Generate Insurance Leads Using SEM: Tips From Insights Award-Winner Pearl Companies


Each year, PIMA recognizes companies that have demonstrated outstanding achievements in marketing strategies for insurance products. In our 2023 insurance lead generation category, the Silver Award was awarded to Pearl Insurance. 

Inception of the Insurance Lead Generation Strategy

Pearl has been in the affinity space for quite some time, providing term life, supplemental health, long-term care, and disability coverage to over 50 affinity programs. The company also has its hand in business insurance, where lawyers, accountants, realtors, and other business professionals can secure professional liability insurance. 

With search engine marketing (SEM) being one of the more effective means of insurance lead generation, Pearl found itself in a bit of a predicament when its marketing team learned of Google’s decision to move away from Expanded Text Ads (ETAs). Instead, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) and Responsive Display Ads (RDAs) would now be the way of the future. On the surface, it's not a big deal. However, it would require not only a change in mindset but a change in strategy of knowing how to generate insurance leads by way of SEM going forward. 

Before the change, Pearl’s marketing team got to work crafting a new campaign with the goal of increasing website traffic and conversion rates, as well as overall impressions. After all, it now takes multiple touches to move people from awareness to consideration to purchase — and do it without bombarding a target audience with messaging. The team also wanted to stay ahead of the curve when it came to SEM, and this felt like the perfect opportunity to test out the waters before competitors could find their sea legs, so to speak. 

The development of the campaign started like any other: defining the company’s target audience based on demographics, behaviors, interests, and so on. Once that matter was settled, attention turned to keyword research. What were the insurance SEO keywords most often used by this group of potential customers? Though Google was moving away from ETAs, the search engine would still be using keywords to serve RSAs — RDAs are a different story, as these show up based on past sites visited. Both, however, were to be used for the campaign. 

After developing a strong SEM strategy, Pearl gave its copy team access to the Google Ads platform. Since users can have between three to 15 headlines and two to four descriptions, all combined in various ways, it was important to empower the copy team to be as concise and creative as possible with this new insurance advertising strategy. The copy and design would need to effectively communicate the value proposition and encourage target customers to click on the ads. 

To keep things organized, the team set up the campaign in ad groups to help structure content in an easily accessible manner. Since five different clients were part of the campaign, Pearl worked with each affinity partner individually to develop a feasible budget and unique strategy. The team also continued to monitor the performance after launch and made ongoing optimization based on the results. 

Pearl's Reimagined Insurance Advertising Strategy Results

The results from Pearl’s new insurance advertising campaign far exceeded expectations, and it did so on many fronts. Here’s a quick breakdown of what they saw:

• 378% increase in leads (website visitors)

• 440% impression growth 

• 378% interaction growth

• 60% application growth 

• 82% paid policy growth

According to Pearl’s marketing team, part of the success was due to broadening the criteria. The decision allowed the company to hit retargeting goals involving smaller audiences, and the team has been able to take what they’ve learned and apply it to new strategies where they continue to see success for clients.

How to Generate Insurance Leads Using SEM

To host a successful lead-generation campaign, staying updated with industry changes and adapting to new marketing tools and technologies is essential. Start by clearly defining your target audience — considering demographics, interests, behavior patterns, etc. This will help you create more focused and effective marketing campaigns. 

Comprehensive keyword research is a must to understand what your audience is searching for. This research allows you to create highly relevant ad campaigns. It’s also vital to empower your creative team with the tools and flexibility to craft compelling ad copy while taking advantage of options such as multiple headlines and descriptions for concise and creative messaging. 

Obviously, monitoring campaign performance will be key, as you’ll want to be ready to adjust as needed. Optimization is crucial to success. When working with multiple clients, which most do in the affinity space, maintain clear communication and coordination among stakeholders. A high level of contact ensures the campaign aligns with business goals and strategies. 

And above all else, learn from each new campaign and then apply those insights to your marketing strategies going forward. 

Published on January 4, 2024

PIMA® (Professional Insurance Marketing Association®) is a member-driven trade association focused exclusively on the affinity market.