The world around B2B marketers in insurance is changing rapidly – with new technological advances continually disrupting even the best laid plans for insurance marketers. At the same time, changing consumer habits and competitive pressures are all colliding to make the digital age a dizzy one for many marketers.
Unique to the insurance industry, continual regulation creates a unique digital environment. Beyond just getting their arms around technology, marketers have to assess the legality for using every new device or channel where their prospective audience is likely to spend time.
As the figure illustrates, there are myriad forces driving changes for insurers today. Here is a brief overview of what that means to insurance marketers:
As consumers increasingly solicit information online, the challenge for Insurance marketers is to understand what drives customer behavior today in all the geographies, sectors and channels where customers operate.
Since the financial crisis, regulators around the globe have been focusing on new regulations to protect customer interests that insurers need to comply with. As a result, marketers at insurance firms must work hard to stay ahead of these changing rules.
Digital marketing is a great equalizer for companies – all you need to compete is a website and some SEO know-how. As a result, insurers face increasing online competition from both direct and indirect aggregators, intermediaries and providers.
Clearly, we are in the midst of a technology revolution in online marketing, as evidenced by the near daily emergence of new technologies, such as marketing automation, content marketing, etc. To compete effectively in this environment, insurance marketers need not adopt everything being thrown at them but should definitely be ‘ready to adapt’ to any change that makes a revenue impact for them.
So what do all these changes mean in the real world? For many, it means you need to embed a certain amount of fluidity into your marketing strategies.
Several marketers at top firms I met recently were grappling with the idea of ‘dual’ marketing. On one hand, their business is routed through brokers so it made perfect sense to target their marketing programs at brokers and generate demand for RFPs and closed bid opportunities.
At the same time, social is becoming so relevant that establishing connects with end customers is not just an option, it is fast becoming as important a daily habit as good hygiene. Further, several marketers stressed that renewals are a big way to show marketing’s impact on revenue and for this again, they had to reach their end customers using email among other things.
For every insurance B2B marketer therefore, more than ever, it is critical to go back to the whiteboard, redefine their audience(s) and reconfigure ‘custom’ buying journeys, messages and ways of reaching their audience(s). This way, they will address all their buying stakeholders and stay relevant right through the buying lifecycles of their audience(s).
As the figure below shows, there are myriad of components that will all work together to create your digital demand gen strategy for the new insurance market.
To Move Forward, Determine Where You Are Today…
As marketers, we are bombarded by this message of change. Digital marketing experts far and wide are all currently touting the importance of cross channel marketing, multi device engagement and content based marketing. However, without the right foundation, these tactics are just as likely to close deals for you, as they are to shorten your sales opportunity cycles to just one month.
In an April 2013 publication, McKinsey stated “50% of marketing spend is misaligned with client needs within their decision journey (life cycle)” and Experian reaffirmed in 2013 when it said “We believe that fewer than 10% of brands are executing true cross-channel communications informed by one view of the customer, but that most marketers recognize the need to get there.”
The first step in managing change in your firm is to establish a baseline for your current marketing maturity. Here is a general outline on how to evaluate your current capabilities.
Figure – Digital marketing maturity curve
Here’s where change management get tricky. In my recent conversations with top firms, most marketers I engaged with were excited with the possibilities of stages three and four (as shown above), but few were considering an audit of their current state to see if they were doing stages one and two right!
If you haven’t optimized your website or set up strong analytics tracking, it will be difficult to move into the next stages of more advance marketing. For example, if you have no personas, it will be nearly impossible to set up automated content nurturing strategies to cater to them.
Creating a solid foundation from which to build represents, arguably, the biggest area of opportunity for B2B demand gen in insurance. By understanding the forces at play in the new digital marketing work, and then clearly benchmarking where your firm lies on this development curve, you can then create a strategy for grafting new strategies into your existing programs and campaigns.The ability to understand where you truly are is the first step to moving forward and, more importantly, moving UPWARD!