No insurance agency can afford to rest on its laurels, waiting for enthusiastic customers to come walking through the door. As with any industry operating within a competitive market, those in the insurance business must be proactive in reaching potential clients and maintaining relationships throughout the sales process. Many people in sales are harnessing the power of the internet for insurance lead generation, but there still are plenty of opportunities for face-to-face interaction that can yield results. In the end, a balanced approach often is the best bet for covering all the bases, and a successful effort must start with a baseline of information. Here are nine tips for how to generate insurance leads using inexpensive yet proactive methods.

1. Research

It does not make sense to put a lead generation effort into place without first doing research. This facet of the plan does not have to include any financial investment at all. It’s more about allotting the man hours to do it properly. Fortunately, agencies have many of the tools they need already at their fingertips.

The easiest place to start is with current clients. Ask them how they found your agency. Find out where they get their news and what social media platforms they prefer. In this way, you can learn more about where your target audience resides online. Don’t forget to ask about real-life hangouts as well. What types of events do they attend? Do they listen to the radio?

Next, go online to research more information about successful online campaigns. Learn what keywords people are looking for when your agency name pops up in search results. It is important to look at the experience from the viewpoint of a customer, not as a salesman researching insurance lead marketing.

2. Email Marketing

Email marketing, that is sharing news and opportunities through email newsletters and other tools, takes some time and expertise, but it does not have to be expensive. Insurance Journal magazine created a guide to a successful campaign, and the bottom line is that this approach is an easy way to reach potential clients if it is done well.

You want the email to be attractive and clear. A cluttered layout with little information and a hard sell will go right into the trash folder. Make sure you offer helpful information at the right time. Don’t flood inboxes with too many blasts. By being selective about frequency and content, your emails have a much better chance of being read and generating leads.

3. Social Marketing

Using social media for insurance lead generation may seem difficult, but if you remember that the main idea is to connect with potential customers on a personal level, you will find it is not so hard. First of all, not every platform will make sense for your agency and target market. Facebook is a logical place to start because it has a large audience and is simple to use. No matter what the platform, posts should be interesting, thought-provoking and just intriguing enough that readers want to click the links to learn more. If you get comments on any posts, it is vital that you respond to them and keep the conversation going. Potential customers are eager to engage with companies that take an active interest in their needs, at Business News Daily found with 10 major national companies.

4. Paid Ads

Many agencies turn to paid advertisements as a tool in insurance lead marketing. Usually, these are online ads that are designed to reach the target audience specifically. Google’s Adwords is the most popular service, but Bing offers a similar option. Because Bing is pre-installed on Windows computers and is set as the default search engine, it may be your best bet for reaching an older audience. However, Adwords provides a lot of tangential tools that can help you maximize your marketing efforts. Either way, judicious use of paid ads is another great option for how to generate insurance leads.

5. Networking

As mentioned above, sometimes the best lead generation strategy is simply meeting people face to face. Attending networking events can be free or vary inexpensive, depending on the format, and you’ll get a chance to interact with people who can spread the word about your business or even become customers themselves.

Try to find opportunities to speak at networking events as an authority figure in the insurance field. Gather business cards from the people you meet and be sure to follow up with them afterward. You never know when the business professional you meet during lunch will become your best resource for lead generation or cooperative relationship.

6. Sponsorships

Remember how, during the research phase, you looked into which events your target audience was likely to attend? Sponsorships are your opportunity to make use of that information. By being a named sponsor of a local golf tournament or family-friendly festival, your business name will be in front of hundreds of people, and although they might not be thinking of their insurance needs immediately, your company will be top of mind when they do.

Be sure to monitor your return on investment if you go the sponsorship route. Ask new customers where they heard about your agency. Ideally, they will have found you through the sponsorship, even if the result was delayed.

7. Branding

Branding is vital to insurance lead marketing. Your agency name should be everywhere your customers are, and the design and feel should resonate with the target audience. Make sure there is consistency across every branding element, from the company logo to the website and the letterhead. Your logo must be the same in every usage in order to stick in the minds of potential clients. Remember that you are building authority and trust in people’s minds, and you want them to understand automatically what your agency stands for.

8. Radio

Radio advertising can be a great resource for insurance lead generation, depending on the station’s reach and audience. Plus, radio spots require a much smaller investment than television advertising. If your target demographic is likely to be listening, then radio is a logical place for you to be. Make sure your ads are informative, helpful and engaging enough so that listeners will follow up with a phone call.

Again, be sure to monitor your return on investment by asking new leads where they heard about your company. If they consistently say they heard about it on the radio, you’ve chosen the right outlet.

9. Tchotckes

Giveaways, whether they are small physical items or freebies to local businesses, can be effective tools for insurance lead generation. You might give out small branded items at events your company sponsors, or you could leave them with partner businesses to give out to clients. Your brand should be on everything you hand out, and you might consider including some sort as well. The right item, such as a helpful thumb drive or desk calendar, may be used for months or years, keeping your branding in front of potential customers’ eyes for a long-term impression.

These nine strategies for how to generate insurance leads don’t have to be costly or complicated. Try choosing one to get started, then implementing others as you get comfortable with the process and start tracking ROI. That way, you can be sure no effort is being wasted while new insurance leads start coming your way.