Editor’s note: The following is based on the website, Insurance Leads Guide, as well as on an interview with an ILG representative. For much more information on how to select an insurance leads firm for maximum return on investment, including reviews of the top players, go here.
Do you buy sales leads off the Internet? Then you know not all leads are created equal. According to Insurance Leads Guide, a firm that shares guidance on lead-generation best practices, one problem is agents often focus too much on price. But price really has no bearing on lead quality. High-priced leads can actually provide excellent quality in terms of ROI, and low-priced ones can be inferior. So how do you get a handle on quality? By considering the following five factors before you spend a penny. (In Part 2 of this series, we will cover factors six through ten.)
1. Lead Generation
The first thing to ask about is how the company produces its leads. Most either rely on paid search (PPC programs like Google Adwords) or on their own websites. Paid search is a good form of traffic generation as long as it doesn’t use poor keywords with lower bids. Always ask lead companies for sample PPC keywords. Then ask yourself whether the prospects you’d like to do business with search using those terms.
With firms that use their own websites, leads might come via organic search results (typical search engine listings) or through affiliate partners that send traffic to the lead company’s site for a fee. Many agents take issue with affiliate-generated leads because of quality issues. Yet affiliate traffic can be fine if the originating entity runs a tight ship. Lead companies that work with affiliates must also closely monitor the quality of leads coming in. Bottom line? Affiliate and search traffic can result in good or poor quality leads depending on how the lead company manages them.
In terms of all methods, organic search usually produces the highest quality leads. So when a lead company says it uses organic search, ask for their website URLs. Then run a Google search for your preferred terms. If the company’s properties show up on page one or two of Google’s search results, you should be on solid ground.
2. Lead Content
Lead firms typically provide background information on each lead. You’ll want to get as much relevant data as possible. So indicate your preference when you order. To help you decide, most companies will show lead samples on their websites, including all available lead data. If they don’t, ask to see a sample. If they can’t or won’t disclose the content of their leads, then chances are their leads are of poor quality and lacking in data. Just walk away.
Finally, keep in mind that, even though more data is better, adding too many questions to an online form can lower the lead firm’s conversion rates. But if a prospect is willing to take the extra time to provide more information, then the person is likely a serious prospect. Therefore, leads with more data increase your odds of making appointments and closing sales with such prospects.
3. Bogus Leads
Sadly, bogus leads are a frequent occurrence in this business. Despite the lead firms applying the latest technologies to screen out fakes, there’s no practical way to eliminate all bogus leads. What’s more important is a firm’s willingness to credit you for bad leads as quickly and conveniently as possible. To this end, try to find companies that offer online crediting. Not all the good lead firms offer this. But having this option will make your life easier. And if a firm makes you fight for credits or otherwise makes dealing with them a time waster, take your business elsewhere.
Finally, many agents wonder what constitutes an acceptable ratio of good leads to bad leads. There’s a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is to shoot for a 15 percent or less bogus rate, assuming a sample size of at least 100 leads. But the long answer may be more instructive (though time consuming): attempt to determine the time cost of each bogus lead. For example, if Company A has a simple lead-credit request process and a high credit rate, you will be able to tolerate more bogus leads from them than if Company B offers a tedious credit request process and low credit rate. It’s all about the time. Let’s break down the time factors a bit further:
- How much time did you spend trying to contact the lead? (Should be similar across lead sources.)
- How easy is it to request a refund? (Can you do it done online or in-app or do you have to call in? How long does entire process take?)
- How good/bad is the credit processing? (How long does it take for a bogus lead to be credited? How often are credit requests denied? Is there a limit on bogus lead credits?)
4. Lead Volume
Always consider the amount of leads a company can consistently and dependably deliver. Some companies will have better coverage (and volume) for certain lines of insurance and geographic territories. However, not being able to meet all your needs isn’t a deal breaker. More important is consistency and dependability. If a company can send you as few as a handful of great leads per month, consider sticking with them. How to think about the lead-volume issue? Give firms extra points for leads that convert well and for being able to scale to higher volumes according to your needs. Deduct points for firms you need to spend a lot of management time on.
5. Leads Per Agent
When considering shared insurance leads, the lead-to-agent ratio can play a major factor in your ability to make a sale. Some companies will disclose their average ratio on their website. But if they don’t, ask them to. The average number of agents per lead sold and maximum agents per lead are the key pieces of information. Typically, you want an average of four to five agents (or less) per lead sold, with a maximum of eight agents.
Having said this, it’s important to mention that leads per agent (and exclusive lead distribution) are challenging metrics to nail down. The prospects themselves are the biggest variable. If they are looking for a quick quote, they might submit a few different forms in the span of an hour. Shared lead distribution channels have always been less than transparent, so it’s a matter of taking the word of the seller. Even if the firm is honest, you might have a buyer who is redistributing or reselling the leads.
Now, overselling of shared leads is rarely a problem in smaller markets (where distribution is almost always under four agents per lead). But it can be a conversion killer in densely populated territories.
Suggestions for dealing with multiple agents on single leads:
- Rapid Response: First responders have the ultimate advantage. Shoot for a sub five-minute response time on every lead. Response time has a higher correlation to closing ratios than to any other lead-success metric, and it minimizes the impact of high lead distribution.
- Test: Every lead source will have some outliers. But if you are responding quickly and still getting prospects frustrated by an overwhelming agent response, there is likely an issue with the vendor’s distribution channel.
(To read about the five remaining lead-buying factors, watch for Part 2 of this series)