Insurance agents considering SEO these days have it tough. On the one hand, it’s obvious that the world is becoming increasingly digital. On the other, strict compliance laws surrounding the financial services industry make it tough to really grasp what kind of marketing– SEO or otherwise—is allowed and what will get you in trouble with the law.
I had a great discussion with Paul Roberts, a financial professional in Holly Springs, NC, and he lamented about many of the hurdles people in his industry have to leap to do the right kind of marketing for his clients.
This blog post will help insurance agents who are curious about SEO with two things:
#1 – Uncovering the struggles specific to insurance SEO and compliance laws
#2 – Doing a “back of the napkin” calculation to decide if SEO (generally!) makes sense for this industry
Did you know…
A report by LIMRA back in 2015 uncovered that 85% of consumers researched life insurance policies online before purchase.
Insurance Agents, Compliance, and SEO
I know all of the compliance laws can make your head spin.
We’re not all lawyers, and the law can get obviously sticky. I’m also not a lawyer, so don’t mistake this for personalized legal advice.
But I do have over 6 years of (successful) online marketing in the financial services industry, and can break down most of the major issues you’ll need to consider.
#1 – The Privacy of Your Clients and Prospects
You also need to protect the information by not selling it to third parties. This includes medical records, email address and phone numbers you collect from a website.
Just use common sense and understand that when you collect data from prospects, there is responsibility involved (both morally and legally).
#2 – Laws on Email and Digital Spam
When you send out emails after collecting them from your website, you also need to comply with the CAN SPAM Act from the FTC. That means giving your leads the option to unsubscribe from emails, and have your mailing address posted in your emails.
It also means that the way you collected your emails should include the explicit consent from the prospect to receive promotional emails. This is usually a simple checkbox on the website.
Your digital marketing guy or gal should know this and educate you on it.
That may sound discouraging, but seriously those two simple fixes (website and email) should take care of most of your worries. Read on to cover the rest of your bases.
#3 – Compliance: Independent Insurance Agent vs a Direct Agent
Now you can take the estimated 32-52 hours of certification to become an independent insurance agent and (likely) take home a larger percentage of the premiums you collect, or you could be a full time employee of a company and take advantage of the marketing advantages they provide you.
Whether you are independent or direct will have an impact on the flexibility you personally have to pursue an SEO / digital marketing strategy.
If you are a direct insurance agent, you’ll want to establish a relationship with the compliance department at your company and get clarity on just how much freedom you will have (or won’t have) with taking your marketing efforts online.
#4 – Financial Services Compliance vs Insurance
Final disclaimer: Now if you’re an insurance agent who also doubles as financial services provider, you may have to also deal with FINRA or SEC compliance on top of the HIIPA compliance.
That adds an extra layer to the pie and may limit your digital marketing even further. Just keep that in mind.
Also keep in mind, and this can be huge, that if you sell insurance products that are considered securities by the NAIC (variable annuities are one example), then you are considered a financial services provider as well and would also need to deal with FINRA or SEC compliance.
Again, your SEO company should help you line up your ducks to stay complaint, but it’s not overly complicated once this is set in place.
Calculating the potential ROI of SEO
I’m going to use the typical commission structure of a life insurance agent for this example. You can plug in your numbers and apply this same type of thinking for health insurance as well.
Say the commission is 75% on the 1st year (anywhere from 30-90% seems to be the standard). The average annual term life insurance policy could cost anywhere from $273.90 – $5,318 per month depending on the age. I’m going to split the difference and take a 45 year old paying $685.30 per month. So for each new client, the life insurance agent make a very rough average of $513.98.
Remembering that we want to stay HIPAA complaint with our digital marketing/ SEO plan, let’s overview a very basic SEO marketing “funnel”.
Online Traffic from SEO –> Email list –> Client Conversion
Using average industry statistics (I know from personal experience here), let’s say that out of your traffic 4% of them become email subscribers. Open rates for emails in the insurance space are around 38%, and you can consider those really warm leads. (The responses and ROI are likely even better if you are collecting phone numbers).
Now we need to also factor in the cost of the SEO strategy.
Let’s say you hire an SEO company at a standard $1,500 per month entry level rate on a 6 month contract. To make SEO worthwhile, you need to earn at least this $1,500 per month—which for this example (and the commission rate above) means 3 new clients per month.
Now we need to estimate how much online traffic to reasonably expect.
A good SEO company (especially one that focuses on local) should be able to estimate how much monthly search traffic to expect for your specific profession and your specific location.
I live in Raleigh, NC—so for this example I’m going to look at the various search terms for life insurance agents in Raleigh (insurance agent Raleigh, life insurance Raleigh, life insurance Raleigh nc), etc.
Finally, we need to understand that you’re not going to capture every single Google searcher even if you rank well for those basic keywords. Based on data from Chitika and Search Engine Watch, a #1 rank for a search attracts about 33% of the traffic, a #2 rank attracts about 18%, etc.
Not done yet…
We should account for the additional traffic we can expect from a good “two-pronged” SEO strategy like the one that Camphora Company utilizes.
In this approach we also target keywords that are less obvious but still become profitable, such as “annuity Raleigh nc” and other industry-specific and product or services specific Google searches.
Whew, that was a lot to take in. Almost done…
I estimated all of these projections and came out with these monthly search traffic numbers for a basic calculation for a life insurance agent (and other related profitable keywords) in Raleigh, NC:
- 1900 searches per month
- 18% of searches to your website = 342 monthly visits
- 4% of visits –> leads = 13 very warm leads
From here, you need to make an estimation of how valuable these warm leads will be. If let’s say, half of them (or 38% like the open rate stat above), become sales either through referral or directly—that’s about 6-7 new clients per month.
Which again (very roughly), would result in around $3,000 in new commission per month.
Compare that to the price point again of the SEO agency: $1,500 a month.
Assuming the SEO strategy works, there’s an obvious $1,500 profit potential every single month.
Here’s the best part…
A good SEO strategy is evergreen, which means you build it once and it continues to provide you with profits. Like this simple illustration (6 months for SEO efforts to take effect; explanation later):
EVERGREEN SEO PROFITS EXAMPLE CHART (link)
Note: Not a guarantee for your results. In most (if not all) industries, the SEO efforts have a ceiling on how profitable they can be. Profits can’t just increase forever.
Picture link [Full Size]
The previous efforts of an SEO strategy continue to provide a steady stream of customers and prospects, while new SEO efforts pave the way for more future leads.
If the SEO content was built right, local search rankings should be mostly sustained for this hypothetical life insurance agent for years to come.
The results and profits can then compound exponentially.
Finally: this is an investment that should be hands-off for you. Meaning, while you are networking and doing your outbound marketing, the SEO company is taking care of your inbound marketing alongside you.
Time is money, and if you are investing money to free up your time, you are maximizing your resources to attract and sustain a solid client base.
It gets better…
We haven’t even covered the positive inbound marketing that comes from local SEO (such as Google My Business), or the possibility that your SEO targets a national market instead of local.
These calculations above could 10x or more based on that… so the possibility and scale of ROI could be even greater!
If I’m completely frank: I might not even consider taking on an insurance agent as a client if this person only wanted to serve one city vs. the surrounding cities, or even go national.
Personally, if I take on an SEO contract, I want the ROI for the client to be so profitable that they can’t help but refer me to their colleagues—and not every industry or business is conducive to that. But you can’t really know until you have a discussion, which I’m always open to.
The world of SEO can look daunting, as there’s so many misconceptions.
Before you, or any insurance agent, looks to make a final decision concerning an SEO strategy or not—I want you to understand three more things.
1. SEO is a VERY long term game
The reason so many SEO contracts can be 6-18 months is because SEO efforts take a long time to finally see results. Google processes about 3.5 billion searches per day… and so it takes time for them to update their SERPs and provide the absolute best content for searches.
2. SEO is not a magic wand
Having great SEO is a good starting point to attracting visitors to your website, but it’s no guarantee that this will turn into sales for you, especially if you’re focusing on local clients. Not to say it’s impossible, the ROI can definitely be there, but having the right funnel in place to properly take advantage of your new, fresh online traffic is just as important as the SEO itself.
3. SEO is a great long term strategy
I could dump facts on you over and over again about the consumer shift to online, but even though I won’t… understand the numbers don’t lie.
Here’s the thing: SEO is still a very new industry, and many local businesses haven’t caught up to the changing times yet. That’s a huge opportunity for the right people who take advantage, with the right digital marketing strategy.
If you’re interested in learning more from an SEO company with over 6 years of experience of hands-on SEO in the financial services industry, please give me a call.