Successful marketing is all about delivering the right message at the right moment.
Your message must be accessible and appealing to customers when they are searching for new products and services. 81% of customers today conduct research on the internet before making a purchase decision. As the internet and digital platforms continue to gain momentum as a trusted source of information, carriers must establish an effective digital marketing strategy.
Why It Matters
Today, a carrier’s long-term success depends on attracting and retaining customers. A marketing strategy that embraces various platforms can help position your company as the natural choice for tomorrow’s digital consumers. This article outlines the six components of an effective digital marketing strategy for carriers.
Inbound and Outbound Channels
To develop an effective marketing strategy, you must utilize both inbound and outbound channels:
- Inbound Marketing focuses on distributing free, quality content that generates interest in your brand. Establishing yourself as a source of value builds trust with consumers, raising the likelihood that they will seek you out as a paying customer. This form of marketing yields the highest return, because it allows customers to engage with your brand when they are most interested.
- Outbound Marketing pushes messaging to consumers, usually through a range of advertising options like radio or television commercials and email campaigns. Since these consumers are not actively seeking out your services, outbound marketing has a very low conversion rate compared to inbound marketing.
The relationships between each of these marketing channels should be symbiotic in nature––working together to streamline information to appropriate audience types.
Digital Marketing Strategy
A good digital marketing strategy combines elements of inbound and outbound marketing through various online tools and mediums. Developing a clear strategy provides a framework for generating broad awareness, a document for strategic analysis, and a rough guideline for implementation. If drafted as a living document, the strategy also provides triggers, decision points, and benchmarks for success that can be reevaluated in frequent iterations.
An effective digital marketing strategy contains six components:
1. Summary: defines your company’s top priorities as they align with your overall digital marketing strategy and target media perception. A successful summary establishes scope and provides a focusing lens for all subsequent efforts. Execution is where most strategies break down, so managers should monitor individual actions for alignment with company goals and initiatives like:
- Appealing to New Audience(s)
- Growing Premium Base
- Mitigating Risk
2. Audience: captures who you want to do business with and who wants to do business with you. Analyze your audience to generate content that’s interesting, relevant, and appropriate. Digital information is inherently public, so be sure to consider all audience types in your analysis and segment lists when possible. Your audience analysis and segmentation may include:
- Current Agencies
- Current Policyholders Needing Additional Coverage
- Potential Policyholders Searching for Lower Rates.
3. Value: describes what makes your brand unique and drives the direction of your content. What distinguishes your insurance products and services from other competing carriers? Why would an agent or insured choose to do business with you specifically? It’s important to articulate value in every marketing message. Prominent themes in insurance include:
- Customer Service
- Ease of Doing Business
- Attractive Rates
- Innovative Distribution
- Community Involvement
- Financial Strength
4. Goals: establish targets and metrics that define success. Marketing efforts must be evaluated frequently for ROI, and concrete goals help managers distinguish the channels that are most effective for their organization. Consider these top priorities for various channels:
- Inbound - (provides a solid base)
- Increase Number of Contacts / Leads
- Converting Contacts / Leads to Customers
- Increase Revenue from Existing Customers
- Reduce the Cost of Contact Lead or Customer Acquisition
- Improve ROI for Marketing Initiatives
- Outbound (provides a mechanism for distribution)
- Drive Traffic to your Website
- Appealing to New Customers
- Recruit Employees
- Build Brand Loyalty or Awareness
- Differentiate your Company.
5. Content: describes messaging that calls customers to action. Be creative in your approach and use statistics to back your content. Readers are generally intrigued by white papers, case studies, reports, surveys, and infographics. Consider producing content regarding the following:
- Product and Service Offerings (Differentiation)
- Education (Risk Mitigation)
- Customer Service (Ease of Use)
- Discounts and Contests (Loyalty and Appeal)
- Industry Advocacy (Credibility)
- Community (Trust).
6. Distribution: identifies the channels and platforms that most effectively deliver content to your target audience. Digital platforms vary widely in audience and target usage patterns. For example, Facebook and Twitter have very different subscribers and their consumption patterns contrast sharply. It is important to match messaging with medium. Here’s an overview of channels by type:
- Website (Central Hub)
- Dedicated Landing Pages (Individual Campaigns)
- Blogs (Content Repositories)
- Customized Calls to Action
- Direct Mail
- Facebook (Surveys, Contests, Articles)
- Twitter (Articles)
- LinkedIn (Retention and Recruitment)
- Pinterest (Infographics)
- YouTube (Advertising and Awareness)
Note: Social Media marketing can support inbound or outbound marketing efforts depending on how it’s deployed. Inbound broadcasts messages, and outbound interacts with customers.
Carrier longevity is determined by a company’s ability to attract and retain policyholders and agents. Brand awareness, promotion, and preference are key to converting interested potentials into loyal customers. An effective digital marketing strategy can help carriers reach and interact with targeted audiences through the use of various online marketing techniques.
- Morrison, Kimberlee. November 28, 2014 - 1:40 PM. INFOGRAPHICS. 81% of Shoppers Conduct Online Research Before Buying [Infographic]: http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/81-shoppers-conduct-online-research-making-purchase-infographic/208527
- Hubspot. State of Inbound 2015 [Report]: http://www.stateofinbound.com/
This article first appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of Today's Insurance Professionals and can be viewed here.