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Here's why life insurance agents must disrupt their approach to marketing

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While insurance policies have been around since ancient times, that doesn’t mean your approach to marketing as an insurance agent should never change. In fact, there are a number of compelling reasons why independent agents need to shake up the industry’s traditional marketing tactics:

Low consumer trust for insurance agents: Consumers around the globe don’t hold the insurance industry in very high regard, according to a new survey from Ernst & Young. In fact, the study shows that they trust the insurance industry less than they trust banks, car manufacturers and supermarkets. This means there is plenty of room for agents to improve their relationship with consumers, and updating their marketing methods is one way to do this.

Retirement is an underserved market: Almost a third of workers (28 percent) have less than $1,000 in savings and investments that could be used for retirement, not counting their primary residence or defined benefits plans such as traditional pensions. And 57 percent say they have less than $25,000, according to a survey from the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald and Associates. In its recent study on boomers, The Insured Retirement Institute notes that among the people who do plan for retirement, nearly nine in 10 said they are better prepared as a result of their advisor’s help.

Changing consumer base with different preferences: Twenty percent of an agent’s existing customer base will account for 80 percent of that agent’s future profits, according to Gartner Inc. This statistic reemphasizes the importance of building trust and loyalty among your existing customers if you want to drive business. The question is, what do your customers want today that’s different than before? It’s important to know this in order to determine the best marketing strategy. One thing to keep in mind is that an increasing number of insurance customers are millennials who prefer a more tech-savvy approach from agents when interacting with the insurance industry. Ryan Hanley calls this the “Connected Generation,” and notes that when it comes to insurance, many in this age group prefer a relationship that begins online, through social media.

Minimal investment in prospects. In a recent article in Independent Agent, Shirley Lukens, a principal at Reagan Consulting, stated that 1–2 percent of revenue at leading insurance agencies is invested in customer and prospect marketing. The article notes that while these percentages have remained generally steady over time, marketing investments are starting to shift a bit from more expensive Yellow Pages ads that target a very general audience to social media, email, and website marketing, which allows agents to be much more targeted in reaching a specific demographic.

Due for disruption. In the same article, Michael Jans, founder and president of Agency Revolution, noted, “This industry is a sitting duck for disruption. If we don’t get disrupted from the inside, we’ll get disrupted from the outside.” With this in mind as well as the facts above, agents should consider new marketing methods, like social media referral networks and word of mouth. A study from Boston Consulting Group has found that out of 32,000 consumers surveyed in both the U.S. and Europe, 66 percent ask friends and family for advice before making a purchase. This makes online social referral networks particularly valuable to agents and consumers alike, since it provides an easy way for consumers to find trusted, referred service providers.

And finally a recent study from Applied Systems backs this up, concluding that millennials are social by nature and referrals weigh heavily in their buying decisions. More than half of these respondents asked family and friends for insurance advice, followed by reviews of social media sites to compare with their recommendations. It is important for agents to have a strong presence on digital channels and social media to provide education, thought leadership and product information in order to effectively reach millennial consumers.


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