Insurance agency lead generation is a primary goal for any agent. New leads are indeed the lifeblood of the business – no agency can survive for long simply on residual revenue from existing clients. At this level of importance, then, lead generation describes a thorough examination to determine the most effective means to identify, contact, develop, and close new business.
Direct mail marketing, and its descendant, fax marketing, have been have lead generation staples for quite some time. Primarily used in the B2C space, this type of insurance marketing typically performs poorly in B2B lead generation. After all, C-Level executives have numerous assistants and gatekeepers to ensure that “junk” mail never reaches their respective desks. A mass mailing to these decision makers is almost guaranteed to fail. That said, highly targeted direct mail marketing can have a place in a more comprehensive agency lead generation program. The best approach to direct mail insurance marketing is to carefully target a small, handpicked group of executives and send them something of high quality and importance – a book or package, for example, sent via FedEx rather than parcel post. This should be sent, and followed up on, using the “level matching” technique – if you're trying to target the CFO, have a senior level agency executive make the follow up call.
Prospect lists are a key component of many lead generation and marketing campaigns. There are numerous sources from which a one-time list can be purchased. There are also subscription services which charge a monthly or yearly fee for access to their databases. The key here is to do your research thoroughly. You need to know exactly what data fields the list provider offers, how often the data is validated, how frequently it is refreshed, what criteria you can use when searching, and what percentage of the data can be expected to be accurate (we find that 80% accuracy is a good mark to shoot for – below that is unacceptable, above is excellent). List provider services vary broadly in all of these areas, so do your homework before making a purchase – poor quality data is actually worse than useless, it will result in wasted time and therefore money.
Once you've sourced a quality prospecting list, the next step is putting it to use. Telesales is one traditional area that many agencies can still utilize, assuming they know how to execute an effective campaign. There are basically two approaches to telesales, the shotgun and the sniper, and both can yield quality results. A good example of the shotgun approach would be a general agency that provides P & C and benefits to basically any business. A prospecting list is procured containing all industries that meets a certain size and location criteria, and the calls begin. This approach is a numbers game: a certain number of calls yield a certain number of follow up opportunities, which yield a certain number of meetings, which yield a certain number of closures. Using the shotgun approach, success percentage is typically low, but overall numbers can end up being high since this approach is basically a “numbers game”. The sniper approach is the opposite: The prospect list is small and carefully selected for very specific properties. Calls are made by very senior people directly to decision makers, with a pitch individually tailor to the person who will receive the call. This approach will typically yield a higher percentage success rate, but lower total numbers. Either approach can be successful; the key thing to remember is that whichever approach you choose, you must commit to it fully and focus on the long term ROI. It's not unusual for a telesales campaign to take many months to start paying dividends, but this can mean multiple years of insurance contracts from the sale.
Another well established area where a quality prospecting list can be used effectively is eMarketing. As with telesales, data quality is critical. Erroneous emails not only waste time and effort, but can lead to complaints and CAN-SPAM Act violations, a serious issue for any insurance agency or broker. In fact, the very existence of the CAN-SPAM Act combined with a general lack of internal expertise leads many agencies to outsource this particular lead generation activity. Whether you choose to outsource your eMarketing or do it in-house, there are two basic approaches to email marketing, similar to the shotgun and sniper approach to telesales. You can choose a very large, general list, and send thousands of emails or you can carefully hand select a small list, and design a very specific email tailored to that particular audience. Either approach can yield positive results; the key lies in crafting a compiling subject line, an effective message, and a clear call to action. The target audience must also perceive value from your email; examples might be an invitation to an educational webinar, an email-only coupon, or notification of a special event. Emailing must also be done at the proper intervals – you do not want to alienate your audience by bombarding them with nonstop emails, nor do you want them to go a year without hearing from you. Good timing is crucial to successful eMarketing.
All of these approaches to lead generation can yield compiling results if utilized properly; however if used incorrectly, they can lead to market alienation, complaints, and even No-Call or CAN-SPAM violations. Before embarking on any insurance agency direct mail marketing, telesales, or eMarketing campaign, ask yourself these four important questions:
- Does my business have the resources and expertise in-house to effectively run this lead generation campaign?
- If the in-house resources exist, do they have adequate time to commit to running my lead generation campaign?
- If the in-house resources are inadequate, is my business willing to partner with a quality outsource lead generation and marketing organization?
- Can my business fully commit both the time and financial resources necessary for a long-term, effective lead generation and marketing campaign?
Insurance lead generation should be an ongoing and evolving component of any effective marketing and growth strategy. Direct mail marketing, telesales, and eMarketing can and should be considered as facets of a comprehensive, integrated approach to long term growth.