- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Personalized Marketing: What Do We Know and When Do We Know It?

Reading between the lines of some recent reports, I am starting to think that the more we learn about personalized marketing, the less we know about how to implement it.  Fortunately, there is an opportunity to pose questions to leading experts next week.  I hope you can join me to ask your own questions and help all of us understand the answers.

What is personalized marketing?

Most of the articles I read use the term ‘personalized marketing’ without definition.  Maybe I’m just behind in my reading, but I finally had to look it up.

According to,

Personalized marketing is the ultimate form of targeted marketing, creating messages for individual consumers  …  it is most often an automated process, using computer software to craft the individual messages, and building customer-centric recommendation engines instead of company-centric selling engines.

In other words, look at what does, and do it.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t address the information required to construct and deliver the message.  I want to explore a slightly different construct, but before I do, I think it’s important to look at the buzz around personalization.

Expectations are higher internally and externally…

A recent posting in eMarketer begins: “Marketers have heard it loud and clear: Personalization is important. But they’re still struggling to execute it.”  According to the post, the critical roadblock is the lack of integration of internal systems which prevents the development of a single customer viewpoint.

eMarketer cites a Forbes Insight survey of North American Executives which found that their companies were using an average of 36 different data gathering systems.  A quarter of the execs said that there was full integration with their companies.  Thirteen percent said there was no integration, and the majority of execs (56%) said that there was partial integration.  The balance, 8%, didn’t know (how that’s possible is another story).

This status quo was not acceptable for the majority: “Fully 62% said that creating a single, central customer marketing database that housed customer experience information was a priority, and 59% said the same about having a single system to deliver customer experiences across all potential digital channels,” eMarketer writes.

Is this feasible?

Integrating systems is tough stuff, unless there is a very clear, achievable target. I believe that a “single, central customer marketing database that housed customer experience information”  (emphasis supplied) is neither clear nor achievable for the vast majority of Canadian P&C insurers.  A few might be able to consolidate some of the information that is available within the organization, but creating an expectation beyond that is unreasonable.

However, there are likely some alternative approaches that might well serve the need at hand.

CRM 2.0

This blog has noted the history of the “Market of One” concept, which looks very similar to personalized marketing to me.

That post concluded that the next version of Customer Relationship Management (CRM v2.0) will be much more than a really big, fast database.  It will include high powered analytic tools and links to external data sources.  And it will be designed, implemented, and supported by a highly skilled, cross functional team (marketing, business, IT).

Enter Insurance 2024

CRM 2.0 is a long term commitment.  Fortunately the Executive Forum: Insurance 2024, being held October 7 in Toronto,  will be focused on a 10 year horizon for the insurance industry.  There will be particular emphasis on digital customer experience.

Many of the sessions will address issues around marketing/CRM 2.0.  Two will be led by insurance practitioners who have direct, personal experience:

  • The Insurance Distribution Channel of 2024 – Jim Ryan, AIG will describe a multi- year initiative involving internal and external resources and a modern CRM platform to develop the insurance marketplace of the future.
  • Marketing in 2024 – Debra Ambrose, Aviva Canada, will moderate a panel to suss out issues and opportunities of a creating and managing a customer driven insurance enterprise .

Details and registration information is available at the the Insurance 2024 site.

What is your experience?

Have you been involved in a personalized marketing initiative?  Are you looking at this for the future?  Are you building components of CRM 2.0?  Please share your experience.  And join us  October 7 to pose questions if you can.