Why Internet Insurance Leads Suck

I had an email discussion with an insurance marketing trainer the other day. He said, “through his indirect experience, internet leads only deliver a lot of activity with little results.” I couldn’t argue. The experience most agents have with internet lead companies is bad. They’re not structured in your favor.

Like me, you’ve probably bought leads from a few companies that promised you wonderful, highly targeted leads. Then, after a couple days of working these leads, you realize it would be more fun to climb a cactus naked.

The Game Is Changing

We used to put our real business in the Yellow Pages. Now we have websites as our proof we’re a real business. When I started my agency I had two sites built: a general agency website promoting all we do and a niche site for a target market we were going after.

The other day the Yellow Pages were delivered to my home. I took the photo here to memorialize the event. I don’t think this will be the last delivery. I only hope. Too many insurance agents and business owners will spend a significant amount of cash only to have their ad placed on yellow sheets, shipped to someone’s door and then dropped into the recycle bin. Also, think about all the trees wasted…why aren’t the environmentalists fighting this group now?

The nice thing about the Yellow Pages, and what made them effective, is they were delivered to your prospects door and they sat patiently in your prospects home. Then, when your prospect decided to do that search for insurance your ad was sitting there eagerly waiting to be seen…even if it was on the 5th page of the insurance agents section.

Websites are different. You’ve probably realized no one will visit your website unless you learn how to drive them there. And, if you’re on the 5th page of a Google search result you’ll never be seen.

Oh, The Frustration!

t’s frustrating knowing you’ve spent hundreds, or thousands, of dollars on a website only to get lackluster results. After I had my sites built I started searching for answers. Here’s what I found…

  1. There are many people out there selling insurance agents on some sort of online marketing magic but have no experience actually marketing online. Traditional direct mail and offline marketing isn’t the same online.
  2. The rest that have experience online don’t know anything about being an agent or what it is we actually do. We don’t need traffic. We need a specific type of traffic from specific people to make it work.

It was frustrating because there is nobody out there that understands how to really market insurance online. I was determined to figure this out because someone has to be doing this well.

The Dark And Seedy Online Marketing Underworld

As I searched around for answers I came into the world known online as “affiliate marketing.” These are people that make their living by referring you and me (and your prospects) to another person’s website. When the prospect gets to the company’s website the affiliate marketer gets paid an “affiliate commission” when the prospect buys something from the website. However, there’s a special network of affiliates that deal with and compete with us in insurance marketing.

These people deal in what’s called the “cost per action” networks aka “CPA Networks.” The get paid when someone takes an action by simply filling out a form online. For example, if I have a company and I want to build an email list to market to, I can contract with a network and they’ll pay the affiliates $.10 to $6 or more for every email address they collect for me. Or, worse for us, the internet lead companies pay these affiliates a price per lead generated from their websites. Here are some examples from the more reputable lead providers on what they pay these affiliates (click on image to view affiliate payouts.):

Affiliate marketers love these programs because the customer never has to make the decision to actually buy something. The only decision for the customer is if they’re going to fill out a form online. Plus, with these high payouts, they can make a tidy profit marketing across the country. If they get paid $9 per lead and they generate 100 leads per day at a cost of $8 per lead, they’ll make $100 per day with little or no work.

The lead companies have nothing to lose because they’re not wasting money marketing. They only pay when there’s a successful form completion and then they turn around and sell it to 5 desperate insurance agents for $12 each. It’s almost like having a license to print money if you think about it.

How To Use Insider Information

So, I searched out some of the top affiliate marketers and learned how they drive traffic. I took these tactics and started applying them in my agency. Naturally, there were adaptations that have to be made for our industry but, big surprise, they worked. I started getting leads and making money. Many insurance agent friends asked what I was doing but couldn’t get their hands around it and figure it out on their own.

Since I’m only licensed in one state I thought about affiliate marketing through these CPA networks in other states. Why not? I’m driving leads for less than what these companies pay in my state where it’s a highly competitive environment. However, my friends kept hounding me about it.

Reluctantly, I was talked into outlining what I do, how I do it, and each step of the process to share with agents. I’ve spent the last 4 months working this into an extremely simple, step-by-step video series which will be released on May 5, 2009 for a limited time. Read: How To Get Cheap Mortgage Rates Or Payments

Let me know if you have questions about it below. You’ll hear more about it over the next week along with more ‘how to’ training mixed in. I feel much better about this. As my friends know, I love the fact I steal business from the online lead companies and the carriers that sell direct online. There’s a satisfaction I can’t explain to know my fellow agents aren’t being raked over the coals for a simple lead. Now, I hope to train a small army of agents to do this across the country.

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Long live the agent!

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