There is a lot of hype getting pumped into the insurance world about online marketing. Some of these “cutting edge” marketing systems have delivered results for few and most agents who have bought into these systems are watching their money burn before their very eyes.

Believe me, I know. I made this mistake and am reminded every month when $1,500 disappears from my agency’s checking account with zero return.

I bought into the promise of overflowing my agency with hot prospects eager to do business with me via online marketing. All I needed was a slick website with fancy flash graphics and search engine optimization to get top Google rankings. And if I spent more money with pay per click advertising, even more business would pour in. Boy, was I ever taken.

With insurance agents facing challenging times, many are looking for this same “silver bullet” and falling prey to this pipe dream. While this model can create new leads, the real world dirty truth is the ROI is most often dismal at best. So, why doesn’t this method of online marketing work? Based on my expensive experience, I’ve found that there are 3 big reasons why.

Outrageous Cost of Creating Traffic to Your Website

Whether you are going to attract traffic naturally or pay for it, the cost to compete with the Geicos and Progressives of the world for most lines of business is prohibitive. Pay per click ads for “car insurance quotes” cost as much as $27.39 per click targeting my local market. Achieving top rankings for those same key words can take a lot of time and work optimizing the site which is also very costly.

You Lost Me at “Hello”

I have several websites that I have analyzed and optimized for various lines of business. I’ve found that fancy websites with flash and talking people are nice to look at but don’t do much for converting online prospects. As a matter of fact, talking people or videos that automatically start when opened can have a negative effect for personal lines.

Comparing 2 of my sites, one with a talking person and one without, the time spent on the home page is 29 seconds versus 67 seconds respectively. My belief is that the automatically talking person scares them away. Imagine someone at work sitting in a cubicle, shopping the internet for car insurance and suddenly a voice blares out of their computer. It takes all of 29 seconds for the video to load, attempt to shut it off, turn down the speakers and click the close browser button before their boss figures out what’s happening.

Another very common problem with these fancy websites is that it’s often too difficult for visitors to find exactly what they are looking for. Let’s say someone is searching for term life insurance; if they have to flip through pages to find out how to get a quote, they are not going to do it versus clicking a search result that takes them right to the quote page for term life insurance. Which site do you think has a higher quote request rate?

Bottom Line- Most Internet Leads Are a Waste of Time and Money!

When a new lead calls into your office, you most likely pre-qualify them in the first few minutes, right? You don’t want to waste time with someone you know you’re not going to sell. The same thing should apply to marketing over the internet. But how can you do this when most internet leads come from online quote forms? Those that successfully drive tons of traffic to their sites and can get leads to respond by filling out forms will tell you that hours are wasted every day tracking down leads to get a small percentage actually on the phone, and then find out most are not even quality prospects.

So, what’s the answer to successful online marketing? The model we’ve found to consistently deliver profitable new business is actually a combination of on-line and off-line marketing. Use direct mail to a highly targeted list, drive them to call immediately or visit a niche specific website and once again drive them to call you on the website. Once you have them on the phone, pre-qualify and sell.

You see the reason why this works so well is that you eliminate tire kickers, and the majority of new prospects are highly qualified and more willing to do business with you.