Online Quote and Bind Wasn’t The Answer. How Marketing Automation Empowers People

The insurance industry has seen a huge shift in how customers research and purchase coverage, and how insurance providers (brokers, carriers, and MGAs) quote and bind policies. In an effort to meet the end consumers’ growing demand for digital options and to optimize the quote and bind process, many insurance providers have turned to online quote and binding engines. These tools offer several options ranging from online quoting with offline binding to policies that can be purchased fully online. While they can play a part in addressing the challenges which both the insured and insurance provider face, they don’t provide the complete answer to the problem. Marketing automation platforms, which support omnichannel engagement throughout the entire customer journey, capture data for automated and personalized engagement and empower both the end customer and provider, offer a more holistic solution.

Solving the Real Problem

There are many steps along the insurance customer’s path to purchase. An online quote and bind tool can work well within this journey but insurance providers who take the ‘if I build it, they will come’ view will likely be disappointed with their results. An omni channel strategy, which supports all the steps in this journey (including online quote and bind) will significantly impact these results, driving awareness to the right audiences across all channels for multiple different products and providing options to engage at any point through any channel.

Empowering People with Marketing Automation

If the goal of online quote and bind is to create a better and more efficient process for both the customer and the insurance provider, how can marketing automation help deliver on that promise? By using digital where it makes most sense.

Most insurance searches (like with other products) start online. For personal or smaller commercial products, the search may begin on Google. Research for mid-market to large commercial may be in the form of advice or thought leadership via social channels such as Twitter or Linkedin. Including landing pages in the awareness strategy will enable the capture of key contact information and begin the customer journey – regardless of the audience or channel.

Let’s assume that you’ve succeeded at attracting attention and your prospect has clicked through to land on your quote and bind engine. Typically the first step in those systems is a series of questions, required in order to complete the process end to end. For some coverages and customers this may work but for many, it will not. The list of questions and the entire process can be long in order to get the right coverage options. Some questions that are clear for the insurance provider may not be so clear for the end consumer.

Questions may require information they don’t know or have at hand. When important details are not provided about the brand or product there can be a high risk of quote abandonment. Rather than sending users directly into the online quote and bind process from your ad, using landing pages with short smart-forms (powered by your Marketing Automation Platform) can improve conversion rates. These pages provide rich marketing information and the ability to “tell a story” prior to entering an online quote and bind process or opting for other, more traditional process. Marketing automation platforms have flexible tools (such as progressive profiling) to tailor these pages to the Ad,  Prospect, and Product,  enabling relevant lead touch points to drive automated lead nurture campaigns. 

“What we’ve seen is the need to nurture and educate insurance leads at every stage of the funnel, using automated marketing + sales programs, in order to improve bind ratios of digitally driven customers. This process gives you more control and will dramatically increase traffic, quality leads and bind ratios.”  – Jennifer Pugsley, Director of Client Services, Goose Digital

Optimizing landing pages, forms, calls to action and transactional emails are all critical in improving the online quote and bind process. It takes time and several iterations of testing and learning to get it right, and it is significantly more efficient accomplish this with a marketing automation platform.

Providing options for completing the purchase journey empowers not only the customer but the insurance provider as well. Data captured during the process provides a framework for relevant conversations, focused on the right solution for the customer, and delivered at the right time with automated drip campaigns. Marketing automation platforms track how prospects engage with these messages, as well as websites and social pages. Sales producers and customer service teams use these digital behaviour scores, to prioritize and  customize how and when they engage with the leads. Engagement data, supplemented by additional sales data, also provides essential insights into the overall success and ROI of marketing. These can be used to modify lead targeting, brand and product messaging, and adjust any aspect of the customer journey – including the quote and bind process.

Conclusion

Many insurance brokers, carriers, and MGAs are realizing that online quote & bind engines are only one piece of the puzzle. If you do decide to add these systems as part of your overall digital strategy, make sure there is time and effort budgeted to monitor, measure and optimize over the first 12-18 months (at the very least). But most importantly, keep in the mind the real challenges you are trying to solve: optimizing how you qualify and nurture your audience, and collect and leverage data to better understand and engage with them. Neither customers nor insurance providers are looking to eliminate all human interaction in the insurance path to purchase; In many cases, customers want the guidance and expertise plus the flexibility of digital channels and insurance providers want the ability to deliver value to the right customer. Marketing automation platforms empower all parties to achieve this goal.

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