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How Marketing Works for Acquiring Commercial Leads for Insurance (Complete Guide) - Next Call Club

How Marketing Works for Acquiring Commercial Leads for Insurance (Complete Guide)

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When it comes to lead generation for commercial insurance, there are a lot of options to consider. 

In this guide, we’ll cover outbound methods, inbound methods, and what we’ll refer to as “earned” methods for getting commercial leads for insurance into your sales pipeline. This guide will especially help commercial insurance agents and other providers who wish to market for B2B insurance leads.

Table of Contents

Outbound:

Inbound:

Earned:

Outbound Commercial Insurance Marketing (Lead Gen)

Method #1 – Cold Calling

a woman with a headset is cold calling commercial insurance leads

One of the oldest, but most ROI effective methods of marketing is cold calling, and that’s true for the insurance business.

Given the unique nature of telephone laws (TCPA) and how they pertain to businesses, cold-calling remains effective in 2023. 

Unlike consumer phone numbers, businesses cannot place their phone number on the DNC list. This fact, combined with the vast amounts of public data available on businesses makes phone lists easy and cheap to build. 

There are several data aggregators that will sell you lists for as low as a couple hundred dollars that include:

These are just some examples with plenty more companies available via a quick google search for “Commercial Business Lists.” 

To maximize this method, consider investing in a piece of dialing software that allows you to skip punching in phone numbers manually, and automate leaving voicemails. There are many options that run as cheap as $99/month and in some cases are even free. 

Method #2 – Buy Leads to Call

a person buys commercial insurance leads on a laptop

The term “lead” is relatively general and means different things to different people. For the purpose of this article, we’ll refer to a lead as a “real-time prospect” who is actively searching for insurance online. 

Lead Publishers and Aggregators are in the business of finding consumers who are actively shopping, gathering their information, and then selling that information in real time to insurance agents. 

The benefits of these leads are threefold:

  • You get a clear-opt in for calling/texting from the publisher to the client.
  • The prospect is shopping for insurance, so intent is high and the sales cycle is short
  • You get more information than you’d get on a list to build your database over-time

If you’re going to purchase commercial insurance leads, you will want to ensure that you have a good process to work the leads themselves. Many leads are sold multiple times, which means that you’re not the only agent calling the prospect. You need to have a multiple-call strategy, ideally mixed in with email, text messages, and potentially even direct mail. 

TCPA opt-in lasts for 90 days, and many people don’t buy right away. So consider calling your prospects for up to three months to ensure that you’re maximizing your opportunity with the leads you purchased.

Method #3 – LinkedIn Marketing

a person prospects for commercial insurance leads on LinkedIn

One of the newer methods that agents are employing is using LinkedIn for commercial insurance lead generation. With over 800 million users, and powerful search tools available, LinkedIn is a viable option to start driving leads to your agency. 

What’s important to note about this method is that it’s not especially quick, and it’s more about relationships than ad spend. While you can run ads with lead forms to generate leads, or you can talk about your services ad nauseum, I wouldn’t recommend this strategy.

Instead, I’d focus more on starting conversations and adding value to the people who are both good fits for your solution AND are active on LinkedIn. Anyone with a title that signifies height on the organizational chart is constantly inundated with messages and pitches on the platform. So if you want to stand out and be recognized, you need to do something different. 

I like the idea of “making a deposit, not a withdrawal” when it comes to social platforms. How can you as an insurance agent add value in the form of relevant content? Make posts and comment on other people’s posts consistently in a way that allows you to build trust and Frieauthority. 

Then, only after you’ve interacted and added value should you consider pitching your product or service. 

The benefits of LinkedIn are huge, you just need to accept that its not going to be a method that drives business and leads to sales overnight. However, if you make the investment in time and energy, you’ll be able to:

  • Create a steady stream of quality inbound leads
  • Target and talk to decision makers with more accuracy and precision than any other form of marketing
  • Build a repository of content that is tried and tested that you can then repurpose to your customers/prospects to add value. 

If you want to learn how to use LinkedIn well, check out some creators such as Josh Braun, Samantha McKenna, or Jason Bay. They are all excellent examples on how to build an audience, add value, and sell effectively on social media!

Method #4 – Cold Email

a man cold emails commercial insurance leads on his laptop

Our last tactic on the list of outbound marketing tactics to generate commercial insurance leads is all around email. Before we go over the tactic, it’s important to think about the emails that you open, and the emails that you delete or mark as “spam.” 

Why does this matter? 

Well, because you want to ensure that your email is both opened and not marked as spam. Email providers such as outlook and gmail will reward email addresses with a high open rate, and punish those with a low open rate. Additionally, when someone marks your email as “spam” not only does it block you and anyone from your company from emailing them again, but it also makes it more likely these email providers will put your email directly into the junk folder. 

So there are three great elements to an effective sales/prospecting email:

  • The Subject Line
  • The Message
  • The Call-To-Action (CTA)

Keep your subject line short, and optimized for mobile. Understand you may only be able to get a couple words into the screen, so be succinct. Just as important, write a hook that triggers curiosity and intrigue. Be careful not to run “click-bait” type titles.

For the message, keep it short, to the point, and simple. Don’t use big words, and try to write at a third grade reading level. Everytime you present a new idea, use a new line. People often scan emails, rather than read them.

Last, for the call-to-action, have one clear request, and make it low-risk and easy for them. Some examples are:

  • Would this solution make sense? 
  • Give me a simple “yes” and I’ll send over more information
  • Is this relevant to you?

The best thing you can do for cold email is test a lot of things and double down on what works. Some of my favorite email tools are:

  • Lavender (For writing effectively)
  • MailChimp (For Automation and Tracking) 
  • ChatGPT (For helping to write the email itself or get ideas)

Inbound Commercial Insurance Marketing (Lead Gen)

In the section, we focused on outbound strategies. Those strategies are effective, but do take some extra effort and time on a day to day basis. Today we’ll be covering how to get prospects to come to you. 

Method #1 – Live Transfer Services

a live transfer service agent transfers commercial insurance leads

One of the fastest, and most controllable forms of marketing for your agency is the use of Live Transfer Services to drive calls into your business. 

The basic principle here is simple. Companies generate phone calls, whether through Google, Yelp, their Call-Centers, or other forms of marketing. They then gather information, and send this prospect to you to engage and quote for business insurance. 

There are two main ways in which companies charge for these calls. The first is based on billable duration, often 90 or 120 seconds. This means that once the timer on the call hits the duration, you pay for the call. Using this method gives you and your agents a chance to qualify the lead with a few quick questions. If they don’t qualify, you can hang up the phone and avoid paying for the call. 

The second way is on a general pay-per-call basis. This means that if they send you the call, you pay for it regardless of whether you picked up the call or not. 

The trade-offs here are generally around price and returns. If you’re running a billable call based on duration, you often pay more money and don’t get credits for “bad” prospects. If you’re doing the pay-per-call, you often pay less and get credits built in. 

The flexibility involved with these calls is second to none. You can turn them on or off at will, even if it’s just for a few hours to let the team catch up. If you’re needing prospects to talk to fast, this will be your best option. 

Something to be aware of though is the general cost. While a list to call, or an internet lead to call will be the cheaper option, live calls often run around $100 a piece. You’ll need to understand your target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) and whether this model fits into it. 

Some vendors that have plenty of live calls are:

The programs these vendors offer, and the ads they run to generate calls are always changing, so do your research and ask the questions relevant to you and your business. 

Method #2 – Direct Mail

a woman picks up her mail, which includes direct mail from businesses targeting commercial insurance leads

If you’re looking to get in front of a decision maker, Direct Mail can be a great method to drive calls into your agency. While many businesses have a front-desk or assistant open the mail, much of it is reviewed by the office manager, owner, or general manager. In a inflationary and recession-like environment, businesses are looking to cut their costs. 

Direct Mail can be done personally, or outsourced to a vendor to do mass-mailings at the push of a button. While direct-mail is expensive, often running from $0.50 to $1 per piece of mail sent, it can be an effective way to find businesses and prospects who aren’t considered “shoppers.” 

Because you’re putting an offer in front of them, without them looking, you want the message and offer to be compelling enough to drive action. If successful, you’ll generate calls from prospects who are interested in your product, aren’t in the habit of shopping around every renewal, and have plenty of time to talk. 

Generating a list can be done by scraping google directories, or by using a list vendor such as:

By using a list vendor, you will often get some extra information such as the names of people who hold positions/titles you want to target, and information about the size of their business.

Some areas of focus to consider when putting together a direct mail campaign are as follows:

  • How do you ensure the envelope is delivered and to the right person and address? 
  • How do you ensure that the envelope is opened or the offer is seen before being thrown in the trash?
  • How do you ensure the message is compelling and actually read? 
  • How do you get them to take action right away, rather than putting it off until later? 

If any of these areas above break down, it will be a detriment to the campaign working or being effective. The first challenge is getting the envelope in front of them and opened, then you need them to read it and take action. 

Make it easy for your prospect, and ensure you’re not missing the calls when the phone starts to ring. 

If you’re looking for a company to help you do mailings at scale, consider working with DartDirect Mail out of Georgia. They have design services and a concierge like approach to make marketing easy and effective for you. 

Method #3 – Billboards

billboards in times square in new york city

If you’re focused on driving business locally, consider Billboards as an option. While they’re not always cheap, it’s a great way to get your brand in front of a lot of people very quickly. 

One thing to note though – We don’t believe in advertising just for awareness. As the great advertising man Dan Kennedy would say, there must always be an offer. 

So if you’re going to use a billboard in your community to generate interest in your product, service, and brand we’ll want to follow a few best practices. 

First, ensure that the phone number, email, and/or website you put on the billboard is specific only to that billboard itself. You’ll want to attribute any lead generation back to measure your ROI, so if you’re using the same phone number as everything else, it will be near impossible to measure the success of the program. 

The next thing you’ll want to do is craft a compelling offer that is specific to the billboard itself. Whether that is something like a discount, a free gift, complimentary service or audit, you’ll want to give them a reason to call and call now. Leverage the principles of scarcity and social proof in your ad and watch the calls roll in. 

Last, make sure your message on the billboard is simple and clear. Remember that people are driving, and often quite quickly. They won’t have time to stop, read it, write things down, or potentially even dial the phone. Make it memorable and easy for the client to reach you. 

While billboards might be considered “old school” there is a reason that some of the top brands in the world still use them. While many use billboards for simple awareness, others use them masterfully. Here is an example that I think is effective. 

a TLB make-up billboard

Method #4 – Commercials

a crew films a commercial targeted at commercial insurance leads

The last tactic on our list is to utilize commercials in your local markets to enhance awareness of your brand and encourage people to call your office to shop their rates. While I’m not the biggest fan of commercials personally, they can be very effective if done in a strategic way. 

Given their high-cost, it’s important that you’re able to generate a lot of calls and have a way to track them. Like a billboard, having a specific phone number and a specific URL to point prospects to will better allow you to track the effectiveness of the commercial itself. 

If you’re going to point them to a website, ensure that you have a short but meaningful capture form where people are required to put in their phone number, email, address, and a little bit of basic information, about their needs. Two things to note here:

  1. The more information you require, the less likely the customer is going to fill out the form. However, if you require too little, you may get people who aren’t really interested. You’ll need to test this to optimize and find the right balance. 
  2. Ensure that you’re putting a checkbox or disclaimer that lets the customer know they’re opting into phone calls, text messages, and emails. This is required for TCPA compliance and will allow you to contact these prospects legally. 

When deciding on where to advertise, think about the TV channels that your ideal client is watching and choose those to advertise. For instance, if they’re a business owner they may watch CNBC or Fox Business.

Earned Commercial Insurance Marketing (Lead Gen)

This is the third and final piece of our three-part series on how to generate commercial insurance leads for your business. It just so happens that this is my favorite form of marketing for a number of reasons. 

Earned marketing as we’ll call it is a form of marketing that leverages your reputation and network to generate leads. While its not always the most scaleable, the quality of prospects and leads you encounter is second to none. 

They’re rarely shoppers, and often already know enough about you to trust you and the knowledge you bring. This makes the conversation more relational and is more likely to result in a sale as the prospect comes into the relationship knowing about you and your services. 

Method #1 – Customer Referrals

a woman yells into a microphone

The single best lead that you will ever get is a referral from one of your customers. When a customer is happy with you, and they tell their friends, family, or neighbors – That goodwill is transferred seamlessly. 

But how do you get them to refer to you? The answer is simple:

ASK!

But its not so easy, and we understand that. We know that it can feel awkward to ask someone for a friend or family member’s contact information. However, if you try it, you might be surprised how willing they are to hand that information out. 

What’s most important is that you’re doing an absolutely amazing job for your client, and dazzling them all along the way. If you do that, you’ll have built trust with your client and they’ll be that much more likely to introduce you to people they know. 

Try this method as a way to maximize your touch. 

When asking for a referral, use what we refer to as the “request and retreat” method. The concept is simple, you make a big ask, and if they say no, you default to a smaller ask. Psychologically, they’re more likely to say yes to the smaller ask if the bigger ask is put in front of it. 

So how does this work in action? Like this:

  1. After doing a great job for your client, ask them if they have any friends, family, or neighbors that you could call to “help them like I’ve helped you.” 
  2. If they say Yes – Great! Ask them to let their referral know you’ll be contacting them tomorrow!
  3. If they say No – Say “I totally understand, I can feel weird about giving out numbers and email addresses too.” then pivot and say: “If I send you some business cards or an email offer, would you pass it along to a couple people you know?” 

The reality is – that 90% of people will say yes to at least one of these requests. Ideally, you get the contact information so you can reach out. However, if you don’t, then you’re planting seeds for people to reach out to you when they tell their friends/family/neighbors. 

Most important – Let your client know the progress of their referral. If you spoke to the person they referred to, let them know! Keep them in the loop!

Consider sending a thank you note via email or physical card. A little bit of gratitude can go a long way!

Method #2 – Google Reviews

Google My Business icon on a smart phone

One of the best ways to establish near-instant credibility with a client is through Google Reviews. 

Think about it! When you search for a company, the first thing that pops up on Google is the business listing, with their review count and average rating. 

If there are little to no ratings, it immediately raises a red flag. Are they a new business? Are they legitimate? Similarly, when you see a company with thousands of reviews, you know they’ve worked with a lot of people. 

The goal is to have a high rating, but psychologically, it’s actually better to have MORE reviews with a lower rating, than less reviews with a high rating. Of course, if you have thousands of reviews and your average is two out of five starts, that’s a problem.

Here are some best practices to maximize your Google Listing!

  1. Ask for Reviews

It all starts with asking! People will rate you on their own, but often times its for the wrong reasons. For instance, they have a bad experience, and they decide to leave a poor review. Its important to get good reviews as well!

So if you have a great interaction with a current client, or help a new client get better coverage and save money – ASK! You can generate a QR code or link that directly sends them to the review page to make it easy for them!

  1. Answer Reviews 

An opportunity we see with many businesses is centered around how they handle answering reviews. A lot of companies only answer the negative reviews, thinking that they need to debunk the claims that the customer made. This is a mistake. 

While it is good to address the negative reviews, you’ll want to respond to the positive reviews as well! If someone leaves you a great review, express gratitude and appreciation to the client. People oftentimes focus on the negative, but by showing you’re engaged with all reviews, not just the negative signals to your clients you’re an engaged agent. It also signals to Google that your page is often updated and cared for and that helps you rank higher. 

  1. Keep your page updated with pictures, accurate hours, and phone numbers. 

This is a great way to show the culture of your business, some extra personality, and outwardly represent your company to the public. If you’re a business that is targeting white collar people, perhaps you choose photos that would attract that type of client. If you’re looking for business owners or home service contractors, think about what types of businesses or imagery they’d be attracted to.

It should go without saying, but periodically check the hours and phone numbers on your listing. You’d be surprised how often businesses forget to update this, leading to a customer showing up only for the office to be closed or calling a number that is disconnected. 

Method #3 – Partnerships

handshake between two businessmen

Having partnerships with other local businesses is a great way to generate high quality sales leads. Similar to a customer referral, by the time the prospect gets to you, they already believe in your product/service. The person or business who referred you has lent their reputation to you.

So if you want to generate leads around commercial lines of auto insurance or business insurance, think about the types of people who would be good referral partners. Here are some ideas:

  • Commercial Real Estate Agents
  • Car Dealerships
  • Truck Dealerships
  • Certified Public Accountants
  • Employment Attorneys
  • BNI Groups
  • Local Chamber of Commerce

As with all partnerships, it’s important that you have something of value to return them as well. People naturally like referring to other people and helping them find solutions. It’s rarely about a gift or money, so focus on intangibles like knowledge, speed, customer service quality, and more. 

These relationships take time to build, and require a healthy investment of time and energy. While they’re often extremely high from a return-on-investment standpoint monetarily, balance your time commitment relative to these other strategies. 

Method #4 – Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

a man types on a laptop containing an SEO graphic

What is probably the most powerful method on this list, Search Engine Optimization is a great tool to generate free leads from your website in a somewhat passive way. 

The name of the game is simple – Get people to visit your website in large amounts. 

If you can get traffic to visit your website, the likelihood of generating leads goes up significantly. 

So how do you do it? 

The first thing you need to do is build relevant content and post it consistently. There are all types of guides on how to pick keywords and more.

Those are great, but are really the second step in the process. 

Focusing on a well-built website, with a variety of relevant content for your audience is key. Focus on building the website, and then work on keywords. 

When you’re ready, you can use tools like:

These sites will allow you to get ideas, and in some cases give you recommendations on where to focus. 

While using this strategy can take 6-12 months of consistency, generating your own exclusive leads from your website is a high-upside strategy that can pay off in a huge way. 

Method #5 – Local (Who do you know and see)

a person buys produce at a local market

The last method on the list is extremely old-school.

But it works….

When marketing for commercial insurance, whether their vehicles, employees, or the business itself ask yourself: What companies do you know and use?

Think of your home service providers like AC, Plumbers, and handymen. Think of the restaurants and local stores you frequent. 

If it’s a small-business, what’s stopping you from asking who handles their insurance needs? 

Small business owners stick together. 

The only thing you need to do is ask.

Additionally, think about the trucks and transit vans you see on the road. 

Do they have a wrap on them? Or a magnet advertising a business? 

If so – Give them a call, tell them you saw them on the road and you want to help them with their insurance needs.

This method won’t generate commercial insurance leads for you at a large scale, but it costs you nothing. Plus, you could consider these truly exclusive leads.

When you just start to pay attention, you might be surprised how many opportunities show up.

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