E-Commerce with an emphasis on Social Technologies
Let me start by saying, I don’t have all the answers. But I’ve observed a few things that perhaps might be considered a state-of-the-business in some way. And yes, there are many exceptions to all these items.
Starting out 2014, after 4 years of talking about Social Tech to insurance executives, I’m concerned that too many insurance companies and agencies, and the business partners and associations that serve them, are missing a critical sea change in business.
Here are some observations:
Postage costs are increasing – no secret there.
Direct mail open rates continue falling – tons of content here.
Boomers are flocking to the social web – validation here.
Social media marketing budgets remain a fraction of traditional budgets.
“In August 2013, social marketing spending accounted for an average of about 6.6% of marketer budgets. Within the next year, that share was expected to rise to 9.1%, and in the next five years, marketers expected social to account for 15.8% of spending.”
more on this
Effective users of social tech are seeing significantly better results than their competitors that rely primarily on traditional methods – again, tons of data here, here, and here, especially the McKinsey article.
Internal Email has become a huge issue in the past 15 years. A few insurance companies, notably ACE, Chubb, and Swiss Re, are starting to move away from internal email onto internal collaborative platforms like Jive (aka. internal social networks) – see this McKinsey study.
E word of mouth using viral video is one of the best strategies for filling the funnel with qualified leads. Good to see some getting started with video.
Blogs are helping to shorten sales cycle. see more. – See the lead article by Kuno Creative.
Effective users of Linkedin are also driving leads and warm referrals.
Very few insurance websites are currently mobile friendly.
(Everyone knows ignorance isn’t really bliss – see the Progressive Insurance survey of Agent sites.)
Side note: Remember that consumers, your constituents, don’t compare your site with your competitors’ sites as much as they compare it with other sites they use on a regular basis. So be honest. How does your insurance ecommerce website match up with other industries? If it doesn’t, could this cause confusion with consumers and potential dissatisfaction with insurance companies?
Understanding and leveraging Big Data is a challenge at this point even though insurance companies have tons of data that they can use.
One aspect of growth-through-acquisition (versus organic cross-sell, up-sell, referrals, self-gen) is the resulting confluence of operating systems, which makes “Big Data” elusive.
Underwriters don’t seem to be creating nearly enough Social media that might help the industry. The mechanics of insurance are just as hard to understand for the lay person as with any other industry. The constituents need help, unrelated to marketing.
Underwriters seem to have much growth potential in how to leverage Social Tech in their communications with agents. For example, see the vidcast I did with an agent. At about the 27th minute, Ryan Hanley discusses how he uses Google Hangout with Underwriters, which leads to a new use of YouTube. Wow – Free, Easy, Useful.
Consider the wide use of Linkedin and the incredible utility of many of its tools. It has tremendous potential for recruiting, retention, and cultural optimization.
Other questions for HR:
Beyond the tools, what is the strategy for understanding and optimizing organizational voice?
Savvy marketers understand that, circa 2014, great Social Media tells stories. Search on Twitter under #Storytelling #Marketing. You’ll find that Social Media is essentially digitizing the soul of the company. So the question people have is, “Why don’t insurance companies produce Social Media? After all, don’t insurance companies and agencies have some pretty great stories about being the white knight coming to the rescue of customers in distress?” I say, yes – EVERY DAY?!?! Wouldn’t it be great to have a video strategy documenting these great stories. Here’s another: spouses, children, and friends of company staff that are currently serving in the armed forces. Boy, if you did that right, what a great human-interest story people would appreciate it.
A reoccurring theme from Boot Camp attendees is the topic of recruiting “A” candidates and losing them to other industries. The reasons given often revolve around the company not being current on a number of levels and thus not attractive.
The “Command & Control” paradigm continues to be the cultural org chart in insurance. That worked well for many years, but is struggling now. Compared to “Round Org Charts” (ala Disney) GenX’ers, and even more so Millennials, thrive in autonomy and freedom.
This is one of my favorite IT/CIO blogs. Terry and his readers have some spot-on insights into many of the issues IT departments have, and/or create, inside organizations. Subscribe. You’ll be glad you did.
Cheers. Comments welcome. Am I out in left-field on any of this? Curious……