Katie Jameson is the Head of EMEA Marketing at Act-On Software, one of the fastest growing tech companies in North America. A marketing automation native, for the past ten years she has implemented, integrated and executed programmes on a variety of marketing automation platforms at industry leading companies such as Symantec, Paywizard and ResponseTap and now Act-On.
When it comes to managing and understanding data, the insurance sector has often led the way. The ability to process vast numbers of risk models and customer records has been an integral function for many years, and the industry was one of the earliest to start hiring staff specifically to maintain databases – something many others have since followed.
Despite this though, there does seem to be one area of data management where insurers haven’t been so quick to get on board, and that’s marketing automation. So for many, the concept of adapting communications to suit a broad target audience across different generations, niches and products is still a major challenge, especially as there are such heavy regulations on the industry.
Insurance marketers often find they need to first and foremost educate their audience, which then adds an additional layer to the way they promote relevant services. And because of the huge number of variables, from renewal dates to customer knowledge, switching over from manual processes to an automated solution can look like an almost impossible task.
However, it’s important to consider how the insurance sector can benefit from marketing automation, to improve lead generation and tailor the journey to the individual needs of each consumer.
To cut through the noise and successfully market to prospects, insurers and sales reps need to adapt their communication, making it bespoke for the recipient. While the term marketing automation might make some think of untargeted mass emails, it is in fact in personalisation where automation can shine the most.
That’s not just applicable to insurance of course, as it’s a fundamental step for marketers in any sector, but it is where artificial intelligence and predictive intelligence will play a bigger and bigger role over the next few years.
The wealth of data generated through online searches, social data, cookie tracking and publicly available information can be a key resource for insurers that they have yet to fully tap into. Especially now that GDPR is limiting data collection, automation can help insurers to manage a wealth of data in an efficient and GDPR-compliant way.
Marketing automation platforms help process databases and produce meaningful insights for the many segments insurance companies target, such as when customers are online and what their preferred channels are. Marketing has become very complex, and successfully managing the buying process today requires much more from marketers than it used to.
Automation can make this process easier, but a good platform must go beyond just automation to turn data into insights and action, while at the same time being easy to leverage. This in turn translates to more a growth in sales effectiveness, inbound and outbound leads and customer loyalty, all while minimising work involved and the need for costly reporting.
Adaptive marketing at every step of the lead’s journey
Marketing automation allows for a targeted strategy that far exceeds industry standards today. With it, insurers can become adaptive marketers, or at least get access to more adaptive marketing techniques, simply by using platforms that create highly tailored, customised paths for each individual lead.
But the big question is how automation can fit in with the broader brand strategy of insurance companies. In such a highly competitive market, maintaining a unique brand image is one of the main ways insurers can stand apart from the crowd. So how can the proposition of AI and marketing automation bolster branding, similar to the consumer approach of Compare The Market’s Meerkats, or Direct Line’s Winston Wolf?
Marketing automation can be integrated with many other areas of multi-channel marketing. A properly adaptive journey not only encompasses email, but also engages 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 differentiate themselves, making their messages seem more relevant and timely than those of the many other competitors on the market, all while supporting the creative or PR direction.
Already seeing results
One example of this in action is Physician’s Insurance, a provider of medical professional liability insurance for physicians, clinics, and hospitals in the U.S. The company used Act-On and marketing automation to implement three monthly customer newsletters: the first shared resources to help companies reduce the risk of medical errors, the second shared thought-leadership content while the third supported servicing their clients. Marketing automation had simplified their process for the company and since its adoption, Physician’s Insurance had a 95 percent customer retention rate, significantly higher than the industry average of 84 percent (according to the IIA).
So while the more efficient use of resources – particularly time – and the increased performance stats were an important driver in adding marketing automation to their marketing mix, Physician’s Insurance saw the most value in being able to engage prospects with meaningful content at optimum time. It is clear that the business met the diverse needs of their buyers as their targeted communications had brought open rates as high as 31 percent for existing clients, which even met a critical component of their strategy to retain customers.
In the UK meanwhile, RSA Insurance is another that reported similar success when it introduced marketing automation in an effort to better segment its audience. In doing so, the company was able to deliver campaigns in a third of the time it took previously, while increasing lead generation and being able to more easily target individual groups and subsets.
Those are just two examples, but they reflect the bigger picture, which is that automation is set to become a key strategy for reaching the right clients and nurture the right prospects, all while navigating the highly competitive insurance market. It’s about saving resource to earn more.
It’s safe to say the future is adaptive, and the insurance sector won’t be an exception.