Why Email Marketing Isn't the Best Channel for Lead Generation - SEO vs. Email Marketing, Part 1

March 20, 2017 Dylan Brooks


This is part one in our SEO vs. Email Marketing series, in which we examine which channel is best for lead generation and insurance agency growth. Read part two and part three.


bar chart growth


If you’re looking to market your insurance agency, you have many channels to choose from. Email marketing is one of the most popular marketing channels out there. It’s easy to implement and track.

But if you’re looking to grow your agency, don’t put all your eggs in that email basket. Instead, you’ll want to look at a channel like search engine optimization (SEO) to drive new business.

Let’s take a closer look at why that is.

A Word on Email Marketing


You shouldn’t slash email marketing from your budget. It can still work well for you, since it’s direct, action-oriented, and affordable.

In fact, studies have shown email marketing has a 4,300 percent ROI. No other marketing channel gets you that much bang for your buck.

Still, you shouldn’t take those ROI numbers as gospel. It turns out email marketing is actually not the best channel for agency growth. In my opinion, it’s one of the worst channels for this endeavor.

So, when planning campaigns to grow your agency customer base, look elsewhere.




The Myth of the Great Email Marketing ROI



OK, calling it a myth might be a bit strong. My point is that 4,300 percent ROI isn’t all it seems.

Let’s consider what sparks that high rate of return. Email marketing is effective because it’s well-organized:

1. Agents can put email addresses into contact lists.
2. Agents send emails to those addresses.
3. Agents measure how those emails performed.

Everything hinges on step one, those contact lists. Agents must build large email databases and use targeted messaging to see success.

If you look at successful email campaigns, you’ll likely notice they’re built from lists that:

Consumers voluntarily opted into
Feature effective segmentation

Considering this, it’s no wonder email campaigns outperform other channels. If you send messages to consumers expecting to hear from you, they’ll likely take action.

But, consumers can be protective of their email addresses. They also don’t like hard sales pitches. You often must leverage existing brand affinity to get past these obstacles.

Some agents use a cold email strategy for their email marketing. That is, their list conists of people who never opted to receive emails.

That practice often doesn’t lead to widespread success. It’s not hard to see why. Would you open an email you get from a brand you’ve never heard of, or one you’ve shared your email address with?

Opt-in emails win every time.

Agents experienced in email marketing know this. This drives email marketing’s high ROI, but that return reflects a subset of the market.

A Better Alternative for Growth

We’ve now determined email marketing works best when brand affinity is in place. This means it’s not a viable growth channel.

Why? If you want to grow your agency, you need to get new faces in the door. By nature, those new faces will be unfamiliar with your brand. So, email marketing won’t work.

Consider turning to SEO instead, as cost-effective way to reach these new faces.

SEO can get your agency website in front of people looking for what you offer. This channel optimizes your agency website for relevant search topics. As a result, your agency will be there in a consumer’s moment of need.

SEO is a solution-based marketing channel that focuses on existing consumer demand. As such, it’s a great tool for building trust and brand affinity.

These attributes can help launch your agency’s growth. The more consumers show trust in your brand, the more visible it is likely to become online. Satisfied consumers can also boost your referral pipeline and email contact lists.

Plus, SEO is a lean channel when it comes to costs. You don’t have to pay for clicks on your search listing. And you don’t need to waste time pushing marketing collateral on consumers who aren’t looking to buy. While SEO does need some patience and effort, this diligence can pay off big time.

So, don’t let the numbers fool you. Email marketing might yield great returns, but SEO is your agency’s best bet for growth.

Where do you stand on the SEO versus email marketing debate? Watch our blog for the next post in this series: A rebuttal from an email marketer’s perspective.

Need help with an SEO campaign? ITC has a team of search marketing experts that can provide guidance. Request a free consultation today.


About the Author

Dylan Brooks

Dylan Brooks helps ITC clients improve the visibility of their agency websites, working directly with them to improve their search engine rankings. Dylan has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Miami and an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Dylan has extensive experience with writing, strategy and marketing analytics. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys cooking, participating in 5K races, and spending time around Dallas.

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