In 2019 we’re going to see a lot of brokers doing what they can to get through a hard-market, we’ll see more consolidation and for forward thinking brokers, we’ll see big strides towards digital transformation.

Here are the top 5 trends we see insurance sailing towards in 2019:

  1. A shift from personal lines digital strategies to commercial lines focus. Since the introduction of digital in the insurance industry, it has been almost exclusively driven by B2C (business to consumer) strategies for personal insurance and digital tools such as online quote and buy, mobile self-serve applications, digital pink cards and more. The complexities of M/L commercial risks which prevented them from being quoted and purchased online and the notion that business to business (B2B) relationships would not work with digital meant that few have explored digital marketing opportunities in the commercial lines space. What’s changed? The proliferation of effective commercial strategies such as Account-Based Marketing Programs, which allows you to target a specific number of accounts on multiple channels and distribute different messages to different roles within these orgs (decision makers, influencers and gatekeepers);  Sales + Marketing Alignment programs where sales teams are alerted to hot leads marketing teams nurture those that aren’t quite ready to have a conversation; sophisticated LinkedIn sponsorships that target key audiences through thought leadership and customer marketing strategies such as 90/60/30-day renewal touch-points.
  2. Brokers are moving towards a strategy led approach Every time I think this industry is making headway and understanding what it really takes to transform a business into an omni-channel one, I read another article saying that all it takes is the flip of a switch, ie: use this technology platform, implement this website or application, post 20 times per day on Facebook and your brokerage will magically transform. The reality is that the brokers who have experienced any level of success know that not only do several of these tactical pieces have to be part of the structure, but that strategy is the foundation of this structure. They also understand that you can have the best technology, but if you don’t know how to enable it if you don’t know how to feed it and manage all the moving parts it becomes another frustrating “thing” you’ve spent money on. The brokers that embrace this approach put strategy at the forefront of all tactics and are those that see results.
  3. Leadership has to provide buy-in, and they need to sit at the table In our quest to help brokers, we talk a lot about the key role of leadership in a successful digital transformation. As part of our Digital Roadmap Workshop, we discuss the importance that this signals. It really touches on two key things: First, if you’re approaching digital for the first time (or you’re in the digital beginner stage) it’s critical for your team and partners to understand the level of commitment you are making. It will also help reduce roadblocks that will inevitably come up during different phases of transformation. Sitting at the table ensures that your voice and values – your brand- stays consistent through the transformation. Second, is that if you’ve been doing “great” digital things for a while, but have handed that sole responsibility over to a digital marketing manager, specialist or coordinator, you may not be fully aware of the milestones, wins, and challenges that have happened along the way. You may be focused solely on ROI, but have missed the foundational wins. In my experience, brokers that reach the digitally advanced stages have had leadership steering from the very beginning. 
  4. Full integration between systems is coming! Full API’s with carrier rates, web properties, applications, marketing automation platforms (MAP) and broker management systems (BMS) are coming. It feels like forever, but it will happen. On our side of the house, we hear over and over again that we cannot deploy “ X campaign” because we don’t have integration with our BMS, or we can’t get the support/data we need and that a manual or makeshift approach is not efficient enough for us. If you have attended our workshops, you know that we recommend being in what we call a “strategic approach” for a minimum of two years before moving to “optimizing growth”. And to even get to strategic approach means that you would have to crawl through the manual/makeshift jungle for a decent amount of time, this is actually to your benefit. Doing nothing or putting initiatives on hold because of integration barriers is far worse than moving ahead with what you can. When full API’s become a reality, brokers who have been steadily moving forward will be far ahead of the game.
  5. Marketing automation technology is powering all the pieces One of the major shifts we have seen lately is the move towards MAP technology to power a great deal of the digital strategies taking place today. These platforms were born out of the need to draw together channels, campaigns, departments, systems, audiences, behaviours and reporting into one singular view. We refer to this as the “the swiss army knife for your digital strategy”. Largely this has been driven by marketing professionals that know they need these tools in order to do their job at scale, push boundaries with things like personalization and give leadership and sales the insight they need. We’re going to further break-down key areas of marketing automation at the upcoming ICTC Conference (Insurance Technology Conference of Canada) in February.

As the disruption and shifts continue to happen, I am very excited to be on this journey. Whether working with clients who are just starting their transformation or those that are embracing more advanced strategies and tactics, I am looking forward to it all.