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Wealth Management

How marketing automation is revolutionising the insurance industry

Katie Jameson is the Head of EMEA Marketing at Act-On Software

When it comes to handling and interpreting data, the insurance sector has often been at the forefront. It was one of the first to start hiring staff specifically to manage databases – something which is now a familiar practice – and has a model almost exclusively assembled around statistics and understanding its customers.

 

Despite this, insurers haven’t been as quick to adopt marketing automation. For many, the notion of adapting and personalising communications across an expansive target audience spanning across a varied number of different generations, niches and products is still an enormous test.

 

Because of the huge sum of variables, from renewal dates to individual customer knowledge, switching over from manual processes can sometimes seem like an almost futile job.

 

But the insurance sector is one that could profit considerably from marketing automation, which can help providers improve lead generation and adjust the journey to the respective needs of each customer.

 

Personalised communications

 

To cut through the noise and successfully market to prospects, insurers and sales teams, communications need to be bespoke for each recipient. The term marketing automation can often make people think of mass emails, but it is much more than that. Marketing automation shines the brightest when it comes to personalisation, and both artificial and predictive intelligence will play a bigger and bigger part in this space over the coming years.

 

Marketing automation platforms can help process databases and produce significant insights for the many segments insurance companies target, like when customers are online and what their favourite channels are. A good platform must then be capable of turning this insight and segmentation into action, by using the customer data to accommodate communications in the best way.

 

Doing this converts into higher sales effectiveness, more inbound and outbound leads, and increased customer loyalty, all while reducing the work involved and the demand for expensive reporting.

 

Adaptive marketing

 

Marketing automation caters for a targeted strategy that far eclipses the industry standards today. With it, insurers can curate highly personalised, customised paths for each individual lead. By applying predictive intelligence, customer data can be utilised much more efficiently, following the trail of ‘digital breadcrumbs’ that promising leads leave behind when agreeing to the use of cookies or carrying out an online activity in the public domain.

 

It can be combined with many other aspects of marketing too. A properly adaptive journey not only incorporates email, but also involves the customer via SMS, banner and social media ads – wherever it will work best for them. A good multi-channel marketing strategy in itself can be a way for insurance companies to diversify themselves, making their messages seem more appropriate and timely than those of their competitors, and at the same time supporting the brand direction.

 

Real world results

Physicians Insurance, a provider of liability insurance for clinics, physicians and hospitals in the US, has been marketing to new buyers to counter the recent the decline of physicians leaving independent practices to work for large clients and hospitals with its own self-insurance programmes. It found its previous software couldn’t keep up with demand, and failed to deliver targeted content that addressed the specific needs of each buyer.

 

With a large chunk of its revenue coming from maintaining its core book of business, the company decided that retaining customers, and using a more relational approach, was a critical component of its strategy.

 

To do this, the insurer distributed three monthly newsletters. The first supplied resources to help companies curtail the risk of medical errors, the second delivered thought-leadership pieces, and the third was shared with brokers to educate them and aid in servicing clients. Through marketing automation, the company was able to segment the audience by job title, specialty, geographic region and even size of clinics, and the lists were synced automatically to ensure the company’s huge database was always up to date.

 

Physicians Insurance then tailored the content in the newsletters to each group, making it easier to alert administrators to potential cyber threats and even offer obstetricians online courses about new developments in managing post-partum hemorrhages. Overall, marketing automation cut down Physicians Insurance’s time consuming operations and tackled managing and segmenting their lists manually. It also had a major impact on the results, helping the company achieve a 95 percent customer retention rate – considerably higher than the industry median of 84 percent – and driving open as high as 31 percent for existing clients.

 

Furthermore, marketing automation gave insights to help build on their marketing strategy. Act-On tracked and assessed how and when buyers interacted with messages so Physicians Insurance was able to build and adapt strategies depending on their audience segments, providing more detailed insights.

 

 

And in the UK, RSA Insurance – one of the world’s longest standing insurers – used Act-On and marketing automation to break through the noise of their brokers and risk managers’ inboxes as it found its previous system sent emails straight into “junk mail” folders. Like Physicians Insurance, RSA Insurance’s former method of marketing was time consuming, difficult and lacked a strategic plan based on analytics.

 

RSA Insurance used marketing automation to create and deliver professional emails and landing pages simply and clearly. Its ability to A/B test and report on email performance enabled RSA Insurance to further refine their emails and messaging, which resulted in an increase in open and click-through rates across its various email campaigns.

 

The results show why automation is set to become an essential strategy for insurers to approach the right clients and nurture the right prospects, all while maneuvering through the highly competitive insurance market.

 

It may well be argued that the future across all sectors is adaptive and personalised, and the insurance industry won’t be an exception.

 

Katie Jameson is the Head of EMEA Marketing at Act-On Software, a leading provider of marketing automation and one of the fastest growing tech companies in North America. She has previously implemented, integrated and executed programmes on a variety of marketing automation platforms at industry leading companies such as Symantec, Paywizard, and ResponseTap.

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Wealth Management

HOW RESILIENT IS YOUR ORGANISATION’S SECURITY?

Kimon Nicolaides, Digital Services Group Head at MASS

 

Organisational security can be thought of like peeling the layers of an onion – with critical assets sitting in the middle protected by multiple layers, and if one layer is removed or breached, there’s another one underneath. At least that’s the way it should be – too often, however, we see a siloed approach to the different areas of security. In practice, physical, cyber and personnel security can be much more inter-related than many imagine.

The finance sector is arguably one of the more mature in terms of established security measures. However, it’s also vastly diverse, targeted by some of the most advanced threat actors, and one where even the smallest breach has the potential for significant impact, monetarily, or on market reputation, perception or confidence. Security measures should therefore be viewed holistically, led and understood by senior management, otherwise gaps for exploitation will be found by intelligent and experienced people, supported by an ever-growing arsenal of exploitation technology.

Here, we take a closer look at some of the things that comprise a holistic view of security – based on the approach we take with public sector and defence organisations.

 

Physical security

It may seem obvious, but the first layer to assess should be the physical access to your business. For all organisations, this step remains as true today as it ever has been – even for the finance industry where physical security principles have been established over many years.

This stage should go back to the basics of how an intruder could gain access, starting by reviewing the ‘perimeter’ controls. In fact, the first question is, ‘what is the perimeter?’. With the potential for distributed site facilities, linked remote assets, and supply chain dependencies, this simple question needs careful consideration.

Scenario-based analysis, using threat actor personas, motivations and objectives can really help by defining a where a ‘perimeter’ really lies. It’s also an invaluable methodology for exposing how an organisation could be exploited.

This stage should involve a review of physical controls such as fencing, access technology, CCTV coverage etc., including, their role in deterrence and detection of hostile reconnaissance activities.  Disrupting the planning cycle of attacks is often overlooked relative to direct prevention of unauthorised access.

Ultimately, security measures are only as effective as the people that apply them, so an understanding of human behaviours is essential. It’s important to consider how people’s actions affect overall site security and, why these actions occur.

Issues can range from the wearing of security badges in the street through to poor motivation and effectiveness of roving security staff or those monitoring CCTV. Simple and innocent human mistakes could form the seed of future security breaches.

 

Cyber security

The finance sector has progressed its cyber resilience considerably as it’s been dealing with threats for many years. But business sizes now range from the very large to the small and, as new forms of financial transactions evolve, protection becomes more challenging. There is an increased availability of cyber exploitation toolsets and associated managed services and coupled with a reduction in their cost – lowering the financial and technical barriers to advanced cyber-attacks.

This means that cyber security, even for the finance sector, needs to be taken to a new level and existing assumptions continuously challenged.

For example, while penetration testing regimes remain a vital tool in mitigating network cyber risk (including ‘CBEST’ which has been widely rolled out across the finance sector), these still remain a snapshot in time. While they deliver valuable depth of analysis within a network, they are often constrained in breadth of scope and can potentially leave vulnerability blind spots. Very frequent, lighter-touch cyber assessments can fill this gap as they offer a more dynamic view of ongoing vulnerabilities over a wider proportion of the estate, which could represent ‘low hanging fruit’ for the cyber actor. Assessments can be enhanced by applying modern threat intelligence techniques to rapidly identify existing compromises and potential weaknesses (including personnel and corporate digital footprint). This establishes a picture of cyber posture and vulnerabilities before any testing taking place.

Similarly, end-user device security is often viewed in terms of the encryption strength, keys etc.  However, modern methods of fault injection attack (a device’s response to artificially applied ‘fault conditions’ used to derive security credentials), can effectively sidestep assumed security measures, which would normally take decades to ‘crack’ using computer power. So, it makes sense to test a device’s vulnerability to fault injection, rather than assuming encryption alone will protect it.

For this reason, it’s crucial to examine the wider supply chain. In the finance sector, there is high dependence on suppliers of digital telecommunications and energy services, and when different systems are interconnected its challenging to pinpoint cyber resilience risks. Despite this, it’s possible to map complex information to establish risk, by identifying ‘hot-spot’ concentrations of dependencies that represent single-point failures within the complexity of the overall business operation.

 

The insider threat

The potential threat from insiders – those who might misuse their legitimate access to an organisation’s assets for unauthorised purposes – is often overlooked.

This is particularly true for financial businesses, where personal financial gain could be an incentive, or where security controls are so effective that hostile actors must exploit those with legitimate access to circumvent them. You can think of insider threat as the ‘grand master skeleton key’ of security, as there are few security measures that cannot be overcome by the right insider, or team of insiders.  Security compromises involving insiders can also have a disproportionately high business impact.

Yet many organisations consider insider risk to be mitigated simply by pre-employment screening and fail to recognise the spectrum of risks ranging from genuine human error, through to orchestrated insider activity by paid professionals. Insider cases frequently involve individuals who have been with an organisation for some years and have had some personal vulnerability exploited or exposed, or simply become disgruntled.

It’s a broad area to address. Internal governance, security culture, employee wellbeing, employment measures, corporate digital footprint, and perceived employee sentiment are some of the aspects that should be considered. When you have understood this for your own organisation, you should make the same assessment of your supply chain.

If the business is committed, it’s possible to use structured analytical methods to quantify your organisation’s maturity and assess where the key vulnerabilities and risks could lie. This understanding paves the way for improvement, and even small changes can make a big difference.

 

The hidden layers

Like an onion, there are hidden layers to security that may be overlooked so it’s important to consider physical, cyber and personnel security collectively, and to understand the dependencies you have as a business.

For example, your own environment may be protected, but if data is shared with your suppliers or partners, is it still secure? Similarly, if a supplier or partner has a security breach, what does it mean for your operation, your business continuity and your customers?

When assessing security measures, it’s essential to go an extra layer deeper and consider how a range of factors could impact your organisation and its readiness to respond to an incident.

At MASS, our security experts consist of professionals with extensive experience in preventing security breaches and performing assessments in accordance with Ministry of Defence processes, so that we can ensure our security analysis meets and exceeds industry best practice.

For more information, please visit: https://www.mass.co.uk/what-we-do/cyber-security/cyber-security-training/

 

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Wealth Management

HOW TO CATCH UP ON YOUR RETIREMENT SAVINGS

By Gerard Visser, Certified Financial Planner at Alexander Forbes

For many South Africans who were already finding it difficult to save for retirement, Covid-19 has created additional financial pressures which may take years to overcome.

If you stopped contributions to your retirement annuity, or took a payment holiday on your pension or provident fund, you might be worried about the shortfall created, and how you’re going to catch up.

Stop worrying and take action to avoid retiring with insufficient funds. There are many ways to contribute to your retirement, from employer and employee contributions to pension or provident fund, monthly contributions to a Retirement Annuity or a tax free savings account.

With many people having a reduced income due to the economic ramifications of Covid-19, it might be impossible to contribute a large monthly amount to catch up while having concerns such as debt to pay, but I recommend starting with your budget. This will aid you not only by freeing up extra funds to catch up your retirement contributions with, but could also create some peace of mind with an opportunity to pay debts off faster or save some discretionary money.

Gerard Visser

There are many reasons why it is important to follow a monthly budget. Besides reducing stress levels by keeping an eye on your spending habits, it also allows you to track your debts, finding opportunities to top up emergency funds or save extra towards your retirement. A budget goes hand-in-hand with setting and achieving financial goals.

A budget does create an additional administrative burden and requires time to update. I have my budget on an Excel spreadsheet and update it monthly when making EFT payments.

Costs for entertainment, groceries and petrol are variable in nature and change each month. You might end up not using all the funds set aside for these variable costs. Adding these leftover funds at the end of the month to your savings is a good habit to inculcate. The immediate impact might seem small but over time will make a positive outcome to both your retirement and the development of a savings mind-set.

When you are able to free up some money each month, start automating your savings. Instead of having a variable amount go towards savings, set up an automatic contribution, where you “pay yourself first”. Set up an automatic debit for your retirement savings and you’ll grow these funds without having to think about it.

One of the most important decisions you can take to help make your retirement comfortable is preserving your retirement funds when changing employer.

When starting new employment or if you are coming out of a payment holiday, try matching your employer’s monthly contribution toward your pension or provident fund, or if on a total cost to company structure, start on the maximum employee contribution percentage. By doing this as well as automating your savings, you get use to contributing those amounts and could potentially have a larger nest egg at retirement.

Remember that life happens, and your budget might come under strain – many of us have experienced this during the pandemic. If you have been going through a difficult financial time, it is time to reassess and ask yourself, what in your budget is necessary and what is actually a luxury?

It is never too late to start sorting out your finances, but the earlier you start, the better, and more achievable, the outcome will be.

 

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