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5 Questions to Ask Your Direct Marketing Agency

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Written By  
FM Engage

Making the decision to outsource to a direct marketing agency is not an easy one. Many considerations must be made, including resources, budget, time commitment, and even what goals you have for your insurance company.

Even more difficult than making the decision to outsource is choosing the right direct marketing agency. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. The right direct marketing agency for your company depends on many factors, so it’s important to ask the right questions when you’re interviewing options—or when you’re considering whether your current direct marketing agency is still the right fit.

This article will help you determine what questions you can ask a direct marketing agency to make sure they are the right ones to help you reach your goals.

Steps Before the Questions

Before you sit down with the direct marketing agencies and ask all the interview questions you have in mind, make sure you have a good idea of your goals first.

This includes understanding where your current marketing is at, including what resources you have in-house, and what your current ROI is for marketing campaigns. You’ll also want to identify how direct marketing will fit into your overall marketing strategy. Without this information, it’s difficult to know if a direct marketing agency will be able to add to your current efforts.

If you’re currently only utilizing inbound or content marketing like social media or blogging, direct marketing can provide many new revenue sources to support your current inbound efforts. If you’re already doing a lot of direct marketing but just need to add new more data-focused print sources like direct mail, that is also a consideration that will need to be made with a potential direct marketing agency.

5 Questions to Ask Your Direct Marketing Agency

Once you determine your goals and the types of marketing you want to do, you can make a list of questions to ask the direct marketing agency. Here are five to get you started on choosing the right agency for your company.

What is Your Data Philosophy?

Your direct marketing campaign relies on your data. Without knowing which customers are most likely to have a need for your products, you are wasting money on sending outreach to many people who will never purchase. This only decreases your ROI. Quantity does not equal quality.

The quality of the data you are using for your mailing lists and campaign strategies is of the utmost importance. Understanding the philosophy of your direct marketing agency’s data can make or break your campaigns and ROI.

Part of the quality of the data includes the ability to utilize and analyze the data before, during, and after a campaign to make your marketing campaigns more effective. Does the direct marketing agency you’re considering have a data science team specifically designated to analyze your data and create models for more efficient campaigns in the future?

Another aspect of data to consider is security. Your customers want you to ensure their information is protected at all times, and that includes making sure your third-party marketing agency is protecting their information as well. Find out what the direct marketing agency’s data security, privacy, and confidentiality policies are, along with what compliance standards they follow.

What is Your Process for Establishing a Results-Driven Program?

Results-driven is a vague term if you don’t have goals in mind. Since results can mean a lot of different things to different people or in different situations, this must first be defined with the direct marketing agency to tell them what results you are seeking and what results they are able to provide.

Direct marketing is an investment, so you want to make sure you are spending your money wisely and in a way that is going to increase your revenue.

For that reason, you’ll need to ensure you’re partnering with a direct marketing agency that has a proven track record of launching, managing, and scaling a results-driven direct marketing campaign. You will also want to make sure this experience is in the insurance industry since most other industries don’t have the same compliance, security, and industry-related concerns.

Look at the direct marketing agency’s case studies to determine if they have had success with companies who had similar obstacles or goals to yours. Consider all content they have published on their website or in other publications to judge whether they truly understand the industry and its unique challenges for engaging customers with products.

The most important part of any results-driven program is the data and testing of that data. Ask the direct marketing agency how they will verify what is working and what is not—and then how they will use that information to increase future campaign results.

If the direct marketing agency will be A/B testing regularly, determine if your company can financially weather that timeline or the expense of a multivariate approach. If they have their own methodology or modeling strategy, ask how they will efficiently and effectively determine what works the best. Know what your KPI expectations are, and how that compares with theirs.

Does this results-driven testing translate across multiple channels for an omnichannel strategy as well? If this is something you are looking to implement to maximize your budget and extend your reach, you need to make sure your direct marketing agency can optimize an omnichannel performance.

How Do You Encourage a Bountiful Partnership?

A successful partnership with your direct marketing agency includes transparency, trust, and collaboration.

One of the questions you should add to your list to ask your agency is how their relationships with their insurance partners work. How will you work together? What will be required from your company, and what will they handle on their side? How will your company and their agency collaborate to optimize success of your entire program, including strategies, analytics, and costs?

It’s also important that you understand if you get any say in the approval process of creatives and other directives as campaign strategies adjust with the testing. If you want to ensure the creatives match your brand and message, make sure the agency you’re working with allows—and encourages—client approval on all creatives.

How often will you receive reports on analytics and modeling changes? Is it a regular schedule, or do you need to prompt reporting?

The partnership will also require communication, so make sure the agency’s communication and marketing schedule both fit your needs. If you want an agency that communicates weekly with you through email or allows for monthly calls or in-person meetings, verify that up-front so you’re not expecting communication at a rate higher than what they can handle. On the other side of the coin, if you don’t want to communicate with your agency partner often and the agencies you’re talking to require regular meetings, you will want to understand that up-front.

What Direct Marketing Channels Does the Agency Utilize?

Omnichannel marketing is crucial for increased revenue and exposure. When you’re able to get in front of prospects where they want to communicate, you not only remind them to take action, but you also give them the opportunity to take action in the way they want.

These choices increase the likelihood of purchase and deliver a higher ROI than utilizing a single channel.

That being said, you will need to make sure that the direct marketing agencies you’re considering have capabilities in multiple channels. Many direct marketing agencies only market with direct mail and have no digital presence.

You’ll also want to make sure the direct marketing agency has digital capabilities for enrollment, service, and claims. This will ensure customers are happy with their journey with the company from marketing to enrollment to administration. According to Forester, 30% of consumers who endured a bad claims experience switched insurers within a year of the claim.

Where Does Your Data Come From?

Although at this point you probably already know the agency’s data practices, it’s also important to understand where a company is getting its data from to initiate its direct marketing campaigns.

Not only does it matter that the data is reliable, but it also matters that they use multiple data sources and can categorize the data they receive to determine who is most likely to purchase from the list.

Preferably, the direct marketing agency you choose will have a proprietary data warehouse that allows them to procure and handle data differently than all the other companies. For categorization, Personicx and software like it segment data into clusters for a better understanding of customer behavior, life stage, demographics, and additional information that can help you better tailor your offerings and avoid wasting money on sending direct marketing messages to people who are unlikely to ever have a need for your products.

Data-driven marketing only works if the data is utilized appropriately. Having a 360-degree view of every prospect can narrow your list to the point that your ROI almost instantly increases. It’s not just about your list either. Better data helps build smarter creative that is more likely to motivate purchases and personalize the messages, so customers truly feel your desire to help aid in their financial wellness.

Results-Driven Direct Marketing Team

When you are looking for a whole team of direct marketers who have over 50 years of industry experience and the ability to collect and analyze data that drives results, FM Engage is the agency for you.

We are ready and willing to answer all questions you have before beginning a partnership because we understand the investment you make in your marketing, and we want to help you succeed and improve your ROI.

FM Engage offers many direct marketing services, including direct mail, data services, digital marketing, and more. With an entire team of marketing and data experts, we can complement your existing marketing efforts and help you increase revenue and customer loyalty. It’s time for data that directs.

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