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Life Insurance Leads, Insurance Leads, and the Online Lead Generation Business
I've long wanted to write an article about Internet Leads (Life Insurance Leads, Health Insurance Leads, Homeowner's Insurance Leads, etc) and why they are a waste of money, time, and a drain on the Insurance Industry. Thank you ezinearticles for this powerful resource in communication!
Insurance Agents all over the USA are getting solicitations every single day for one new lead program or another. The newest scam is Internet Insurance leads. Internet leads or leads generated on the Internet are 90% bogus junk?a diamond in the rough (in the forum of a good lead) occurs about once every 20 leads. That's roughly $400 to get to that good lead - not to mention the biggest expense, labor and time spent on the other 19 leads.
Where are these companies going wrong, then, with their lead generation? Why don't these leads turn into clients? This article will attempt to address these questions.
Interested in knowing which "insurance lead" generating companies I am talking about? Just type in "life insurance leads", "health insurance leads", "mortgage leads" on google, yahoo, or MSN?they are DOMINATING the rankings!
The first problem is the way that these companies are generating leads. Some are using pay per click (PPC), some use aggressive (technical) techniques to get ranking in a "natural search" and some pay other webmasters to generate leads and send them to the lead company. NONE of them really know much about the Insurance Business?only how to generate leads.
Pay Per Click - There are several companies like adwords.google.com and www.overture.com that will place your link at the top of the page instantly if you're willing to outbid other pay per click participants. On Google, the going price for the key word "life insurance" is about $20/click! The lead generating website will then take that lead and farm it out to about 4 different insurance agents. All of which will pay roughly $20 for that lead apiece. So the $20 investment there that was made for that click is multiplied by 4 = $80! And what does the client get? 4 agents calling them and trying to outbid each other. All using a variety of tactics, sometimes shady, sometimes legitimate, and sometimes downright outrageous?but that's another story!
Aggressive (Technical) Techniques - Another way that these lead generating websites get their site noticed is by getting ranked highly in natural searches. A natural search result is the links and description of a particular website that is found past the pay per click sites, about 4 sites down. Go to google.com and type in "life insurance quote". The first 3-5 sites are pay per click, then under that you find the natural search results. Google, msn, yahoo, and the like are getting better at weeding out the spam here, but it still persists and will probably always persist as long as there are SEO (search engine optimization) experts that are getting paid! What I'm getting at here is that these lead generating websites are getting to the top of natural searches NOT by knowing all there is to know about insurance - but by being really really good at technical stuff like SEO, link exchange, and artificial means of gaining prominence.
Lead Brokering - The third and most shady way that these sites are getting these leads to sell is via other websites. Other websites that have prominence and "traffic" can get onboard with companies (commission affiliate brokers) that sell leads at wholesale prices to these lead generation companies. Why is this shady? Because these leads are generated by whatever means possible?SPAM, HACKING into other peoples sites and redirecting them to the affiliate site, buying of dead .coms and redirecting those visitors to the affiliate area, and on and on.
Roughly 1 tenth of the sites that are at the top of a search for any given term know anything about insurance or have any content of value for the consumer!
Another problem with the leads is that they are not screened well (although many companies boast that they screen the leads very well - which, in my experience is just not true!). In my research, 90% of the leads from these Internet Lead Companies either left bogus contact information, they were not truly interested in obtaining insurance, they simply wanted a "quote", or would apply only to say "nahh, I can't afford it" when the policy came in (as applied for!). This is where the most waste comes in?manpower. Even with meticulous follow-up, the best rates in the business, a dedicated assistant and staff, and all the technological resources and underwriting resources at my fingertips - even this could not make this type of lead program work.
So what does work and where is the Insurance Industry going with all this? I believe that people are shopping on the Internet. They'll even go to these lead generating websites, type in their info, and get an eager agent to call on them in hopes of a sale. The client, in this way, gets quotes! But that Agent RARELY gets a sale. The Agent, then, is spinning their wheels and focusing their resources on a wild goose. The client, if they do truly want to buy, then takes those quotes and finds an agent in the yellow pages or strikes up a conversation with a friend who then refers them to that trusted agent friend of theirs.
Therein lies the answer! Insurance is sold within circles of trusted friends and associates. It is certainly not sold over the Internet to any great degree and it never will be. My advise is to stick to the old fashioned way of marketing - through Optimist Clubs, Rotary Clubs, LOCAL lead groups like BNI, asking folks "what do you do for a living" in hopes that they'll ask you what YOU do, and so on.
The insurance "leads" companies out there rest easy, though?knowing that they can always say that their leads are worth the money, that they're generated with the purest of intentions, and that they'll refund your money for bad leads. The truth is that these companies commonly blame bad leads on the agent's inability to sell or the quality and competitiveness of the companies that these Agents show these clients. They more often than not refuse to credit you for bogus leads - often saying that there IS enough contact information (in the form of an email address which never gets answered by the client).
This scenario also leaves the door wide open for fraudulent claims in quoting. Think about it - if 4 agents get the same lead, what gives one agent the edge over the other Agent? Some competing agents will do just about anything to get that sale or outbid the other agent. Outbidding the other agent leads to false claims and unattainable premiums based upon a client's true rating! There are so many variables like accurate underwriting, backdating, A+ or better company usage (or not!), and outright lies that harbor corruption. Any of these factors can be abused in order to lure the client to fill out the application. And that client is more likely to take the policy once it comes in (after months of waiting) just to be done with the ordeal. Bottom line - the agent with the best quoted price wins, not the agent who quotes the client accurately and with good companies.
So if you're and Agent and you are thinking about buying insurance leads over the Internet, be forewarned. You will spend your time on wild goose chases, you will fill the pockets of these lead generating companies, and you will do the industry a disservice by supporting these companies who are using technology, not expertise in Insurance, to win YOUR customers - customers that can just as easily be obtained by traditional means.
If you are a "client" and you are looking for Insurance of any type, contact me and I can refer you to as many Independent, trustworthy, licensed, Insurance Agents in your area as you'd like at NO CHARGE!
By: Ashley Brooks, CLTC
Ashley is the marketing vice president for the Family Life Insurance Brokerage Business and has a background in Health & Financial Underwriting, Insurance Plan Design, and "best deal" shopping. Brokerage Services carries only A rated (or better) companies in their product portfolio and has been serving the needs of Independent Insurance Agents since 1977.
More Information about Mr. Brooks - Life Insurance Agent
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