Digital marketing strategy and technology in the insurance space will continue to change radically in 2019, according to Smart Harbor’s Insurance Trends study. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are enabling digital assistants to become smarter about insurance, Google’s mobile-first indexing will change the way content is ranked, and texting is becoming a mainstream form of client service communication for millennials—all changes insurance agencies must consider in advancing their sales and marketing to compete.
Amid the digital shift, expect to also see more open-access data sharing among agency and carrier systems and specialized end-to-end micro-experiences that enable agents to expand new lines of business quickly, says the analysis.
“Changes in technology in the insurance market have been accelerating for the last two years—and there are no signs that rapid evolution will slow down in 2019,” said Jason Walker, Smart Harbor’s managing partner. “Every insurance agency needs to focus on what makes their customer experiences and product offerings different, and then integrate with tech enablers that deliver on that value proposition in a connected ecosystem.”
“To help agencies better compete, all parties in the distribution system should be looking to improve the ability to share critical data and analytics between systems. Agents will naturally move in the direction of solutions that enable customer data to pass easily between systems because it is so critical to their success in the future,” Walker explained.
According to Smart Harbor’s analysis, here are the top five digital trends that will impact insurance agents in 2019:
1. Voice search will be a critical part of every agency’s digital strategy.
The rapid adoption of smart devices powered by manufacturers like Google and Amazon are compelling consumers to speak to robots about their needs from their homes, offices, and on the go. Insurance is no exception. Predictions indicate half of all searches will be conducted through voice-assisted technology in the near future. As more carriers index their local agents to work with voice services like Alexa and Siri, agencies must ensure that their websites and digital assets respond to advances in voice search. Content strategies will expand beyond conventional keyword campaigns and target phrases to sentences that mimic natural language used between two humans in conversation.
2. Insurance agent bots will be humanized to create authentic interactions.
Insurance agencies must adopt technology solutions that transition their client-focused insurance buying experiences to the online environment. With deep knowledge and expertise in developing personal connections with their customers, agents have the advantage over insurtechs that are limited to simple mono-line customer interactions. Through customizable communication enablers, including chat bots and smart forms driven by automation and artificial intelligence, agents will elevate the emotional intelligence of their websites, social media and emails to speak to the consumer authentically.
3. Google mobile first will make or break every agent’s online brand.
Google mobile-first indexing was formally launched in March 2018 and reinforced in September, which means websites will be indexed and ranked based on the mobile version of their content. Although desktops historically led the way for consumers to research and find products and services that met their needs, it is more critical than ever that agents have mobile responsive sites in order to not only grow but also maintain the highly coveted search engine real estate that they have worked for years to establish.
4. Texting will increasingly be used by agencies to connect with customers.
The rise of mobile users will have an effect on how agents communicate. Texting is a critical line of communication with millennials and will be the preferred method of contact for the next generation of insurance customers. For better effectiveness, texting tools are expected to be integrated with existing email and CRM systems, and new innovations in Rich Communication Services (RCS) promise to deliver better app integration, secure transactions, and branding for businesses to text.
5. New micro-experiences will become the building blocks for digital expansion.
Agencies are differentiated by the niche markets they sell to and service better than their competitors. Investments in digital content campaigns and user interfaces that cater to specialized prospect and customer segments will rise in 2019. These micro-experiences will enable agencies to have access to a market with carriers, as well as the ability to quote, bind and service insurance online. Micro-experiences will typically focus on commercial lines and specialty insurance for niche markets, such as programs for craft breweries, energy contractors, concrete pumping or marijuana dispensaries to name a few, and they will offer new opportunities for agencies to expand quickly with digital building blocks that can be easily integrated into existing business and workflows.