Our digital age has certainly brought about its advantages; better analytics, customer data, ability to communicate globally without moving from your office chair and so much more. Yet, this has also brought about much confusion and wasting of resources as we try to wrap our minds around the best way to seize the digital opportunity.
One confusing aspect of a digital world is the technology that comes along with it.
While some agents remember the days of doing business solely on paper, many agencies couldn’t imagine what it would be like to do business without their management system.
It’s easy to see why the management system became a standard of the insurance industry as it fits the needs of the time for nearly every insurance agency. But now, there has been the introduction of additional customer-centric technology and it is befuddling agencies who are determining what the best use of technology in their office is.
According to a Providence Bank Agency Finance survey, 86% of agents believed digital technology is vital to agency growth, but a shocking 72% felt they were not getting the most out of their technology.
So, in today’s blog, I want to help by taking a step in the right direction by comparing AMS with Marketing Automation and CRMs. Currently, 3 of the insurance industries top technology choices.
Understanding the difference and uses
Each piece of technology, though having some similar features, works very differently. To understand which technology your agency needs requires you to have a better understanding of each individual piece of technology:
Basic functions of each:
The main purpose of an AMS is to manage the daily operations of an insurance agency. It allows you to store your client’s information, policy documents, notes, statements, etc. As technology advances, some AMS platforms do perform functions of a CRM and marketing automation but are very limited.
The basic function of a CRM is to manage the relationship and data of your prospects and customers. This sounds similar to an AMS but where an AMS allows you to look at current customer insurance information, a CRM allows you to look at their behavior. A CRM will allow you to track their interactions with your business, your marketing content, your sales team, and your website. The data collected provides you with insights into things such as how ready a prospect is to buy or how likely a client is to leave you. The trends can be quite significant for future marketing and sales initiatives.
At its core, marketing automation automates repetitive tasks and communications. But with the use of data, it provides actions that a normal human being cannot perform. Things such as automated follow-ups for prospects, personalized experiences for clients, automated campaigns that nurture leads to customers, and is constantly working to provide is with the evolving data of our clients and prospects. Think about how your favorite brands provide you with a personalized experience. This is through the use of marketing automation.
At a basic level, you can see the difference, but it takes more than a basic understanding for us to determine how each translates into a useful system for our operations.
Do insurance agencies really need more than an AMS?
An AMS has been sufficient for quite some time and it still provides much of the major technology an insurance agency’s day to day operations relies on. However, what we have here is a classic dilemma of Good vs Better.
An agency management system is good for a number of things:
- Provides consistent customer documentation across your carriers
- Mitigates E&O exposures by tracking conversations
- Syncs client policies
- Tracks agency reviews
- Set tasks and reminders for your staff
- Helps with rounding accounts
However, there are areas of doing business in a modern world where most AMS systems lack. Things such as:
- Automated marketing and sales communications
- Identifying sales and marketing opportunities for prospects and clients
- Gathering sales data about prospects and data
- Capturing, nurturing and converting leads to sales
- Segmenting prospects and clients for increased conversion rates
- Onboarding and marketing campaigns
- Ability to execute marketing effectively
- Tracking for marketing and sales efforts and marketing ROI
- Sending targeted messages
- Scoring leads based on sales readiness
According to AgencyBloc’s survey results, both in 2018 and 2017, lead generation was the #1 challenge for insurance agencies. An AMS is good to have but when it comes to several key components of modern business operations and lead generation, they are lacking.
In other words, if you want to manage your insurance agency like a service center, you’re all set with just a management system. But, if you want to run your agency like a business, with executable marketing and sales insights, customer data, automated processes, etc. then you will need a CRM and Marketing Automation.
Determining which technology is right for your insurance agency
Every insurance agency will have different needs for technology based on their operations, marketing, and sales initiatives. Where agencies get burned is when they buy into (rather are sold on) technology that they don’t have a purpose for.
You should never buy technology for technology’s sake. Always think about what you want to do with your business first. It’s your strategy that determines what technology you need.
Here are some breakdowns of what type of agencies need what type of technology:
Every agency needs an AMS.
You need a management system, there is no way around it. From managing client policies to mitigating E&O exposures, there is not anything that is more foundational to day to day insurance agency operations than the management system.
For some, this is enough. If you only need technology to manage the basic insurance client data, then you are good with only having an AMS. It’s when you want to do more with your business that you need something a little more.
For agencies looking to increase effectiveness with marketing and sales – CRM
Many insurance agencies SHOULD have a CRM. Insurance organizations are still sales organizations and unless you no longer prospect, generate leads and you are closing 100% of the people you want to do business with you should have a CRM.
When you or your producers are selling day to day, there needs to be a system to track what is going on with the prospects you are speaking with so that you have a greater chance of closing opportunities and more of them as well.
For agencies heavily sales focused with limited marketing opportunities a CRM could suffice. However, in a world where marketing is playing a bigger and bigger role in generating and closing opportunities, those who want to maximize ROI and opportunities will want to consider marketing automation.
For agencies looking to maximize effectiveness with marketing and sales, automate processes, and ultimately get the most out of their marketing – marketing automation
When an agency gets to the point where they want to streamline processes and increase the ROI for marketing and sales efforts it’s time for them to consider marketing automation.
Marketing automation allows you to run your business like Amazon or Google. You can provide personalized communications at the exact time a prospect or client needs it. You will be able to deliver solutions to prospects and clients when or even before needs arise.
When you think about the modern client’s demands of wanting a personalized experience as if they are the ONLY customer it can be nearly impossible to scale your efforts. But marketing automation makes it possible for you to scale your marketing, sales and even operations allowing you to grow at your pace.
Using your future strategic outlook to decide
I know there are companies working hard to create single systems that in the future, will provide all of these in a single system. However, right now, you need to take a strategic look at your business to identify areas of opportunity.
There’s nothing wrong with running your insurance agency on an AMS. You can do it and be successful. But with so many opportunities in front of you:
- Opportunities for increased sales effectiveness and efficiency
- Better ROI for marketing
- Higher closing rates and longer retention rates
- Better data to review sales and marketing efforts which leads to increased ROI
Agencies are missing out on the ability to grow and scale their businesses.
So where are there opportunities for your agency to grow and what technology best fits those needs?
What to do with this information?
I know it can be hard to make a business decision from a blog post. So, I want to provide you with some actionable steps to help you digest the information.
- If you are brand new to information such as this, we have a couple of intro blogs that talk about uses for marketing automation and introduction to CRMS. Go check those out.
- If you are familiar with this information and you want to know a little more detail about how each is different, we have a series of comparison checklists that compare AMS with CRMs, CRM with Marketing automation and Marketing automation with ESPs. Go check those out.
- And if you are very familiar with the information but just want to see how things work for first hand then allow us to walk you through a CRM and marketing automation platform in person.
I get it, trying to figure all this out can be a challenge. The best thing to do if you a truly interested in figuring this all out is to talk with someone who has been through the process. So, if you have any questions you can leave us a comment or shoot us a message.