For many State Farm agents, building community ties has been an essential part of building their offices. Indeed, being a “good neighbor” is not just a tagline that State Farm agents use to differentiate themselves from competitors—it’s a practice that has helped offices across the country develop powerful referral sources and grow their businesses.
But just because you’re a pillar of your community doesn’t mean you can’t also grow your business outside of it. While agents often worry that online insurance shoppers won’t want an agent they can’t easily visit in person, the truth is that most online shoppers are indifferent to their agent’s location. After all, if a personal connection is important to you or your customer, you can always use digital tools like video chat to connect face-to-face.
As it turns out, many of our agent clients have had a great deal of success marketing to out-of-town online shoppers. By purchasing leads across the entire states where they’re licensed to do business, these agents have been able to secure the volume of leads they need to grow their offices at scale—without compromising the quality of their customer service. In fact, about 35% of the leads on our platform are sold to agents who are more than 50 miles away from the consumer, with 20% going to agents located more than 100 miles away.
As the Davidson, North Carolina-based State Farm agent Roger O’Connell puts it, “As long as the consumer knows that you understand the market and are responsive to their needs, they’re going to be happy.”
Online shoppers often have no preference when it comes to where their agent is located
When Roger O’Connell first started buying out-of-town leads for his State Farm office five years ago, he was nervous about his ability to acquire and retain these shoppers. Even if he was able to convince a consumer to sign up with an agent who lived far away, he was worried that they would switch to a closer agent at the first opportunity.
What he soon found was that consumers rarely asked where he or his producers were located, and when they did, it was almost never a problem. And O’Connell’s experience is not unique. A 2021 survey from Nationwide found that fewer than half of insurance shoppers want their agents to live nearby. Meanwhile, a Bain report released the same year found that consumers have become twice as likely to have a very favorable perception of their digital interactions with agents as they were in 2018.
While O’Connell says he has lost the occasional customer because a consumer wanted to be able to walk into their agent’s office, these incidents have been few and far between—and the benefits of having more consumers to solicit have overwhelmingly outweighed the negatives.
“I try to not lose sight of the bigger picture: internet leads work,” O’Connell said. “If it’s one out of every 50 new customers, does it really matter? The return on my investment with these leads is still very strong.”
Out-of-town leads provide the volume agents need to drive business results
For O’Connell and agents like him, out-of-town leads have played a vital role in maintaining a steady supply of new prospects they can turn into new customers. Rather than artificially limiting the number of consumers they can talk to, these agents have grown their business statewide.
“I think it has made us more comfortable and confident in our ability to help people regardless of where they live,” O’Connell said. “It just means we are fishing in a bigger pond with an endless number of prospects. We have the mentality that we are never out of prospects to talk to.”
The North Carolina agent stressed that servicing these consumers has been made easy by the fact that he and his producers can get paperwork signed electronically, and they can even do a virtual appointment if needed. In the event that consumers do ask about the location of his office, O’Connell instructs his producers to stress his agency’s track record of helping customers and assure the consumer that they’ll be fully responsive despite the distance. In other words, the same value proposition they might pitch to consumers located closer to their office.
Want more help finding the new customers you need to grow your State Farm office? Let’s talk.
Buying out-of-town leads is just one of the ways State Farm agents can get more out of their online insurance lead buying. For more best practices on finding the right shoppers and generating new business, check out our State Farm Agent’s Guide to Online Leads. Or simply reach out to your MediaAlpha client success manager to set up a meeting.
And if you’re not already a MediaAlpha for Agents client, you can always learn more about what we have to offer on our website. Sign up for a free consultation call to see how MediaAlpha’s high-quality leads and unparalleled customer service can help you take your State Farm office to the next level.