How Marketing Analytics Is Changing Life Insurance Sales
Critics may blame the late 1980s “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile” campaign for the brand’s eventual demise, but when it comes to life insurance, the message about how today’s marketing differs from the past resonates clearly. Traditionally, the life insurance industry hasn’t been recognized for its innovative marketing, leadingedge technology, or flexible infrastructure, but spurred on by technology advances, other industry best practices, consumer demand, and COVID, insurance marketing for today’s insurance professionals and clients has little resemblance to what it did in their parents’ generation. With 55 percent of Americans saying this past year was the first they spoke with a loved one about insurance, the industry's targeted messaging seems to be working.
Analytics in life insurance and its related products was historically viewed as part of the actuarial side of the business. All that has changed, at increasingly fast rates over the past couple of decades, due to exponentially increasing computer speed, the internet of things, virtually unlimited cloud computing data storage capacity, artificial intelligence, the prevalence of social media, and digital behaviors.
Companies have a treasure trove of accessible data ready to be analyzed. Data offers many opportunities and levers to pull. However, often challenges lie in interpreting it, or even developing the appropriate strategy for leveraging it. Our company’s strong focus on growth and striving to deliver the perfect client experience provides unlimited areas to explore data and execute collaborative sales and marketing initiatives.
"No longer can we rely on gut instinct and personal preferences when we have data and so many tools to experiment on what works best"
Analytics has transformed the role of marketing in our business, moving it from an art to a science. No longer can we rely on gut instinct and personal preferences when we have data and so many tools to experiment on what works best.
Bringing Science to Email Management Adds Efficiencies
Gone are the days of blasting random individual messages to clients or prospects. Today’s email marketing automation tools afford us the opportunity to evaluate our analytics and improve the success of our programs. We can:
• Precisely target messages to the most likely to respond recipients–based on factors like prior sales activity, response rates, expressed interests, and more
• Test features of messages to continue to finetune the text and graphics to improve future open and click rates–and scale campaigns based on knowledge and learning
• Efficiently customize messages by adding or deleting components of a message based on its relevance to specific groups
• Use email campaigns to manage specific customer journeys, from soliciting new prospects or onboarding new clients, or supporting cross-sell initiatives
Putting Sales and Marketing on the Same Team
In the past, sales and marketing teams were not often aligned when it came to prospecting and messaging campaigns. Today’s customer relationship management tools empower the sales teams with marketing data in order to focus efforts on clients and prospects identified with a higher likelihood of interest or need. We provide sales teammates with:
• ‘Best bets’ sales leads–combined engagement and priority scores applied to clients and prospects based on their interaction with our marketing, starting with email opens and click rates, and including additional activities like webinar or event registrations and attendance, on-demand training participation, email preference changes, and more to come, including relevant web and social activity
• Interesting moments–specific notifications delivered to sales teammates to inform them of a specific client or prospect activity that may warrant a specific response (with support for the right type of message or content for that response)
Virtual is Real and Here to Stay
• The knowledge gained from available analytics has continued to enhance our marketing and sales efforts, especially with the accelerated transition to a virtual work world that was forced on us in 2020. While most of us would love to get back to faceto-face events and strongly believe in the value of in-person relationships, the metrics from virtual events provide us keen insight into human behavior and help empower us to drive changes to our virtual events and eventually our live events as well. Assessing content interest and engagement trends with features embedded in the virtual event tools empower us to understand interest levels, hot topics, ideal session lengths, realtime feedback, and more
• We're able to reach broader audiences with targeted content, shorter lead times, and lower costs, enabling us to quickly assess program effectiveness, tweak, and repeat
• Virtual allows us to identify skill gaps and offer the right content for additional training
Accountability Leads to Effective Productivity
Sales teammates today live in an environment of complete transparency–with customer relationship management tools that not only provide them insight into their prospects’ and clients’ behavior, but also provide leadership with continual oversight into sales calls made, contacts completed, emails sent, applications submitted, and sales completed.
While there can be a bit of a ‘big brother is watching’ feel, or even fear, to this level of monitoring, the benefits are clear, enabling a more strategic diagnosing of teammates and business units that are struggling to reach goals and quicker pivots to implement mediation steps.
Social Interactions Feed the Knowledge Funnel
Rather than relying on long timelines and inefficient lead distribution paths, social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, YouTube, and Podcasts, provides us with a real-time pipeline to facilitate leads to our teammates, ability to analyze interest and engagement on different topics, and build our brand. Each source provides metrics allowing us to monitor response and activity, and the immediacy of the information can guide larger strategic decisions about areas of focus or pivot to.
Product and Demographic Trends Shifting Favorably
Another side effect of the pandemic has been both the increased interest in life insurance products, particularly from younger aged consumers, and a preferred interest in accelerated underwriting products, which rely on data sources like prescription history, motor vehicle reports, identity checks,and criminal records instead of the traditional need for attending physician statements and paramedical visits to collect blood and fluids. This type of product sale relies heavily on data feeds and analytical models, lending itself to online marketing activities!
Clearly, analytics capabilities have transformed the insurance industry from end to end. Most outsiders may still think the biggest impact is on back-end systems and financial models, but in my experience, the most significant changes are front of the house with marketing and sales, and very connected to the client experience.