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Update News for February 2015
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this bulletin.
The following was the result of comments received from the U.S. side of www.term4sale.ca. Having said that, I went through our copies of emails generated by the website, and found 21 pages of email requests (about 43 emails per page) during January (that was as of noon on the 30th). Keeping in mind that there are generally 3 emails per consumer request, that would represent about 300 consumers reaching out for agent lists. As of last year, there were 19.5 pages for January, so we are ahead of 2014.
Of the 21 pages so far this year, 2.5 pages were for Canada, and 18.5 for the U.S. Given that the U.S. is 10 time the population, our Canadian listings are performing ahead of expectation. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. We rank higher in google searches in Canada. The most commonly searched phrase is "life insurance quotes". In the U.S. we usually appear on the bottom of the first page. By contrast, in Canada, we are usually at the top of the first page. Further, I write routinely for Canadian MoneySaver and they have prominently featured term4sale.ca at their website. I routinely talk about www.term4sale.ca in my articles. I am reasonably certain all that creates some additional traffic.
Here is what we said in our U.S. bulletin.
Term4Sale testimonials from our subscribers can be hard to come by. Keep reading.
During January two subscribers sent us emails thanking us for the sales which they had made from consumers who contacted them after using www.term4sale.com. The first said:
The second said:
Three things to mention regarding these un-solicited comments.
First, we do not like to post testimonials referring to commissions on the Term4Sale website. We are happy to share them here with other subscribers, where consumers are not likely to be reading. We try to keep the information on the Term4Sale site focussed on what is helpful to the consumer. What you or anyone else gets paid to sell life insurance is a distraction from picking a competitive product or selecting an agent to buy the policy from. Once again, a product with a high or low commission has little to do with the decision, what the consumer wants is a competitively priced product.
Second, and this is an observation from the second comment, frequently consumers will call those listed at www.term4sale.com rather than use the email contact form provided at the site. While we receive copies of the email contacts that are sent to subscribers, which lets us monitor activity, we do not know if a consumer calls you by phone. We know for certain that such contacts occur, we just don't know for who and where they are happening.
How do we know such calls are occurring? As above, from time to time we hear from agents regarding it. Further, we sometimes receive calls from consumers asking questions. While we are happy to talk to consumers, and answer general questions, we always work toward getting the consumer to contact the listed agents. In some cases we will fill in the contact form on behalf of the consumer, while we have them on the phone.
The problem with the consumer who calls the listed agent is that the consumer may not explain to the agent how they obtained their name and phone number. If you get an email from term4sale with consumer information, there can be no doubt that it was term4sale that generated that contact. If you get a call from a consumer, asking about insurance, and they don't tell you how they got your name and phone number, and you don't ask, you may not realize term4sale is generating business for you. I had one subscriber last week, tell me he had never gotten a contact from term4sale. I checked our records and found an email contact that he had been sent in January. I asked him if he got it. He didn't remember it and so I forwarded it to him (again). I suspect he didn't know what it was, or it went to his spam folder. I should mention I do not use a spam filter on my emails, I am my own spam filter.
Third, it's not easy to get subscribers to talk about the success they have with www.term4sale.com. Most are worried that other subscribers will become more involved, and that others will get the consumer contacts rather than them. They are also worried that we will get a sense of their success and increase prices.
While we have made some changes in pricing, which were announced in the November and December bulletins, the price changes have been moderate. Two years ago we raised the price for $1 per month to $1.25. On the other hand, we have increased the number of free zip codes from 2 to 3 for all personal use subscribers.
This year we again raised the price of zip codes .25 cents per month for Standard License subscribers buying over 100 zip codes. The price only went up for those zip codes over and above 100. Further, we capped the total a standard license subscriber could buy at 400. But all these steps were designed to make sure that ALL subscribers have a fair shot at being listed in some of the better zip codes in the country.
While the changes we have made did open some of the better zip codes up, those zip codes were quickly snapped up in the second week of January, by subscribers eager to add and improve their listing positions.
To summarize our strategy, the changes we have made are to try and ensure that as many of our subscribers benefit from the www.term4sale.com service as is possible. That same logic will govern future changes although we expect that 2016 will be unchanged from 2015, both in pricing and rules.
Back to the testimonials. The first subscriber, who made the $3,000 commission, has a total of 8 zip codes listings at www.term4sale.com. He gets 3 of those for FREE, and he purchases an additional 5 zip codes which cost him $75 per year. Combined with the subscription for $180 per year, his total annual investment in Compulife is $255. From that he generated a $3,000 commission. That makes Compulife look like a pretty good investment and we suggested he consider adding some additional zip codes after he gets his commission check.
We had another anecdotal incident occur in January which underlines the sales that subscribers are making. One of our new subscribers, running on the 4 month free subscription, decided to purchase the software early so that he could buy additional zip codes. Apparently he had made a sale during his 4 month free subscription period, and decided to purchase early in order to be able to add additional zip codes.
Finally, as of the time of writing this, I got a very nice phone call from a lady who was asking me to stop having so many agents call her. I apologized and explained to her that when a person fills in the form at www.term4sale.com that only 3 agents are given that person's name. I emphasized that we never give that contact information to anyone else. She said she was still getting calls and asked if I could make them stop. I said I would certainly do that. I then asked when she filled in the form and she thought it was a couple of nights earlier. I then searched our email archive for her last name and it wasn't in the copies of the emails we had received. I then searched her first name, again no luck. I then searched her phone number and could not find her. I then asked if she had visited any other sites to get quotes, and she said she did. I told her I suspected that she was getting calls from agents who had been given her name from one of those other sites. I then asked her to visit www.term4sale.com with me on the phone and she filled in her information. She then ran a quote and her first comment was that there were far more companies than she had viewed the other night. I told her to click the more info button and explained that those were the 3 agents listed in her zip code. I told her she could simply use the phone number and call them. All that to say that she was very happy to have spoken to the President of the company, and it sounded to me like at least one of our subscribers was going to be getting contacted by her.
During January we completed the work of modifying our Windows software to use the new ROP data files instead of the old. The new GOWIN.EXE was introduced in the last week of January. We held it back to ensure that if there were any problems, we would be able to sort them out before including the new GOWIN.EXE with the February monthly update.
Unfortunately, just before the monthly update was produced, we did find another bug. There had been one earlier that week, that a subscriber had found. We repaired that and updated again. Given that this latest bug was found at the last minute, we rolled back the GOWIN.EXE program file to the edition from December. We we will re-release the newest GOWIN.EXE early in February. If all works as planned, you should see no difference in the function of the software.
Once the latest bug has been repaired, we will continue on with the work of integrating the changes into the internet engines.
There is a fair bit of work in all this, as we are gutting out an old data retrieval system (the old one for ROP's), and integrating a new data retrieval system. That work is not a simple plug and play and some of the methodology that we are implementing takes advantage of better ways to structure our programming code. This is being done to ensure that future changes and improvement to the software will be easier and quicker to make. We have a long list of changes that we want to make, once the work of creating a complete new data structure is complete.
As we mentioned in the previous bulletin, we will continue to support the old ROP factors for a transitional time period. This means that Compulife Internet Engine Users will not have to do an upgrade until we elect to abandon the old ROPF rate format. We intend to bundle that upgrade with other changes and so Internet engine users can anticipate this to occur in or about April or May 2015. In the meantime, we will be upgrading the engines used on our own sites, such as term4sale and the engines where customer's web quote options are produced, and engines where mobile quotes are produced. That means when it is time to upgrade those users who have the internet engine, any bugs or issues should have been fully addressed.
As we advised last month, Compulife will NOT be upgrading the old Palm or Windows handheld software and so after the upgrade to the engine becomes available, we will be abandoning support for that old hardware. We believe that most subscribers no longer use these devices and that most have graduated to smart phones. We have several hundred subscribers currently using our Mobile edition of Compulife, which is free to subscribers. If you have a smart phone or pad/tablet device, you can obtain the mobile edition of Compulife for FREE by calling us at (800) 798-3488 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will turn on the option, and send you an email with links to your mobile quoting system and to the control panel (where you pick the companies that quote).
Once the ROP changes have been made to the internet engines, we will be moving forward to break out renewal premiums from individual products into a new renewal premium table/file. This will be used for products that share the same renewals and will cut down on significant duplication that exists in our current data format. This will shrink the size of the system.
We have found a way to do this that will not affect the majority of Internet engine users simply as our internet engine does not require renewal information unless you are using the Pick 12 spreadsheet option (most do not). If you do use that option, then we will need to get you a new engine before we make a general release to the majority of engine users.
Ultimately we don't want to burden our internet engine users with too much transitional work during 2015. The fewer engine upgrades subscribers have to make, the easier it will be for us all.