Making the most of an insurance agency's Google ad campaign

This isn't an advertising channel for the faint of heart

Making the most of an insurance agency's Google ad campaign


By Alicja Grzadkowska

Mastering the art of advertising using Google AdWords can bring many benefits to an insurance agency, such as enticing potentially thousands of new prospects to your business. However, there are several important tips and tricks when using Google Ads that agencies need to be aware of before they dive into this advertising minefield.

“It starts with having a clear goal, but then you also need to have a set budget, do keyword research to know exactly what you’re building your campaigns for, create a compelling ad with good copy that has a strong call to action, and build an effective landing page that links from that ad,” said Becky Schroeder, chief marketing officer at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC).

Agencies also need to pay attention to their quality score, which is Google’s rating of the quality and relevance of keywords in ads. Google uses that score to determine the ad’s cost per click and determine its ranking in the ad auction process. There are a few notable components that get taken into consideration in the quality score equation.

“The quality score depends on your click-through rate, the relevance of each keyword to your ad group, the landing page’s quality and relevance, and the relevance of your ad copy, plus your historical Google Ads performance,” said Schroeder. “Google doesn’t share how much each of those factors weigh into the algorithm, but what has been shown through some research is that the click-through rate is the most important component.”

After all, Google wants to give prominence to ads with which people are engaging. If people are clicking on an ad, that’s a clue to Google that people find that product and company relevant.

Agencies likewise need to build an effective landing page to accompany their advertising on Google. The landing page is the last chance they have as an advertiser to convince a consumer that they can help solve their insurance needs since the purpose of an ad is to get them to click on the link, and the purpose of the landing page is to turn that initial click into a lead that they can then have a chance to quote and sell to, explained Schroeder.

“A bad landing page is not going to convert as many of those clicks, so to build an effective one, first do some research. Look at other pay-per-click landing pages for the keyword or the product that you’re planning to advertise – what seems to be working and what doesn’t? What do you like about some pages? From a consumer perspective, what do you think is going to be engaging? What can you do better?” she continued.

A landing page should also only have one job – converting traffic from a specific ad group that is advertising one product. A landing page that tries to convert for multiple products will be confusing, potentially making customers back out and look somewhere else for insurance solutions. As a result, agencies should focus the landing page on one product or line of business that they’re advertising, and then use a stronger call to action than just “learn more” to encourage people to click through.

“With the copy on your landing page, you want to keep your language simple and effective. Short, direct sentences are critical,” said Schroeder. “You want to also make sure you’ve included some of the keywords from your ads so that there’s a connection in people’s minds from the ad they saw and clicked on to your landing page, as well as include some imagery that mirrors your message and the audience that you’re trying to reach.”

Perhaps most importantly, agencies need to measure and track their campaigns, and make adjustments as needed because Google Ads is not something that you can create and then just let run, explained Schroeder, noting, “It’s something that you have to pay attention to, so that you’re getting the best conversions and return on the investment you’re putting into it.”

Take smart bidding, for example, which is one way to optimize your Google Ads. With this strategy, it’s very easy to overspend or not spend enough to make your ads effective. An agency can adjust how they bid based on certain keywords, locations or devices that they’re trying to target, the time of day, or the specific audience, among other factors.

The first place an agency wants to start for smart bidding is the keyword planner that Google offers. This will not only help an agent identify the keywords that they want to target, but Google will also suggest a bid for each of those keywords and provide an estimate for the bid necessary to get to the first position, or even just on the first page, in the ad results.

“When starting out, I recommend aiming for the first page and not the first position because that first position is going to cost more,” noted Schroeder. “If you aim for the first page, you’re paying a little bit less, but you can test and adjust your ads as you go without having to spend so much more on a click.”

Then, after becoming a Google Ads pro, the agency can decide to pay more for appearing at the top of the page, but they’ll likely be paying less for that first position than they would have when they first started because they have historical performance and a good click-through rate, and thus a better quality score.

There are also tools that can show an agency what their competitors are bidding for those same keywords along the way, and agencies can consider using negative keywords, as in search keywords for which they don’t want their ad to appear as a result. This means that they don’t pay for clicks that won’t convert. If ITC, for example, is running Google Ads on auto insurance rating, they don’t want their ads to show on auto insurance-only searches because ITC is not an insurance provider.

Schroeder’s final takeaway on Google Ads is to outsource this work to either an in-house hire or third party since it’s an advertising channel that requires a good amount of effort. She also pointed out that insurance is an industry that has very high bidding on its keywords because big names like Progressive and GEICO are running ads and trying to capture as much of that market as they can.

“As an insurance agency, it can be a little cost prohibitive to do it,” she said, adding, “For the right agency, it could be a really good strategy. The approach just has to be very mindful, and something that you pay attention to [on an ongoing basis] so that you don’t end up wasting budget on it.”

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