Agility may be key to surviving an industry in flux, but when it comes to the insurance business, successfully keeping apace means understanding if fleet-footedness is necessary for fleeting change.
A confluence of events is altering how consumers choose insurance, from corporate acquisitions to coverage apps, and it is disrupting the industry. Maintaining consumer attention, however, does not require upending strategically sound marketing practices or investing in every shiny technology.
Organizations can apply traditional strategies to these changes with little upset— and they may even outlive many headline-grabbing technologies or economic shifts.
We’ve found three disarmingly straightforward marketing practices to roll with change. But to make sense of them, let’s first get our arms around the biggest change culprits facing the insurance industry today.
1. Sovereign consumerism
Insurance doesn’t sell by the pound, but it’s becoming a commodity nonetheless, thanks in part to more people taking control of their insurance choices. This leads to more demand in terms of price and coverage options, forcing insurers to rethink new-member proposals. Personalization is key to standing apart from competition, and it’s now easier in virtually every form of communication—from database to direct mail to contact center support.
2. Ankle byters
Many consumers find insurance complex, so in addition to value, they demand simplicity. “InsurTech” enables it—from artificial intelligence to platform business models to apps that enable users to pick their coverage. More than 80% of insurers predicted artificial intelligence-driven automation would be embedded throughout the business by 2021, according to 2016 research by Accenture. Unpredicted: A robot-run insurance office that opened in Texas in 2016.
3. Mergers and acquisitions
When an essential service provider is taken over, consumers get anxious. U.S. Insurers made more than $20 billion in M&A deals in 2017 and conditions indicate consolidation will continue in 2018. Recent tax reform and the lower tax rates it brings will make U.S. insurance targets more attractive to foreign buyers, for example. Simple, steady and proactive communications that answer anticipated questions will assure nervous members and keep them from shopping around.
Exacting Change: 3 Proven Practices
These shifts may still be unfolding, but the events that produce them are familiar and navigable. The elements of engagement have not changed, after all – it still hinges on personally relevant conversations. What’s changing, primarily, is scale and speed.
With that understood, let’s examine three tried-and-true marketing methods for managing relevance.
1. Making acquaintances
Look for a marketing firm with a long history of insurance clients and reliable industry data and analytics. Ask if its insights team creates, prepares and equips data to inform business decisions in real time. Also ask about predictive analytics, which can be used to alert customers to needs before they even realize they have them. For example, analytics can be used to detect patterns that identify life events indicating new insurance needs, such as a new home or a freshly licensed driver.
2. Staying in (personal) touch
Physical mail is gathered on a daily basis by nearly everyone – 98%, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Of the direct mailers included in those bundles, 80% to 90% get opened, compared with just 20% to 30% of emails. A marketing partner with advanced direct mail engineering can customize direct mail for specific shopper segments. Ask for case studies and for scale capabilities.
Those direct mail pieces are only effective if they trigger profitable reactions. Call center employees should understand the promises made in direct mailers, as well as how to troubleshoot questions. A true end-to-end solution involves determining the right recipients, creating relevant content and design, tracking mail delivery and then aligning staff to handle calls from responders. Read more about one company where more than 7,000 call center agents were trained to troubleshoot a new service and operating system, within 90 days and across 14 centers.
These practices of engagement have been around a long time, but their foundational quality endures when reinforced with emerging technology and human understanding. These tools enable the agility to anticipate and meet consumer preferences, ensuring the insurance industry is prepared for even more advancements around the bend.
Check out this case study to learn how Harte Hanks used all three methods to help an insurance client maintain and grow its member base, to generate 225,000 inquiries.