Max New York Life Insurance Pvt Ltd may be the latest to join the growing list of advertisers who are experimenting with the digital medium, but the essence and idea behind their approach is different.
The reason is obvious – insurance being a sensitive product, is dealt with care and understanding, and when it comes to using a new medium altogether, the strategy needs a special touch. Speaking on this and more, Anisha Motwani, Director and Chief Marketing Officer, Max New York Life Insurance, tells exchange4media how the company has looked on to being present digitally and where are they heading now.
“The digital medium is a key pillar of Max New York Life’s marketing strategy. Life insurance is one of the top five keywords used in online searches. We look at a combination of Search Engine Advertising and Marketing, Mobile Marketing and Social Media to drive a holistic digital strategy. In the last one year, we have significantly enhanced our digital focus with strong presence across digital media and proactive engagement on the Internet and social networking sites,” said Motwani.
How serious the company is about the digital medium can be gauged from monies spent on this medium. “Our digital marketing budget is 5 per cent of our overall marketing budget. We have a strong focus on digital marketing and will continue to allocate higher budget to drive our digital strategy going forward,” Motwani informed.
The Social Wave
Social media and networking sites are in fashion these days. Every known brand wants to have a fan page and a good following, because, according to them, that gets people talking. When asked about Max New York Life’s take on this, Motwani replied, “Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have become a cultural phenomenon. These forums have become a parallel source of information about consumer preferences and consumer outreach, along with the conventional statistical and marketing tools. Our social media strategy has allowed us to drive two-way interactive communication with both existing customers and prospects and take consumer engagement to the next level. This is complemented by a focused search engine optimising strategy that helps us monitor and proactively address consumer concerns. This further reiterates Max New York Life as a consumer-centric brand.”
On how the brand uses the online medium to reach its customers, Motwani explained, “We extensively use our own online initiatives and horizontal and vertical portals to drive maximum consumer outreach for product and ongoing customer communication, customer service and customer engagement. Essentially, this creates opportunity for the business to drive targeted marketing and create interactive engagement initiatives for greater consumer-connect. Our digital strategy provides a window to engage proactively with customers; understand behavioural patterns; assess consumer needs and preferences and drive consumer awareness and loyalty for the brand.”
Dos and Don’ts
And since the nature of the brand is sensitive, there isn’t much that it can experiment with. But Motwani felt otherwise. She opined, “I think one can integrate the digital strategy with the overall marketing strategy and business goals. The digital medium can be leveraged to drive consumer engagement and brand awareness. This, in turn, will result in warm leads that will drive the business. Striking the right balance between online grievance redressal and customer service to build brand reputation is another initiative that can be taken. Also, the digital space (blogs/ social network) can also be used to drive perception change.”
Adding to the conversation, she also explained how an insurance brand could avoid getting dumped by an online user. She advised, “An insurance brand can refrain from creating a digital presence because it is the trend. Have a strategy to reach your business goals. Do not become a static entity on the web. Create dynamic content to engage continuously with the consumer, attract more online traffic and get meaningful business insights.”
The Growth Path
The year 2010 saw Max New York Life giving some serious thought about utilising the online space. “In 2010, we took a conscious approach to aggressively leverage the digital space to enhance customer engagement. One of our key initiatives in 2010 was an end-to-end digital campaign for Igenius, a customer engagement programme in the child insurance space. A destination website (www.igenius.org) was set up to facilitate dedicated communication about all Igenius activities and updates. For the Igenius Scholarship programme, we leveraged the Igenius microsite as well as the mobile medium to build awareness and drive registration. Participants could actually SMS to register for the Igenius Scholarship awards,” she informed.
The insurance company also created a forum for constant engagement to make its presence felt. Motwani explained, “A dedicated forum on Facebook called Igenius has also been set up for ongoing engagement with children and young parents on relevant parental issues. Igenius on Facebook has over 25,000 members since it was launched 10 months back. This indicates the popularity of the forum. As a life insurance brand with sharp focus on child life insurance, we leveraged Facebook to engage not just with existing customers, but also use social media as a vehicle of buzz marketing.”
The company has set up an online grievance monitoring system to proactively address customer concerns and build a reputation for Max New York Life among both existing customers and prospects. An Online Reputation Management system has also been set up to track consumer concerns on various online forums and to resolve them.
When one thinks of insurance and its sale, the first thing that comes to mind is personalised selling. So, how important or unimportant is mobile medium for the brand? “According to COAI figures, India had over 524 million mobile subscribers till November 2010, which is growing month-on-month. This creates huge potential for the mobile phone as a marketing medium. In the life insurance business, which is a long term contract, the mobile medium is very effective for ongoing communication with policyholders, for example, SMS alerts for renewal reminders, updates on product launches, service updates, etc.,” Motwani stated.
“However, mobile phone marketing so far is limited to initial promotional advertising, text and voice communication and lead generation activities by consumer-focused industries like FMCG, real estate and BFSI to drive cost-effective targeted advertising. But, I see mobile phone as the next big thing in digital marketing with the advent of 3G in India,” she added.
When asked whether the company was chalking out plans to enter the e-commerce space, Motwani replied, “Life insurance is a complicated financial instrument to be sold online. Further, the regulatory environment in India makes e-commerce in life insurance a complex value proposition. However, selling simple life insurance products like a term plan is something that we can explore in the near future.”
When asked about the future of the medium for insurance brands, she replied, “I believe that being a customer-centric industry, life insurance needs to aggressively leverage the digital space to increase customer connect, drive awareness, leverage data for analytics, and tailored and customized services and products, and build a reputation for the brand. This is especially relevant to create a positive perception about the brand to the consumer and enrich the overall brand experience. This is a strategic focus for Max New York Life, which is helping us build increased loyalty towards the brand.”