Join the Conversation or Stand on the Sideline |The Importance of Insurance Industry Content Marketing

Join the Conversation or Stand on the Sideline |The Importance of Insurance Industry Content Marketing

Dec 17, 2014

The Insurance industry is unique, few customers understand the product, want to buy it or want to have to use it. Within the industry, it is commonly believed that insurance is sold, not bought, and one of the most effective techniques remains “smiling and dialing.” So, where do insurance industry content marketing programs fit into the marketing mix?

We live in an age when many people look upon a phone call as an invasion of privacy, have little or no personal relationship with an insurance agent and have lost confidence in insurers. In the 2014 EY Global Consumer Insurance Survey, overall trust of insurance companies fell below that of most other industries, including banking. Insurers, the survey concludes, “must rethink and take control of customer relationships with new offerings, new capabilities and optimized channels.”

This lack of interaction is understandable, unless you have a claim, why have any contact with your insurer?

But think about it: insurance encroaches on just about everything people value:

  • Homeowner insurance is about the most valued possessions.
  • Auto insurance is about mobility.
  • Life insurance is less about the insured and more about the financial security of the insured’s family.

People care about these things and want to protect them, and they do not think about them once a year, they think about them every single day. The insurance industry is failing to take advantage of its unique ability to be an integral part of the ongoing conversations. This is an opportunity for insurance industry content marketing programs.

What kind of conversation do consumers want?

We can uncover a few answers to that question by looking at the content distributed by insurers through social media. Social media has many flaws, but it does allow us to measure many things, and while statistics can lie they can also offer insight.

For the three months up to the end of October 2014, the 200 insurers we looked at posted just over 15,000 times on Facebook.* From those 15,000 posts, one finding is very clear: the type of content shared, overwhelmingly more than any other, can be classified as hints, tips and advice.

People share content for any number of reasons, but to be helpful is one of the more common. If people find helpful advice, they share it with friends, neighbors and family. At the other end of the spectrum, the least shared content, unsurprisingly, is product information.

People need homeowners insurance to safeguard their largest financial asset, but what they really want to know how to protect their home. They want to avoid ice-dams, termite damage and frozen pipes. Insurance helps cope with disasters but people want to know how to avoid them in the first place. They want to know how to educate their kids as they start to drive, how to live healthier lives and even whether to accept that pesky rental car insurance when on vacation. People might not understand insurance policies, but they understand and value the things that insurance protects. Conversation often revolves around how to avoid having to use insurance policies.

Why did we concentrate on shares? A “like” is a virtual high-five to the author. Comments make up just 4% percent of total interactions for the industry (and 70% of those are negative).* A share is unambiguous – think of it as “Hey, I think you’ll find this as interesting as I did.”   Sharers are leading their friends to your content, to your brand, and with the inevitable demise of organic (free) content distribution on social platforms, this might be the most effective content distribution strategy.

Insurance is Uniquely Positioned

Few industries have products so integral to peoples’ lives, emotions and possessions.

This can be illustrated with an example, not from the big-brand insurers, but from Tennessee Farm Bureau Insurance. Recently they posted advice on how to combat the undeniable nuisance of stinkbugs.  Over 11,000 people shared the post, more shares in the period it was posted than any single Facebook post by GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, Allstate or Liberty Mutual.* The post was helpful and very topical for rural customers in Tennessee, so much so that people thought their neighbors and friends would also benefit. The value of the content was worth more to many than a click of the share button. Thousands added comments, stories and their own blend of personal experiences and advice. Above all, it reminded people that the Tennessee Farm Bureau understands their issues far better than other insurers.

Offering ongoing advice is now critical, with today’s consumer choosing products and suppliers not on the advice of a single expert at a single moment in time, but on an accumulation of information from a variety of sources over a period. The ability to deliver information through the trusted medium of friends and family increases its perceived value significantly.

Tennessee Farm Bureau has clearly tapped into a rich community, but there are hundreds of similar examples. Horace Mann engages actively with the teaching community with stories and images that only teachers will understand and appreciate. Acuity Mutual operates a very successful Facebook page dedicated to the interests of long-distance truck drivers. Transamerica collaborates with “mommy bloggers” to talk with an audience who might never call an insurance agent, but who are anxious to discuss financial concerns.

The common thread with successful content is not just relevance to the community but also that the community contributes. The community has much to add and share, with personal stories massively enhancing the value of any campaign.

Insurance has changed very little recently, or over decades; it’s built around the concept of expert advisors armed with facts. Advisors remain important; people still value interaction with a person at the point of purchase. But the point of purchase is just one moment in the customer’s journey. To provide greater value, to build deeper loyalty, reduce churn and combat the massive influx of marketing dollars, the industry can, and must, become more integral to the daily lives and conversations of existing and prospective customers.

*  The Customer Respect Group

Terry Golesworthy
Contributor Bio: Terry Golesworthy is the president of The Customer Respect Group, an analyst firm focused on digital strategies employed in the insurance industry. He is also the publisher of SocialEyes, a monthly newsletter that documents and analyzes the use of social media by insurers and regularly speaks at industry conferences. Find him on Twitter at @TerryCRG or connect at
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