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January 21, 2022

“We have to look outside the box, because the box is full of things we can’t do,” says Susan O’Neill

This quote will resonate with marketers, because for us, life is a daily practice of looking outside the box.

Think about creating a post for a free service. Sounds easy, right? But wait…you can’t include the word free. Now think about promoting a new product, but each state has different laws, rules, and regulations for that specific product.

This is the complicated box of insurance marketing

I recently had the chance to talk with Susan O’Neill, ​​Corporate Marketing and Communications Manager for The Baltimore Life Insurance Company. Our conversation provided insight into the challenges and the thought process behind developing an effective digital strategy in the insurance industry — specifically Susan’s area of expertise, which is life insurance

Understanding the challenges 

The life insurance industry has a unique challenge: It dances with the topic of death. Yes, death!

So, how do you tango with such a bad date? “We talk about life!” Susan says. She adds that positive life moments — having a baby, getting married, or buying your first house — are the times you should consider life insurance. 

Life insurance has been around much longer than the internet has — Baltimore Life, for example, was founded in 1882. Creating value for customers started as, and continues to be, a process fostered through one-on-one conversations: agents reaching out and building relationships with clients. With that in mind, how do you replicate this process through social channels? 

Finally, there’s the challenge of corporate leadership: the gatekeepers to any budget or course of action. We all know the saying “If it isn’t broken, why fix it?” This is a question Susan is constantly tasked with answering. “We find this when talking to other companies as well — leadership is not always onboard,” she says about digital strategy. “They are more about sitting face-to-face in the kitchen.”

So, how do you prove that digital marketing is a viable way to reach your goals? 

Thinking outside the box  

Now that we’ve covered a few challenges, let’s jump into the thought process and how to answer some of these key questions. 

After you establish your audience, you run into your primary challenge of talking about death. This is where Susan’s advice to focus on life milestones can help you navigate. Build your content around joyful moments. The purpose of life insurance is to take care of your loved ones, so insurance marketing professionals can build content strategies around positive events like:

  • Having a baby
  • Getting married
  • Buying a house
  • Moving out of state

Next, to understand how to create value digitally, you first have to change your point of view on customer interaction. Susan explains that agents always circle back to their clients over time, similar to how we might talk to a friend every couple of months (or years) rather than every day. Keeping up with every single follower via corporate social channels would be nearly impossible, but instead of continuing conversations, these social channels can serve as ongoing conversation starters. 

You can create value online by explaining why these moments are key times to consider life insurance. The beauty behind leveraging social is the potential reach. Those ice breakers can happen with numerous people with just one post.  

When it comes to getting approval from corporate leadership, the answer is simple: Measure and track your campaigns. Leadership understands numbers, so provide data and compare it to offline marketing efforts. “Being able to compare what we’ve done digitally to traditional advertising has been a big help,” Susan notes. 

Clearly, building a digital strategy in the insurance industry is tricky, are there are other roadblocks marketers may face besides the ones I’ve mentioned here. If you need an expert partner to help you step up to the challenge, get in touch with us today.

About the Author

Gordon Wallace

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