In several articles on our blog, we have talked about how the insurance industry is undergoing profound changes as a result of digital transformation, a phenomenon that has already been underway for several years and has accelerated rapidly in recent years for reasons with which everyone is familiar.
Indeed, the change has affected both the way in which insurance companies communicate and interact with their customers. For example, think about social networks and the particular tone of voice that is used on these platforms. Also, think about the tools they use to interface with customers—the aforementioned social networks, smartphone apps, and the video format in place of the more traditional written email.
In this post, we will discuss the success of one of these tools—marketing automation—within the insurance industry.
What is marketing automation?
We have already covered this topic in depth in another post on our blog, but to make a long story short, Marketing Automation is a SaaS (software as a service) solution that enables the automation and efficiency of various digital marketing and sales processes.
For example, it allows email or SMS flows to be scheduled to users based on their actions; it simplifies the collection of new contacts on the site and social channels (lead generation); it makes it possible to identify the most promising contacts in the database (tracking and lead scoring), and much more. It is basically a work suite, accessible through a normal browser, that makes it possible to automate those time-consuming and micro-managed digital marketing operations.
Therefore, it is used by many industries for:
- Sending newsletters, thank-you emails, reminders, follow-ups, and transactional communications to contacts
- Collecting demographic-behavioral data from websites, social networks, and software for user-customer profiling (in a GDPR-compliant manner)
- Managing the relationship with each potential customer, from first contact to sale (lead nurturing)
- Modifying the website to include landing pages, banners, pop-ups, and downloadable resources for lead generation purposes
Why marketing automation is useful to the insurance industry
From what has been said so far about marketing automation, it is easy to see why its functionality is of particular interest to the insurance sector.
By nature, the insurance sector is strongly interested in profiling prospective users and customers based on their interests and behaviors in order to rapidly propose insurance policies and solutions that are calibrated to the user’s actual needs. For example, further downstream in negotiations, it can make a big difference to know the products that the user requesting a quote has viewed on the site. Knowing his or her date of birth or profession can be useful so that we already know what add-ons or collateral policies to add, with a view to upselling and cross-selling. On the other hand, since policies are products with a medium-to-long purchase cycle ( the potential customer inquires about the policy itself, evaluates quotes, takes into account the things they need, etc.) marketing automation makes it possible to develop a relationship with the customer and lead them away to purchase.
Indeed, the insurance industry, by the nature of the products it deals with, requires that there is a relationship of trust between the agency and the insured that must be carefully cultivated. It is an industry where it is essential to “cultivate” the customer, explaining the nature of the product and its usefulness, and where it pays off much more in gentle persuasion than in hard selling. It’s for these reasons that functions such as the tracking of contact actions, interest-based profiling, and automated email flows are particularly interesting tools in the insurance industry.
Insurance and marketing automation: Some practical examples
Profiling and lead generation
Let’s proceed in order. When a person wants to take out an insurance policy, the first thing he or she does is to go to the internet to get information. In fact, as we have already mentioned, according to Pwc 71% of people get information through digital channels before signing a contract with an insurance company. This basically means that they will use search engines and (if you’ve done a good job SEO-wise) will ideally arrive at the company or agency website and browse through the various policies to get an idea of the offer.
If you’re already using Marketing Automation software, the profiling phase begins at this time. Depending on the pages a viewer visits on the site and the products they view, the software will assign tags of interest to the visitor profile. For example, the visitor looking to buy a policy to insure against accidents will be assigned with a tag for “accident insurance, while the visitor looking at vehicle insurance will have the tag “automotive insurance” applied; and so on.
When a viewer fills out the information or quote request form in the same browsing session, a contact with first name, last name and email is created in the marketing automation software with which these tags are associated. Contacts with the same tags can be grouped into lists to which to send communications related to the products that they have shown interest in.
Segmentation and cross-referencing with data from CRM
The operation described above—the division of contacts according to tags of interest—is called segmentation, and it is one of the most interesting marketing automation functions for the insurance industry. Above all, it is an operation that can also be done on existing databases, allowing ad hoc marketing initiatives to be planned on active and dormant customers.
In this case, you will need to extract the database file in .csv (comma separated values) format by selecting the important fields that you want to import into the marketing automation software. Once the file is imported, it becomes possible to segment the present contacts according to the imported fields and create precise groups based on their unique characteristics. For example, all Auto Liability customers could be placed in a “Marketing Mobility” segment, Accident customers in a group called “Accident Marketing,” and so on.
Alternatively, a technically more complex but also more forward-looking operation, is to interface the marketing automation software directly with the agency or company’s CRM software. In this way, contacts will be automatically exported from the CRM to the marketing automation software, where—after mapping field and tags between software—they can flow directly to the corresponding segments.
Ad hoc email flows for the various segments
Segments—that is, groups of users with similar interests and characteristics—represent the ideal starting point for what is the main function of marketing automation: the creation of email flows (workflows) to be sent to contacts.
In fact, a direct email marketing campaign (DEM) must be built with the ideal recipients with their specific characteristics in mind: are they familiar with the brand? Do they have insurance education and awareness, or are they the classic customers who only take out an insurance policy because it is mandatory? What are the lines of business they have shown interest in and do they have an active policy? Indeed, only by answering these questions will it be possible to predict the thoughts and actions of the contacts, and thus consequently outline the content and flow of the emails.
With the workflow, it is possible to outline different email paths in order to offer personalized and granular communication to users and to profile and segment them further. For example, in an email sent to the “Accident” segment, you could ask recipients to click on the sport they play (paragliding or basketball) and send information about various policies, depending on their choice. Thus, not only will communication be tailored as the concept of user experience prescribes, it will also be possible to better profile the contact according to the risks they are exposed to.
Cross-selling and up-selling of policies
Some marketing automation software also makes it possible to import contacts—after integration with CRM and management—but also sales and renewal data, opening up additional and more profitable profiling possibilities.
In fact, with data on the value of purchases, their frequency, and the date they were last made, it’s possible to conduct RFM analysis—Recency, Frequency, Monetary—a type of analysis that allows customers to be segmented into groups of buyers according to the value they bring to the company, so that you have customers who buy often while spending a lot in one group, those who buy little but pay a lot in another, those who spend little and rarely in another, and so on.
Nurtigo, a marketing automation software developed by a Doxee partner company, has this RFM segmentation feature, which makes it possible to define segments that are similar in terms of buying habits and interests, which form the perfect basis for upselling and cross-selling campaigns for insurance products.
For customers of the casualty line of business—a user segment that is sensitive to insurance products and willing to pay—cross-selling campaigns, for example, can be done for the health line of business, which is related in many ways. On the generalist and static segment of auto liability customers, you could conduct a campaign to introduce them to additional services aimed at promoting a final up-selling opportunity at the next auto policy renewal. And so on.
The utility of marketing automation for the insurance industry lies precisely in this: the ability to identify the various groups of customers and contacts that populate the database based on their buying habits and interests, and that cultivate the relationship with each of these in order to promote the right insurance products to the right customer.
Article published in collaboration with Nurtigo.