If you operate in the insurance industry, you’re probably familiar with two things. One, it’s a cutthroat super-competitive industry and it is getting ever more difficult to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Two, the industry is in some way stuck in the eighties in terms of how they envision sales and marketing works.
While it is true that it’s getting ever more difficult to differentiate yourself from the other insurers out there, that doesn’t matter as much. This is because companies are stuck trying to create such differentiation through traditional means. This includes things such as changing the offer and how it is presented. They spend most of their time trying to tweak the percentages and other numbers in the insurance policy offer.
The good news is that hardly anyone is utilizing the amazing benefits that come from utilizing things such as email marketing and marketing automation. I’m here to show you how utilizing even a bit of simple automation can help you drastically improve the number of policies that you sell.
How will marketing automation help you?
It will save you time and boost your conversions. It will do so by automating many of the things that you’re currently doing manually. In fact, because so much of traditional insurance selling relies on “manpower” many insurers have found that they can replace entire teams with automation.
I’m not saying this in order to get you to you replace people with software, only to draw the point that marketing automation can replace and automate a lot of the things you do currently manually. The insurance industry is used to doing things in traditional ways. This includes talking to people face-to-face, dialing phone numbers and setting up meetings to pitch policies to leads.
Aside from the fact that a lot of this doesn’t have to be done and can be replaced by more modern forms of communication, there’s another hidden benefit here. Digital marketing allows you to target and develop leads who start out at a much lower level of interest.
In order to use traditional methods such as meeting someone or calling them on the phone, that person needs to pass a certain threshold of interest. To make for an easy illustration let’s say that someone that decides to buy a policy is at the “100% interest level” stage. For the sake of argument let’s say that a person needs to be at the 30% interest level in order to accept a meeting or engage in a phone call.
Digital marketing lets you capture and start nurturing leads much earlier in the customer journey
People who are the 5% interest level aren’t open to traditional and offline sales methods. These people will not take time out of their day to meet you face-to-face, and they won’t have time to discuss the subject over the phone. But they are willing to engage with many of the different digital channels that we have today. This includes things such as social media, emails, forums, paid ads and any digital channel you can think of.
This means that your portfolio of leads can be substantially larger if you change your criteria of a “lead”. They no longer have to be a person who’s interested enough to potentially accept an offline pitch or a phone call. A lead is now any person who wouldn’t mind receiving occasional emails on the subject.
And here’s the best part. If you get people this early in the customer journey, you are the one who can nurture and develop them all the way to the higher levels of interest. While insurers stuck in traditional methods are waiting for a lead that’s already at this 30% interest level, you can get people at the 5% level and develop them.
Does this sound like a lot of work? Well, it would be if it weren’t for marketing automation
Getting people from that very tiny and initial fleeting 5% interest level all the way to a more serious lead would take quite a bit of work if done manually. You would need to track their progress across the cycle, follow up with them and then do a lot of work to educate them on insurance and why they need it, slowly growing their interest.
And then consider the fact that there’s a ton of people at this early level of interest, and you’ll start to realize that it can be a lot of work. That’s why traditionally insurers don’t even bother with people at such an early stage.
Fortunately, today we have something called marketing automation which can automate most everything that happens to bring a lead from those early stages all the way to that final stage where they are excited to purchase that policy.
So why isn’t everyone using this fancy marketing automation stuff?
There’s actually a good reason for it. The secret hasn’t gotten out yet. This isn’t something isolated to the insurance industry.
You see, up until very recently, this kind of automation was limited to a couple of massive corporations. They were the only ones who could afford to develop these automation systems that help them super-charge all of their marketing and lead-generation processes.
Over time this trickled down to bigger and medium-sized B2B businesses. Different vendors appeared that offered solutions where the medium-sized B2B businesses could automate a lot of their lead nurturing and lead conversion processes.
However, for quite a while this was mostly a B2B thing and it wasn’t even expected to ever reach B2C industries where you’re selling and nurturing an individual person (as opposed to an organization). In fact, some of the automation software out there still assumes that your leads are an “organization” and the systems are built as such.
It’s only as of very recently that some smart people figured out that this power can be utilized in B2C sectors where you nurture a relationship with individual leads. Hint: this includes selling insurance.
In short: you’re looking at an amazing opportunity here. You can obtain and start utilizing a revolutionary new cutting edge tool that your competitors still haven’t even heard of yet. It is however only a matter of time until they do so. Implementing and mastering automation before they do will give you a huge headstart, but only if you start fast enough.
When it comes to digital marketing, email is still king
Hint: This is why you want to focus on email automation
As digital marketers, we’ve spent the last 20 years watching new channels of digital marketing pop-up. Some have come and gone, some have become more established than others. But none of them has come even close to what email marketing can do.
In fact, dollar-for-dollar email marketing is still the channel that destroys everything out there. This includes both ROI and conversion power, as well as almost every metric you can think of.
This is why for 20 years now we’ve seen new marketing channels come and go without making a dent. Each one of them promised to “displace” or even “kill” email marketing. But it never happened. Not even close.
In fact, the one constant in digital marketing seems to be that the more channels we invent, the more we end up using a person’s email address as the glue that connects those channels together. There’s a reason for this. A person’s email address is like their personal online identifier. This is why the email channel will always outperform and outdo anything else out there.
Now, let’s circle this back to the topic at hand. You want to implement some more modern marketing automation and use this to sell more insurance policies. As well as nurture that brand image and relationship with your existing policyholders.
Here’s what not to do
If you’re like most people new to marketing automation, you will probably be hypnotized by the “cool factor” of other marketing channels. Be this social media, or chatbots or push notifications or whatever marketers come up with in the hope of an extra edge.
In comparison, the email looks “boring” and kind of not that exciting. This is where most people go wrong. Your competitors will hopefully make this mistake as well. Most people forget a fundamental principle of choosing what to prioritize.
You’ve heard about the 80-20 rule no doubt? When it comes to getting the most out of marketing automation, at least 90% of all potential benefits will come from email marketing and email automations.
While it’s a lot cooler to spend time playing with gimmicks, that’s just a game. It’s not business. You can, for example, spend time creating fancy artificially intelligent robots that chat with people on Instagram and automatically track their website behavior, and then pop up a notification on their browser… and gain nothing for the effort.
Or spend the same time building some email automations and see massive savings in effort, and multiple times over increases in conversion and retention rates.
The Five Steps to Implementing Email Automation for Insurers
1) Figure out your audience
When we talk about an audience, we mean the people who will receive your emails. This should include both current and potential future policyholders. It should include everything from raving fans who’ve been with you for years, all the way to “weak leads” who have a lower chance of becoming a paying customer.
2) Get people onto your e-mail list
Internet marketers have a saying “the money is in the list” and it refers to your email list. In fact, you can pretty much draw a direct correlation between the size of your email list and your earnings.
Notice I said “your earnings”, not “number of new customers”. This is because email marketing is the most efficient vehicle for all stages of the customer journey or buyer cycle. It’s not just the best way to convert leads into policyholders.
It’s just as effective at turning your existing customer base into raving fans that refer family and friends. It is also just as effective at maximizing retention and getting ex-customers back.
I’m really making a point on this because you want to get absolutely everyone on your email lists. This includes existing policyholders as well as all types of leads from multiple sources.
Everything from the hot lead you would usually dial right away, down to the casual lead who’s merely exploring your website out of curiosity or doing school research.
How you actually do this is out of the scope of this article and we could probably release an entire guide on this alone. Just understand that there are ways to get people from all channels onto your list. It almost always will involve an incentive of some kind.
3) Create your basic automations based on the buying cycle
Marketing automation can get extremely fancy nowadays. You can do stuff that used to sound like science-fiction just a decade ago. For example, you can have an automation that tracks how many seconds people spent looking at which part of your website and correlate it to some other behavior on some other channel, and then have that trigger some special discounted offer.
Here’s the trick though, that’s a fool’s game. Marketing automation vendors want to make it sound like everyone needs those kinds of advanced automations. In truth, this stuff is just a fancy toy that does nothing for you in the real world. To find those useful at all you need millions of leads, and they need to be active digital users of your digital product. If you’re selling insurance policies, you just don’t need or want this.
What you want to do instead is focus on the basics. If you just spend some time learning about basic email automations you will achieve about 95% of all the advantages that one can gain through marketing automation.
So which basic automations do you build? That’s easy, just look at the main stages of the customer journey and build an automation for each. When you start out, you want to have a flow (automated email sequence) for the three main phases of the customer cycle.
A) Brand new leads who are in the early phase of doing initial research
This will be people who will give you their address based on an incentive that comes early on in the buying cycle. Perhaps they are just doing research and just want to understand how insurance works. So they signup for a free “introductory guide to insurance” and give you their email address in exchange.
You want your flow (email automation) to start out by sending them a welcoming email. Just make sure to use a great deal of warmth and personalization (such as their first name). Next, you want to set the automation to send them a number of emails over the course of a month. And if your email platform is any good, you will be able to define how many days pass between each email and when the automation sends them the next email in the series.
Aside from giving them the content that they signed up for, the emails should include a little bit of soft-selling your own brand. With each email educating them that they do need to get insured, and then hinting at the fact that they should get that policy from you.
B) Hot leads that have already decided they want to buy a policy
These are the folks who are just trying to decide where to get their policy and who to buy it from. Typically they will give you their email address in exchange for a free quote. For this group, you want to build an automation that moves them toward the next stage – purchasing a policy.
The initial emails should provide more information about the policies in question. And then subsequent emails should deliver a specific offer or promotion to get them to purchase.
C) Existing policyholders that you want to keep around for years to come
When it comes to keeping existing customers with email marketing, you want to look into what’s known as “nurture emails”. You will basically build an email automation that automatically sends them an email right after they buy their policy. It helps to reassure them that they made the right choice by doing so.
And then, you want to build out a sequence of emails that are automatically sent out over the life of that policy. For example, if they signup for a policy that needs to be renewed after a year, you want to build out an automation that sends them something informative about once a month. That will help nurture the relationship and help them remember why having a policy is such a good idea.
And in the last month, you would set it to send an email that reminds them that the time to renew is coming up very soon.
4) Segment out your audience
To segment out your e-mail list means to split it into more defined and specific segments. This improves the effectiveness of emails that you send. This is true in any industry and a general rule of effective email marketing.
Let’s look at a completely unrelated industry as it might make it easier to understand segmentation
Imagine that you have an online store that sells sporting goods. If you have a person that always clicks on the tennis related products in your emails, you will want to segment them out into a segment called “tennis enthusiasts”.
This allows you to then build a more specialized automation that targets tennis enthusiasts specifically. It sends content that caters to their specific needs and desires. This increases sales substantially over a general newsletter that promotes a bunch of products they don’t care about.
Let’s look at a more universal, and more advanced example of segmentation that works across industries
Another common use of segmentation is to segment people out based on how frequently they interact with your emails. Those who open your emails more are put into a segment called “highly interested” and those who read your emails less are put into a segment called “low-interest subscribers”.
You would then be able to send different kinds of content and offers to each of these groups, as well as use a different kind of frequency (schedule) in your email automations.
Let’s tie this back to the insurance industry
When it comes doing email marketing for insurance you will want to segment out your email subscribers based on things such as their age, credit score, number of policy purchases in the past, etc.
Now, depending on how you acquire those leads, you may get this information from the get-go. For example, you may have a form that offers a free quote and asks them about all of this information. Or you may acquire this data over time and ask for it as they warm up to your emails and move along the customer journey.
5) Analyze, revise and improve
You’re not going to get your automations perfectly the first time you build them. In fact, it’s going to take a lot of tweaking until you optimize them. The very first automation that you build to welcome and convert hot leads isn’t going to be your best work. But that’s ok.
If you use a powerful platform like Emercury you have access to powerful analytical tools. This allows you to study what effect your automation has. Does it get the open-rates you need and are they clicking on those links and converting on those policyholders?
This is something you will simply get better at over time as you study email automation. And this is where you can get more complex with automations as well. Just keep reading our blog, sign up for our newsletter and learn as you go along.
None of this will work without a solid email platform
The most important tip isn’t mentioned anywhere in the article above. All of the things we’re discussing here will be either made difficult or impossible if you choose the wrong email provider.
If you choose a good quality email provider that specializes in making email automation easy – you will get the hang of this a lot sooner. Emercury is the best when it comes to helping you start out in an easy way that isn’t overwhelming.
Not humble, I know, but we’ve spent a lot of energy and time to make sure this is true. Most email platforms will bombard you with complexity and advanced features because it’s good for marketing reasons. We do the opposite.
We focus on helping you build those basic automations as quickly as possible, without the distraction of advanced automation features that will do nothing for you when you’re just starting out.
In fact, we’re so excited at getting you started as quickly as possible that we currently (for a limited time) include our automation builder with our “forever-free plan“. This means that you can signup and grab your free account and start building email automations in minutes from now.