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.
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.
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.