In an ever-changing and customer centric age, digital marketing for a legacy industry like insurance presents unique challenges. I returned from the Professional Insurance Marketing Association MidYear Meeting in Stowe, VT earlier this week, where the theme was “Key Consumer Segments (And How They Buy).” The content of the event aimed to cover several critical consumer segments that are historically tough to reach for marketers. (Full disclosure: I was a co-chair for this meeting; co-chairs are heavily involved in selecting speakers for the event, but do not have editorial control over content presented by speakers.)
The take-aways were many, but here are four that resonated most for me:
Don’t sell stuff to consumers, solve problems for them.
In many product categories, insurance included, marketers and businesses get too wrapped up in the value proposition of products and in hammering that message to prospects. Sean Sullivan, CEO of health insurance exchange company HealthNetworks.com, spoke on how his company uses media and digital utilities – two things not typically related to health insurance – to solve problems for his prospects. Sullivan’s argument is that once a business has solved a problem for a prospect, it gives that business “permission” to continue a conversation with the prospect, in the form of pitching product. It’s an indirect road for marketers, but when executed well can lead to cheap acquisition costs on a large scale.
Assume your prospects prioritize the same values at your own peril.
In the opening keynote, Marti Barletta made a strong case for how the values of women differ greatly from those of men. Put differently, you’re likely wasting time and resources if you’re targeting women and not using creative built specifically for that segment. The challenge is a great opportunity for digital marketers, who have easy and cheap tools at their disposal to employ multivariate creative elements that ensure male and female segments get exposed to different product messaging upon response. (Bonus for insurance marketers: Barletta pointed out that in theory, women are the ideal prospect for insurance despite how infrequently they are targeted by insurance marketers; women value safety and security dramatically more than men, both of which have a strong correlation to insurance buying.)
Know what your business stands for before talking to your customers.
Customer centricity expert Hank Brigman delivered the closing keynote and with it, critical reminders for digital and traditional marketers alike. Brigman reminded me that every touchpoint a business has with a customer is an opportunity to tell that customer what it stands for as a business. More importantly, a business has to do the hard work of defining its mission in order to be viewed as authentic and consistent in its interactions with customers. As digital marketers, it’s hard not to get excited about how much influence we have in this process. We have opportunities via site front-ends, mobile apps and experiences, dynamic sales content, social media, and post-sale customer communication to create a disciplined and impactful customer experience that enhances the value of our businesses and lower customer attrition.
Millennials continue to be tough to reach, they’re underinsured, and they’re not compensating for that.
This is another key segment covered deeply at the PIMA MidYear and one we know a lot about at NGI Group; we created college insurance portal GradGuard.com, which is endorsed by over 150 colleges and universities. Jill Fecher of SKM Group shared research her firm completed on millennial buying habits and her numbers confirmed something we’ve learned over the years working on GradGuard: if you’re in financial services and you want to reach millennials, you need to get to parents. According to SKM’s data, 59% of millennials trust their parents’ direct guidance above all others (and by a significant margin) when purchasing financial services products. (Bonus for insurance marketers: despite the fact that a shocking 26% of millennials have literally no insurance coverage of any kind, 59% do not have additional money set aside for emergencies, according to SKM’s data.) Also on this topic, Stacey Vogler of Protect Your Bubble USA shared some helpful product and digital marketing tactics for millennial marketing. Her company’s success is rooted in its focus solely on protection products most relevant to millennials and by demanding extremely simple and easy digital usability on its website, ProtectYourBubble.com.
Images via picjumbo.com.