Why Don’t Insurers Advertise on Their Own Properties?


Why Don't Insurers Advertise on Their Own Properties?Every week, our Customer Experience (CX) practice has about a dozen conversations with CX and marketing leaders across the insurance and banking industries. Something on everyone’s mind right now is how to successfully cross-sell to customers without alienating them. In one such conversation last week, an insurer lamented, “I wish we did a better job using our own digital properties as a way to cross-sell.”

That comment is more accurate than I think she realized. If you go to a retail bank’s public website or mobile app, chances are that you’re going to be bombarded with banner ads trying to educate you about products and services you might be interested in. Often, which product and service you’re being shown is the result of advanced analytics looking through your transactional and behavioral history, possibly being enriched by third-party consumer data vendors, deployed to measure your purchase proclivity for a credit card, investment account, loan, or deposit account.

This content is often produced by highly talented creative teams, both in-house and through media agencies. Our newly published report CX Technology in Financial Services: Overview and Key Issues describes some of the kinds of technologies that financial institutions deploy in order to orchestrate all this content.

Now think about insurance. If you log into a policyholder or agent portal, you will have to look hard to find any kind of advertising, let alone attractive and catchy banner ads. Behind the text of a form field or navigation usually lies an empty desert of solid-color, wasted digital real estate. No cross-sell or upsell notifications—I have even seen cases where not even the brand logo appears behind the login. 

There are a few reasons for this lack of opportunism:

  • Carriers are afraid to alienate agents. Insurers have an endemic paranoia that the slightest indication that a carrier is “selling” insurance to a policyholder will produce a violent reaction on the part of their independent agents. But our research has shown that agents are perfectly happy to receive warm leads from carriers, however those were generated.
  • Portals don’t integrate well with CX engineering tools. The policyholder and agent portals at many insurers are just the tip of an iceberg of complex policy administration systems, commonly antiquated and hosted on-premises. These interfaces are often barely able to handle the complex forms, applications, pages, bordereaux, workflows, or rating engines that insurance policies require. One cannot expect them to integrate nicely with modern content management and experience engineering platforms.
  • The data isn’t ready for the required analytics. Product recommendation analytics are only as good as the data you put into them. The kind of data required to produce cross-sell recommendations requires a good deal of existing governance to ensure the quality, comparability, and comprehensiveness of customer transactional and behavioral data. But insurer databases are usually organized around policies, not customers. Often lacking customer relationship management or customer data platforms, insurers may have a long road ahead before predictive customer analytics can be deployed.

Needless to say, this is a wasted opportunity for personalization and improved customer experience.  Consumers expect a branded experience when they visit a financial institution’s website or log in to their portal or mobile app. Not providing them with one may leave the experience feeling dry, generic, and impersonal. To learn more about how to offer a CX that will meet customers’ needs, read our recent report Understanding Customer Experience: A CX Framework.