The insurance lead generation market is constantly evolving, with new lead gen models and innovative tools being developed on a regular basis. Additionally, there’s been a clear shift from quantity to quality in terms of purchasing behavior. Developments of new lead gen tools, as well as new models of interaction and lead verification tools are causing both agents and marketers to shift toward new models within the industry, allowing key players to better find their niche.
New Distribution Models
The biggest challenge so far in insurance lead distribution has been oversight. New distribution models are being developed in order to give marketers more control over who their leads are sold to, and most importantly, how many times. The vast majority of marketers are not connected directly to carriers who write in all 50 states. Likewise, a local agent is not going to reach out directly to a lead generation company asking to purchase one lead per day. This is where aggregators come in.
Aggregators are like the retail distributors of leads and have a large client base of local agents and direct carriers who want various types of consumers based on their risk assessment. The tricky part is that some aggregators may purchase a lead for x-amount with only one agent willing to purchase it from them. With that one payment, the aggregator may not even be able to make their money back, and according to industry standards they have the option to sell that lead up to seven more times. So, perhaps the aggregator will send it to another aggregator who will in turn pass it on to one of their agents, and so on. But if the consumer receives too many phone calls, they complain, and that complaint goes directly back to the marketing affiliate and the site where the lead was generated, not to the aggregator who sold the lead.
For this reason it is important for marketers to find a better way to control and maintain oversight over the distribution of their traffic. That’s where the new distribution model of legs comes in. Legs allow affiliates to control where their leads are going. By deciding which companies are eligible to purchase leads in advance, marketers can control the ability of aggregators to take that exclusive lead and monetize it several additional times. With leg delivery, affiliates know the destination of each “leg” and the price each company can pay. This way they are able to base their direct marketing efforts around their direct monetization. Additionally they are able to capture a larger piece of the monetization themselves. This allows affiliates to be confident that they are receiving all of the value for their direct marketing efforts.
The trend from quantity to quality
As part of a more transparent value chain, there’s been a more concentrated effort across insurance lead generation to focus more on quality instead of quantity. The reasons for this shift are obvious: Instead of wasting sales efforts on following up on as many leads as possible and only closing few deals, insurance lead buyers are now more interested in finding prospects who have not only expressed particular interest in researching their insurance policies, but are also more likely to buy. Think of it as the dating scene. There are two types of daters: There’s the guy who will ask hundreds of girls out, hoping that eventually someone is going to accept his invitation for a drink. This dater will spend a lot on buying drinks for different girls who may not wish to go out with. He may also have to take a few slaps in the face and dedicate a lot of time into finding someone who is interested. Then, there is the other dater who goes for what he wants and chooses his prospects wisely. He doesn’t want to waste his time on asking out as many girls as possible, he wants the one who’s been making eye contact with him and pursues her with confidence. In the end, this type of “dater” has better chances to build a lasting relationship and to “close the deal”. But how do you attract your perfect date? While both methods have been shown to produce dates, the trend seems to be clearly shifting toward a quality-based sales approach.
New techniques for generating leads
As a result of the recent quality-over-quantity trend, many marketers are beginning to shift towards marketing strategies that will attract interested consumers and create engaging prospects. In the end, it’s all about the same questions: How can you find committed people who are actively seeking insurance quotes? How can you weed out the “kind of interested” people to get to the “very interested” users? In the past, marketers tried to monetize on traffic “just a little bit more”. However, this type of marketing led to a situation in which it was difficult to distinguish good traffic from just names and numbers. Therefore the newest lead gen tools are aimed at coming up with methods to gauge interest and level of commitment up front. The most up-and-coming trend right now is mobile marketing because it enables a direct connection to consumers.
A tool which is getting a lot of attention is Click2Call, aimed at mobile users who can directly call agents prior to, or after they have filled in a form. When a consumer completes a form, gives all their info and then decides to directly call an agent, the question of whether or not the lead is actually interested, has been answered. The cost of this type of marketing may increase a little, but the expectation is that the results will justify the increase in cost.
Lead Verification Tools
In order to guarantee carriers high lead volume with high lead quality, lead verification tools are increasingly being used to check whether or not consumer information is accurate. Over the past years, complex interconnections have attracted fraudulent and bad practices which have steadily decreased lead quality. This has provoked a situation in which most players are suspicious of each other and there is little trust. To counteract this development, there are now many companies that are offering lead verification services. These services run email and address verification checks that bounce data off larger databases in order to see if user information is consistent with other records.
Guaranteeing the validity of lead data is a tremendous step forward in establishing practices to ensure high lead quality. But there are also many things that companies can do to verify their links internally, for example by investing in a good lead gen form that is user-friendly and straightforward, but that also incorporates auto-correct features and good error messages. Moreover, companies can use analytics tools to find out how much time users spent on their website, how many clicks were measures, whether real names have been used and the overall user behavior on their sites. These checks can give tremendous insight into the quality of leads. Proving that lead information is correct before passing it on to lead buyers will not only increase trust, but also result in higher lead conversions, and higher payouts.
Many acquisitions have recently taken place amongst aggregators which has somewhat slowed their ability to adapt and accommodate many of these new trends. With regard to newer models such as Click Listings, inbound Click2Call, and legs, aggregators are somewhat catching up with the rest of the industry. As Carriers continue to make the shift toward direct marketing channels, aggregators will likely continue to further secure their position as a servicer of the local agent as they develop ways to successfully incorporate these new models into their businesses.