our customers, which is none. Too often agencies quit before they see the true ROI of their strategies. There are so many voices saying that this works and agents get excited but the expectations are off.
True expectations when getting into a new lead generation strategy:
I know it is exciting to start a blog or to jump into a new social network but it is important to realize that these things take time. You can not expect Google to find your first and only blog post, put it at #1 and have leads begin pouring in. You can not expect to get into social media and make concrete relationships in the first week. It takes time and it takes effort but it can work.
I have seen many agents get right to the point where things are going to take off and they quit because results did not come yet. In order to successfully implement a lead generation strategy, you have to be willing to stick with it when the road gets bumpy and adapt when need be.
Preparation for your strategy:
One odd thing I noticed is that people believe digital marketing is a magic pill. I don’t know if someone sold it to them as so or if there are preconceived notions, but online lead generations take more effort then flipping a switch. You need to have some preparation in place. If you wanted to expand to a new state you would need to put in some effort right? Educate yourself on companies that could be available in those states, apply for a license to write in that state, hire a producer to help expand into the area, etc…
Well, there are things you must prepare for in order to generate leads online. You have to have the proper set ups in place. So if you want to blog, then you need to have control of your website, have a blog and know what you are going to blog about. If you are going to start a new social network you have to know why and the best practices for that channel.
You may have to hire a new person. Can you start writing blogs and posting to social media with the time you have? Then what about training that person? You wouldn’t hire someone off the street and tell them to go sell insurance. No, you would train them and get them licensed.
Many agents do not like the preparation part because it seems slow and is far from exciting but it is necessary if you want your lead generation tactics to be successful.
How to get started
We talked about a lot in this article and often times the getting started part is the hardest part. We want to jump from decision to results but unfortunately it is not that easy.
While the process is still going to take work, I can at least outline the steps for you to get started and start seeing results.
- Pick your strategy and research it. It’s easy to say “I want Google to find my blog” but not really know what it takes to make it happen. Then guess what? Google never finds your blog and neither do your potential prospects.
- Decide what resources you will need to implement the plan. Do not underestimate the process or it will become quickly overwhelming. Too many agents start then stop because it takes more than 10 minutes out of their week.
- Get help from an expert. When we got started we had help. Ask most successful agents and they’ll tell you that there was a company or person who helped educate them first. Without help, the process will take much longer and you will likely miss the most important parts that will make your lead generation successful.
- Wash, rinse and repeat. After you’ve started your strategy you will need to start making tweaks. Maybe it worked but had too many leads that were not far enough down the sales funnel or maybe it was effective but cost more than you wanted. With these tweaks you will be able to maximize the effectiveness of your lead generation strategy.
From a 1000 ft view the process seems easy but you will have a lot of questions and decisions along the way. Feel free to reach out and ask us anything you need to help you get started.
Have you had luck with any online lead generation techniques in the past? What were your results? If you are struggling to get started what is holding you back? Let us know in the comments below.