Individual PMI: Are lead generation firms worth the investment?

Highlighting the pros and cons for specialist brokers

Everyone in the private medical insurance (PMI) sector knows how difficult – and costly – it can be to find genuinely new individual clients. Lead generation firms promise much in the way of opportunities but, as Harvey Jones reports, it’s not always as straightforward as it seems.

Selling private medical insurance (PMI) is never easy, and the global financial crisis will only make it harder. But one thing always helps, and that is a good lead.

Leads are the lifeblood of any broker who is looking to expand or maintain their business, and the internet promises to deliver a steady supply.

Lead generation websites are big business across all areas of financial services, including health insurance. Sites can feed brokers a constant stream of new customer leads in “real-time”, at a price. But is it a price you would want to pay?

Lead generation sites constantly generate leads as people look for financial help and information through search engines, online display advertising, email marketing and price comparison sites such as Moneysupermarket.com or Moneyextra.com.

A form pops up asking if they want more information or a callback from an expert, they fill in their details, and this is sold on to “lead buyers” such as brokers.

Quality is key

There are good reasons why brokers should consider online lead generation sites, says Justin Rees, director of marketing and partnerships at online lead marketplace LeadPoint UK, which sells 14 different types of lead, including mortgages, cosmetic surgery and health insurance.

“Brokers who buy PMI leads through our platform are put directly in touch with customers who have specifically asked to be contacted about health insurance because they are seriously considering buying the product,” he says.

According to Rees, sites have a direct financial incentive to generate the best quality leads they can, because that will keep buyers coming back for more.

He says: “We also provide plenty of support to help buyers optimise their conversion rates and drive sales.”

To maintain the quality of its leads, LeadPoint checks every fresh contact against a blacklist of hoax names and suspicious leads, and carefully examines postcodes and email formats.

“Most important of all, we check every phone number is connected and live,” Rees continues. “If somebody tries to enter a fake number, they are prompted to input a correct one, or the lead is invalidated. Similarly, our call centre will verify suspect attributes, such as somebody giving their initial rather than a name.”

Brokers pay between £35 and £45 for each lead, depending on the filters they select.

“If you want leads from just five specific postcodes, for example, you have to pay more than an adviser who can take leads from anywhere in the country,” he continues.

Rees says the average lead conversion rate is around 20%, but naturally, it varies according to the broker. The faster you act, the better the results.

He says: “You have more than twice the chance of converting a lead if you make contact within five minutes of receiving a lead, than if you wait for 30 minutes.”

Lead generation site QuoteRack.co.uk specialises in non-standard and high-risk quotes for general insurance and protection. With PMI, this might include people who have previously made health insurance claims, or have a troubled family medical history, says director Peter Skinner.

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