Skip to main content

Closing Insurance Prospects with Direct Response Campaigns

FM Engage logo
Written By  
FM Engage

The old ways of selling insurance are, well, old. They’re just not as effective anymore.

Gone are the days when you could leave direct-to-consumer marketing to your network of agents and producers. One-size-fits-all products, marketed en masse to zip codes and rough demographics, are increasingly, and thankfully, a thing of the past.

We’re living in a period of intense personalization. Customers look for Amazon- or Netflix-like experiences with everything they do and everything they buy—even complex products like financial services or insurance.

In fact, data from J.D. Power published by the Interactive Advertising Bureau suggests that two-thirds of today’s consumers expect direct connections with the brands from whom they purchase.

Here’s the upside: This expectation presents a tremendous opportunity for insurance marketers to own the end-to-end marketing strategy and deliver a better customer experience in the process.

Embrace the Demand For Personalized Insurance Experiences

Changes in consumer expectations are driving shifts across the industry. Investments in broad-based branding and traditional advertising are moving toward finely targeted tactics, messages and calls to action, all driven from the highest brand level.

That’s not to say that relationship building at the agent or producer level is dead. Far from it. But for certain types of products, including some life, property and casualty policies, the direct-to-consumer marketing strategy is proving to be quite effective.

This means some old-school tactics like direct mail (or, more broadly, direct marketing) could be more effective than ever. However, approaching direct response marketing channels today demands a modern approach that delivers more personalized experiences.

Of course, it’s not simply a marketing challenge: Deloitte’s Life Insurance Consumer Survey uncovered the tremendous potential for “insurance product redesign” to meet customer expectations.

In particular, the team at Deloitte suggests micro-segmentation, advanced predictive models and highly targeted messaging could spark growth throughout the industry, particularly in the property and casualty insurance market.

At FM Engage, we’ve seen this reality firsthand. We know that when our clients leverage our micro-market data to identify prospects and craft marketing messaging and strategy, consumers respond.

In turn, when carriers deliver the kind of insurance purchasing and quoting experience consumers want—including control over coverage levels, pricing and more—they’re more likely to buy.

As entrepreneur, author and digital marketing pioneer Mitch Joel famously said, “Direct is the new disruption.”

That’s right, it’s a brand-new era in insurance direct response marketing. Let’s take a look at how we can help you leverage these new strategic marketing tools to capture more of the growing market.

What are direct marketing and direct response marketing anyway?

But first, a direct marketing primer.

Direct marketing—sometimes also called direct-to-consumer marketing (or DTC marketing)—is one of the oldest ways to sell products. It involves delivering a message directly to a prospect, rather than through a broader medium like television, radio or magazines. Think of it like a direct line to potential customers.

In today’s world, standard approaches to are starting to fall flat. The average traditional direct mail campaign delivers a less than two percent response rate. Email is even worse, bringing in less than one percent.

Direct response marketing is a subset of direct marketing that kicks it all up a notch. Direct response marketing campaigns are exclusively focused on generating leads and immediate responses. A direct response ad includes a targeted offer and call to action designed to elicit a very specific desired response–usually visiting a website or calling a tracked phone number.

Common direct response marketing examples include referral programs, Google Ads, text messaging and more—promoting an irresistible offer or key benefit and call to action that will inspire potential consumers to act quickly.

The biggest advantage? It’s instantly trackable and measurable. For a direct response marketing campaign with components like mailers, you can set up custom phone numbers and tracking codes that let you know which offer has sparked a customer’s interest.

Email makes it easy, too, with most providers delivering near-real-time statistics on who’s opening and engaging with your emails, and which calls to action are most effective.

Simply put, there’s no better way to have measurable ROI than with direct response marketing.

Here’s the best news: advances in data and analytics are kicking all of this to an entirely new level. Innovative ways to target customers, alluded to in the Deloitte study, are heralding a new era of insurance direct marketing that really is disrupting the old direct response marketing models.

Think about this another way: As the insurance industry shifts toward more direct-to-consumer marketing activities, it might be easy to assume the old tactics are wrong. But that’s not true: It’s not the tactics that are wrong, it’s the age-old approaches.

Our experience has shown these tactics still work—and should definitely be in your marketing mix:

  • Personalized direct mail
  • Email
  • Targeted online display ads
  • Search remarketing campaigns
  • Video marketing
Shot of a businessman using a smartphone and going through paperwork while working from home

Five ways to leverage direct response marketing advances in your marketing strategy.

Talk to the right target audience.

Traditional direct mail involved buying a zip-code list from a third party and sending the same postcard with the same offer to everyone on the list. When email came on the scene, many marketers followed the same process of purchasing lists and sending mass offers.

We’ve been gathering first-party targeting data for over 50 years. Our data goes way beyond where people live to deliver insights into what they buy and why. It leads to a hyper-focused metric we call “propensity to buy.”

In essence, it comes down to the fact you should only be reaching out to a target audience of consumers who are likely to be interested in your products.

All FM Engage clients get access to this rich data hub that’s proven to deliver more effective direct response marketing campaigns.

Put people first, not insurance products.

We believe it’s time for insurers to start thinking about insurance as the highly personal products they are. This allows you to take customer data to an even deeper level. For example, a recent college graduate moving to a new apartment might need new renters’ insurance or car insurance–or maybe a new insurance bundle? A young and growing family might turn its attention to life insurance. A change in jobs or health status might spark interest in AD&D coverage.

FM Engage’s advanced consumer data help you capitalize on these opportunities and craft targeted direct marketing strategies, direct response advertising and more that reach consumers who may already be thinking about your insurance products.

But there’s another layer to it all.

Ernst&Young studied consumer insurance trends and revealed that thinking about consumers first doesn’t just demand a change in marketing strategy. It’s also a change in insurance products. Half of the insurance carriers surveyed found they’d need more personal, flexible products to match customer demand. More on that approach in a bit.

Put insurance in the right context.

When you bring it all together—it just makes sense. When the messaging in your direct response campaign feel personalized and targeted, it instantly creates a better customer experience. Put another way, it builds a relationship.

Today’s direct marketing tools give you incredible new flexibility to customize offers and featured products to deliver exactly the kind of custom experience modern consumers demand. It goes a long way to building a direct relationship with your customers.

Much like the way yesterday’s consumers used to identify as much with their broker or agent, today’s buyers are not afraid to develop relationships with the brands they feel understand their needs and values.

The right email marketing or direct mail campaign, with the right context and delivered at the right time, can go a long way toward advancing your lead generation strategy.

Measure and adjust your direct response marketing campaign to increase ROI.

The real magic of modern direct response marketing is that literally everything is measured. If you’re sending emails, for example, you can know in real-time who has opened your email, who has clicked on the offer, and exactly what they’ve done on the site. This valuable information can help both with improving individual sales and finessing key components—if the data shows a specific call to action with compelling copy can grab attention more than another clear call.

Take direct response beyond marketing.

Reaching and engaging insurance prospects is one thing, but how do you close the deal? How do you turn prospects into customers—and then build customer loyalty from there? The real key is to follow up on the promises you’ve made in your marketing activities.

That’s right—consumers are demanding personalized marketing. Again, thanks to leaders like Amazon and Netflix, consumers expect a personalized experience from end to end. They want to purchase from companies they feel understand their needs and values, and will immediately turn the other way if the product experience doesn’t match the marketing promises.

Obviously, most lead generation happens online—or prospects become online leads as they respond to a direct mail postcard or other printed material. That’s why we work with our clients to ensure that personalized experience carries over to the quoting and purchasing process.

To truly close the deal, it’s important to look at the entire process, end-to-end, including:

  • Providing online calculators that align with key targeted life events
  • Delivering fast insurance quotes for relevant products (and few, if any, distracting side offers)
  • Creating a website or app-based payments and claim filing tools
  • Offering robust (and responsive) communications channels, including email and chat

Making the most of your insurance direct response marketing campaigns.

Remember, the key to effective marketing strategies in today’s world goes far beyond targeted zip codes and form letters sent by agents and producers. Success demands a highly personalized approach, with customized marketing messages for key demographics and focusing on their most pressing needs.

We have the data that can help you reach these consumers at the right time–and we’d love to talk to you about putting it into action. Let’s get started.