Underground Elephant, San Diego, CA

 

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2012, Click to Enter The 2014 American Business Awards

Company: Underground Elephant, San Diego, CA
Company Description: Founded in 2008, Underground Elephant is a privately owned and operated Internet software and services company, specializing in customer-acquisition solutions for the insurance industry. As a software company, UE excels at developing platforms and services that are customized to meet the unique needs of large insurance carriers, and their national teams of agents.
Nomination Category: New Product & Service Categories - Software
Nomination Sub Category: New Product or Service of the Year - Software - Lead Generation Solution

Nomination Title: Underground Elephant's Allstate Lead Marketplace

Tell the story about this nominated product or service (up to 650 words). Describe its function, features, benefits, and performance to date:

The Allstate Lead Marketplace (ALM) is revolutionizing the digital lead generation and sales industry, which has operated at a business-as-usual pace and methodology for the better part of a decade.

ALM is an agent-focused lead management platform created specifically for Allstate, in collaboration with Underground Elephant. It is a centralized auto and home insurance lead buying system, offering agents simplicity, quality, and control, while simultaneously leveraging collective buying power to offer wholesale pricing.

Generally speaking, the Internet lead generation industry for auto insurance has been, for all intent and purposes, the Wild West. There were plenty of services to help agents make sales, but they were disparate and many leading to excessive intermediation and inefficiency. This complex web of vendors and dysfunctional incentives made the market opaque and monopolistic, as certain key lead vendors consolidated power and controlled the market.

Unfortunately, consumers and sales agents were hurt most by this strategy, since leads were resold numerous times, quality went down, consumers were contacted more frequently, and agents’ conversion rates decreased. Although we weren’t part of the problem, since we only sell high-quality leads that we generate internally, we knew we wanted to be a part of the broader solution. SaaS (software as a service) seemed like the place to start. Eventually we found the right partner, Allstate, for the effort.

We not only implemented strategies to empower agents through simplified lead buying during our time working with Allstate, but we also learned from the process as well. We dedicated nearly the whole first year of our deal to testing, building the product for Allstate, free of charge, with the confidence that it would be invaluable to both parties once adopted. Big brands and 100-year companies like Allstate are generally very risk-averse, and rightfully so; thus, we knew making Allstate comfortable would be in our best interest, and would produce long-term benefits for this nascent partnership.

The rollout strategy was a key component to ALM’s success, as our software platform is now being used by thousands of Allstate’s agencies. This takes meticulous training and re-education, not only to teach users how to use the platform, but also how best to work Internet leads as a whole. With such a large network of invested users, keeping educational levels high, and expectations realistic can be too much to manage without the right rollout plan. We started with select geographic regions, facilitating education by providing informational webinars and documents as well as the Client Success Team, which is dedicated to supporting platform users, and listening to their candid feedback to continue to evolve ALM for Allstate agents. As iteration of process and product reached a new level, further expansions continued. Within 90 days, ALM was in all of Allstate’s 14 regions, with a 1900% growth rate of Allstate agent sign-ups between its launch in February through December 2014.

ALM provides agents with instant access to several suppliers, empowering agents with more lead options and marketplace filters. With innovations such as closed-loop reporting, ALM offers a never before seen feature. By synchronizing with Allstate’s quote and policy data, ALM provides powerful analytics, showing agents where, when, why, and from whom they are making their money. This dynamic reporting empowers agents to make highly informed decisions, maximizing the effectiveness of their valuable time and marketing spend. It allows agents to track their own quotes, policies, and business KPIs. Furthermore, ALM’s prices are predictable and can be purchased using Executive Advantage. ALM also offers third-party lead validation at no additional charge. Rules against duplication and semi-exclusivity decrease internal competition and boost lead quality. All transactions integrate with common CRM platforms to provide flexibility and honor agents’ lead management preferences.

On December 1st, expanded product options were released. These options were developed based on agent feedback and needs. A robust reporting functionality was released in Q3, as well as a real-time quote and policy attribution. In Q4 the

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief features and benefits of the nominated product or service (up to 150 words).

• Centralized ordering system: hosts one place to manage reps, filters, account balances, return policies, and caps.
• Subsidy compatibility: all vendors featured on ALM sell internet leads that can be purchased using Allstate’s corporate Subsidy programs.
• Closed-loop reporting: Automated quote and policy analytics produce reports to show agents where, when, why, and from whom they are making their money.
• CRM Integration: all transactions within the ALM integrate with common CRM platforms, providing agents with flexibility and honoring their lead management preferences.
• Third-Party Validation: lowers agent acquisition costs and increases lead quality by scoring and verifying the consumer before they enter out system.
• No contracts: unlike typical single-vendor contracts for buying leads, ALM requires absolutely no contract to participate.