Mind Reading: Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Analytics

Giving clients what they want will now require more than simply perfecting a digital strategy. According to a recent report from Ernst & Young, analyzing those digital efforts is “critical” to insurance business success.


Based on responses from 100 insurance companies around the globe earlier this year, the study determined that while most insurance organizations fail to deliver analytics capabilities early in the process of digital adoption, tracking metrics is a “prerequisite” for extracting maximum value from digital investment.


“If you think about customers’ engagement with digital channels, what digital has allowed is a massive increase in information about their behaviors and about their interests,” says Kaenan Hertz, executive director of financial services and customer practice at Ernst & Young. “So in the insurance space, analytics provides all this new wealth of information that ultimately helps companies better meet the expectations of the customer.”


That means as consumer habits continue to evolve rapidly, it’s no longer enough to simply keep up with the latest technological trends. Agencies must also track consumer behavior in order to determine which practices are most successful at increasing loyalty, retention and returns.


“If you’re not tracking, you can spend a lot of time going digital in the wrong ways,” explains Claudia McClain, principal of McClain Insurance Services in Everett, Wash., which employs a slew of analytics measures to enhance digital efforts. “So just like anything we do—just like you would keep track of your underwriting loss ratios and you’d make an adjustment if you weren’t writing profitable business—same thing with analytics when it comes to marketing.”


Chuck Blondino, marketing director for the northwest region at Safeco Insurance in Seattle, cites two examples of digital marketing where analytics prove invaluable: search engine optimization and email marketing. “A lot of agents spend money to get their search engine status improved, and after two or three months, maybe they’ve gotten into the top three if they’re lucky,” he says. “But what they’re also noticing sometimes is that they may not be getting many leads from it. Or they may see more traffic, but visitors aren’t spending any additional time on the pages.”


Information like that is priceless for agents looking to mold their current lackluster digital marketing platform into something more effective. Blondino says the same applies for email newsletters: after a strong initial rollout, many agencies watch their open rates decline rapidly—misleading many to develop the false mindset that digital efforts simply don’t work.


“What’s really been happening is they’ve been putting into those emails stuff that bores people to tears,” explains Blondino, who believes agents can boost their digital success by personalizing their content in all communications with clients. “So I say, use the tracking—the tracking is telling you something. It’s telling you now that they wanted to hear from you, but once they opened, they weren’t attracted to what you were sharing. If your open rates are dropping, change your content.”


By tracking analytics, agents can adapt their digital strategy to better meet customer expectations. “Those metrics help you identify where you’re weak or where you’re strong,” Blondino says. “You should be able to see, if you pay attention, what’s working and what’s not.”


Regardless of what an agency’s digital strategy involves, tracking analytics is the only way to make sense of consumer behavior. “If you’re not growing 1% per year, you’re not even keeping up with the population growth,” Blondino says. “So the issue of tracking is really critical for agents to understand what’s working.”


For details on incorporating analytics into a digital strategy, don’t miss next week’s edition of Insurance News & Views™.


Jacquelyn Connelly is IA assistant editor.

How it Works
Ernst & Young identifies analytics capabilities like segmentation, customer data and predictive modeling as the skill sets most valuable in today’s market—all of which Hertz says allow businesses to “meet that desired customer experience in the channel of their choice” in a more effective way.
Segmentation involves classifying customers into meaningful collections in order to engage them more effectively. As a simple example, “a high-value customer you might be willing to invest more in terms of the touch, while in a lower-value customer you might prefer that they do more in the self-service channels,” Hertz explains. “Segmentation allows you to market differently, it allows you to service potentially differently and ultimately it allows you to help drive some of your investments.”
Customer data and predictive modeling focus more on synthesizing information and putting it to future use. That might mean preventing desertion by “predicting who is about to leave, and then rolling out retention activities targeting those customers,” Hertz says. “The flip side is predicting who’s likely to join you—who you are most likely to resonate with in the marketplace, so you target your acquisition dollars differently.”