Word of mouth marketing via brand advocates is often described as a marketer’s most useful opportunity. Marketers within the protection insurance market risk losing that opportunity if they do not take on the challenge of activating their advocates via content.

According to The Syndicate 2016 Insurance Report, a research community committed to empowering the protection insurance industry, the second most important reason why people do not buy protection insurance behind it being regarded as too expensive, is that people do not want to pay money into something that might not be needed.

In a world where the traditional sales funnel has been reversed, insurance customers are undertaking their own information gathering before deciding on purchases. This could be happening days or even weeks before they even make contact with representatives. This is defined by Google* as the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Where consumer trust in advertising has also declined, marketers need to ensure that they are creating clear and compelling content at the top of the sales funnel.

The advocacy marketing opportunity

One of the most powerful ways to achieve this is by leveraging advocates to tell their own stories about your products and services. Advocacy content enables marketers to highlight the value of the products, especially given that for insurance protection the value of products is not realised until the point of claim. This is endorsed by findings from our own research The power of brand storytelling in 2015 reinforcing the fact that what people most want to see and hear from brands are stories about regular people and/or brand customers. There is also a clear preference for stories of real people and events versus those about fictional characters.

Within a market that is heavily price focussed, you can use advocacy content and stories of real customers to distinguish your marketing efforts from competitors. Advocacy content can convey factual information about insurance products that facilitates consideration of cover and quality for prospective customers at the information gathering stage. It is also an opportunity to be transparent about your products at the point of need, which enables you to develop smarter consumer communications.

Not only can advocacy content be used for prospective customer communications but it is also relevant for lapsed or soon-to-lapse customers. According to The Syndicate, many customers let their policies lapse because the value of protection is not being adequately conveyed. By including advocacy content within email communication to these customers, there is an opportunity to engage with smarter communications, something that the FCA is already advocating via their increasing transparency and engagement at renewal consultation paper.

So where to start with advocacy marketing?

This is a process we are currently working on with a leading premium insurance brand, as well as our clients outside the financial industry. We first look at the strategy for advocacy marketing working toward both the business goals and marketing objectives. Next we look tactically at identifying triggers from customers where they mention positive or negative experiences with a brand’s products. For the protection insurance industry, it would be a good idea to talk to representatives who deal directly with customer claims to find any stories of people who have expressed their relief for having cover in place. Then we’d look into how you can streamline and capture advocacy from customers more easily via different channels in order to repackage and repurpose it.

From the triggers and stories identified we can then highlight specific themes or areas of comment from advocates that best align with goals and objectives defined in the marketing strategy. This ensures that there is a focus on developing content that is relevant and valuable to your audiences. Once we have the advocacy outputs we can then look into creating the right content formats for the right channels the ones used by your target audiences – then distribute this content using both organic and paid media where necessary.

Sources:

The Syndicate, 2016. Insurance Report 2016.
Google, 2011. The Zero Moment of Truth Finance Study 2011.
Headstream, 2015. The power of brand storytelling 2015.
FCA, 2015. Smarter Consumer Communications 2015.
FCA, 2015. Increasing transparency and engagement at renewal in general insurance markets 2015.

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