How to Use Personalized Marketing to Drive Conversions


We get it. Grabbing — and holding — your customers’ attention is difficult, and it’s only getting harder.

In our fast-paced, scroll-and-click world, consumers are inundated with nonstop messages and often only spend seconds glancing at a social media post or webpage. Digital overload is so prevalent that only four out of 10 online ads are seen by real people.

While attention spans are dropping, brands are finding that word-of-mouth marketing and social media recommendations play important roles in buying decisions. In other words, consumers ignore the marketing efforts eating up your time and money in favor of recommendations from their friends and family.

How can savvy insurance marketers turn valuable seconds of attention and positive word of mouth into new customers? By making things personal.

It’s Time to Get Personal

According to Patrice Nolan, senior vice president at Competiscan and a chair of PIMA's Peer Advisory Forums, insurance isn’t something people think of regularly.

“They think of it only when they are shopping for the best deal, paying their bill, or filing a claim,” Nolan said. With consumers experiencing digital overload, insurance marketers can’t rely on a large number of impressions to get potential customers to consider their insurance needs. Messages must be personal and memorable.

Large carriers with big advertising budgets accomplish this with quirky commercials featuring characters like Progressive’s Flo, Allstate’s Mayhem, and the GEICO gecko, Nolan said. Those advertisements gain customer attention “through life situations that they can laugh about and personally relate to.” This approach works, with GEICO’s advertising playing a role in its move from the eighth to the second-largest car insurance company in the U.S.

“Even with a smaller marketing budget, carriers can get a customer’s attention by providing a personalized, customized experience,” said Joe Radtke, Competiscan's vice president of research and client services. And customers are receptive: About 80% of consumers are open to sharing their data in exchange for personalized perks, such as customized coverage features, pricing discounts, and prioritized claims service.

Insurance marketers are tapping into this available information to craft more targeted, personalized messages that convert prospects into customers. Here are three ways your company can use personalized marketing to drive conversions:

1. Capture and use data to your advantage.

Every data point is useful. As consumers interact with your web content, take the opportunity to add cookies — short bits of code placed in users' web browsers. In addition to tracking valuable information about the pages users visit, cookies can identify when people return to previously visited content. This enables marketers to serve up more personalized messages that prompt users to take action.

You can also leverage retargeting cookies to trigger personalized ads or email messages when visitors go to certain websites within your retargeting network. If a user visits your product page, for instance, you can add a retargeting cookie to share messages reinforcing the value of your brand with a tailored call to action.

Social media tactics are another way to capture user data and engage your target audience. Quizzes, which are shared 1,900 times on average, increase your reach and encourage family members and friends to endorse your content. Better yet, people who engage with your quizzes provide relevant data that enables you to personalize messages to keep them moving toward a purchase.

2. Create deeply detailed personas.

Maximize your data efforts by using tools like automated keyword bidding and customer relationship management, or CRM, systems. You’ll not only be able to market to people already engaging with your messages, but you’ll also be able to create personas to target similar buyers.

One way to do this is to use your retargeting lists to refresh and enhance your keyword bids. Automated smart bidding allows you to determine the right bids for your targets using machine learning. This does more than save time — it uses additional data that’s not always possible with manual bidding.

Ultimately, you’ll want to consolidate all the data points about your prospects within your CRM tool. CRM capabilities can transform broad campaigns into truly personalized messages that guide each target through the marketing funnel. Applying prospects’ names, birthdays, or employers will enable you to create highly tailored messages that focus on buyers rather than products. Personalized communications that reflect insights about each individual can drive increased response and conversion rates for your company.

3. Personalize with purpose.

Once you’ve captured comprehensive data and used it to build buyer personas, it’s time to use this information within your messages. An easy way to do this is by adding a person’s name to your email subject line. Property and casualty carriers do this regularly because it’s eye-catching, and it helps increase open and click-through rates.

The main rule of thumb is to leverage and protect data wisely; it should highlight the relevance to customers rather than distract them from your message. You may have several data points about a particular customer, but you need to choose the information that best aligns with that customer’s needs.

Retargeting data also provides a wealth of opportunities for personalized marketing. For example, life insurance companies regularly apply life-event information — birthdays, marriages, or the birth of a child — to create campaigns reminding people to update or purchase coverage. Similarly, auto insurance carriers build campaigns to target the parents of teen drivers or to promote region-specific offers.

Technology makes these personalized messages possible — and increasingly budget-friendly. The thoughtful, strategic use of personalization can help customers notice and appreciate messages that are just for them. And when the right targets notice and respond to your messages, sales will follow.

PIMA® (Professional Insurance Marketing Association®) is a member-driven trade association focused exclusively on the group-sponsored benefits market. For more information on becoming a member, click here.