Online channel was not considered by Metropolitan Life, part of MetLife, Inc. as a sales channel for generating online leads, as the sales team did not trust this as source for quality leads, as proven by the low lead to contract rate. However, the growth rate from direct sale (agents’ prospecting) started to flatten, so the marketing team was pushing for higher focus on digital channel as source of incremental growth. Agency was pitched to design and implement a performance marketing strategy that showcases a sustainable process that ensures delivery of quality leads on a long term basis. Performance KPIs for the test were to deliver 3,5k leads at max USD 20 CPL. As an extra quality indicator to prove sustainability of approach were set:
- 50% of leads should be qualified leads (confirm interest at first contact, as tracked via client Salesforce system)
- leads should be delivered in a uniform progression via a longer timeline (not in speculative bursts)
Main challenge of the project was poised by the category itself, as life insurance is a product that is sold, not bought. Even if someone has bought a new house, had a baby or found the next great job, it doesn’t mean they are heading right for the computer to start to shop for a life insurance. From a media perspective, this leads to a higher pressure on demand generation touchpoints, doubled by a complex persuasion process along the user journey.
This journey, however, is initiated outside of media reach, with main source of information when looking for a life insurance product being “friends/ acquaintances’ recommendations” (as per internal client research and Deloitte study 2018). Digital research follows, and is usually already biased towards the player recommended by friends/ acquaintances. Simply put, when starting to look for an insurance product, users have already a brand in their consideration set. For our test, this translated into a brand challenge, since Metropolitan Life has a significantly lower brand awareness (and usage) versus competition (main players had TV campaigns, Metropolitan Life did not- according to Kantar TV data; 45% more monthly average searches on competition keywords- according to Google Keyword Planner; Metropolitan Life had 5% digital SOV, whilst competitors had 35 to 60%- according to Gemius AdReal).
User journey in the insurance category has four main steps:
1. Trigger: users are unaware of need, but find themselves in a life moment (emotional or necessity) that might trigger need
2. Think: users are aware of need, become very receptive to friends’ advice/ recommendations
3. Research: users are actively searching for product information, comparing different options
4. Purchase: the policy closing formal process was initiated, lead was validated as quality lead, and this step was based mainly on sales agents’ interaction with customer
As in this category product need should be triggered, highest focus had be placed on demand generation channels, in order to minimize impact of journey points that are out of reach for media. In order to address the brand awareness challenge, we had to enlarge as much as possible the bottleneck of the conversion funnel. Focusing on mid & lower funnel would not deliver scale, due to the lower awareness issue. We had to place our bets on the TRIGGER campaign that had to deliver on efficient targeting, by reaching users that are most likely to react to the trigger, as well as on effective relevancy, by conveying messages that will generate reaction among a large share of reach users.
Based on engagement to our trigger campaign, we reached a relevant scale for the workable media audiences to reconnect with via RESEARCH campaign, and diminish the eroding effect of THINK phase, in which aware users were seeking guidance to peers that were more likely to recommend other brands.
The PURCHASE phase was the playground of sales agents, not media. However, ongoing feedback from agents on leads quality was fed up as insights into campaign optimization.