Marketing automation has been a huge topic in the insurance industry for some time. The increase in conversations has piqued the interest of many but it has also left many with unanswered questions. To help agents better understand marketing automation and choose the best solution for their agency we’ve decided to tackle the top questions we get from agents.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is software which automates different activities. The activities that can be automated are near limitless.
- Setting tasks
- Sending reminders and notifications
- Following up
- Personalizing content
The list goes on. If there is a repetitive sales or marketing task, then it can likely be automated with marketing automation.
What does marketing automation do and how does it work?
Marketing automation is software that automates tasks and actions based off behaviors. The mechanics of marketing automation are somewhat simple. Your software will take some type of automated action based on a predetermined trigger. These are called workflows.
Here are a couple of examples:
- A prospect fills out a contact form on your website. They are automatically put into a predetermined workflow which delivers a series of automated nurturing emails.
- A leads lifecycle stage is moved from “lead” to “client.” This prompts the system to start the on-boarding campaign process for that person.
Once you have built your workflows they will continue to run in the background while you focus on more important tasks.
Is marketing automation strictly for marketing?
Many insurance agencies don’t realize that automation can benefit many areas of their agency. If we take a look at some of the more advanced features of a marketing automation platform you will see how it provides support throughout the entire agency.
- The sales team can benefit from the prospect data collected. This allows them to focus on the most engaged prospects and identify selling points based on the prospect’s behaviors.
- CSRs and internal staff can save time by automating communications and repetitive emails that they send all day every day.
- Management can make better decisions given the detailed reporting and analytic tools.
- There are even E&O benefits from a system like ours which tracks all email communications with contacts and whether emails were opened and viewed.
Marketing automation is still a marketing focused tool. But with the evolution of technology it now has the capabilities to provide improvements throughout all parts of an insurance agency.
How does marketing automation help insurance agencies?
Automation is a great way to improve productivity and profitability. There are a number of ways it can help insurance agencies and businesses:
- Increase effectiveness of marketing and sales efforts
- Improve efficiency in marketing and sales communications
- Eliminates time consuming repetitive tasks
- Allows for smoother processes and better customer experiences
- With the use of various strategies, it can improve closing rates and retention
With automation, businesses can become more productive, efficient and effective in their efforts. This allows them to grow and scale their business.
How does marketing automation help generate leads and business opportunities?
Many agents look to purchase automation to solve their lead generation issue but it’s important to understand that it is not a magic pill.
Like I mentioned above, marketing automation can help improve processes, provide the right tools to generate leads and helps your people focus on the right prospects. These can all lead to increased business.
However, just the act of implementing marketing automation software will not generate more business opportunities. Automation cannot generate leads on its own, but it can be a useful tool that enables your marketing and sales staff to generate new business opportunities.
What are examples of how insurance agents can use marketing automation?
There are many ways insurance agencies can use automation. Here are a few common examples:
- On-boarding and referral campaigns
- Lead nurturing campaigns
- Web visitor follow ups
- Lost sale and lost client win back campaigns
- Lead notifications
- Create tasks and send task reminders
If there is a trigger and easily duplicated process, you can likely use automation to do it.
How is marketing automation different than a CRM and an AMS?
Automation software, CRMs and AMS are all unique and are designed with their own distinct purposes. When thinking about how these are different it is best to understand what they are designed to do.
- Automation is designed to automate processes
- An AMS is designed to manage insurance policies
- A CRMs main function is prospect and client management
While there may be some overlap in their functions, a CRM or AMS is not going to have the automated capabilities that marketing automation provides. If you look at the core functions of an AMS and CRM, they are only for managing information.
It’s important to note that many AMS platforms are beginning to include automation in their systems. However, the capabilities of marketing and sales automation platforms are still far beyond that of your everyday AMS.
Is marketing automation worth the hype?
Business owners of all industries want to know if automation is a valuable tool or just a hyped-up business trend. Automation software is not going away anytime soon because of the benefits it is bringing to the table. To me, this means that it is worth the hype.
But just remember that it is still just a tool. It will only work to the extent of its intended purposes and the skill of the user.
Who should use marketing automation?
Really any business can benefit from it. If you are performing manual time-consuming tasks or looking to boost your sales and marketing results, then marketing automation should be considered.
While anyone can start using it right away, those who are actively selling, and marketing will see the biggest benefits from marketing automation.
Is marketing automation beneficial for small or one-man shops?
Marketing automation plays no favorites when it comes to business size. We do tend to see larger organization utilize automation more, but the benefits remain the same regardless of the size of the organization.
As long as you are using the platform it can work no matter your size.
Are all automation platforms the same?
Different automation platforms do vary in a lot of different ways. Each is unique but there are many similarities.
Some platforms are bare bone and are focused entirely on automated workflows.
Others have automated workflows but have additional features that work in tandem with the workflows, such as a built-in email marketing tool or CRM.
Then there are tools like we use at inBuzz which are all in one marketing platforms. These have all the automated functions you need but also include the entire suite of marketing and sales tools that you’ll need. (you can see what’s included in the automated tool we use here)
In addition to the different features, every platform will have its own pricing, contract terms, integration abilities, contact limits etc.
When you research digital automated solutions, you will find that many are similar in their functions and features just keep in mind that they all have their own unique systems and nuances.
Can marketing automation software integrate with an AMS?
The answer is maybe. As we move forward many AMS platforms are enabling connectivity with marketing automation platforms.
Integration also depends on the automation platform. Some are able to integrate via third-party tools like Zapier, others are able to build “bridges” between different technologies and some are very limited in what they can integrate with.
In general, marketing automation systems can integrate with an AMS, but this will vary from system to system.
How much does marketing automation cost?
Base costs for automation software can vary from under $100 to over $4000 a month. Like many other variables it depends on the company and features.
A very basic platform may cost $50-$250 a month.
A more robust platform will cost somewhere between $500-$4000 a month.
Every platform has its base price but then there are many factors that affect price beyond that:
- Number of contacts
- On-boarding fees
- Number of users
Marketing automation costs are really all over the map, but once you narrow down what type of platform is right, then you can get a more accurate estimate of costs.
What’s the ROI we can expect from marketing automation?
There isn’t any hard fast rules that say automation will help you achieve an ROI of X%. However, based on data we can get an idea of what type of ROI can be generated from it. A study was done by Nucleus Research that showed Marketing Automation on average drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and 12.2% reduction in marketing overheads.
Given those statistics alone, you can expect the ROI to be quite high. But like with anything, the answer really depends. What would be the return on more time, improved marketing and sales productivity, and increased conversion rates for your agency?
One thing that is for certain. When marketing automation is executed correctly, businesses see an increase in marketing and sales production and effectiveness.
Is marketing automation right for my insurance agency?
Marketing automation can be a fit for any insurance agency, but it’s not always a good idea at the time. Many insurance agencies that could benefit from marketing automation are simply not in the position to take advantage of it right away.
To understand whether it is right for your agency, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have an established sales and/or marketing process?
- Is there someone in the agency to take ownership of learning and executing within the system?
- Is there a plan in place for how to use marketing automation?
These questions will help you identify if marketing automation is right for you. If you have these items in place, then you are in a good position for seeing success with marketing automation right away. The key is understanding that automation does not do the marketing for you but rather helps you scale your efforts.
What should you look for when choosing an automation platform?
There are a number of items to look into when finding an automated solution. Before you look at automated platforms you also need to assess your goals for marketing automation. This will help define which company has what you need.
Here are things to consider as you explore different platforms:
- Company reviews and case studies
- Included features
- Available tools
- Number of users
- Number of eligible contacts
- Ease of use
- Accessibility of Support
Automated Sales and marketing solutions come in all shapes and sizes. When looking at solutions, make sure they align with your needs.
What is the best software to choose?
There is no “best” marketing automation software. The best software for you will be based on your needs. Of course, some platforms will be better than others, (we believe our solution is a top choice based on the functionality and affordability.) but the best software is always the one that meets your specific needs.
Do you have unanswered questions?
We realize that we have missed an important question you have. No need to fret, feel free to leave a comment with your question and we will address it. If you want a personal response you can send us an online request and we will respond via email.
Lastly, know that the best way to have your questions answered may be from seeing it in action. Sometimes you need to look and touch in order to make sense of something or to make a final decision. If this is the case, we can show you our marketing automation first-hand. Schedule a time that’s convenient to you.
With all the different uses, strategies, and solutions available, marketing automation can get confusing. Keep researching and if you have any questions feel free to reach out.