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Insurance Lead Generation: Outsourcing vs. In-House Marketing

Getting More Revenue in Today’s Market

When Property & Casualty firms – retailers, MGAs/MGUs, wholesalers, and program administrators – receive proposals from marketing agencies to help boost their sales pipelines and generate additional revenue, it’s not all that uncommon for them to receive  RFPs with price tags that are higher than what they had in mind. You may even decide to go the in-house route, thinking it’ll be less costly, rather than partner with a marketing firm to generate commercial line leads for your specific insurance lines and industry niches.

Before taking the leap to go it alone, take a look at the real costs between outsourcing and in-house marketing.

It’s prudent to get into the weeds and details of what’s involved in building a successful insurance lead-generation campaign before you undertake it on your own with your existing staff and resources. First, there is the cost of purchasing a well-maintained list that includes the prospects you want to target. Marketing to these prospects and generating leads takes specific skillsets. Without the right experience, there will be a long learning curve along with hits and misses while you’re testing. That’s time and money spent that you may not recoup.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, take a closer look at outsourcing your insurance marketing and lead-generation campaigns. It could make a lot more sense for your agency, MGA/MGU, or wholesale operation. In this guide, we’ll go over the tools and resources needed to get a lead-generation campaign off the ground and make it a real success. You will be able to review the skills, time, and money needed for each component and evaluate whether your firm can utilize your in-house staff and resources or an experienced marketing firm will be more successful in getting the results you want.

Neilson Inhouse v Outsourcing Whitepaper

I. Marketing or Sales Engagement Platform: $19,800/year
Includes custom email campaigns, prospecting,  and sales activities; lead scoring, web tracking, and landing pages

You may be wondering if you need to use a marketing automation email platform to run your campaigns. This will depend on the size of your target market. If you are targeting a small prospect group, let’s say to announce a new product that would ideally fit the group’s risk profile, and are able to manually track each prospect along the journey of the campaign, then an automated platform may not be necessary. However, if you have a significant list of prospects in industry-specific sectors, such as construction, marine, or transportation, or you’re targeting a list of companies of a specific size for workers comp or cyber insurance and are planning to scale your lead-generation campaign, automate and score each touchpoint and track results, using a marketing platform is the way to go.

An automated marketing platform helps your firm stay in contact with thousands of leads while communicating more strategically based on buyer personas and prospect stages. These platforms can integrate with your agency’s or MGA’s CRM and email to help your team stay organized and streamline your workflow (critical as you scale). In addition, utilizing a platform will help you optimize, repeat and add to campaigns. For example, you may decide to add another industry sector to receive your lead and nurture emails. This can easily be done using an automated marketing platform.

Analytics off the platform will also allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign, while quickly pivoting away from unsuccessful strategies. You’ll have access to a plethora of information including knowing which prospects are opening which emails, and who is checking out your website or downloading a white paper. These platforms help you make quick decisions, identify obstacles, and increase traction. On average, a marketing and sales automation platform will cost between  $1,600 and $10,000+ per month – and this is before the investment for list acquisition and content-creation assets.

II. List/Prospect Database: $5,000-$10,000/year
The source for boosting your pipeline with ideal customer  profile contacts 

Lead generation depends on your prospect source. List databases provide thousands of names that can be identified by SIC codes,  industry description, C-suite and middle-management titles, geography, revenue, email address, employee size, renewal date, etc.  However, this process is a bit more complicated than just buying a few names. While many list vendors can be a good resource, they don’t always provide 100% accurate data. Not only is prospect data constantly changing, it is also user-generated. Acquisitions, job  changes, names, titles, business names, website URLs, and contact information are constantly being updated. If you are going to reach out to the right person with the right messaging, your lists need to be cleaned regularly – this is a huge advantage in working with an outsourced lead-generation marketing firm, which will ensure your contacts are accurate and up-to-date. If you can locate one that specializes in the insurance industry it’s an even greater win-win situation.

In evaluating your list database, be sure to also look at intent data in order to take your target marketing even further. Intent data is all about a prospect’s behavior, such as his or her web search history, content topic searches, premium asset downloads, and social  media metrics. This information helps make your campaigns more relevant and specific to the challenges and pain points of your audience and will allow your sales or call center to contact a prospect when the need is great. A prospect reading blog articles about  the hard market and higher premiums is ready to discuss pricing and coverage availability. Once your prospect list is created, knowing what to do with the list is critical. You most likely have multiple buyer personas within the campaign so you will need to develop  different messaging that is relevant to the needs of each. Without proper list segmentation, you’re wasting leads.

There are many different database sources out there with varying product offerings and pricing structures. It’s important to partner with a reputable firm that will provide quality email deliverability. DNS (Domain Name System) and SPF (Sender Policy Framework) can  be used to run your lists through an email validation tool to help protect the integrity of your campaign. Another option is to use a data platform such as Act-On (which we use in-house), which sifts through contact information using thousands of qualifiers, with  guaranteed validation and intent data. Platforms like Act-On can run more than $19K a year. We use Act-On and were able to recoup this cost expense by synching relevant messages to the right prospects at the right moment with the right dataset.

III.Content: $100+/hour Includes introductory emails, nurture series,  follow-ups, premium assets (white papers,  infographics) and telemarketing scripts 

“Dear Prospect…”

That’s how a lot of insurance-related emails begin…and fail. You’ve heard “content is king,” and it’s true when it comes to developing an effective marketing strategy. Without strategic, well-written, demand-generation content, you won’t be able to build your case digitally.  The insurance industry is highly competitive (with consumers more informed and demanding these days – just look at all the InsurTech IPOs that have taken place in the last several years) with today’s environment necessitating that nearly everything is done virtually due to our “new normal” amid COVID. Your content has to stand out, provide value, and make an impact. If a campaign is not performing, content can be changed. But it’s not that simple.

Yes, you can have a professional writer come up with an ideal lead-generation/nurture-email campaign, but if he or she isn’t experienced in this art (and science), results will fall short. Your content needs to be clear, concise, and compelling; it needs to recognize a challenge, a pain point, and establish a need. At the same time, the content has to be relatable, spark an “aha” moment;  it can even be “light.” Timing is key as well. This takes experience and practice and knowing your clients/prospects in order to craft individualized messaging within your campaign; that is when the nurturing truly occurs.

Developing content is typically not a one-time project either. Your initial campaign will begin with an introductory email and go through a series of touchpoints that include email follow-ups, premium asset offerings, and cold calls. Separate campaigns can be developed and segmented by geography, title, industry sector, or company size; each with individualized content that discusses different pain points and provides value-add solutions. Once the initial campaign is launched, you can tweak and repeat the content for optimal performance. The size of your campaign will impact how much content you need developed. Freelance copywriters typically charge between $100 and $200 per hour for their services.

IV. Salaried Business Development Rep: $60,000/year
Follow-up on leads using email and calls

To get results, it’s all about keeping in constant contact and being persistent. Using this strategy will enable you to engage with a prospect, including following up on a lead at the right time. Whether you have one producer or a team of salespeople, don’t let “hot” prospects fall through the cracks. Make sure you follow up for the conversion. From the moment someone opts into your e-newsletter, downloads an infographic or white paper, or asks an insurance question, follow up is key in the entire nurture process.


$90,250 $70,000

Now that you know what’s involved in creating a successful lead-generation campaign for your insurance firm, you can determine whether or not you can do it on your own. Or, do you think it makes more sense to partner with a marketing firm with the expertise and  proven strategies to deliver? In the end, the right partnership will deliver better ROI and you’ll spend less. What better time than now to amp up your marketing strategy as the hard market ushers in rate adequacy with higher premiums and commissions.

About Neilson Marketing Services

Since 1988, Neilson Marketing Services has been implementing innovative marketing solutions and strategies for its clients in all areas of marketing including data, outbound, digital, SEO, content, social media, and email nurture and lead-generation campaigns. To  learn more about outsourcing your lead generation, contact Neilson Marketing Services at (866) 816-1849.

Start Changing Things Up

Think about where you want to be next year, in five years and even in 20 years as the insurance industry evolves. How will you get there? Do you have the agent resources in place? The talent? The strategies? Neilson Marketing Services can help you plan for tomorrow today. To learn more about our agent resources and products, contact Neilson today. Give us a call at 800.736.9741 or complete the form on this page. One of our account representatives will contact you to start making results happen.

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