Archive for January, 2006

31st

Well, we had a great time at the Inter-Company Marketing Group Annual Meeting in Phoenix this past week.ICMG is all about strategic alliances between insurance companies and distributors. NETWORKING is the main activity.

The focus this year was Insurance Strategic Alliances….The Power of Partnership. From my perspective there were a lot more people looking for technology partnerships than in years past.

Our company, IdeaStar is a full-service Web development firm which designs, programs, promotes and manages leading-edge Web sites and e-business applications – especially for the insurance industry. We were exhibiting at the conference.

What was the buzz? It seems that the stranglehold of the inhouse IT department is waning. Several people stopped by our booth and mentioned they can now talk to us about outsourcing Web development and hosting.The top brass, it seems, are finally realizing that IT is best focused on back-office stuff, not marketing sites. There is a lot more to selling insurance online than simple Web pages. I remember one guy in particular who was so pleased and excited because the company president had finally said, “Get this done and do it outside.” Another company has hired a senior vice president of e-business. Seems like a lot of good is starting to happen for health and life insurance e-business.

I spent a lot of time telling people about e-signature and all the different products IdeaStar has Web-enabled career-to-date. We’ve done health products, life products, senior products like Med Supp and Part D, and property and casualty. Search engine marketing is another area which anybody who is selling insurance online needs to be aware of.

The next ICMG meeting will be in about a year in Naples, Florida. I hope to be giving a presentation then.

Oh and by the way, the trail ride was fun too…

13th

Why am I talking about Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? The main reason is the national Do Not Call and Do Not Mail lists, and what I’ve seen accomplished through SEM.

Everybody knows about the Do Not Call list. It’s been in place for about five years. The Do Not Mail lists are new and will probably become just as important in the area of restricting unwanted marketing materials. So if you can’t call and you can’t send mail, what’s left? SEM!

People will use search engines to find information; No question about that. So to effectively market insurance in the future, it makes sense to include an SEM game plan. Now, I can’t go into all the details about SEM in a blog post. But you can stay tuned to my favorite Search Engine Specialist, Susanne Svette’s, blog Spinfield. I also found interesting a recent article about the importance of location on the search engine results page. The article proves that people look top to bottom and left to right on a Web page. We also know that people have a limited attention span on any given Web page. Not hard to make conclusions about effective SEM placement…

My concern is that traditional insurance companies are not pursuing SEM campaigns. While not wanting to be alarmist, it really is important for insurance companies to start playing in the SEM game. Remember: it takes time to do well in the search engines.

Here’s a real-time example: One of our clients is participating in Medicare Part D. They were also a part of the discount drug card program. Since Part D started, they’ve had over 30,000 enrollments that originated from search engines. And, they’ve had over 100,000 search engine impressions. I know they are glad they are in the SEM game. Are you?

6th

If you are looking for an opportunity to discuss the buying and selling of insurance products, there’s a great conference coming up. The Inter-Company Marketing Group’s (ICMG) 22nd Annual Meeting is scheduled for January 24 through 26. at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort, Phoenix, Arizona.

It’s a really nice, new resort south of Phoenix on the Gila Indian Reservation. There’s a beautiful golf course in a desert location. I know this because I used to live in beautiful, sunny Phoenix instead of Cleveland (don’t ask, it’s a long story! — and I wouldn’t change a thing!). This is one of the last areas to be developed in the Phoenix metropolitan area — gorgeous.

Approximately 300 insurance marketing executives are expected to attend. You can see who some of those people are. Click here.

The purpose of ICMG is to bring together makers of insurance products and sellers of insurance products. The conference gives everyone an opportunity to get together and do deals – or at least start the discussion.

My purpose for being there is to raise my hand and say, “Wait! Before you close the deal, let’s talk about the technology component. Make sure, where appropriate, your agents can do quoting, enrollments, and more online WITHOUT paper.” As I’ve said before, when done correctly, Web-enabled insurance processes are better, faster, and cheaper.

The good news is insurance marketing execs are finally starting to “get it”. The bad news is the their IT departments are still getting in the way. As I said recently in a presentation at a recent conference, “Insurance distribution sites are not IT sites – they are Marketing sites.” When IT gets involved, it’s been my experience that, in general, costs go UP, time frames go OUT, and quality goes DOWN. (…All right, I’ll get off my rant….)

So I’m really looking forward to this meeting. ICMG does a great job of facilitating the event, allowing a lot of time for networking. There will be a small exhibition area. Come visit me at the IdeaStar booth.

And besides, it’s the perfect time of year to get out of Cleveland — a little too much snow with no ski hills for my preference. Next week I will discuss new stuff on Search Engine Optimization — a critical component for insurance distribution sites. See you next week.

Archives to 2005