How to Start an Insurance Referral Program
By Nick Gallo—
Digital advertisements are part of modern daily life. As a result, consumers are increasingly skeptical of many conventional marketing strategies, and it’s challenging for businesses to set themselves apart from their competition.
An insurance referral program can help you sidestep those issues by leveraging the trust individuals have in their personal networks.
Let’s discuss what you need to start your insurance referral program, including how they work, how to market them, and which examples to imitate.
What is an Insurance Referral Program?
An insurance referral program is a strategy that involves incentivizing your clients or professional contacts to promote your business with their networks. You offer a reward for each referred lead that becomes a new customer.
It’s also common practice to reward the referral for signing up with their connection’s unique identifier. That can help increase conversion rates and make it easier to track your program’s success.
You can manage a referral program manually, but software solutions are often more efficient. They can automatically create unique sign-up codes, send and track referral requests, and help distribute your incentives.
For example, ReferMe IQ can send automated emails to your agency’s client list requesting referrals. If anyone accepts, the software can send an email from their address to their contacts recommending your business. When recipients sign up through a link in the email, ReferMe IQ can distribute rewards to both parties.
Benefits of Insurance Referral
Starting a referral program can benefit your insurance agency, especially compared to traditional business-to-consumer advertising strategies.
First, a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member makes someone more likely to become a paying customer. Eighty-one percent of consumers trust their friends’ and family’s advice over that of a business.
That suggests the way people decide which companies deserve their business has shifted. Every agency promotes itself as the best option, so a recommendation from a trusted connection can be a critical differentiator.
Not only are referral programs better at creating quality leads than many traditional marketing tactics, but they’re also generally cheaper. You determine what incentives you’re willing to offer, allowing you to set your client acquisition cost.
In addition, referred customers are often more valuable. Because they have more trust in your business, customers tend to spend more, make additional referrals themselves, and remain customers for longer.
A Harvard Business Review study found that a bank’s referred customers were 18% more likely to remain with the bank and generated 16% more profits over their lifetime
Finally, a referral program can promote retention with your existing clients. Those who go out on a limb to refer your business may feel more inclined to maintain a relationship with you to avoid the appearance of backtracking.
Examples of Insurance Referral Programs
Let’s explore some examples of insurance referral programs to help you imagine how you might start one for your agency.
Client-Based Referral Program
Your existing client list is the traditional place to start building your referral program. Not only do they have direct experience with your products and services, but they also have personal connections with your ideal prospects.
ALINK Insurance Services employs this classic approach. Each time someone requests a quote and indicates that an existing client referred them, the referring client receives a $10 gift card to Starbucks.
The referring client also gets one entry per referral into a monthly lottery for a $50 gift card and an annual lottery for $500. The referred lead doesn’t receive any rewards directly, but the agency donates $10 to Habitat for Humanity for them.
Business Partner Referral Program
You can also partner with professional contacts in other financial services, especially if you promise referrals in return as an incentive.
For example, Brokers Edge offers a training program to help its top-producing agents approach local Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and establish a relationship that leads to mutual referrals.
Open-Ended Referral Program
Your clients and business partners are the referral partners most likely to send qualified leads to your business. However, you may increase the number of leads you generate by opening your program to the public.
For example, the KCAL Insurance Agency is running a referral program until June 2023. Anyone can participate and earn rewards.
Each time someone refers a friend through their unique link, they’ll earn one entry into a monthly raffle for a $50 gift card. If a referred lead purchases a personal or business policy, the referring party also gets $10 or $20, respectively. If someone refers ten or more clients, they’ll receive a one-time $100 gift card.
How to Market Your Insurance Referral Program
An insurance referral program can be a powerful lead-generation tool, but you need to promote it to see meaningful results. Assuming you’re looking for referrals from your existing customers, there are several ways to spread the word.
Generally, email marketing is the most effective option. It’s the easiest way to communicate directly with your client list and lets you personalize your messaging for different segments.
For example, consider emailing your clients a survey every six months about their willingness to provide referrals. To those that respond positively, you could send a follow-up email requesting a referral in exchange for a small reward.
To those who answer negatively, you can send an email inquiring about their dissatisfaction and attempt to address their concerns, hopefully reducing the chances that they’ll switch providers.
Social media is also an effective tool for promoting your referral program. Sixty-five percent of consumers report being interested in business communications through the channel. It’s also designed for sharing content with your network.
Finally, it’s a good idea to feature the program on your company’s homepage. That way, you can remind your customers of its existence each time they visit your website.
Build Your Insurance Referral Program
Referrals are one of the most cost-effective ways to generate highly qualified leads. Leverage your network and start building a program today.