Insurance companies need to start utilising online data to drive email lifecycle models and build customer engagement.
Early in the year, the RedEye Behavioural Email Benchmark study revealed just 14% of insurance companies use behavioural email. This is very surprising to me, as out of all the sectors, I would think insurance is best positioned to send highly targeted communication, due to the rich range of customer data it is able to collect.
When it comes to knowing your customers (due to the quote and application process), marketers within the online insurance industry know gender, birthday, address, occupation, marital status, if the customer has children, if the customer has a record of past claims; they may even know if the customer currently has breakdown cover and if/when it is due for renewal. As insurers, your customers will tell you a lot more about themselves than any other online customer and this host of information can all be used to effectively segment your users and communicate to them throughout the customer lifecycle.
According to PruHealth, 26% of consumers have an increased tendency to think negatively, and when it comes to sectors suffering from a negative brand attitude, insurers are probably at the top. (I mean, how often does someone look forward to purchasing car insurance?) However, by using online data in an effective way, email marketing can offer the perfect solution to build your brand and gain some customer respect.
One of the best examples I can provide is from my own insurance company. As a customer of Diamond, not only do I receive the customary Welcome to Diamond, and Renewal notice emails, but throughout the year I have received interesting, useful and relevant information. You could argue Diamond has an advantage over many insurers as it has a specific audience sector: women. But it is fair to say, Diamond make the most of targeting this clear demographic segment; and while there is nothing particularly ground-breaking about any of the emails received, relevant offers, promotions and helpful advice has helped to build a good customer service.
Online insurance companies would do well to remember, when it comes to email marketing, they must fit into their customers busy and stressful lives. Creating communication that fits the needs of their customers is crucial; and one of the most effective and strategic ways to do this is by using the data supplied by the customer to build an email lifecycle model.
To put it basically, the lifecycle for a car insurance customer generally lasts a year, before being repeated. Within this year there are five main stages (acquire, convert, develop, retain and reactive), and at each stage there is a relevant email you could be sending.
Stage one of the email lifecycle is all about acquiring that all important data. For insurance companies this covers the basic act of users registering for a quote. Luckily for online insurers, users generally have to do this if they want insurance, so obtaining information should be a relatively simple procedure. One of the key things here is to ensure a user has to input their email address early in the sign-up/quote application process. That way even if they don’t complete the form you can send them an abandoned quote email to encourage them to continue giving you their details.
This leads directly on to stage 2, convert. This stage includes simple transactional triggers such as a quote confirmation email or a quote not buy email. Remember the more relevant you can make these emails with personalised information, the more effective they will be.
Stage 3, develop, is where you really start to nurture your customer and this is where you have to focus on sending automated email relevant to the data you have obtained. A simple confirmation of purchase email is standard and should include policy confirmation and any advantages you offer your customers. After this, it becomes crucial you incorporate all the rich data you have collected about your customer in order to send emails relevant to what you know about them. Using data regarding when breakdown cover is due, send an email to offer your services. Using data regarding your customers’ birthday send an email to wish your customer many happy returns (and maybe throw in some sort of gift or promotion to make you stand out). Use your data to send offers segmented by gender, age or location. Once you start thinking about the data you hold, and what information will be well received by users, the possibilities become endless.
For insurance companies, stage 4, retain, is all about keeping your customers. This is where your standard renewal notice comes in. Send this email in plenty of time, helping your customer trust you have their best interests at heart. Companies that can demonstrate empathy and generosity are much more likely to stand out than those that seem to trick their customers, by sending a late reminder aimed at pushing their customer into a corner.
Finally, stage 5, reactive, covers emails used to coax back past customers. For most customers, choice of insurer is pretty straightforward. The insurer offering the best package at the best price, gets the custom. Keeping in touch with your users and letting them know you want them back next time their insurance is up for renewal is a great way to recapture lost business. Send quotes based on the information you know about your customers and encourage them to give you another chance by completing a new online quote.
When it comes to building effective email lifecycle models, insurance companies are at a huge advantage due to the vast amount of customer data available to them. Taking the time to segment this data and prepare strategic programmes, targeting users with information that is both of use to and of interest to customers, will drive customer engagement, build brand loyalty and ultimately improve custom.