MassMutual is a company that sells life insurance and other financial products. With a turnover of $10.7 billion in 2022, they are ranked 100th in the United States by turnover.
They participated in Devtalks Romania in June 2023, which made me look at their website and see their low amount of organic traffic. (especially the non-branded traffic)
At first glance, I can see several problems, but let’s take them one by one:
1. The lack of organic traffic
The lack of organic traffic can be seen at first glance, with only 193.6 thousand monthly organic traffic. This volume needs to be much higher, considering the size of the MassMutual brand. As we’ll see below, they have a much better off-page SEO performance quantitatively (not necessarily qualitatively). Still, they need help appearing on the first page of Google, especially for non-branded searches, which have the highest volume and profitability.
2. Decreasing organic traffic since 2021
Although the decline may be an industry trend following the decrease in time spent online by consumers from 2021 until today, many of MassMutual’s competitors have continued to grow during this period, one of which is even featured in this audit.
3. Prioritizing paid advertising over channels that bring long-term revenue
There is nothing wrong here, but for sustainable growth, any brand needs to diversify the channels used, considering the effect each marketing channel can have. Les Binet and Peter Field show this concept in the book “Effectiveness in Context”, but you can see more details here or by reading about Adidas, who made the same mistake of investing too much in ads. Les Binet argues that, in general, brands should invest 60% in brand building (marketing channels and tactics that bring long-term revenue) and 40% in sales activation (marketing channels and tactics that get short-term revenue).
MassMutual is trying to make up for the lack of traffic with paid Google Ads campaigns that generate 11.5 thousand visits per month, paying 100 thousand USD per month, with a CPC that goes up to about 15 USD per click on average.
As you can see in the graph, the month I did this audit is when not so much was invested in Google Ads compared to the other months. We see that investments in Google Ads have been steady since 2011 (the year since Semrush has data available). In 2021, it reached 94 thousand visits generated through Google Ads.
On the cost side of Google Ads campaigns, we see that they peaked at $719k per month:
Investing in Google Ads for them is not necessarily a mistake because a new customer can bring constant income for years by buying life insurance for several years or constantly renewing it (the importance of considering the customer’s lifetime value).
However, the problem is neglecting the goal of bringing in customers organically, which can bring in long-term revenue at a much lower cost. If we were to go into details, SEO even reaches near zero marginal costs after the investment has been recovered.
4. The lack of organic traffic for non-branded searches
As I showed in the Lego SEO audit, many big brands don’t do SEO very well and end up driving traffic to their website, primarily through searches that include their brand name. Organic traffic from these searches is very welcome. Still, the lack of traffic from keywords that don’t have the brand name shows us that they mostly don’t bring new customers to their website. People searching for your brand are people who already know about you.
Guardianlife.com, a competitor of MassMutual demonstrates that you can generate a lot of organic (organic = unpaid) traffic from Google for non-branded searches:
Guardianlife.com generates 7 times more organic traffic from Google with non-branded searches, even though Guardianlife is a smaller brand than MassMutual.
Also, Guardianlife has 4.6 times fewer backlinks than MassMutual, which means that MassMutual should have a much higher chance of ranking higher on Google than Guardianlife.
At first glance, from an off-page SEO point of view, Mass Mutual is much better in all aspects, except organic traffic, because Guardianlife optimized their website much better.
5. The most important pages don't appear at the top of Google
For example, let’s compare the Google rankings for one of their most valuable keywords: whole life insurance:
The keyword “whole life insurance” has 74 thousand monthly searches and an average cost per click of $12.25.
MassMutual generates 1.1 thousand organic visits through their keyword variations but ranks 37th for the main keyword, generating only 22 organic visits monthly:
On the other hand, Guardian Life generates 14.2 thousand organic visits through keyword variations and ranks 4th for the main keyword, generating 4.9 thousand organic visits monthly:
6. Their blog doesn't generate too much organic traffic
If we look at their website, we can see that they also have a blog. They write blog articles, but their articles do not generate much traffic. Suppose MassMutual wrote them to send to existing customers to learn new information. In that case, that’s great, but the articles likely don’t bring the organisation too much revenue since they have very few organic visits from Google.
That doesn’t mean a blog in this niche wouldn’t be profitable. Still, it shows us that MassMutual didn’t consider SEO optimization of the blog, overlooking fundamental SEO principles that led to generating the following results:
However, MassMutual has 695 pages on its blog. At the same time, if you look at Investopedia, they have single articles about insurance that bring more organic traffic than all of MassMutual’s 695 pages combined: