The Marketing Automation Checklist – Insurance

For Marketing Leaders in the Insurance Industry – Here is your 7 step checklist when selecting a Marketing Automation Platform to power your strategy.

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP) have become a sought after multi-tool across the Insurance Industry and around the globe. These leading platforms will drive multiple strategies, spanning across the entire buying journey; from lead generation and management, to nurture and acquisition, through to in-life customer retention, loyalty and advocacy. 

In order for these tools to support your business objectives and to be able to measure the business impact of your strategies, the platform you choose will be an important first step. 

Whether you’re a marketer, owner or e-business leader within the insurance industry, here are the 7 points you need to factor into your decision when selecting a platform provider:

1. Privacy, Compliance, & Deliverability (Email/SMS)

Landing in the inbox, even those of your current customers is not as easy as it sounds. While the volume of customer data available has increased, so has the complexity of privacy law. CASL, CANSPAN and GDPR are all regulations put in place to protect individuals against misuse of personal data and unwanted communications. In Canada, the laws regarding where this data can be stored have necessitated separate centres to store highly confidential or government data for Canadian citizens. It’s critical that the chosen platform be able to properly handle communications and data in compliance with these continually evolving regulations, which range from managing opt outs and suppressions to integrating with multiple data centers to accommodate customers on both sides of the border. This adherence not only has legal ramifications for your business but for your communications as well. Deliverability is both an art and a science and requires a platform that enables your team to design professional and engaging messages that pass through SPAM traps and other filters in order to be received by your lead or customer. If you’re experiencing low open rates or response rates – first look at your deliverability and overall reputation.

2. Agility & Adaptability 

Customization can often mean additional costs and lead to lengthy delays so it’s best to avoid this route, as long as you can. Leading Marketing Automation software companies invest heavily in the continuous improvement of their platforms. This allows them to evolve their product suite to meet changing needs across multiple industries quickly, resulting in less need for expensive and time consuming customizations. 

However, what I have learned over several years working within digital for the insurance industry and across a wide range of providers is that within each organization, their operational intricacies are vastly different and can’t be painted with the same brush or operate within a confined technology box. There’s a laundry list of differences across data challenges, brands, regions, product lines, producers who own their own books and several other nuances. Choose a technology platform that can handle these variants without having to put in a costly custom order or yet become another thing that ends up on the back-burner.

The same thing applies to optimization. Yes! You’re going to have to optimize your programs over and over again – it’s the nature of the beast. Your platform should have the agility to make these changes on a dime, without being another request that needs to be submitted or built specially for your unique scenario. 

3. Segmentation & Advanced Program Abilities

This area is probably the biggest arm that needs to be strong within your marketing platform. One would argue that it’s integration, but I am here to say that even with integration, if your platform cannot handle all your various unique segments and has limited program functionality your campaign sophistication will be sacrificed. Things like personalization, realtime nurturing, moving customers and prospects in and out of journeys at the right time is all going to be hingent on the core program capabilities of your platform, the good news is the leaders are well equipped in this area. Reporting is also a driver of this functionality and comes in handy when you’re trying to derive deeper metrics or insights that the out of box reporting doesn’t necessarily provide. For example, maybe you’re trying to target prospects that have a behavioural score above 40, that received a quote in the last 30 days from a specific postal code in Ontario. Ensuring you have the necessary data and segmentation around this is essential to quickly targeting these individuals 

4. Integration Flexibility

Integration is a thorn in most companies’ sides, and it’s not limited to the insurance industry. MAP leaders however have eco systems of 3rd party applications and plugins that you can draw from in order to support and augment a campaign or overall strategy. There is no doubt something on those lists that will be the widget or extended tool you’re looking for, but if there’s not – leading platforms have open source API’s and secure FTPs that can help tackle whatever your integration challenge is.. I’d encourage you to go beyond basic website integration and explore integrating your quote and bind/ecommerce funnels, claims and self service portals, and even incentive, rewards platforms. These integrations will enable you to action real time behaviour by your prospects and customers. It will also provide you with advanced analytics and help you understand the journey’s and where you need to optimize.

5. Go Beyond Basic Email

The email, SMS, landing page and personalization capabilities of your platform should be vast enough to bring your brand and people into each experience. If not, you’re going to become stale and eventually either look like your competitors or your customers and prospects will tune out. Think high design and functionality – landing pages that enhance the user experience so you are not trying to cram several things into an email or hope that people navigate to your website and back. Landing pages are like the guest house to your main house. The main-house (your website) is fine for visiting time, but ultimately you want your guests to “stay” on your landing pages – percissly so they will convert. Personalization is a broad topic, but think of it as the differentiator between being cold and well personal. Personalization in all of its forms is going to be the key way you bring in the relationship-based tactics that this industry has relied on for so many years.

Choose a MAP platform that has broad capabilities here, but can be managed without IT or an engineer in most cases. This is a huge advantage of utilizing landing pages inside your MAP vs having to tap on your web department. 

6. Cost Effective

The platforms vary in price and some have clearer advantages over others. For example, some charge based on active contacts per month (how many contacts you can communicate with in one month) vs. total contacts and some charge for several feature functions that sort of leave you wondering what you could even do with their basic version. Cutting costs with the platform but expecting a similar outcome will mean that your campaigns will fall short of your expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you need to pay for all advanced feature functions on day one, these platforms will enable you to grow into all that they have to offer, particularly in the areas of AI and Machine learning.

7. Partner 

I always say that it takes a “village” to achieve digital marketing success and year over year transformation. Lean on expert partners to move faster, more intelligently and teams that enable you to stay ahead of the curves (because the curves happen often). Three key attributes that you can look for when selecting partners to help you manage these platforms:1) Are they creative and also connected to the business impact and outcome within campaigns and projects?, 2) Are they analytical when running experiments and measuring results?, 3) Can they think like your customer?

Like all technology platforms in order for them to be successful, they’ll need to be plugged with your on-going strategies.

Wondering which platforms rank on the best of the best list? You can access the latest report from Gartner here.