More and more, insurance companies are turning to marketing automation to increase conversions, sales, and retention. They look to interact with their customers in a way that is meaningful, so the user experience is memorable.
Marketing Automation is a powerful tool that I personally recommend to all insurance companies and financial services providers who are looking to solidify and improve the experience across the entire customer lifecycle. World-class marketing automation platforms such as Act-On, Marketo, and Pardot, offer powerful personalization and segmentation features that give these platforms their worth. When implemented strategically, marketing automation leads to:
- Lower cost per acquisition
- Improved customer engagement and nurturing
- Customer advocacy and higher retention rates
- Stronger brand traction
However, more often than not, many companies do not use this technology to the fullest potential. Instead, the platform is used as a glorified email marketing tool and this does not support a positive ROI.
If you identify with this, don’t fret. There are three strategies you can use to turn your marketing automation efforts around:
- Implement proper data strategy and governance
- Invest in a good marketing automation plan (MAP)
- Hire the right resources (in-house or agency)
These three factors are the secret sauce to successfully implementing marketing automation.
The Marketing Automation Recipe: Data Governance
Marketing automation platforms thrive on data – the more data you feed it, the more bang you’re going to get for every dollar you spend. The more you can leverage your data to segment and personalize your customers’ experience, the more effective your marketing strategy will become. So before you begin thinking about implementing your marketing automation platform, you must look at your data first.
Insurance and financial services companies collect massive amounts of data from loads of different sources. Usually, this data gets stored in silos that are not always made to play nice, so centralizing customer data that is readily accessible to marketing systems becomes a bit of a nightmare.
For some organizations, this means that your IT and marketing departments must build key bridges to close the operational and systems gaps that may exist. You will need technology savvy marketers and marketing savvy IT resources to accomplish this.
Kanetix Ltd, for example, has been in business since 1999. That’s nearly 20 years of legacy data that has been accumulating. Because of the way our databases were originally built and the manner in which the different data silos were segregated has made it difficult to leverage the personalization and segmentation features of our chosen marketing automation platform.
The first step we took was a deep dive into the data collection to highlight all of the information we could leverage. Then, we devised a strategy to bring the data together into a central repository, in a manner that could easily be leveraged by our marketing automation platform.
One thing to keep in mind is, some marketing platforms force you to structure all of your data in a single table before importing, while others allow you to bring data from different sources. It is important to get a good understanding of your data because this will guide your decision in selecting a marketing automation platform that works for you.
With a proper data strategy and governance in place, you will have the information you need to build your Marketing Automation Plan (MAP).
The Marketing Automation Recipe: Marketing Automation Plan (MAP)
The MAP will form the foundation of your marketing automation platform implementation. This is a living document that will not only inform your implementation but will also guide your entire strategy moving forward.
There are a number of benefits that the MAP can provide to your business. First, it gives you the opportunity to design the customer journey. Take a look at car insurance, for example:
- A user searches “car insurance” online
- They enter your sales funnel by clicking on an ad or an organic search result and enter your website via a landing page.
- With a strong call to action, they may go into your online quoter and complete a car insurance quote.
- At this point, they’ve provided you with a goldmine of information that you can leverage to personalize their entire experience with your brand. From location to gender and even vehicle type, you now have the data necessary to make touchpoints more personal.
- When the quote is completed, they may decide not to call immediately.
The journey for most companies without marketing automation stops here. If the customer doesn’t call immediately, they are lost in a “black hole” of no return.
With a proper marketing automation plan, you can prevent the prospect from going dark. You can build personalized automated responses based on their behaviour to help them make a more informed buying decision and keep them in your sales funnel.
The important thing to note is, for every action the customer takes or doesn’t, there should always be a communication touchpoint that comes from you. Once you identify likely user actions, this is where your marketing automation plan comes in.
As you can see, understanding the customer journey allows you to anticipate the steps they might take and create a custom program. This enables you to engage with your customers more personally based on unique real-time behaviour, as you guide them through their entire path to purchase. With greater visibility of each users’ journey, you can create custom automated programs, targeted emails, and specific landing pages. This way, you’ll be generating and leveraging the platform for all it’s worth, and you’ll be in control of defining the most successful customer journey to close sales faster and identify leads more effectively.
This is what a map looks like:
Building the MAP also helps you develop what is called a lead scoring system. A lead scoring system helps your marketing and sales teams determine which leads are more promising or more likely to convert.
Your marketing automation plan informs your implementation
Your MAP also lays the foundation for the implementation of your marketing automation platform on two levels.
- User/Marketing Level – On a user level, it will help you understand what resources you need. From creative to content and web development, your MAP will provide you with a clear view of all the various implementation needs.
- Technology Level – A good MAP will inform your internal IT resources what is needed to support your overall strategy. This is also dependent on what marketing automation platform you decide to use. Some platforms such as Marketo require substantial IT support. You should consider the data you want to leverage, the various APIs you will need to bring together, and the number of landing pages and emails you will need to design. Some applications also require a developer for a fully customized solution.
MAPs can be as detailed or as simple as you want. Although, Ideally, you want them as detailed as possible. Organizations that do this well will have an entire wall where they visually map it out. The MAP is foundational, and that’s why we start with it.
The Marketing Automation Recipe: Resources
Finally, you need the resources to bring your MAP to life.
In my experience, a successful marketing automation implementation needs the following resources:
- Digital Strategist – This person understands digital strategy and can work with a cross-functional team including development, data, marketing, and so on to bring the whole Marketing Automation Plan together.
- Marketing Specialist – This individual handles the implementation on the user side. They’re responsible for creating the landing pages and emails associated with the automated programs. They play a pivotal role in implementing the customer journey.
- Tech/Dev Support – This role is vital to API implementation and connecting your data to the marketing automation platform.
- Data Analyst – This person is responsible for data governance and reporting, so you can report your ROI.
If you do not have these resources internally, working with an agency such as Kanetix Digital can help you implement your marketing automation platform. We make it easy to deliver the right message at the right time, so you can transform prospects into leads, leads into sales, and sales into brand advocates.
About the author:
Rodrigo is a marketing professional with over nine years of experience, driving growth through data-driven strategies in both B2B and B2C markets. As the Senior Manager of Digital Strategy, he leverages his in-depth knowledge of marketing technology and analytics to improve conversions at all stages of the buyer journey.
Over the past six years, he has led the successful implementation of various marketing automation and CRM technologies that have led to lowering churn, increasing customer loyalty, and driving customer acquisition. Recently, he has been experimenting with machine learning models as a way to build smarter conversion rate optimization programs.