Nick Berry

My Approach to Paid Advertising in 2024

My approach to paid advertising for 2024

Every time I talk to an insurance agency owner about marketing we always end up talking about paid advertising, it never fails. And it’s an important topic. But the biggest failure I see agency owners make is looking at paid advertising, or any form of marketing and advertising and expecting it to result in a linear output. Lead gen can often look like a linear graph of we did this thing, they clicked here, and we got them to fill out a form. There are few components of a marketing strategy or tactic that line up like that but a complete marketing strategy is not often one of them.

Paid advertising is rarely a linear equation

Most of the time a full marketing campaign looks like a 3 year old got loose in your house with a sharpie for 15 minutes while you were taking a dump. And I get told a lot for all the money we spend we should have 100% attribution, and that’s honestly not even technically possible. I normally like to spend my energy on two attribution models, first touch and last touch attribution. Everything in between is honestly a quagmire. Even before all the mobile device privacy, and google’s move to cookieless tracking 100% attribution wasn’t possible. And anyone telling you so was probably trying to sell you software.

Paid advertising campaigns often look like a toddle was let loose with a sharpie.

Why should you be running ads and what kind?

Now don’t take any of the above to mean you shouldn’t run ads. Even as a content marketer I tell everyone, the entire reason you should be creating content is to have a library of content to use for ads. What I often see is a business owner either signing up with an ad agency to run google ads, or they’ll take the reins themselves and start running search ads. And that’s fucking awesome! I think search is the logical first step in a market like insurance where the consumer is problem aware (they need insurance), but they’re not solution aware (they don’t know you exist).

They’re searching for “best home insurance near me” or something like that. And while everyone is fighting for the top organic search results, anyone with $5 and a decent website can be right there on top as an ad. The users even know it’s an ad, and they still click on them! Now do not take those words to mean search ranking isn’t important, don’t even think it. But SEO is the long term play, we’re talking months and years of work. But running search ads can accelerate your growth while you’re doing that tough work.

This is where things get wonky and business owners get impatient. Remember that linear graph above, that’s just the beginning of the journey! They’re sold on the idea that if you run search ads, you’re magically going to sell more policies or widgets. There’s so much more to it! 

What kind of search ads campaigns are you running?

First, what kind of campaign are you running, a click to call ad, or a traditional cost per click (cpc) ad where they have to fill out a form. Is there ALWAYS a human on the phone that will be taking those calls? Or will the lead end up in a phone tree to be lost forever. Or are you driving them to a landing page with them filling out a form. What happens when they fill out that form? Are the expectations being set, are you building an automation that communicates with them based on stages of where they are? 

The problem isn’t the ads or the type of campaign you’re running, I guarantee it. It’s a lack of a foundation in the agency processes that’s causing problems. There’s 1000 things an insurance agency owner needs to do in a given week, and setting up automations is not one of them. Even the ones I know setting up automations know there’s still 73 things left undone that day. But let’s just imagine we’re in a perfect agency, they’ve got all the automations running they could ever dream of. At best you might close 40% of those leads that came in. And how often are they closing within 30 days of coming into the pipeline?

What kind of paid advertising should I be doing with the rest of my leads?

If you’re that unicorn agency with all the email, task and sms automations running, you’re not closing 60% of those leads still. Let’s be generous and call 10% of the leads as tire kickers or not-qualified leads. That still leaves 50% of your pipeline open, but more than likely they’re problem aware, and maybe even solution aware now, but they’re not ready to buy. What next?

Remember all that content we’ve been creating? Now you’ve got not just a library of emails to send them, you’ve also got an opportunity to use that content as paid ads! More ads? WTF? Right? That’s insanity! You’ve already spent $7 for a click! Yeah more ads! 

What I do with one agency is every time a lead is added to their pipeline, they’re also added to a custom audience on Meta (facebook) via zapier. I know there’s pixeling traffic, but more and more people are blocking the pixel, or their devices are. It’s less reliable than using custom audiences.

These ads do not need to be complicated. Very simple one liner images, with a short paragraph about an insurance topic related to the line of business you are trying to sell them. And link that ad to the specific blog post on the topic. The entire intent of this series of ads isn’t to sell them or get contact info (you’ve already got it). It’s to raise their awareness level, reinforce your expertise, and stay in front of them when they are in a buying mode. 

Even better would be videos. With a video ad, you can also use video views as a retargeting opportunity! Giving you even more detailed audiences to keep sending ads to. But I’m not going to push that button really hard. So many people are afraid of video, let’s just get you started with regular ads.

Example of paid advertising on facebook with a custom audience

Should I start with Facebook ads?

Two or three years ago if you asked me that question I would have probably said yes, but the dynamic has really changed. Especially in local marketing. I encourage most everyone to start with search ads with local insurance agencies. Get your ducks in a row with your automations, then use Facebook to retarget your prospects.

An advanced tactic you could use is when someone is moved from a different stage in your CRM to add them to a new custom audience, with more in depth or bottom of funnel content. 

Three types of ads you should be running for Facebook retargeting:

Top of funnel: These people have filled out a form, might have started the quote process

  • Content Ads – Using a one liner graphic, a brief paragraph about the article, link to the article. You should be running 3-4 of these a month.
  • Memes and humor – Throw in a meme or funny image with no CTA

Middle of funnel: They’ve been quoted, are in decision mode

  • Testimonials or Google Review images, this social proof just reinforces their buying decision.
  • More educational – Maybe a series of did you know ads or videos

Bottom of funnel:

  • Team content – Ads that highlight the team of people they’ll be working with in the future, could be videos or even just a carousel ad with images and short intros.
  • Quizzes or Assessments – A simple quiz or insurance knowledge assessment, nothing to put them down, just to show that you’re there to help them.

Now I know I just threw 1291 words at you on all this, but here’s the simplest way to explain the ad flow.

Google Search Ad > Get Lead Info > Add Lead Info to Facebook Custom Audience > Serve relevant content to them through ads.

Sounds simple I know. But it can get really complicated fast. That’s why I’m teaming up with Patrick McBride and Dan Mory to bring you Automation Services by TechMarketer. If you’re looking for help with getting your agency foundational automations setup, and adding cool things like adding leads to custom audiences based on your lead stage, book a call with Dan today.

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