This report demonstrates the impact Coronavirus has had on the insurance market and how consumer purchasing habits have shifted. There are four key changes within the digital marketing space that all insurance companies must be aware of as we enter a ‘new normal’.

1) COVID-19

How could we start anywhere else? The Coronavirus pandemic has sent such shockwaves through so many parts of our world that the effects of change will not be fully understood for years to come. However, we are beginning to see the inevitable shifts in consumer purchasing habits, intent and preferences on and offline in a post-COVID world.

Looking at consumer attitude to a variety of purchase categories, insurance was amongst the least affected by COVID-19 to date, although the sentiment towards other major purchases such as holidays or property is likely to be one of caution and this will inevitably influence the levels of ‘in-market’ consumers online; re-enforcing the need for insurance companies to implement a robust prospecting pipeline and to be less reliant on direct response channels.

This aversion to major purchases is highlighted when looking at data showing what consumers intend to spend their money on post-COVID. There is a clear aspiration to return to normality, tempered by significant caution and skepticism about making major purchases. We believe this puts even greater emphasis on an omni-channel digital strategy. 14% of organisations say they are currently running coordinated marketing campaigns across all channels (Source: Adobe) and this is the risk that many companies face; trying to grow their marketing efforts across multiple channels to suit consumer behaviour but doing it in a way that is not cohesive and seamless for the user, in turn leading to a poor digital experience – one that is unlikely to be informed by connected data signals.

2) Technology

Whilst COVID-19 is the prominent disruptor of the norm, change is also being administered, at times unnoticed, by the ever-evolving technology landscape.

A recent survey by Accenture showed that 84% of insurers believe AI will either ‘significantly change or completely transform’ the industry (Source: CDEI), whilst Deloitte recently published data showing that 95% of insurers expect an increase in the use of advanced analytics over the next three years.

The digital marketing industry is rapidly focussing on bringing in user data and customising marketing journeys around this. In the insurance industry we see a similar trend towards using better technology solutions to integrate data at multiple points in the journey. Whether it’s for more personalised insurance quotes based on historical user data or the use of cloud-based technologies to deliver real-time quotes, it’s clear that user data and AI technologies are a major focus in the insurance world.

The importance of using technology to enhance the customer experience is critical. Pro-activity and innovation are required to lead and embrace this trend. Here are three future opportunities for insurance companies to consider and adapt to:

  • The way we search
    “Alexa, tell me a joke?” …50% of all US online searches will be voice-based (Source: Campaign 2020). That isn’t a joke. In fact, adoption in the UK is behind the US but is gaining momentum. A strategy to integrate this into your search and content strategy is a must.
  • The way we buy
    Disruptors continue to emerge in this space, from small up-starts like Look After My Bills to global conglomerates such as Google and Amazon. In 2015 Google acquired a license to sell car insurance in 26 US states and in 2016 partnered with Compare.com to build an insurance comparison tool. Although this never really took off in the US, Google has continued to move in the insurance market and in 2018 invested in several insurance and insurtech start-ups. How insurance companies work around this will be interesting as there is a concern that companies like Google and Amazon will move into this industry as comparison tools that can sell policies directly. This is a challenge for insurance brands and aggregators alike, but potentially also an opportunity. A pro-active strategy informed by consumer behaviour trends and user experience will be an effective response to this.
  • The way we live
    The emergence of driverless/ autonomous cars and connected Amazon-enabled homes is forging a new way of life for the general consumer. These will have a profound effect on the insurance application process – an accident between two self-driving cars, for example. Who takes the blame? Much of this may seem unrelated to digital marketing strategy but it presents an opportunity to adopt a content strategy that not only acts as thought leadership, but will have a halo effect on SEO with the growing level of search queries related to these emerging trends.

3) Channel mix

As mentioned in the first point, a necessity following COVID-19 is to occupy both ends of the marketing funnel with your strategy; driving quality leads through direct response but driving growth in your prospect pool.

At Space & Time we talk extensively about omni-channel marketing and the importance of an integrated digital media strategy. Key changes we have seen since COVID-19 are highlighted below. For the most part, media consumption time has increased across most digital channels:

With the increased level of interactions and digital journeys taking place, we recommend an omni-channel approach to campaign strategy, integration and attribution; measuring the overall success of all activity cumulatively across all channels, as different channels have different results at different stages in the customer journey.

This approach utilises many digital mediums rather than focusing on siloed channels, using data signals to give highly relevant and personalised experiences to each user. This trend has grown as consumer behaviour has changed, with research showing that 72% of consumers prefer to connect with brands through multiple channels before purchasing (Source: Lead Forensics) and 72% of consumers only engaging with marketing messages that are personalised and tailored to their interests (Source: Smart Insights).

As so few companies are getting the implementation of omni-channel marketing correct, when it is done right the results speak for themselves. According to Lead Forensics, those with a strong multi-channel approach in their marketing see a 9.5% increase on annual revenue, and a 7.5% decrease in cost per contact. We feel that there is a great opportunity for insurance brands to integrate user data signals into a multi-channel digital strategy, offering users a seamless and personal experience that generates long-term customer value from your digital marketing.

4) Expectations from your agency or in-house marketing teams

The world is changing. Consumer behaviour is changing. These trends are not entirely unexpected; however, they would normally take place over 4-5 years and many of these changes are happening over 4-5 months because of the global pandemic. It’s key that you are adapting to an omni-channel approach and equipping your strategy to harness the power of technology and deliver an experience that drives long-term advocacy and value from your customers.

At Space & Time we have experienced real success in building genuine, deep partnerships with clients, avoiding an ‘us and them’ or ‘black box’ approach. The more transparent and integrated we are, the better our working relationship with clients will be. Our own set up is geared to encourage complete media agnosticism and an omni-channel approach to digital marketing, in order to deliver an exemplary client and customer experience.

To learn more about how we can help you adapt your digital marketing strategy to the new normal, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Matt Read, Group Head of Digital