Katherine Nellums is Marketing Director at CFC with a background in providing PR and marketing for Silicon Valley's information security startups.
Recently she talked to Free’s Marketing Director, Derah McCall, about CFC’s content marketing journey – what life was like before implementing a platform, and the big issues the platform can solve.
Coming from the world of tech, marketing serves a pretty straightforward purpose. Like most industries, it’s about generating leads, following them up and helping the business facilitate a sale.
But as a commercial line’s insurer targeting broker intermediaries, it’s much more complicated.
It’s more about building brand awareness so the right brokers know they can come to us for our specific lines.
And historically that’s been the duty of the underwriter. After all, they’re the ones building relationships with brokers and communicating the expertise of the business, which has made it difficult for marketing teams to prove their worth.
The B2B insurance market has shifted. Covid has accelerated the digital transformation of the industry and has meant marketers can have a much stronger say in the growth of the business.
With the majority of communication going online, brand awareness is no longer solely the responsibility of the underwriter. Digital tools like content marketing platforms have turned it into a collaborative effort.
For us, it’s opened the door to new insights our underwriters never knew they could access and delivered tangible metrics that quantify the marketing team’s value.
There are a number of good content marketing or inbound marketing platforms on the market. We chose to go with HubSpot.
The platform opened our eyes to what was possible. We could start to understand our audience’s behaviour and gain valuable insights into who we needed to target, and what kind of content would keep them interested.
Metrics like open rate, click-through rate, pages visited and list performance allowed us to connect the dots across our different marketing channels, and home in on what our audience cared about. Our underwriters and business development teams were then armed with intel they could confidently put to good use.
And of course, from a practical point of view a content marketing platform makes everything much more efficient. Automation strips away a lot of manual time wasting and allows you to create and manage workflows that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
CFC has traditionally been seen as a ‘white collar’ financial lines insurer. But it was important our broker base knew we were so much more than that.
Across manufacturing, for example, we have several products that sell into that sector. So we saw an opportunity to build a campaign that targeted brokers with manufacturing clients.
A quick survey helped us uncover a number of answers that drove the direction of the campaign. We could identify the brokers we were looking for, whether or not they knew we were in the market, and if they were interested in opting into any follow up content.
From a target list of 5,000 across Canada, 700 of our contacts opted in to our automated campaign – a significant take up in just one region.
All of a sudden, we’d opened ourselves up to new market opportunities and started to shift the perception of our brand in the process, while internally positioning the marketing team as an undeniable vehicle for growth.
Being at the forefront of new and emerging risks, we’re regularly bringing new products to market. The challenge for the broker is always keeping ahead of the game when it comes to learning about the emerging risk and the solutions on the market. Which means educating brokers to bring them up to speed. But having the platform to hand makes that process much more straightforward.
For example, when we launched our eHealth product, we used the data from our marketing touchpoints to separate brokers by stage of their ‘buyer’ journey: ‘interested’, ‘learning’, and ‘actively selling’. We could then see who to engage with and tailor content around the different audiences.
It works exactly the same way when we’re connecting with new brokers too. Or expanding our reach among those we already partner with. We can identify new contacts, nurture them through workflows and related content, then narrow down those contacts underwriters should be reaching out to.
It wasn’t that long ago that B2B insurance marketing went only as far as branded golf balls and pull-down banners at glitzy events. It was a box to be ticked – anything more than that and the sceptics would start to circle.
But through content marketing and the use of automation tools, you can start to prove ROI.
One data point I like to present to the executive team is the overall engagement of our database. As a percentage, it tells us how many people have interacted with CFC’s digital marketing channels over a quarter.
Over the course of the last 12 months we have seen an average of 56% of our database interacting with us in some way. This validates our investment in the platform, and also in the way we use it.
And as a marketing team it can potentially make our work more fulfilling – we can use the platform’s data to demonstrate commercial value and endorse the campaigns we want to deliver.
Proving the value of marketing in the insurance industry has always been an uphill struggle, particularly when you’re an intermediary that isn’t customer-facing. Lack of data, legacy systems, and the tendency of underwriting teams in keeping any client intel close to their chests, created an environment where buyer journeys have been very hard to break down.
Platforms like HubSpot have helped to change the state of play – we can now see and do things with a much sharper focus. You could say we’ve taken a blunt instrument and turned it into something more surgical, more precise, and infinitely more effective.