Choosing the right distribution strategy for the right insurance customer

Advances in digital technologies set the path to new customer behavior and a significant shift in insurance distribution, but opened new opportunities for insurers for better segmentation, targeting and distribution. 

A global study by Accenture gathered the views of over 32,000 insurance customers in 18 countries, providing valuable insights on how people expect to interact with their insurers, their attitude towards insurance digitalization, pricing, and the meaning of loyalty. 

Three distinct groups emerged: nomads, hunters and quality seekers. Who are they and most importantly, what do they want? 

My insurer, my risk coach 

It is time to face the known truth, price is the number one loyalty trigger for auto and household insurance. It is a major factor in life insurance, also. Yet, there is an expectation arising from customers to receive valuable advice from their insurers, to live healthier, safer lives. In the end reducing the risk means a smaller price.  

Managing the risk as they face it 

Overall: personalized advice on reducing risk and loss 

Household: alerts on smoke, fire. Pair it up with smart home devices 

Life: emergency services – notification to family in case of event, or the nearest hospital; health monitoring services 

Auto: real time notifications when driving on roads with high frequency of accidents; personalized advice on being a safer driver 

Advice can come in different ways, from the insurance agent, or can be computer generated. The areas with most requests are insurance coverings and retirement planning. 

Partnerships like never before 

Traditional channels are still the preferred ways for most of the insurers and their clients, yet both parties would like to add more digital solutions. Still, relying on old systems, insurance companies will have a tough time in responding to customers’ high expectations that are already met by other industries: telecom, banking, retail. 

Finding new distribution partners 

Globally, people are willing to try other distribution models. The adoption rate would still be subject to local market characteristics, but insurers should consider testing new distribution partnerships.  

Another option might be plug and play into an existing network such as Google, Amazon, supermarkets, retailers. Treat this as an opportunity to remain relevant. 

For a more traditional approach, keep in mind that 60% of the interviewed customers would consider buying insurance from banks. 

Finding partners for adding valuable services to insurance products 

Opportunities may be found everywhere if thinking outside the limits of the insurance products solely as risk management from financial loss point of view. 

Emergency services, manufacturers of smart devices, fitness brands, cars manufacturers who add sensors for impact that trigger, emergency calls (see the European initiative eCall), claim files and payments, or driving tips included according to your driving style; all the above could be ideas that add value to a product exposed to commoditization.  

The new normal and the Phygital landscape 

Accenture’s research findings revealed three customer personas differentiated by attitudes towards pricing and low cost, their interest in high-quality and responsive service. Also, trust as a form of data protection and interest in digitalization are defined as two other loyalty drivers. 

A highly digitalized group is now redefining the new normal. Shortly, they are not tied to traditional financial service providers, value digitalization and want new ways to access services and advice. They are the youngest and fastest-growing segment, therefore the future of the financial industry. Yet, not many companies are ready to handle their expectations. The “core business” mindset most of the insurers run the business on, determines the lack of agility, the low-risk approach to innovation, the “let’s hope nothing changes” attitude. This explains the growing number of insurance start-ups and insurtech companies that cut some of the market share pie away from the traditional insurers but create new market opportunities and segments that didn’t show any interest towards the old-fashioned way. 

“There is no doubt that customers are turning increasingly to digital and mobile channels to research their insurance options and request quotes. But it is just as clear that they continue to value human advice, and many prefer to buy their insurance from an agent or broker. A hybrid distribution model that combines online and mobile channels with agent/call center/chat support therefore continues to have high potential.” 

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There are some myths about things moving fully into the digital world, mostly among insurance sales people. A recent study by Google busted them, confirming there is indeed a symbiosis between the online and offline, summed up by ROPO – research online, purchase offline. 

Search results are a powerful tool for driving customers to visit the stores. 

3 in 4 who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores 

Remember, once in your agency, the customer might still be checking out what is on your website, in fact more than a half are still looking for you while in-store. The only difference is that now they want an informative, customized experience. 

How to take advantage of this change?

  1.  Provide relevant, local info via search and online 
  2. Help customers while in-store, improve their experience 
  3. Provide customized offers and recommendations 

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The Nomads 

Attracted by pay-per-use 

This buyer persona wants personalization, flexible pay-per-use insurance coverage online or via mobile for specific temporary needs.  

Targeting Nomads means demonstrating them how their behaviors can reduce the price they pay for insurance. 

Ready to transition to a new digital model  

As they are being comfortable with the computer-generated advice, the involvement of the insurance agent is moved later in the buying process, only sometimes in the closing phase or if complex topics need explanation. Nevertheless, more than half are considering an online-only customer journey. 

Open to sharing data in return of new benefits 

Traditionally, insurers collect lots of data that do not really use outside business as usual. In addition to lower prices, insurers should consider exploring what these customers would want in return of sharing their data.  

63% want personalized information to reduce the risk of injury or loss, in return for sharing data 

Will migrate to non-insurance firms 

Distribution partnerships with non-insurers should be considered since exploring new providers a Nomad insight.  

74% would be willing to consider buying insurance from Amazon or Google 

55% would be willing to consider buying from a supermarket or retailer 

The Hunter 

Cost matters for traditional insurance buyers 

Hunters want to work with insurers, but insurers should not take this loyalty for granted. They are looking for the right offer at the right time and expect value for money., meaning a good quality of service in relation to the amount paid. 

100% say competitive pricing is a top driver of loyalty 

Value human advice on insurance purchases 

When seeking human contact insurance customers expect to receive expert personalized advice. This takes time to deliver. Process automation and cutting time from administrative tasks can free-up agents so they can deliver the value-added advice that Hunters seek. 

Agents are important for more complex advice  

Dealing with complex situations and delivering insurance knowledge is a winning strategy when targeting Hunters. This is means years of experience in the industry, but also training. Remember: 

42% use their agent to make a claim  

Open to data-driven offerings 

Insurers pursuing Hunters should accelerate efforts to provide telematics-based data capture 

67% are interested in adjustments to auto insurance costs based on car usage patterns  

The Quality Seekers 

Driven by service and trust 

Targeting Quality Seekers means high-everything – high quality service, high level of automation of transactions, high personalization. 

Need to trust the integrity of their insurer 

Data security and protecting customers’ interests are loyalty drivers for this segment, but insurers need to add transparency and demonstrate how collecting certain data has an impact in the offers made in return. 

Fast and convenient 

Insurers should add speed to the growing expectations list of Quality Seekers. Add these to their priority service demand and you’ll see a request for premium insurance services. 

 To sum up, insurers should develop different customer journeys for each buyer persona: an online-everything for the Nomads, with agents and call-center ready to intervene at any moment to push the sale to closing; be prepared to review the cost structure to bring down pricing while providing value and service to Hunters. Add high quality service, high level of automation of transactions, high personalization if the strategy is to target Quality Seekers which is a good positioning opportunity as a premium insurance provider. 

Read the full report here.

You are wasting most of your social media budget, and you don’t even know it

Did you know that the quality of the content you share on your social media has an impact on the ROI? I know you did, but not in the way you think.

Socialbakers studied the paid activity within their database (over 3 billion dollars) and discovered that there is a price attached to the quality of your content. The results are pretty shocking.

70% of the investment you spend on content is wasted. 44% of content is poor quality, 25% is average quality, and only 15% is top quality.

– Moses Velasco, Chief Product Evangelist at Socialbakers

A little piece about the Facebook algorithm

Facebook prioritizes the stories that people like and pushes them to your newsfeed. So, the more engaging the content, the more you see from that brand.

When it comes to content quality, there are two KPIs that matter: reach and engagement. Socialbakers looked further at the relation between these two metrics because if you want your post to reach more people, you have to consider the engagement also.

The metric they used is called Post Reach Engagement Rate – the number of people who engaged (like, comment, or share) with your post, from the number of people who saw the post. This is what they came up with:

The more people engage with your content, the cheaper is to boost it!

Furthermore,

CPC is 14x higher with 1% engaged users than 5-6% engaged users

– Moses Velasco, Chief Product Evangelist at Socialbakers

Where does the content quality come from?

You have a beautiful post, with a great image, and good copy, but if you serve it to the wrong audience, they might not necessarily like it. Thus, depending on who is looking at it, content is either good or bad.

44% of the promoted content is poor quality, and companies don’t know it

It is already hard enough to track the investment you make in social media and relate it back to your business KPIs and objectives. Spending budget on content that’s not engaging, generates even more costs in ads spending.

The cost of your ads depends on the content, quality, and targeting, so flooding the market with content that isn’t relevant, isn’t a good strategy.

How do you invest in content to maximize the results?

The 100% paid strategy doesn’t work.

You’ll end up spending more on content you shouldn’t invest on, than the content you should have invested.

Use relevance score to measure the quality of your content

Facebook assigns a score between 1 and 10 to your ad, after the first 500 hundred impressions, and looks at the engagement of your audience. As you see, it’s not only about how many people saw it, but how people engage with it. If there is negative feedback (people unfollow, hide, or report as spam) your relevance score moves closer to 1. But if you receive comments, views, shares, the score goes up. Seeing this as a positive signal, your ad gets served to more people.

Globally, ads with a very low Relevance Score have 40x times higher CPC

Good content means lower CPC, lower CPM, more interactions for the same reach (see again how engagement works with reach?), becomes more viral, and has less negative feedback (such as unfollow, report as spam, because Facebook looks at this also and lowers your relevance score, thus paying higher).

Targeting

When you build up content to address it to a very broad audience, it will be very general – from the image, to copy, and call to action. Designing content for a certain segment, taking into consideration not only the demographics but also interests (Facebook has hundreds of targeting criteria); will change dramatically the relevance score, lower the cost and maximize the ROI.

A piece of advice on social media strategy

Organic reach is not dead

Mainly, there are two components of the social media strategy: the organic element, and the paid. Each has its own role and objectives.

Use the organic to impact the community, to build your fanbase, educate, build brand awareness. Furthermore, you can use the community to better know your clients.

When your posts do really well, promote them.

Monitor your content engagement before investing in it.

On the other hand, the paid activity has different objectives. Use it when you want people to take action: download whitepapers, give you information about them, take them to a landing page or e-commerce website to take further action.

There is a dramatic shift in social media departments. The skills are more business oriented, the expectations are higher, the pressure grows. It’s no longer a matter of placing fun content on the company page, but a demand of clear ROI directly related to the three drivers of any business – awareness, revenue, retention.

Good knowledge about your customers will lead to better segmentation, better targeting, quality content, more engagement, and visible impact on budget and revenue.

What KPIs your marketing should measure, but most likely doesn’t

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we could all easily tie sales to marketing efforts?

But things don’t work that way, and sometimes we forget that there are many more aspects and KPIs we can follow, bricks and blocks that build the path to sales, that take time, and bring you value in time. Thus, it is very important to measure them.

#1 Sales

Because sales are, of course, the most important aspect of your activity. Take this KPI, own it, share it. Everybody in your company should be aware of the numbers, and not only once or twice a year. After all, you are all rowing on the same boat.

#2 Leads

The more leads you have, the more business opportunities arise, and this translates in better chances to business growth.

Both sales and marketing thrive on leads, but there is a catch. Both sales and marketing have different perspectives on leads. It’s like talking about a cookie when it’s just flour, eggs and sugar (Marketing), and in the oven (Sales), at the same time. No wonder it doesn’t make sense.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead judged more likely to become a customer compared to other leads, based on lead intelligence your company has, including demographics, activities, and behaviors.

The MQLs are the people who downloaded a piece of your content, a white paper for example.

Ideally, MQL is nurtured through promotional e-mails and social media marketing efforts and it becomes SQL.

The Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is one that your sales team has accepted as worthy of direct sales follow up.

In a sales funnel, an MQL would be at the widest part of the funnel, while an SQL would be at the narrowest part of the funnel.

Furthermore, you have to understand your company’s Leads to Close ratio – which is the number of leads you’ve received over a specific period of time divided by the actual amount of leads you’ve closed.

#3 Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), sometimes Lifetime Value of Customer (LTV)

Do you know what is your customer worth during the time you have a relationship?

Maybe you have seen it like this:

Or, the simple way

Still looking daunting? Let’s break it down into simple steps.

CLV is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.

The key elements that are taken into consideration are revenue and gross margin.

Revenue

Everybody knows what revenue is, right? It’s the money your company receives during a particular financial period. Revenue is calculated by multiplying the price at which goods or services are sold by the number of units or amount sold.

Most important, the total revenue or sales is not the same as profit.

Gross margin

Gross margin is the difference between revenue and cost of goods sold, divided by revenue, expressed as a percentage. Generally, it is calculated as the selling price of an item, less the cost of goods sold (production or acquisition costs, not including indirect fixed costs like office expenses, rent, or administrative costs).

Now, let’s have a CLV example: your B2B company sells some kind of machinery that costs 17,000 Euros. The revenue of your company is 17,000, while the gross margin is 35%. If this would be a one-time purchase, the simple way to calculate CLV is:

17,000 (revenue) x 35% (gross margin) = 5,950 Euros

Now let’s assume that in the customer’s lifetime they will buy on average 7 machines. Then we will have:

17,000 (revenue) x 35% (gross margin) = 5,950 Euros x 7(times) = 41,650 Euros

That’s more like it!

If you don’t already use this KPI, try the simple way as described above. When you become savvier, you might want to add the churn rate, discount rate, and retention costs.

Why is CLV a great KPI?

Because it helps you to gauge your company’s ROI, and it’s a great tool that can help strategize future business goals. It might not be entirely accurate, but it helps to figure out all the sales your average customer has initiated over the course of your relationship.

#4 Customer Acquisition Cost

In simple words, the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) means how much it costs you to convince a prospect to become your customer.

So, if you spend 2,000 Euros monthly on marketing, and acquire 10 new customers, then your CAC si 200 Euros.

How to use Customer Acquisition Cost?

Once you have established your costs, you can set goals for how many new customers you want to acquire in a year and then set your marketing budget accordingly.

#5 Sales Team Response Time

One of the main problems with the sales leads is that they are answered a little too late. Have you ever been in the position of wanting to make a purchase and the answer from the sales person came too late, or never? It’s the same with your leads. They don’t know how much work you have to do before you can send the offer, and frankly, they don’t care, and really shouldn’t. If you want to make the sale, then do it. The quality of a lead degrades over time.

“The odds of making a successful contact with a lead are 100 times greater when a contact attempt occurs within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes after the lead was submitted. Similarly, the odds of the lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes after the lead was submitted.” insidesales.com

Measure your team’s’ response time, then check how your competition’s sales team is doing, and consider improving yours, fast.

#6 Website Traffic to Website Lead Ratio

Pretty simple! Out of all your website visitors, how many of them convert and become leads?

You’ll end up with two things:

  • The quality of your website’s traffic
  • The conversion rate of your website

Focusing on improving the website’s conversion rate is an easy way to improve this ratio

#7 Website Lead to Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) Ratio

Of all the leads your website is generating, how many become MQL? If the ratio is low, then you should probably look at the quality of your website traffic.

#8 MQL to SQL Ratio

If sales and marketing teams work in silos, then you should expect a low one here. The neverending story is that marketing generates poor leads, and sales don’t pay attention to the leads coming from marketing. How will you know your company is in this situation? Measure this KPI.

#9 SQL to Quote Ratio

Want to know how agile your sales team is? Check out this KPI. Out of all the leads qualified as sales leads, how many turn into offers? It is very important to find out the reasons behind the leads that are not being quoted, such as timeline, budget, competition, customization etc. It is most important to understand the factors that influence your ratio and work on them.

#10 Quoted to Closed Customer Ratio

Basically, this is your sales team’s close ratio. So, of all the prospects your sales team quotes, how many become customers? How is this KPI performing? What can you do to improve it?

About the last ones that follow, I know for sure that you measure. But you should look close enough to learn and act upon them.

Website Traffic

The thing with the website traffic is there is a lot of information you can choose from your Analytics account. In the end, it is the customers behind the info that you have to find out about: who these people are, where they’re from and what they did once they got to your site. This helps you know and anticipate your customer needs, and this is after all what marketing is all about, right?

The measurable things behind website traffic are as follows:

  • Sessions
  • Users
  • Page views
  • Page per Session
  • Average Session Duration
  • Bounce Rate

Of course, you can always go further with the digging, but make sure you have these ones first.

Social Media Reach and Engagement

Now I know that social media is a very important part of every company’s marketing strategy and your inbound efforts. It’s the most useful tool you have to share your content and engage with your customers, prospects, fans, followers. It’s heaven sent, but you already know that, don’t you?

A good way to judge its effectiveness is by tracking the growth on each network: followers, Likes, engagement with the content you share, lead conversions, customer conversions and percentage of web traffic associated with your social media efforts.

You will find out, if you didn’t already, that not all social media will work for your business. For instance, B2B businesses selling highly priced services have better results on Linkedin, rather than the companies selling goods or having low valued transactions who perform better on Facebook.

For B2C, it is better to use LinkedIn for reaching out to media and press, bloggers and influencers, who could write about you; or reach the wholesalers and retailer for business.

Email Marketing Performance

Don’t jump to quick conclusions, email marketing is not as simple one would think. Getting people to open your email is a science, with never ending testing and analyzing of results.

Email marketing isn’t dead as some might too quickly say, but make sure it is designed having mobile devices in mind, and tie it to other marketing efforts. It still offers the most staggering return on investment. Don’t believe it? Just compare the costs to the ones for direct mailing, TV, or print.

What could you measure?

  • Delivery Rate
  • Click Through Rate
  • Unsubscribe Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Open Rate
  • Forward/Shares

It is vital to know your numbers, acknowledge failures and start building. KPIs help you validate marketing activity, efforts, strategies, budgets and so on.

Do more of the things that perform, stop doing those that suck your budget dry yet don’t withstand objective scrutiny, and redeploy the resources.