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Phil Jeynes: The obvious answer to boosting protection sales

Insurers worry about attracting new customers and bemoan the swathes of the public who should have cover, yet most refuse to engage with social media

One of the biggest changes in my everyday life over the past five years has been the shift in the way I get my news.

In the past, this would have entailed newspapers (albeit often online versions) and television, whereas now I reckon I get over 90 per cent of it via my phone; predominantly from social media and, in particular, Twitter.

This change is so absolute that being asked, “Did you see the
news last night?” sounds as anachronistic as someone enquiring as to the health of my scullery maid or offering to service my mangle.

Like most changes in habit, or at least ones with a tendency to stick, this was not a conscious choice.

I did not wake up one morning and decide to stop watching the news on TV. I just gradually did not have the need to, since I had seen the events of the day unfolding live and had been able to access as much, or as little, analysis as I saw fit.

By the time 10 o’clock rolls around now, hearing about stuff that happened this morning seems ridiculous.

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My sources have largely remained the same, with institutions like the BBC still providing chunks of the content, it is simply the delivery system which has progressed.

I know I am near the vanguard of this move and many people still regard all social media as a distraction at best and a confusing, frightening other world at worst. But the statistics show that adult internet users are more and more inclined to use it, with the percentage who do so particularly high among younger adults.

In protection, we regularly worry about attracting new customers to our products and bemoan the vast swathes of the public who should have cover but have not been sufficiently motivated to buy it. Yet most insurers still have not engaged with social media.

Those that have, tend to view places like Twitter as they would any other website: a place to put adverts, tell people how good their products are and why they should buy them.

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Social media is also increasingly recognised as being an important tool in dealing with disgruntled customers using their digital platform to mouth off about the shoddy service they have had.

Here, the most common strategy among big businesses (not just insurers) is to get the complaint offline as quickly as humanly possible.

A social media strategy should be near the top of any insurer’s marketing plan. Not only is it where our customers and potential customers spend huge chunks of their day, it is incredibly low cost to go there and talk to them.

The key phrase there is “talk to them”, as distinct from “tell them”. Social media is exactly that: social.

Luckily, we have loads of good things to talk about, like claims, and by creating stories around them which fit the dynamic of each platform, we can start conversations and join existing ones, growing our customer base all the while.

Phil Jeynes is head of sales and marketing at UnderwriteMe

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