3 Keys to Successful Lead Generation in a Post-Cookie World

The insurance industry can teach marketers about acquiring new customers without cookies—here's how

The cookie is crumbling.

This article was originally published in Adweek on April 11, 2022.

With Google set to phase out third-party tracking cookies from its Chrome browser by late next year, lead generation marketers will need to find new ways of identifying and reaching their target consumers. Like so many marketers, those in the lead generation space have long relied on this outside behavioral data to identify and reach their target customers. With the cookie already in decline and soon to be obsolete, this information is coming off the table.

The upshot? These marketers will need to make better use of contextual and first-party data to decide which consumers to pursue and how much they should pay to reach them. That is, these data sources will soon become essential for intelligently connecting with the consumers who become a lead by filling out a form indicating their interest in a given product or service.

The insurance industry is often seen as a legacy vertical that can be resistant to technological change, but it’s been at the forefront of using first-party and contextual data for effective lead generation marketing. Consumers looking for insurance often use comparison shopping websites to browse offers from name-brand carriers. In order to receive a quote, they share personal information alongside details about their driving record, household and vehicle.

When combined with contextual data surrounding the consumer’s visit—device type, time of day, browser and so forth—this first-party data gives carriers the details they need to target the right shoppers and pay the right price for every lead. Over the years, we’ve seen carriers pair this valuable consumer data with increasingly sophisticated metrics to become ever more efficient in how they acquire new customers online.

As other lead generation marketers come to rely more heavily on similar streams of contextual and first-party data, the insurance industry offers three key lessons for coming out ahead.

Publisher and platform transparency are crucial

When consumers fill out a lead form, they provide valuable information that advertisers can use to determine whether and how much they want to pay to reach them. In our industry, this might mean the consumer’s car model, their history of driving tickets and so forth. It probably means something different in your industry.

Whatever industry you’re in, it’s important that you’re working with lead generation publishers and media-buying platforms that give you as much contextual and lead form information as possible. This transparency allows you to better understand exactly which consumers you’re considering—and to segment your results by precise audience groups. This way, you’ll be able to understand how different kinds of leads are boosting your business when you purchase them.

Bid granularly to increase lead volume and maximize efficiency

For lead generation marketers, it can be a real challenge to achieve both efficiency and scale. If you target too many consumers, you might wind up paying to buy and generate leads that are associated with shoppers who are not actually likely to buy from you. In this case, you’ll run the risk of a negative return on investment by overspending compared to the sales you’re earning. However, if you target too few consumers, you might not get enough new leads to acquire customers at the scale you need to grow your business.

The best way to thread this needle is to assess performance and optimize bidding based on the ROI you’re getting from precise consumer groups in your target audience. This granular bidding strategy enables you to be more expansive in your targeting because you’re paying a lower, cost-effective price for consumers who are likely to deliver less value to your company. This gives you greater lead volume while allowing you to maintain profitability in your customer acquisition.

Use lifetime value to assess and optimize ROI

The insurance industry has seen a rapid evolution in how carriers evaluate the leads they buy and the success of their campaigns. Originally, carriers used the flawed cost-per-quote metric, which measures the average amount of money they pay to acquire every new lead. Later, they moved on to cost-per-bind, which measures how much they pay for each new policy sale.

The most recent evolution has been the shift to a powerful metric known as lifetime value-to-customer acquisition cost, which measures the amount of money you earn from a customer over the course of your relationship divided by the cost you paid to acquire them. This way, you’re able to more accurately measure your ROI by factoring in how valuable your customers are to you after you acquire them.

This also allows you to better segment your audience and bid more effectively. For instance, if you have a group of customers who are unlikely to convert, you might still want to bid a little higher than normal for them if you know that they’re likely to purchase higher value products or services or to renew subscriptions for a long period of time.

A successful post-cookie transition

While the coming disappearance of third-party cookies will no doubt require lead generation marketers to make some changes, the future is bright for those capable of accessing and leveraging contextual and first-party data.

By working with transparent, reputable lead generation publishers and customer acquisition platforms, you’ll be able to get the information you need to put these tips to use. And when you do that, you’ll be capable of assessing your return on investment, crafting a sophisticated, granular bidding strategy and acquiring new customers with efficiency and scale.

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