Accenture Interactive’s research shows that seven out of 10 marketers in B2C, B2B2C and growth-oriented companies feel that the marketing function is going to change fundamentally in the next five years. Insurance CMOs are no exception, with 69 percent of them feeling this way.

For insurers, this change is going to be even more significant because it will be combined with far-reaching change in the overall business model—a change that marketing will lead or for which it will act as a prime catalyst. This places huge responsibility on the insurance CMO.

Not that many other industry sectors won’t also have a similar “double transformation” to undergo, but I doubt that many will have as lengthy a journey to negotiate.

As always, if you have to eat an elephant, you have to do it in bites. Here are four transformation action points that CMOs should consider:

  • Fundamentally change the marketing operating model. Consumer demand and expectation is changing—often driven by what is happening in other industries. At the same time, consumers are using a growing number of channels to interact with service providers like insurers. To create customer experiences that are relevant, marketers will need to make sure that no matter what channel is used, the customer gets what he or she wants.
  • Build new skills and critical mass internally. Obviously, traditional skill sets remain important but new ones are going to become crucial as marketers attempt to create the kind of customer experiences we have been describing. Analytics, mobile and digital marketing skills are clearly going to be key, and the number of people in those areas will jump. The CMO should be in the driving seat to create shared centers of excellences in these critical domains.
  • Get aligned with the right set of partners. Like the man said, “This thing is bigger than the both of us.” CMOs cannot handle this growing complexity with their in-house resources alone. As always in such situations, the ability to identify the right partners is vital. Across all sectors, external providers score higher than internal in the areas of customer insights and analytics, multichannel campaign management, content management, media mix optimization and media audits. It would be interesting to know if this holds good for insurance.
  • Drive digital orientation throughout the enterprise. As marketing uses digital technologies to transform the customer experience, it’s very important the rest of the organization understands what is going on. In short, the CMO can’t deliver the right type of customer experience—certainly on a sustained basis—without all the business processes coming into alignment with this new goal. The CMO will need to enlist the support of his or her fellows in the C-suite to drive the new digital imperatives throughout the organization.

I think we can agree that insurance marketing faces some exciting challenges as it helps to launch and guide the digital transformation so necessary to become truly customer-centric.

For more on this topic, read Turbulence for the CMO: Charting a path for the seamless customer experience and The CMO-CIO disconnect: Bridging the gap to seize the digital opportunity.

Next time, I have some exciting new research to report on: the Accenture Customer-Driven Innovation survey.

Jean-François Gasc

Managing Director – Insurance, Strategy Consulting, EALA

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