ANALYZING MARKETING SUCCESS
Sixteen things to consider as your agency seeks the best
As competition for good insurance prospects continues to be intense, agents and brokers need to be sure their marketing efforts deliver value—and customers. More and more, agents are turning to digital advertising to reach today’s shoppers. “If nothing else, insurance marketers are doing a fair amount of paid search advertising,” says Blair Symes, director of content marketing for DialogTech, a Chicago-based call analytics technology firm. “That’s usually the biggest digital advertising budget item for most businesses—insurance businesses, in particular.
“It’s important they get the most bang from their buck—they need to get people to call. There are a lot of strategies they can use,” adds Symes, who wrote a guide titled The Secret to Insurance Marketing ROI: Inbound Calls. His firm tracks billions of telephone calls a year across a wide range of industries and helps companies analyze data from these calls for marketing and sales insights.
Symes says agents and brokers should consider several things to help boost the return on their digital marketing investment. “A lot of this is basic information,” he notes, “but not everyone does it.”
Language—Ad content is one topic. “If someone invests in digital ads, it makes sense to tweak the language of the ad to say something like, ‘Call us today’ or ‘Call now for a quote,’” says Symes. “Language encourages conversion. It’s natural; many people research insurance online—a lot on their smartphones—so if your ad turns up on their phone and it says, ‘call now,’ that prompts action. It’s a good way to up your conversion rates.”
Extensions—Include a phone extension in the ad. “Google data show that, even if someone doesn’t call directly from an ad, if you list a phone extension, you’ll see an eight points higher conversion rate overall,” Symes notes. “So even if they don’t call you directly from the ad, they’re more likely to click on it and visit your landing page if a phone extension is there.” This could be because the ad shows up better or uses more real estate; on a smartphone, for instance, it may take up the entire screen.
Content—If a lot of people are seeing your ads or coming to your landing page, but no one’s converting, something’s wrong. Switch things up. “If the ads are getting people to click, but they’re not converting, vary the landing page message,” Symes advises. “If a lot of people are seeing your ads but not clicking on them or calling, make changes to ad content. Or consider that maybe it’s not the right type of advertising for your audience. Let the data guide you.” In digital, you can make changes every day, as soon as you want to, he notes.
Landing number—Make calling easy. “Once someone clicks on an ad that brings them to your homepage or a specific landing page, make sure a phone number is prominently displayed,” he advises.
“You pay for ads because you want people to act—to request a quote. Even if prospects can request a quote online, adding a phone number takes up little space—on desktop pages and mobile. Someone may decide they don’t want to fill out a form for a quote, but they will call. Make it easy for them.”
Call only—Consider using no landing page at all. “It’s possible to buy what are referred to as ‘call only’ ads, where the sole conversion path is a phone call,” Symes notes. “Google AdWords is very good about making this kind of conversion possible.”
Google Maps—Maximize in-map ads. “You can pay to have your picture and ad show up when somebody searches Google Maps for ‘insurance agent near me,’” he explains. “Your listing also will show up first on the list and will be highlighted separately—the pin color will be different on the map itself. It’s a way to get greater ad visibility and show you have a local presence.”
Local call—If you have a local presence, don’t use an 800 number in your advertising; use a local number instead. “We’ve seen that just by having a local phone number you can get three times the number of calls that an 800 number would,” Symes observes. “It’s the exact same ad and the exact same landing page. It shows that, for certain purchases—like insurance, for instance—people want to talk to someone who is local.”
Timing—If your ads have a phone call as the primary call to action, run them during your business hours. “Don’t run them when nobody is there to answer the phone; it’s just not a good use of your money,” Symes explains. “Believe it or not, one in five calls from paid search goes to voicemail. That doesn’t mean it’s a lost opportunity completely, but if you’re paying to generate a call, someone should be there to take it.”
Device awareness—Consider also how prospects will engage. What days or times are most popular, for example, for mobile versus desktop? “When scheduling ads, think about whether someone would more likely engage with your mobile ads during, say, lunch time and during the week,” he says. “And they may be on their desktop or laptop more at other times. Understanding how and when people engage with ads can help you know how to target the right ad at the right time to the right person—for the right cost.”
Retargeting—Not all good leads convert on the first pass. “Someone may click on your paid search ad, go to your website, and even call you; they don’t become a customer right away, but you still think they’re a good lead,” Symes says. “You can retarget them with a special campaign that includes personalized, focused ad messaging.
“If the person comes back and runs another search, you can get your search front and center,” he adds. “You know they called in the past and you can personalize your message based on how they engaged with you already.” Some people are uncomfortable about such personalization, but Symes says studies show it generates more revenue, better leads, and lower cost per lead.
Flip side—The same (or reverse) principle holds true for exclusions. “Say somebody calls you and it’s not a good lead—it’s someone you don’t want to spend money on to market to again,” he notes. “You can exclude them from seeing your ads. They still can find you through an organic or free search result—but you don’t have to pay for that phone number, because you’ve excluded them from seeing your ads.”
Look-alikes—If a campaign generates high-quality leads, you can use email addresses and phone numbers of people who converted through it to target similar candidates. “It’s a look-alike campaign,” Symes explains. “Facebook and AdWords, for instance, let you target new people that resemble ones you’ve been successful with; it costs a little more money, but since they look like your high-quality leads, it makes sense.” Facebook tells you up front how many people qualify for the match, and you can narrow or broaden the audience.
It makes no difference where the data came from, as long as you have their email address or phone number. “They could be existing customers, they could have walked in off the street, you could have met them at a trade show—it doesn’t matter,” he says. “If it’s from a digital campaign, though, repeat the campaign to see if it has the same success.”
Record and monitor—Some agencies listen to recordings or read transcripts of calls—or even listen in. “If you do that, you might learn that such-and-such agent didn’t even ask if the person wanted a quote; they didn’t say the right things to lead the person to become a customer,” Symes says. “You can do something about that. If you want, you could actually call that person back right away and reclaim the potentially lost opportunity, or at least coach the agent so they handle future conversations better. It’s a teaching tool.” His firm’s product will tag and score calls based on the actual words that are spoken by either the caller or the agent who answered the call.
It also connects calls to campaigns. “As marketers, it’s important to know not just that a campaign generated X number of calls, but also what percentage were great sales leads,” he explains. “The quality of the lead is important, and you get that information by analyzing what’s said on the call. We record and transcribe conversations and then have our system look for certain words in the conversation. You can tag the call and link it to the campaign that led to it.”
Gauge success—It’s important to know the source of calls. This will help you determine which ad campaigns are working—in other words, which ones you should spend more on—and which are not and should be changed or eliminated altogether. “You can get that information simply by asking,” Symes says, “or you can assign different campaigns unique phone numbers or extensions, and you can tell from where the call came and which campaign generated it.”
Get help—Much of this work can be done on a small scale without outside support. But more sophisticated agencies and brokerages often find value in calling in help. “If you’re spending a lot of money on digital advertising and calls are an important part of the conversion path, being able to get attribution around that is obviously important,” Symes explains. “This is our bread and butter—we provide analytics.”
He says it’s not unusual for people to go to Google, which has free resources they can use to test things on calls they’re generating, and then, as they increase activity, they invest in a more professional comprehensive solution. “If you’re doing digital advertising using Google AdWords or Bing or Facebook or display ads, we can take call data and show, for example, that a certain Facebook ad not only generated a certain number of clicks, but also the number of calls generated, as well,” he adds.
Being able to see at a glance not just the online activity but also the phone calls helps make it easier to determine what’s working and what’s not. “Without the call data, you’re making an incomplete assessment of performance; you could make the wrong decision on which campaigns to invest in and which ones you shouldn’t,” Symes notes.
Always improve—Learn from what you’re doing and be prepared to make changes—and then do so. “The beauty of digital advertising, specifically, is that you get really good data every day—real-time data on what’s happening,” Symes says. “It’s not like a billboard you put up for six months on a highway and hope it does well. You can actually make changes on the fly—adjust your spend, adjust your messaging, adjust the keywords you’re bidding, or adjust your landing page content.”
By Dave Willis, CPIA
For more information:
The Secret to Insurance Marketing ROI: Inbound Calls
dialogtech.com/insurance-marketing-roi-calls possible digital advertising ROI