For those of us working in the consumer direct retail insurance marketing world, today’s opportunities are greater than any time I can remember. Simply put, more individuals are willing and eager to buy direct than ever before. What’s more, the channels by which consumers engage with us continue to flourish – with seemingly no end in sight.
But, along with opportunity comes challenge. Whether you are selling Life, Health, Auto, or Homeowners Insurance, I’m almost certain you regularly ask yourself these questions:
- What markets and channels should I invest in?
- How can I be certain I’m getting the absolute best return on that investment?
While there is no quick answer to these questions – as with most things in life – you will learn by doing. Here are some myths I suggest you challenge as you continue to build your business.
Myth #1: Each Channel Needs to Carry Its Own Weight
There once was a time when each channel had to show attributable success. A direct response TV ad had to generate leads that converted at a rate that was profitable. A direct mail program had to generate applications (one-step) or leads (two-step) that showed immediate return. But, as we layered media upon media and response channels proliferated, attribution became more and more difficult.
Today, even the most data-driven marketer has difficulty isolating which specific variables increase response. The test matrices might explode if you try to isolate each variable in a multichannel effort. However, you will likely miss an important opportunity if you execute a direct mail program without email and display support, or an SEM program without working in concert with your overall SEO and retargeting strategy and initiatives.
Bottom line: Evaluate your marketing program as the sum of the parts. Not channel-by-channel.
Myth #2: Response Rates Will Quickly Deteriorate If You Continually Present the Same Offer to Your Prospects and Policy Owners
One of the most counterintuitive aspects of our business is that prospect and policy owner response rates quickly diminish unless you allow sufficient time before messaging them again. The facts simply don’t support this. Time and again, I’ve been amazed by how much a consumer can tolerate meaningful and worthwhile offers. Remember, on average people see 1,500+ promotional messages per day. Therefore, any message delivered with some historical context will immediately rise to the top.
This is one area I strongly suggest you test for yourself. It’s easy to run baseline programs against heavy-up programs. I suspect you’ll be astonished at how little (if any) fatigue there is in response rates. Years ago, when I lived in a direct mail-only world, I worked for a company that sent 43 solicitations to new policy owners in the first year. The reason? Because the 44th didn’t work.
Myth #3: Sales Automation Will Immediately Free Up Agent Time and Make Conversations with the Consumer More Efficient
If you’re excited about the latest sales automation plug-in from your CRM platform and think it will take away most of the heavy lifting, proceed with caution. For example, if you start an automated texting platform, but haven’t built in established rules regarding responding to those texts, expect some unhappy prospects. As marketers, we do not live in a set it and forget it world.
Rather, I suggest you strive for behavioral automation – using sales Automation tools to help get you there. Mapping out the buyer’s journey forms the foundation of behavioral automation. From there, you can use many of the sales automation tools to improve that journey. There are no shortcuts here, but from my experience, it’s always worth the effort.
Myth #4: The Proliferation of Choice Platforms and Comparison Shopping Sites Puts Even More Pressure on Competitive Rate Pricing
Sure, you need relatively competitive rates with most products. But don’t confuse competitive with the absolute lowest price. Experienced field agents know this better than most. Let’s be brutally honest: Life, Health, Auto, Homeowners, and virtually any personal insurance coverage is not a whole lot of fun to shop for. Given that, most consumers want to get it done quickly, conveniently, and with the peace of mind knowing they made the right choice.
Perhaps the most relevant example of this is those selling Medicare Supplement Insurance, where plan differences are non-existent, and price and claims experience are the only meaningful differentiators. The lowest price simply does not always win.
A number of years ago, I had a direct-to-consumer term life client with an extremely productive business. We presented our offer as a great value and showed examples of how we had better rates than some well-known competitors. Later, in post-buyer studies, we asked our new policyowners, “Why did you buy from us?” Ninety-five percent said they did so because of our great rates. When we followed up that question with, “Who did you compare us to?” only 50% reported ever doing any actual comparisons after they received our initial quote. Telling, isn’t it?
Dan Boerger is one of the founding partners of Quattro, a Philadelphia-based Advertising Agency specializing in retail financial services. He has held senior marketing management positions at numerous national life and health insurance companies.