“It is a truth universally acknowledged that lead acquisition in the insurance industry is hella pricey.” – Old Proverb.
In fact, it’s not just expensive: the frustrations associated with running a Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) account in the insurance industry — whether it’s your own account or you’re an agency running an account for a client in the insurance industry — are very real.
For every digital marketer extolling her ability to garner leads at a decent clip, there’s an angry mob of woebegone Google Ads agencies decrying red tape, three-figure CPCs, and finicky leads.
And depending on which kind of insurance leads you’re attempting to acquire, some strategies simply aren’t available to you. This frustrates your clients (especially the yellers) which in turn frustrates you. It’s all very dramatic.
But what if I told you there were ways to lower CPA for your insurance industry clients? Ways to help you acquire more leads(!), qualified leads(!!), in a cost-effective way(!!!).
I can see you nodding along. And it’s about to get a bit more vigorous…
Because there are a ton of ways that you can use AdWords to streamline your insurance marketing strategy. And when I say there are a ton, I mean there are 5 (today).
Some call ‘em hacks. Others might allude to mythical horned horses. Either way, let’s get to it.
In all seriousness, no matter which subset of the insurance industry (health, car, home, what have you) your clients operate in, insurance-related keywords have ridiculously high CPCs. I don’t need to show you this, but who doesn’t love a little late-morning schadenfreude?
Fortunately, RLSA exists.
RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) allows you to adjust your bids on the search network whenever a prospect on an assigned remarketing list enters a search query that matches one of your keywords. Simple enough, right? This is incredibly valuable in industries with high average CPCs because it gives you the opportunity to bid slightly more when you feel you have a strategic advantage.
Let’s say someone comes to your website looking for a health insurance quote.
They complete the first step and bounce.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Allen, I’ll just remarket to them on the Display Network until they return.”
This is a great retort, but I’ll do you one better. While that person might still be in the market for a quote, their intent as they scroll through Deadspin comments isn’t the same as when they enter “car insurance quote boston” into Google a second or third time around. At that point, they’re probably ready to buy (who window shops for car insurance?!). Suddenly, paying twenty-something dollars for that click seems all kinds of reasonable.
There’s another way to leverage RLSA, though, and that’s to use the oft-ignored “target and bid” feature. Whereas the standard application of RLSA involves a simple bid adjustment, the “target and bid” feature ensures that you only enter a Google Ads auction when the searcher is a member of a remarketing list assigned to a given search campaign.
This allows you to use Display and lower-cost keywords to bring prospects to your website (adding them to a remarketing list or two along the way), then get more aggressive with your bids for those high-intent, high-cost keywords without having to spend a ton of money on less qualified traffic. While you’ll see fewer impressions using the target and bid setting, the ones you do get are inherently more valuable.
Brand recognition matters in every industry, right?
You want the red can with familiar white script; Shasta and Faygo might taste similar, but they’re not Coke.
Insurance works the same way. The incredible minds that brought us Flo, the Gecko, or that one mayhem dude who’s always breakin’ stuff are protective of their brands. As such, unless you’re affiliated with the brand, you can’t leverage the power of its name in your Google Ads text ad copy. If you do, you’re gonna have a bad time.
As you may well know, bidding on [blue cross blue shield health insurance quote] is difficult when you’re not BCBS. And while an insurance company might be gracious enough to allow your client to sell their policies, they aren’t quite so generous as to let you use their brand’s clout in your copy. This can make (I lied, it does make) achieving high Quality Scores next to impossible, sure, but it also makes you invisible on the SERP.
Here’s an example from another industry…
The ads in positions 2, 3, and 4 are at a disadvantage because they can’t use the word “Xerox” even though the term is (was?) often used colloquially to refer to copiers. But they’re not doing themselves any favors by using bland ad copy. Instead of trying to stand out from Xerox or the other wannabes, the ads all look the exact same. They are expensive white noise at best.
Now, what if the advertisers used sentiment (positive or negative) to spice up their copy?
We recently conducted a sweeping analysis of high-performing AdWords ad copy to find out what makes a good text ad tick. We dug into everything from punctuation to lexical complexity, but the thing that stood out to me was the fact that 45% of top performing text ads used positive sentiment.
What does positive sentiment look like in ad copy? Why, like this!
These ads run for brand keywords we can’t include in our ad copy, but they garner conversions because they don’t just say “PPC Blah Blah Blah PPC.” They leverage the power of sentiment.
Consider the type of insurance your client sells and the various emotional responses to scenarios in which someone would need to purchase it. Think of how the idea can be framed, both positively and negatively (testing doesn’t hurt!), and get ready to stand out! Even if site visitors don’t convert, inciting a click gives you the ability to remarket to prospects.
A few realities:
My point is this: Swaths of the population aren’t the right fit for your clients’ insurance offerings. Income targeting is one way to focus ad spend on areas in which searchers are likelier to fall within your target demographic.
This basically functions in the same way you used RLSA’s target and bid function to prioritize bidding on your most expensive keywords only after someone has visited your client’s website. If right out the gate you can draw a geofence around an area using average household income as the distinguishing factor, you cut superfluous impressions.
Obviously this is a less effective tactic for something like car insurance, but if you notice that most of your clients’ prospects and policyholders are of a certain income, use that data to your advantage.
And the best part? You can layer income-based targeting with the RLSA you implemented two tips ago to virtually guarantee rich, smiling clients. In marketing, we call this “the dream.”
Knowing what an objectively “good” lead looks like is the key to maximizing the value of every dollar your insurance-industry clients spend on Google Ads. The “Audiences” tab in the Google Ads UI is often used as a tool for adjusting bids based on gender and age. But did you know it’s also an excellent way to glean new ideas for your creative?
The trick here is to ensure that you change the dropdown from clicks to conversions (note that clicks can be a useful measuring stick, especially in ad copy testing).
If you notice that most of your renter’s insurance converters are males between the ages of 25 and 34 (as is the case above), the way you write copy and conceptualize creative should be completely different than, say, if you were trying to sell homeowner’s insurance in an affluent community.
To illustrate my point further: if your target demo is comprised primarily of middle-aged women you’re probably not going to try selling X, where X is anything from homeowners’ insurance to a hamburger, using an ad like this…
Controversial ad? Sure. But leveraging creative of this ilk—whether for television or a text ad—can be a death knell if it doesn’t align with your target demographic. This is true in every ad channel and vertical, but never more so than when you’re dealing with keywords with CPCs often in excess of $50.
(It almost hurts me to say that ^. The things I do for you people.)
I’m a proponent of frequency capping because I am a consumer. I understand how frustrating it is to have sneakers or a decent looking sandwich follow you around the internet for weeks on end.
I usually like to cap remarketing ads at about 3 impressions per day per campaign. That being said, every rule is made to be bent or skirted.
Think about it. A prospect just visited your client’s website from a search ad. Odds are, if someone typed the phrase “car insurance quote” into Google, they either a) need car insurance or b) are dissatisfied with their current plan and want to make a change. That’s some USDA-approved, grass-fed intent no matter how you slice it.
When I was looking for car insurance a little while ago I, like any good capitalist pawn, searched for “car insurance quotes”. The first ad that popped up was for Geico, so I clicked.
After entering my zip code, I was taken to a UI asking for more information. It had this rad little slider at the top.
Ultimately the rates quoted weren’t good enough to warrant making a change, so I left the website.
And then it started…
This orange dude and his boy, Mr. Large Latte Tomorrow…
Are still following me.
I’ll never click on them. But if I see my rates increase for some silly reason, or I have a bad customer service experience, how in the world do I not spend 15 minutes maybe saving 15% or more on car insurance?
Allen Finn is the co-founder of Toasted Collective, a cannabis-focused digital agency. Many moons ago, he worked at WordStream, where he reigned as fantasy football champion for some time.
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