Trust Message Takes Center Stage in 2018 Insurance Marketing

Earlier in the year, Mintel Comperemedia identified four insurance marketing trends for 2018: courting consumer trust; fighting commoditization by redefining scope and repackaging; building AI savings and speed into underwriting, customer engagement and more; and competition via supplementary service and risk mitigation. AccuList USA’s insurance marketing clients will be interested in Mintel’s recent update on two of those predictions: trust messaging and expanded product scope.

Life Insurance Ad Campaigns & Direct Mail Woo Consumer Trust

While all types of personal insurance lines showed shifts in messaging to win consumer trust via simplification, education and transparency, Mintel especially notes life insurance efforts to close the financial literacy gap through content marketing, such as Allstate’s launch of an advertising campaign in July 2018 that reminded viewers “truth today is hard to find” and concluded TV ads with “Now that you know the truth, are you in Good Hands?” Likewise, insurers Humana, Gerber Life, Kaiser Permanente, State Farm, John Hancock and Mutual of Omaha revamped direct mail messaging with some form of the line “insurance can be confusing” and then offered simplified language to which consumers could more easily relate. Meanwhile, on-demand coverage from Trov, Duuo, Cuvva and Slice addressed consumers’ product transparency demand by offering real-time coverage for what consumers want when they want it.

Partnerships Offer More to Health Insurance Shoppers

The marketing landscape for health insurance saw major changes in terms of insurance scope this year.  For example, the CVS pharmacy acquisition of Aetna opens the door to a one-stop-shop health care experience, including better digital customer service. Similarly, Mintel notes the Amazon acquisition of PillPack and the partnership between Walmart and Anthem as opportunities for established insurance products to expand and redefine the digital-age customer journey. Meanwhile, insurance marketers are watching to see how much the Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway collaboration to offer independent employee health care will shake up the status quo. For the full blog post, see http://www.mintel.com/blog/insurance/insurance-marketing-trends-2018-howd-we-do

2018 Recognition Market: Tech Partnering, Wellness & Non-cash Awards

AccuList USA recently completed proprietary research on hundreds of top performing lists of employee recognition and incentive product buyers to support clients in a business-to-business marketplace that now encompasses close to 90% of companies.

89% of Companies Committed to Recognition Spending

In fact, the 2017 “Trends in Employee Recognition” report from WorldatWork, a nonprofit human resources association, found 89% of surveyed organizations committed to recognition programs, with 65% offering between three and six different programs, from companywide (81%) to individual (69%) to department/team (67%). The top five recognition programs rewarded length of service (85%); above-and-beyond performance (77%); programs to motivate behaviors associated with the business initiatives, such as customer service (51%); peer-to-peer recognition (49%); and retirement (34%).  Certificates and/or plaques remain the most awarded recognition item, at 80% of respondents, followed by cash (55%), gift certificates/cards (45%), company-logo merchandise (40%), and food, such as a lunch or pizza party (39%). For incentive and recognition marketers, targeting can mainly focus on two departments responsible for administering programs: human resources (59%) and compensation (22%).

2018 Trends Include Brand Culture, Tech Partnering, & Wellness

The Incentive Research Foundation’s “IRF 2018 Trends Study” offers recognition and incentive marketers more guidance on changing demand trends. For one, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality capabilities will be a “fundamental requirement” for vendors and suppliers looking to partner with incentive professionals in 2018, per IRF. Marketers also will want to push wellness messaging, since more incentive professionals are adding health and wellness components focused on fitness, food, and comfort to their incentive programs this year compared with other features, says the report. And when it comes to merchandise products, incentive buyers in 2018 don’t want more choice as much as more “impactful products,”  such as products with local sourcing or organic roots and products that can be easily personalized and customized. The desire to build a brand-asset culture around intangibles, such as innovation, as well as traditional assets is one factor pushing these non-cash awards in 2018, notes the report. On the other hand, gift cards will continue to gain momentum this year, according to the IRF, which says mid-size firms spend an average of nearly $500,000 annually on gift cards across all programs, while large ones spend over $1 million annually. Finally, although incentive travel makes up a small part of the recognition pie, the incentive travel industry’s net optimism score for the economy is up almost 20 points from 2017 in the IRF report, leading to budget increases despite rising costs. For more on top incentive trends, see http://www.incentivemag.com/News/Industry/IRF-Top-Incentive-Trends-2018/

 

 

New Marketing Trends Bolster Food Gifting Growth

One of AccuList USA’s areas of specialization is providing mailing lists, data services and marketing support for the food and wine gift market, and so we keep an eye on emerging trends in this growth industry. In fact, food gift sales will approach $20 billion in 2018, up 4% over last year, per the “Food Gifting in the U.S.: Consumer and Corporate” report for 2018-2020 by research firm Packaged Facts.

Holiday Sales Dominate, But New Trends Push Overall Growth

Marketing dollars will naturally focus on year-end sales, since, while consumers and businesses are giving food baskets across a wider variety of occasions today, ranging from anniversaries to graduations to birthdays, Christmas is still the food and wine gifting mainstay. More than half of the 130 million consumer food gifters purchasing in the last 12 months bought during the winter holiday season. But how can food gift marketers push sales growth year-round? One key factor will be continued innovation that creates exclusivity and artisanship, avoiding the commoditization that drains profit with discounting, notes the report. To support that kind of brand power, marketing efforts will need to embrace the kind of story telling that creates a sense of authenticity and uniqueness and builds a gourmet brand image. Capturing the high-end boutique buyer can require a softer sales approach that aims at building knowledge and trust, say via featured recipes as an example. Food gift marketers also need to continue expanding gifting occasions beyond holidays, not only for consumers but also for the lucrative corporate market, by pushing work anniversary and thank-you gestures for example. Finally, while the food gifting market is heavily dependent on older, high-income consumers, tapping into millennials will require a more omnichannel approach that takes into account millennial ordering preferences, stresses the Packaged Facts report.

Embracing Omnichannel Marketing Options

An omnichannel wooing of millennials will combine direct mail/catalogs with e-mail, social media and e-commerce strategies. While traditional direct mail continues as a food gifting workhorse, a strong online presence and SEO strategy is especially essential. Luxury biscuit gift company Biscuiteers provides an example of how it matters: The company increased their website traffic from new customers by 90% and SEO revenue by 77% in 6 months by optimizing category landing pages for different types of food gift buyer and season. E-commerce goes hand-in-hand with a good e-mail strategy. For example, the venerable Hickory Farms brand decided to improve the quality of its customer data and create a more agile e-mail campaign process by integrating its marketing and commerce tech to trigger consumer journeys and automated e-mail sends. E-mail inbox placement this year rose to 94%, almost 10% above industry standard, plus e-mail list growth improved. Hickory Farms CMO Judy Ransford explained to CMO magazine that the smarter list management “helps us deliver e-mails at the frequency customers want, and to make sure the content quality is better. This year we’ve seen a huge improvement and not such high attrition rates as a result.” Social media also has become a must-have for food gifting via leading platforms like Facebook and Instagram for consumers and LinkedIn for corporate prospecting. That should increase gift-basket marketer interest in AccuList USA’s Digital2Direct program, which is designed to link targeted direct mail with Facebook ads or e-mails to the same recipients.

Who’s Winning in 2018 Gift Basket Ratings?

By the way, marketers looking for successful food gifting models should check out Top Ten Reviews’ 2018 ratings. We’re happy to note that our client Wine Country Gift Baskets’ Gourmet Choice Gift Basket was awarded best overall value for 2018 in a test of 11 gift baskets from the leading gift basket companies. Top-rated winners delivered on value for the price in terms of food and wine taste; presentation; ease of payment; delivery speed, options and geographic coverage; range of baskets; special options such as kosher, vegan and organic; offers of extras such as add-on wine, tea, books, puzzles, etc; and, of course, quality customer support. To read more, see the review of best gift baskets of 2018.

 

How to Boost E-mail Lead Gen for B2B Publishers, Marketers

E-mail is a favorite lead gen channel for business-to-business publishers and marketers that AccuList USA supports with e-mail lists and database services. It’s no surprise that close to 90% of B2B marketers use e-mail to generate new leads when the latest data from the DMA shows e-mail marketing delivers an average $43 return for every $1 spent. But that doesn’t mean B2B e-mails are a guaranteed success. B2B e-mailers may want to benchmark their efforts against a recent infographic from EmailMonks that offers proven ways to help boost those all-important open and click rates. Some of those include:

Personalizing, Segmentation & Preferences

Marketers personalize e-mails because 91% get better open and click rates when they do, and that means going beyond using a first name to targeted, personalized content based on demographics, purchase and browsing history, subscriber interests, etc. Achieving that quality targeted personalization requires good list segmentation; blasting a one-size-fits-all message to the whole e-mail list is a recipe for low response. Segmenting by age, gender, preferences, purchase history and more delivers 14.31% higher opens and 100.95% higher clicks than non-segmented list campaigns, notes the EmailMonks infographic. Executing that personal touch also means permission-based e-mail that respects recipient preferences for how often and when they are contacted, so give subscribers the chance to manage the number and timing of e-mails. But what about before they  subscribe? Data shows that the average B2B recipient is most likely to open a 10 a.m. Saturday e-mail, to click on a 10 a.m. Tuesday e-mail, and to respond to an 8 a.m. Tuesday e-mail. Entrepreneurs and workaholics open, click and respond best to those Saturday morning e-mails!

Winning Subject Lines & CTAs

As the infographic points out, 35% of e-mails are opened based on the subject line alone. What makes up a winning subject line? Brevity is the soul of subject line wit; with 54% of e-mails opened on a mobile device, a subject line of around three words scores higher since most mobile devices can show only four to seven words across the screen. Personalization counts big, too; personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than general ones. And finally, the content counts; it’s less about click-bait attention grabbing than about a topic that matters to the recipient. Once the e-mail is opened, the crafting of a good call-to-action (CTA) will drive more click-throughs. The CTA should be noticeable and  “above-the fold”; in fact most brands prefer to place a CTA in the top third of an e-mail, and 48% match the CTA colors to their brand logos. Oh, and make sure the CTA links to an effective, mobile-optmized landing page, too.

B2B E-mails to Emulate

Looking for specific examples? SuperOffice, a CRM supplier, offers 17 B2B e-mail templates based on actual successful e-mails for B2B marketers to emulate. The templates include welcome e-mails, curated content e-mails, company announcement e-mails, new article e-mails, video e-mails, product update e-mails, reactivation e-mails, gated content e-mails, webinar e-mails, event invitation e-mails, case study e-mails and more. See https://www.superoffice.com/blog/b2b-email-marketing-examples/

 

B2B Event Marketers Miss Out With Slow Lead Follow-up

When business-to-business marketers successfully build event attendance and booth traffic to maximize lead generation, they are disappointed and baffled by a smaller than expected sales harvest. One of the reasons for poor lead conversion, as it turns out, is a simple lack of timely lead follow-up! With better systems and planning, we hope AccuList USA’s trade show and conference marketing clients will outdo the benchmarks for post-event lead processing revealed in a recent study by Certain, an event automation provider.

Sluggish Lead Prep, Tech Gaps Delay Follow-up

As reported by Direct Marketing News, Certain found that just 2% of the 150 B2B marketing-decision makers surveyed said they follow up with event leads the same day. A quarter follow up in one to three days, 29% follow up in four to six days, and 27% follow up in seven to 13 days. And another 12% said this process takes two to four weeks, with the slowest-moving 6% saying it takes them more than a month to reach out! Why are almost half of those surveyed taking more than a week to contact prospects? Lead processing is a key problem, with 57% of the study’s participants saying it can take hours to manually get leads “sales ready” for follow-up, and 23% reporting that the prep process takes a few days. Surveyed marketers blamed the sluggish prep time on a variety of reasons: 23% of respondents cited lack of technological tools, 15% blamed lack of organization, 11% claimed the delay was intentional, and 7% admitted to simple procrastination.

Slow Lead Follow-up Has Real Costs

Unfortunately, correcting slow lead processing doesn’t seem to be a priority with many marketers. The Certain study found that despite generally slow lead processing, 72% of respondents are “somewhat” or “completely” satisfied with their lead follow-up time.  That complacency has a cost that marketers are ignoring, we would point out. Most event marketing pros urge a 48-hour follow-up window to try to stay ahead of competitors. In fact, according to a study from InsideSales, 30% to 50% of leads are closed by the vendor who follows up with them first. Slow lead processing also can result in a smaller harvest of contacts post-event. For example, while a quarter of those in Certain’s survey expect to contact 200-999 leads per event, that is balanced by another quarter expecting to reach only 10-49 leads. E-mail is the main form of follow-up, per Certain’s survey of marketers; 52% of respondents rely on this channel first to reach leads. Some professionals do initiate follow-up via phone (23%), social media (18%), or direct mail (7%). No wonder 96% of those polled are focused on adding leads’ e-mail addresses to their databases for future campaigns.

Unhappy With Event Data Collection? Join the Crowd

Even if their lead processing is speedy and they succeed in gathering e-mail contacts, marketers are generally dissatisfied with the quality of their lead data. Clearly, successfully tailoring sales pitches to leads requires more than a name and e-mail address. In Certain’s study, 82% of participants said they wish they captured more information about each individual lead at their events. The method of data collection is one issue. In collecting data at events, the largest group, 42%, said they rely on manual data entry through computers or tablets, followed by 31% who turned to business cards and sign-up sheets, and 27% who relied on electronic scanners.

For more on the Certain’s event leads study, see the DM News article.

 

 

Shoppers Demand Seamless Omnichannel Retail Strategies

Omnichannel marketing is the rule for today’s retailing. While print catalogs continue as a vital merchant tool, with 42% of households reading catalogs per the U.S. Postal Service, integration of multiple channels–including online, mobile and social with direct mail–is now essential to our catalog and e-commerce clients’ success. Unfortunately, while the majority of consumers expect to shop seamlessly across all those channels, only 7% of retailers provide the unified “start the sale anywhere, finish the sale anywhere” experience that customers want, per the recent “2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey” by BRP Consulting, a retail management consulting firm.

Omnichannel, Cross-Device Shopping Is Now the Norm

Marketers just can’t afford to ignore that the majority of shoppers now interact with promotions, educational content and purchase services via multiple channels and devices. According to the same BRP study, three in five (62%) consumers surveyed said they check online reviews/ratings before visiting a store, yet just 61% of retailers offer consumer product reviews for research! Shoppers now rely on mobile to continue the digitally supported buying process in-store, with nearly 60% of shoppers looking up product information and prices while using their mobile phones in stores, per Retail Dive’s 2017 Consumer Survey. Also per BRP, nearly three out of four (73%) of consumers want the ability to track orders across all points of interaction, going beyond an estimated delivery date to include when the order is being prepared, date shipped from the warehouse, etc. Plus customers expect an automated return process, with 68% of consumers surveyed telling BRP they are more likely to choose a retailer offering an automated returns process.

Analytics Need Complex Channel/Device Attribution

Merchants can leverage customers’ cross-device penchant to optimize acquisition and conversion, argues a Direct Marketing News article by Pierre DeBois. But they must keep in mind that, while the opportunity to boost ad frequency and content persuasion across channels is huge, smart management is required to avoid turning targeted promotion into a bludgeon. As Bill Kee, Google’s group product manager for attribution, highlighted at the 2017 Google Marketing Next conference, “If I am on three devices, and if I see your ad five times, it means you’ve reached me 15 times…believe me I get it.” The first place to start is good omnichannel analytics to understand the contribution of each channel to ROI and its place in the customer journey. Only then can merchants cost-effectively tailor targeting and investment to maximize sales. One useful analytics tool is Google’s Unique Reach report, which displays digital ad frequency metrics across devices, campaigns, and formats to measure how many times a person views a given ad, and combines attribution influences from AdWords, DoubleClick, and Google Analytics, suggests DeBois.

Using Images and Chat to Direct the Customer Journey

Good omnichannel analytics also can improve use of image and video content to maximize the proven effectiveness of image/video in digital engagement, to answer the customer demand for education, and to direct prospects through the sales funnel. However, quantities of images bombarding customers across multiple channels can overwhelm and confuse, so both media curation and a content mapping strategy aligned to the customer journey are needed. One example of a targeted image strategy is use of an “image story” feature on a social media platform to orchestrate images and/or a short video, notes DeBois. Pinterest Lens, Instagram Stories, and Twitter Moments are all image story features. Because the majority of consumers research products and services online now, marketers also can gain an edge over competitors by offering customer-facing elements such as chatbots. In contrast to apps, which may be used only for a few discrete tasks and then ignored, a chatbot’s programmable assistance can provide both engagement and continuing response performance improvement.

For more, see the Direct Marketing News article.

These Digital Tactics Can Power Insurance Marketing Lead Gen

Sometimes insurance marketers, used to face-to-face sales and targeted direct mail, struggle to adapt to the highly competitive and noisy digital marketplace for lead generation. Some helpful tips from the Blue Corona web marketing agency should be of interest to AccuList USA’s insurance marketing clients looking to improve their digital lead results.

Fast, Mobile-Friendly Pages Capture More Leads

The natural place to start is the insurance marketer’s website, where the majority of potential policyholders will first interact with the marketing message. Basically, the website must grab attention almost immediately. If consumers don’t connect with what they see within 10 seconds of landing on a web page, they’ll move on, per studies. That means up-front contact information, compelling call-to-action, plugins that localize content, etc. But it also means speedy page loading. Studies show that a website needs to load in under 3 seconds (in fact, 47% of people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, points out Blue Corona). And that speed needs to happen on a mobile device. Over half of all digital searches for insurance information occur from mobile devices; more specifically, 58.6% of average monthly auto insurance searches and 55.4% of life insurance searches are via mobile, reports Blue Corona. If digital pages and ads aren’t mobile-optimized, they aren’t going to optimize leads.

Invest in SEO, Pay-per-Click Ads to Drive Traffic

How do you get prospects to those fast-loading, compelling, mobile-friendly pages? Search engine optimization is a basic requirement today for driving traffic. Out of the over 200 ranking factors, Blue Corona lists a few top tactics for getting to that coveted first page of a Google search: optimized title tags and meta descriptions on pages; site security (https vs http); mobile-friendly pages; schema markup; quality content; fast page downloading; social media signals; quality backlinks; and optimized images. But all searches are not created equal. Marketers want high-converting leads not shoppers. So Blue Corona suggests buying pay-per-click ads targeting search phrases that indicate high-commercial intent, such as “buy auto insurance” rather than “do I need auto insurance?” The ad content can then target a top consumer trigger. In most cases, that means competitive rates; for example, 70% of consumers say they look for the best deal when renewing an auto policy.

Engage via Blogging, Focused Content

A blog is another way to not only build traffic but also establish authority on insurance topics, build trust and go from policy hawker to insurance resource in the eyes of potential policyholders. If the average person consumes 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision, per Forrester, then insurance marketing wants to be at the top of that content list in terms of impact and quality. Blue Corona suggests blog topics such as “Factors You Didn’t Know Affect Your [Life/Auto/Liability/Etc.] Insurance Coverage,”  “How Much [Health/Auto/Liability/Etc.] Insurance Do You Need?” and “10 Tips for Keeping Insurance Rates Low.” Whether a blog post or a website page, the goal is to help insurance shoppers deal with an often confusing topic. TransUnion’s 2017 Healthcare Millennial Report found that 57% of millennial consumers identified as having “no understanding” or a “limited understanding” of their insurance benefits, while 50% of Generation X and 42% of Baby Boomers said the same. So don’t give prospects too many choices on website main pages, which can overwhelm and drive them away, and focus instead on the key solutions people need from insurance, advises Blue Corona.

For even more digital marketing suggestions to help retain policyholders and hone competitive edge, see https://www.bluecorona.com/blog/insurance-marketing-ideas-strategies

Performing Arts Boosted by Social Video Ticketing Partnerships

AccuList USA’s performing arts marketing clients have more tools this year for reaching ticket buyers, fans and supporters via partnerships that link online ticketing and social media videos.

Using Social Video Pages to Sell Tickets

The latest entry in the competitive social media ticketing race is Google-owned YouTube, which has partnered with Ticketmaster to show viewers upcoming U.S. tour dates and nearby concert listings on artists’ YouTube videos and then allow viewers to jump directly to Ticketmaster to purchase tickets. YouTube is actually a latecomer to the social media ticketing world. Ticketmaster started promoting ticket sales on Spotify and Facebook in 2016. YouTube’s end-of-2017 move is one reaction to Spotify’s growth in the streaming market with integrated data and artist information. For Ticketmaster, its global roster of concerts and lock on the concert-ticket industry can only be enhanced by access to YouTube’s 1.5 billion user base, driving more fans to pay Ticketmaster prices and service charges. But competitive social video ticketing is a win for performing arts promotion, too.

Why It’s Good News for Performing Arts

YouTube is leveraging one of its strengths with the ticketing partnership; music videos account for 30% of all time spent on YouTube and represent 94% of the 250 most-viewed videos on the platform, per the Video Advertising Bureau. And that means performing arts promotions can look forward to generating additional ticket sales from the platform’s added feature. The YouTube ticketing feature also addresses a running feud between YouTube and the recording industry. Some record labels have argued that YouTube hasn’t paid enough in fees for music videos hosted on its platform, but now ticket sales will provide another revenue stream for labels to monetize and boost royalties. This kind of partnership may even help cut down on the sales drain from pirating since the increased ability to monetize videos via ticket sales is likely to push performing arts promotion to drive as much traffic as possible to official videos and to be more proactive in flagging unofficial channels. (See the story in Direct Marketing News.)

New Tech Energizes Trade Show & Conference Marketing

AccuList USA has long experience in helping trade show and conference marketers with targeted lists and data services. But we also support an expanded event marketing approach that goes beyond promotion to engage audiences at every touchpoint in a multi-channel world, as a recent post for the Trade Show News Network (TSNN) blog promotes. Luckily, that is easier than ever thanks to emerging event technology trends.

Social Amplification & Content Digitization

Any event pro not using social media to the fullest is missing a key tool in building audience per TSNN’s “Top 10 Tech Trends” by Matt Coyne, Technology Engagement Architect at GES EMEA and a 10-year veteran of the events and exhibitions industry. By making it easy for registrants to share their attendance with their own social media networks, marketers can amplify an event and reach new potential attendees that can’t be reached directly.  Social media can also work in tandem with traditional channels, as with our Digital2Direct tool matching postal records to Facebook users for targeted social ads. Just as important as the boost in registrations is the increase in registration-to-attendee conversion driven by social media engagement, Coyne adds. Digitized content is then the engagement tool that creates an interactive event experience, building repeat attendance and luring prospects via social sharing. For example, Coyne cites the growth of devices like “Smart Badges,” which act as a digital briefcase for attendees to collect digitized content. And tools like Facebook Live increase the dissemination and sharing of digital content.

Gamification, AI, and Selected Apps

Digitized content also can be leveraged with gamification to increase event participation, say by awarding points for Smart Badge usage with exhibitor contacts, speaker downloads, session attendance, etc. and then posting competitive results. Event planners can then help boost participation at less popular sites and activities by boosting their points. AI is another way to help expand attendee experiences; an example is the use of chatbot software to answer attendee questions and offer learned guidance. Finally, there are event-specific apps. Although Coyne provocatively declares apps “dead,” he really means that cost-effective use of apps today must be selective. Not every event needs to spend for an app, but a large conference can benefit from an app that enables visitors to track their schedules or from a dedicated lead-capture app.

Facial Recognition: Security & Feedback

Facial recognition software has recently been in the news, and Coyne sees it as a future boon for some trade shows and conferences. Consider how facial recognition at high-security events could decrease the hassle of on-site screening requiring multiple forms of ID, creation of photo IDs, and so on. Plus, facial recognition software that can recognize emotion could also be used inside halls and conference rooms to get real-time feedback from attendees, and thus a chance for planners to react and improve audience experience, Coyne suggests.

For more of Coyne’s tech trends, see the full blog post.