Episode 068 — The Digital Broker Podcast

The Digital Producer: How David W. Clausen Built a Lead Engine Online


In this episode of The Digital Broker, Ryan Deeds interviews David W. Clausen about David’s successful history of generating leads online. David is the CEO of Coastal Home Insurance Solutions. By listening to this episode, you will learn:

  • How you can grow your own digital presence by sticking to the very basics: create a landing page and couple it with a call-to-action
  • How Google Ads can help you grow the reach of your landing page
  • Why you should test your way to success, being on the lookout for what works and what doesn’t

By the time David was a teenager, he was doing entry-level work at his parents’ insurance agency: fixing printers, working on computers, etc. This was in the mid-to-late-nineties, and you could only do so much on the Internet—but you could design a website to increase your brand awareness, which is something David did for his parents. Tinkering with websites was fun: some things obviously made the website better, whereas others didn’t.

After high school, David decided to make a career in insurance. By now, he was buying leads online, doing well for a while until he, too, collided with the roadblock every ambitious person runs into: time. No matter how many leads David obtained, he could only call so many of them per day. If he wanted to grow his business further, he would have to do something new or different.

This is usually when most producers start to look at their lead generation engine. Upon hitting a revenue ceiling as David did, many producers simply grow the team, taking on more producers to do essentially the same tasks: cold-calling, buying more leads, etc. David decided to go another way with it. If he could only spend so much time chasing leads, perhaps he could reconfigure his lead engine so that the leads would go to him instead.

It worked. David took some of the money he was making and invested it into his digital lead engine. Today, content and data are cornerstones of any successful digital marketing strategy, but at the time, hardly any producers or insurance agencies were taking them as seriously as David was. Content, in the form of blogs, infographics, and videos, would demonstrate to leads that David knew what their issues were and was prepared to do something about it. But to have any hope of reaching those leads in the first place, David needed to know more about them. Which areas did they tend to live in? What were their buying habits like? That’s where data came in.

Successful as David’s methods turned out to be, many producers still don’t employ them, choosing to retain only a minimal relationship with the Internet. This is survivable only for as long as you wish to remain a small-scale, local player. If you want to grow and scale, you need to get with the times or get gobbled up. Many producers understand this and desire a more remunerative digital presence as David has, but they wouldn’t know where to begin fashioning one. Fortunately, David offers some advice:

Start with the basics—get a landing page. Your leads need to wind up on a page where you speak to their issues and offer solutions. You must also provide a clear call-to-action, something that encourages the lead to come closer to you. Could this be to send you an email? Give you a call? Leave their contact information?

Rudimentary as your knowledge of web design might be, designing a landing page is not really that complicated. If you can’t make your own, you can always outsource it—inexpensively and to a sea of specialists who compete to offer you the best price and service. See our guide to getting started with Upwork.

Do some marketing. Once you’ve got your landing page up and running, you need to give it a half a shot of being visible. Can the service you provide, or the niche wherein you provide it, be described in a few key terms? Those are probably the words your leads are typing into Google to find you or someone like you.

Buying some ads on Google Ads can help you be among the first agencies those leads discover. Your reach will vary depending on how much money you spend and how competitive your niche is. David’s niche (property by the water) is pretty competitive; ads in that space can be costly. Ads in other spaces, though, can be bargains. Generally, the more niche you can get, the cheaper the ads tend to be. If you can find a niche you can competently service, where the ad spend is low and the premiums are high, you can make a heck of a return.

Always be testing. Remember: David started out by tinkering with websites at his parents’ agency, doing more of what worked and doing less of what didn’t. You should do the same. If you’re a producer, you are probably already evaluating your behavior in connection with the results. Do you close more leads when you talk to them on the phone? In-person? At bars? At conferences? Hold your landing page to the same scrutiny and refinement. Does the data show that users are more likely to click on a red button than a blue one? Are certain words more successful at eliciting a reaction? There is a way to systematically monitor all of this and act upon it: it’s called A/B testing.

The color of a button might not seem like that big a deal. But what if it made a 3% difference in your conversion ratios? Would you ever say no to a 3% difference in your conversion ratio? What about ten or twenty such differences, compounded over time?

Ultimately, as David says, the key to being a successful producer is to scale yourself. What are you good at? Where could you add the most value? What could your team sustain? If you can answer those questions, your lead engine designs itself.

So—what do your answers say about your lead engine? Do missing pieces continue to bother you? Could David or Ryan advise you further? You can find them on the Digital Broker LinkedIn group, where hundreds of insurance agents and brokers gather to learn more and get better together. Join us and see what others are talking about.

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