Paid Digital Advertising Basics for Independent Insurance Agents

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  • 2019 marked the official tipping point where paid digital advertising eclipsed traditional offline ad spending. 

    Market research company eMarketer predicted that by the end of 2019, U.S. digital ad spending would reach $129.34 billion, for 54.2 percent of total ad spending. And by 2023, digital is forecast to account for over two-thirds of total ad spending.

    A growing number of independent agents are recognizing the power of paid digital advertising and devoting more of their time and budgets to it rather than traditional ads. But to ensure a successful campaign, it’s important to understand digital advertising, including which platforms to focus on, how to craft compelling ads and how much to spend. 

    Here are the basics you need to know.


    What Are the Best Places for Agents to Run Ads?

    There are plenty of options available, but Google and Facebook are the top two networks. Google Ads accounted for 38.6 percent of total US digital ad spend in 2019, while Facebook Ads accounted for almost 20 percent, explains Brad Smith, founder of Codeless, a content platform for SaaS companies. 

    Google search alone gets 5.6 billion queries per day, according to, a company that helps businesses find reputable SEO agencies. The average return on investment is 200 percent ($2 for every $1 spent), notes pay-per-click management company PowerTraffick

    As for Facebook, digital advertising platform AdEspresso says there were 1.49 billion daily active users as of mid-2018. They also point out that 57 percent of consumers say that social media influences their purchasing decisions, with 44 percent specifically saying that Facebook was the most influential network

    Instagram is another good choice. Digital marketing writer Christina Newberry explains that Instagram had one billion monthly users as of late 2019, and 63 percent of users logged in daily, with 200 million visiting at least one business profile once a day. This network’s growing popularity and visual-centric nature also make it a great place for agents to run ads. 

    And considering that 71 percent of Instagram users are under the age of 35, according to ecommerce writer Maryam Mohsin, it’s especially good for agents who are targeting a younger demographic. 

    As a result, Google, Facebook and Instagram would be considered “the big three.” But if you want to see what other paid digital advertising platforms are available, Eric Siu, chairman of digital marketing agency Single Grain highlights 54 other options.

    paid digital advertising

    What Should Your Ads Do or Say?

    Generally speaking, you’ll want to point your digital ads to one of two places — either a landing page or some other asset such as a PDF or ebook. The goal is to funnel prospects to an email capture, to make a phone call or maybe to schedule an office visit. It really just depends on your specific objective.

    If for example, you wanted to give prospects a brief overview of who you are and what types of insurance coverage you offer, you would likely want your ads to point to a landing page. Or if you were more interested in nurturing leads and building trust and rapport over time, you would probably want to point them to an insurance information document download where you could capture their email address.

    When it comes to writing digital ads, it’s important to follow best practices and craft compelling copy tailored to your target audience. Adam Heitzman, cofounder and managing partner at digital marketing agency HigherVisibility, says your ads should be simple and straightforward. Use the words “you” and “your,” focus on what distinguishes your insurance product from competitors and include strong verbs in your call-to-action.

    Include targeted keywords in your ads, advises Pauline Jakober founder and CEO of online advertising agency Group Twenty Seven, usually in your first or second headline. This is vital for maximizing your visibility and getting qualified prospects to click on your ads.


    What’s the Approximate Budget You Need for a Successful Ad Campaign?

    One of the best things about digital advertising is that it’s extremely flexible in terms of how much you can spend. It can be less than $100 per month or hundreds of thousands. It all depends on how much money you’re working with and how many leads you’re looking to generate. That said, small businesses that use Google Ads typically spend somewhere between $9,000 and $10,000 per month, explains Sherman Standberry, cofounder of social media management company LYFE Marketing.

    Due to the inherent learning curve of paid digital advertising, it’s usually best to start off with a smaller budget and scale it up later after you’ve started getting the data and results you’re looking for, says the director and cofounder of digital marketing firm Angelfish Marketing, Richard Stephens

    He advises you to only spend what you can afford, even if that’s $5 or $10 a day at first. Work on optimizing your click-through and conversion rates. Then, after you feel comfortable with the process, you can put more money into your campaign.

    paid digital advertising

    How Do You Get Started on the Platforms of Your Choice?

    There are three main steps you’ll need to follow to get started with paid digital advertising. 

    First step: Create an optimized page. The first step is to decide exactly where you want to point prospects to and optimize that resource to maximize conversions. You can certainly link to your website homepage, but it may not always be the most effective for getting leads to convert. 

    Instead, sales and marketing strategy writer Estelle Pigot suggests creating a targeted landing page that addresses the specific needs of your customers. This is often ideal because it prevents leads from having to manually search through your site as well as any other potential roadblocks, which should maximize your conversion rate. 

    And if you’re promoting different types of insurance, it’s important to create multiple landing pages so each is personalized for individual segments of your audience.

    Say you’re looking to promote two different types of coverage — auto and homeowners insurance. It would be better to create two individual landing pages for each type of coverage and launch two separate ad campaigns. For example, you would create digital ads for auto insurance and send relevant leads to your auto insurance landing page. And you would create ads for homeowners insurance and send those leads to your homeowners insurance landing page. 

    Second step: Find keywords. Next, you’ll need to choose the right keywords, as this heavily impacts how many prospects find your ads. This means focusing on product-related keywords and their variants, notes Ana Gotter at Disruptive Advertising. For auto insurance, some keyword example might include “car insurance,” “vehicle insurance” and “car insurance quotes.” 

    There are multiple tools for finding keywords, but one of the best is the Google Keyword Planner, which will give you a bird’s eye view of search volume, cost-per-click (CPC), how competitive a keyword is, and more. ShoutMeLoud CEO Harsh Agrawal offers a comprehensive overview of the Google Keyword Planner and how to use it, which is a great resource if you’re just learning the ropes. 

    Gotter points out that it’s equally important to use negative keywords. These are keywords that you don’t want your ads to appear for and using them will stop you from getting irrelevant clicks. For instance, if you were targeting auto insurance prospects in Miami, you might use negative keywords like “auto insurance Tampa” and “auto insurance Jacksonville” to avoid wasting money on clicks from outside of your area.

    Third step: Set your budget. You’ll need to decide how much you want to spend on your campaign. As mentioned, you can change your budget at any time, but you should have a rough idea of how much you want to spend per day, per week and per month. 

    The average CPC for Google Ads was $3.44 in the finance and insurance industries in 2018, according to Mark Irvine, director of strategic partnerships at online advertising platform Wordstream. So that’s about how much you can expect to pay for each lead that clicks on one of your ads on Google. As for Facebook, it’s slightly higher at $3.77, Irvine mentions in a separate article. 

    So be sure to pay close attention to the CPC of the specific digital advertising network you’re using when determining your budget. 

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