Update News for July 2020
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
Mission Accomplished – Term4Sale is API
Missions 2 and 3
Questions and Complaints About Term4Sale
Our Current Programming Plans for 2020
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this bulletin.
There is the old saying. “All good things come to those who wait.” But Chris and Jeremiah have not been waiting, they have been systematically building and improving the API to the point where we couldn’t break anything anymore. In mid-June we flipped the switch and the API went live at term4sale.com. And for the last two weeks it has been active, we have not heard a peep from anyone about issues or problems. Great job guys!
You can tell that the new API is running because the site is now producing 75 product results instead of the previous 25. In the past we were producing 50 results but then after we discovered our site and our engines were being targeted and scraped by the NAAIP operation, who was running a scraping robot at term4sale and other sites that were using our internet quoting engine, we cut back the number of results to 25. Now that the API is fully functional at term4sale.com, it will be a big hurdle for those who engage in such high-tech corporate espionage:
The database that monitors and authorizes use of the API will alert us to unusual behavior and let us shut down unauthorized behavior immediately.
With the implementation of the new API at term4sale.com, Chris is on Mission 2 which has him focusing his attention on implementing the API for our Canadian customers. Chris and Jeremiah determined that running it all from a single database would not be that difficult, and that it would be much, much easier to administer. At the same time Jeremiah is focusing on Mission 3, where he is polishing the documentation and sample pages that will be provided to subscribers who want to purchase the API.
In previous bulletins I have cautioned and warned that while “API” is a popular buzz word that we hear a lot these days, it is not as simple as it sounds. Many of our subscribers building or modifying websites are being told by their website programmers that they need an API. The problem is that the programming around an API will prove challenging for some of those same web programming folks who don’t really know what they are talking about. Knowing the programming hurdles that will be coming, Jeremiah is working hard to write the documentation to make it as easy as possible to understand the option. Chris has already spent a lot of time making the communication with the API as simple as he can.
If you purchase the API you will get some sample pages from us, which if you put on your website will give you a quote system immediately. That’s not much different than the web quote option that we provide now. With the web quote option (only $96 per year) you simply put a link to the web page that we give you, into an iframe on your site and you are done. The problem, because the pages are on our server, and we don’t allow access to our server by customers, you can’t change anything. Small changes can be made by us, and as long as they are small, we don’t mind making them. But there is a limit to such changes given the fact that you are ONLY paying $96 per year. And while you can change the client entry page by copying the html code and putting it on your server, you have NO CONTROL over the quote display page which is NOT accessible by you.
With the API you will have all those pages on your server, and those pages call the API which delivers back raw data that you then display and format using the quoting page that will be on your server. And because that page is on your server, it means you can change and alter that page to your heart’s content; assuming you know how to change and alter a web page.
Hooray will be what some say. But the devil will be in the details. Can your website programmer make the change that you want and not break the quoting process?
We fully expect some web programmers will tell you they can do so, but then you will discover that they can’t. They will start making changes to the pages we give you and end up breaking something. Rather than test their work on a step by step basis, they will take a wrecking ball to the code, change a bunch of stuff without testing along the way, and then when they try out their work after making huge number of changes, find out they have broken something and it doesn’t work. They’ll blame Compulife, and you will call us to fix it. Not gonna happen. Our advice will be to load back up the original pages we gave you and see if they work. And if you don’t have those original pages, we will provide them again. Once we know those pages are working, and we confirm they are working, we will point out that the problem is NOT on our end.
Some additional help will be provided to the first 12 who sign up. We are not going to program your website, but if your web programmer has a problem then we will given them more attention than normal, given that they could encounter a problem that is something we did, or something that we could have done better. That’s why we called the first 12 Guinea Pigs, and why it would be a good idea to be one of the first 12.
Regarding the first 12, here is what we said back in December 2019 (I know, it took longer than we thought, but the product is better than we originally planned, and worth the wait):
- After term4sale, the best way to engineer the sample templates to assist customers with the formatting they will want to do, is to actually work with some prospective customers to help them get set up. Therefore, to incentivize those who want to try the API, we are prepared to offer the API to any existing Compulife subscribers for the price of $300 per year, for the first 2 years, without regard to their volume.
- $300 is the annual price we have set (in addition to the annual subscription to Compulife) for a subscriber who is doing 1,200 or less quotes per month. So during your first 2 years, even if you EXCEED that limit, you will continue to pay $300 for the API option if you are one of the first 12 to sign up.
- This offer is available to the first 12 customers who sign up and pay for the option.
We also said that the offer would end after one month, whether there were 12 who signed up or not.
To review, the first 12 to pay their $300 will be our first 12 API customers (U.S.) The offer will be repeated for the first 6 Canadian customers, once the Canadian API and sample pages are ready.
You will know we are ready to take your money when we email you. Every Compulife subscriber who has either a web quote option or internet engine will get that email as soon as we are ready. Subscribers who do not have an existing web quote option or internet engine will NOT be getting that email or entitled to take advantage of the offer to the first 12. We want people involved who have worked with our web quoting product in one form or another.
The API service will be volume based. Here’s a tentative pricing schedule:
1,200 or less quotes per month – $396 per year (includes Compulife Basic)
6,000 or less quotes per month – $780 per year (includes Compulife Personal Use)
30,000 or less quotes per month – $1,200 per year (includes Compulife Standard Use)
All of these prices are less than the current cost of the Internet Engine, which is $1,500 per year (including Compulife Standard Use). The price for the engine will remain the same for customers doing 60,000 or less quotes per month. Any customer doing over 60,000 quotes per month will have the price of the Internet Engine increased to $2,200 per year (in addition to their Standard License of $300).
Some current subscribers to the Internet Engine, who are doing smaller volumes of quotes, will probably want to switch to the new API version of the software because their volume is relatively low and they will save money with the API version of quotes. The API customer will still be able to produce the very same quotes that they are producing now and still be able to fully customize their user interface and quote functions. Instead of delivering pages to the customer’s website, the API delivers raw output: company information and premiums. The user takes that data and imbeds it into their web pages and systems.
The other advantage of the API over the Internet Engine is that Compulife will take over the updating of rates and software, which means the user has less maintenance. The downside is that quotes will be coming from our server, and if our server goes down, so do your quotes. Having said that, reliability seems high. We have not had many issues with the web quote option for customers, and so we hope the same is true for the API (I should add that I don’t trust the internet).
Those doing over 30,000 quotes per month will need to buy the Internet Engine. First, we don’t want their high volume use dragging down our server performance. Second, anyone doing that kind of volume needs to pay for the server that they are running the quoting software from, and depending on volume they can get whatever type of server service they want/need, from shared hosting to stand alone equipment.
During June we received the following email from a subscriber who has 3 local zip codes (only) at term4sale.com. They said:
I’m a long-time subscriber and I’m unhappy with the changes to the term4sale lead program.
When someone asks to be contacted by an agent, how many agent’s get the notice? It seems there has been a major shift from a few years ago in the leads that come to me . I think it coincides with the change in how the zip codes are allocated/sold. Since anyone can buy any zip code, my competition for sales went from local independent agents like me to call-center agents all over the country.
A lead I got recently said he started getting phone calls within one minute of clicking through and it was from the other side of the country. A lead that came in last week said he got 10 calls in the first hours.
This feels like a departure from the foundations of compulife. Any information or suggestions you can share?
Some may wonder why I spend so much time writing bulletins to try to help you understand what and why we are doing what we are doing. This is part of the reason. Anyway, elements of the email reflect some things I hear from time to time and so I decided to spend some time and provide a lengthy and detailed response knowing I was going to publish the exchange (anonymously) for everyone to read. Here is my response:
I do NOT want unhappy subscribers because of term4sale. I would strongly recommend that you not participate if you are not happy.
When you are listed at term4sale, each of the 3 agents displayed are shown WITH their phone number. If the consumer wants to call any one subscriber they are free to do so. As a person listed locally, your local phone number is displayed and the consumer will recognize that you are local. I think that is a great advantage to you on the telephone contact side.
If the consumer chooses to use the email contact form, then that email is sent to ALL THREE agents at the EXACT same time. I know this because we get a copy of each of those three emails, and I do not recall seeing one come in later than the other 2. This system of email has been in place for years with no change. There are many reasons for this, and I am happy to discuss those with you if you want to call me. 888-798-3488
But if you are NOT happy with that, then you shouldn’t participate.
Actually, the only changes we have made in recent years is to REDUCE the number of zip codes that we let any one subscriber purchase. We do NOT want any one subscriber dominating the landscape, and would like that ALL subscribers benefit to some degree. In an ideal world every zip code would ONLY list subscribers in that local area, but we do not have enough subscribers for that. So, zip codes that are NOT full are available to those not in the local area, providing that they are licensed to sell in that state and that they feature a toll free number.
I took a look at your zip code listings, you have only three (which you pay a reduced price of $12 each per year for). Agents buying additional listings beyond their locals, pay $18 per year. Why more? Because we want you to benefit for the 3 we think that each subscriber SHOULD have.
I note that you are located in zip code 30101 so I did a zip code analysis of that zip code:
30101 is a great zip code.
You also have 30062 which, within your local area which is a 20 mile radius of 30101, is the BEST zip code in that area. If you want me to show you why I say that, give me a call. 888-798-3488
Your 3rd zip code is 30044 which is outside your local area. I think you can do better than that one. I suggest on November the 2nd that you call me and go for 30075 which is Roswell (the second best zip code in your local area). While you cannot get into that zip code now, because it is currently full with 3 agents, I checked and note that one of the subscribers in that zip code is NOT local and so you can bump that person and exchange 30044 for 30075 for 2021. If you want to still keep 30044 at the same time, you can immediately re buy it for 2021 for $18.
I also checked and see that for the 3 zip codes that you have now, you have already had 4 contacts for this 2020. Quite frankly those are REMARKABLE results – you owe us money – I am kidding. Our warrantee guarantees 1 email contact for every 3 zip codes per year or those 3 are free for the following year. You have blown the warranty out of the water. I can assure you that I have other subscribers who would kill for those results.
Once again, if you are NOT happy with the zip code listings, nothing requires that you purchase them or participate. And I don’t like unhappy customers so I would prefer that you not participate if you are not happy.
And finally, you said:
A lead that came in last week said he got 10 calls in the first hours.
First, we NEVER, and I MEAN NEVER, give the term4sale visitors information to ANYONE except the three agents listed. Those contacts are never sold or given to anyone, even months later. We have a duty to the consumers who use the site, and we take it seriously.
Second, and this is most important, term4sale is NOT the only website where consumers check insurance rates or compare products while they are surfing round on the web. I am quite certain that if the consumer got 10 calls then it was a result of them giving their name and phone number to a different site, not a result of giving it to term4sale. And that underlines why it is PARAMOUNT that our subscribers get back to that consumer ASAP. Minutes, even seconds count. What I don’t want is a Compulife subscriber fumbling the ball, slow to respond, and the sale go to an agent or website that is not a Compulife customer. While we do NOT profit from any sale that you make, we profit from the revenue of agents who pay to be listed. I want to make sure that my customers profit so they will keep buying that advertising from us. So it is important to me that a Compulife customer gets the sale, I don’t really care which one.
I have some agents that never get any sales from term4sale, regardless of the number of contacts. I squarely counsel those agents to STOP buying zip codes. Clearly the term4sale system is not a good fit for them, and I have other agents who are more than eager to take over those zip codes and who know how to get in quickly and get the consumer taken care of.
I am sorry for the long response, but as I wrote it I thought I will share the questions and response (anonymously) in the July Update News so that others can benefit from this discussion.
Once again, call me if you would like to discuss any of this further.
The following is the current order for new work that we will be doing in 2020:
- Complete API Introduction
- Overhaul Of Current Product Data Files
- Introduction of New PC Version: CQS.EXE
- Introduction of Compulife Basic Plus (with Pick 12)
Anyone with questions about any of these upcoming projects can call Bob Barney to discuss:
Please don’t email me essay questions, just call. If I’m not in, email me your phone number, I’ll call you.
These planned objectives will easily consume our programming time during 2020. The good news is that once the product data files have been converted, and we have introduced the new CQS.EXE, and upgraded our internet engine to use the new data files, Compulife will be turning it’s full attention to our web based, Compulife Basic software. The long term goal is to have a web based product that does everything our PC based software does.