Common wisdom has it that insurance brokers and agents have lagged behind other sectors in the use of social media for marketing. However, by employing a different approach – content marketing – insurance distributors may havew an opportunity to leapfrog into a leading position with personal and commercial lines customers.
Why Do We Think Insurance is Lagging ?
A recent article in Insurance Business notes that insurance brokers have lost their advantage to internet based services. Citing Adam Green, president of MapleNorth.com, an on-line consulting organization, consumers now search an average of 12 different sources for information insurance products before contacting an insurance advisor. Green contends that brokers are not making effective use of tools – such as Google Analytics, Facebook Fan accounts, and Twitter – on their websites which enhance visibility through social media.
Tools Are Not Enough: Content Rules
While we don’t disagree that these tools are important, we believe that they are neither entirely necessary nor completely sufficient to help agents and brokers use social media to regain pre-eminence in the eyes of the consumer. What is required is returning to the basics of insurance marketing and using new tools to carry the message. This has earned a name in the the electronic marketing world: Content Marketing
What is Content Marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute (yes, there is an institute): “content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. … The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”
Sounds like what good agents and brokers have been doing for years, no?
And content marketing is gaining velocity as the shine of pure social media use wears thin. We recently noted a study reported in eMarketer which “found that content marketing had climbed to the top of the list of importance in terms of emerging digital trends, named as a top priority for 2013 by 39% of respondents.”
Why the turn to Content Marketing? eMarketer says: “This may be a sign that companies understand social media’s potential value in engaging customers and generating leads, but are having trouble developing effective methods of measuring return on investment.”
What Does Insurance Content Marketing Look Like?
On the personal lines side, we have referenced Ryan Hanely, a US insurance agent who has used social media as the primary vehicle for his marketing efforts. He is currently focusing advising other agents and has posted extensively about Content Marketing on his blog, ‘Content Warfare’. It can get a little geeky, but has lots of valuable content tips.
We have been following Aviva Canada on Twitter for some time (@AvivaCanada). In our opinion, They use a great mix of public service and insurance tips with good frequency of posting. We have also started to follow Rhodes & Williams (@ottawainsurance) who mixes personal and professional topics with ease.
On the commercial lines, the Frank Cowan Company Risk Management Centre of Excellence has taken an interesting approach. The content addresses needs of Frank Cowan Clients (municipalities and other public sector entities) for information on insurance and risk management, including legislation, regulation, recent court judgements and tips for managing risks internally.
There are several levels of access: Open to the Public, Open to Registered Users, and Open to Clients. At the public level, the site provides snippets of recent posts and articles. To get deeper, visitors register to see more detail. At the client level, the Frank Cowan Risk Management department provides detail on the topics, including a large (and constantly expanding) library of risk management tools. The site features an active blog and will be expanding to multimedia and interactive tools.
Where Can You Find Out More?
The 2013 Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference next week has a number of sessions on Social Media targeted at insurance in general and distributors specifically. On Monday, there will be a half-day Social Media Boot Camp. During this, Barb Szychta, Director of Risk Management for FrankCowan will be presenting on the Risk Management Centre of Excellence.
Registration for the conference can be found here.
What Are You Doing?
Are you using Content Marketing? Do you know an organization that does it well? Share your thoughts below.