“Insurance is a community, not an industry”.
We're back in this week's episode with highlights from our event on 30th April. Matthew Grant is talking to an insurer, an insurtech and three marketing experts about how to innovate with marketing in insurance and techniques for gaining more exposure in B2C and B2B.
First up is Olivia Hendrick, Director of Marketing at Hiscox UK and Ireland (2:20), describing their record breaking "cyber hack" marketing video, with over 20 million downloads. What it is, how it works and why. See the video here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgbWBRfNLdc
Andy Yeoman, CEO and Founder of marine analytics platform Concirrus (6:20) explains how he has been able to become part of the marine underwriting community by understanding the conversations his clients want to be having.
Chris Williams of Proper Linkedin Marketing (13:46) reveals the secrets to getting engagement and coverage on LinkedIn, whether to post on a personal page or a company page and how to optimise the LinkedIn algorithm.
Alex Hearn, CEO and founder of a new site and central content platform Slipcase (22:15) describes what insurers are most interested in and how he provides added value to them. Wondering what people read and why? See a snapshot of Slipcase's research here - contact them directly for more details.
Finally, Neil Edwards of agency Marketing Eye (28:37) explains how technology companies can take advantage of social media and when the best time is to send out news.
Listen here to InsTech London Podcast 27. It is also available on iTunes, Spotify, and Podbean.
Interested in learning more about insurance, innovation and why people give up their free time to come along to our events? Find out more about the speakers, view photos from the events and register for future events at www.instech.london. Hear more about what we are up to by registering for our newsletter.
Transcript for this podcast
00:00 Andy Yeoman: "The one mistake" he said "I see most companies make when they come into this market is they treat these companies like an industry," he said, "whereas actually it's a community. We all know each other, we've worked together for years, we've made money together, we've lost money together." He said, "And we'll all talk about you behind your back."
00:19 Matthew Grant: Hello and welcome to the InsTech London Podcast. This is Matthew Grant, one of the founders of InsTech London and in this episode we bring you the second half of our event of the 30th of April, when we were talking about the Marketing of Innovation in Insurance. In this part, I'm up on stage talking to five companies, all have a very different perspective on how to perform marketing for the insurance industry. First up, we have Olivia Hendrick, Marketing Director of Hiscox, UK and Ireland. She's talking about the fascinating marketing campaign Hiscox ran to raise awareness of the cyber risk and cyber hacks in SME. Andy Yeoman is CEO and co-founder of Concirrus. They've been very successful in the last few years in rolling out their marine underwriting tool and Andy talks about how he learned to talk the language of insurance underwriters to help him and his team engage with the market.
01:20 MG: Chris Williams of Proper LinkedIn Marketing. He's an expert on what it takes to get engagement through LinkedIn. We have a great discussion about things such as when are the right times to post content and whether it's better to post on a company page or on your own personal page and also, what is the future of Twitter. Alex Hearn is founder and CEO of Slipcase, he's providing the news from over 30 of his clients out to the broad insurance marketplace, both in the UK and then soon to be in the US, and Alex is talking about how he helps his clients measure when people are reading their content and what kind of content is getting the highest level of interest. And then finally, Neil Edwards, founder of Marketing Eye, which helps insurtechs and fintechs with demand generation. He talks a bit about the work they're doing and why they release their newsletter at 7:00 AM on Friday.
02:22 MG: First of all, Olivia Hendrick from Hiscox. Would you join me on stage? Let's start off with you. So, you are marketing director at Hiscox and you've come into the industry from a very different background. I'd be very interested to know what brought you in from fast moving consumer goods into insurance to do some marketing.
02:39 Olivia Henrick: I fundamentally as a brand marketeer believe that every single thing we do should be powered by customer insight, but it's bringing those insights to life, reinforcing that one in three small businesses have suffered a cyber attack and so forth. So the ‘The Hack’ as we called the video we did with the Brompton Bike Shop, but led by our advertising agency, AMV. The purpose of that was - I'm still pretty new to insurance and what I realised was - nobody appreciated how paralysing a cyber attack would be until you really see it or you hear the stories of it. So, I wanted to bring that to life and take it from the kind of invisible virtual world of online into the real world and that's why the Brompton guys kindly allowed us to hack one of their stores. So, for those of you who didn't see the video, there was a Brompton Bike Store, and we literally copied the store to the closest possible way we could, so right down to doppelgangers of the staff, the uniforms and so forth and filmed what happened when they saw this shop materialise in front of their eyes.
03:55 MG: Yes, it was a great video. So, if anybody wants to go and take a look at that, what's the easiest way to find it?
04:01 OH: If you go to YouTube and put in Hiscox Hack, there's a range of videos. There's three minute, there's 15 seconds shorter videos. We've had 20 million views, so it's doing really well, but what's most...
04:11 MG: I'm sorry, 20 million views?
04:12 OH: Yes, it's had 20 million views.
04:14 MG: You're doing well.
04:17 OH: It's doing well, but what's most...
04:18 MG: So you're doing well and...
04:22 OH: Oh, sorry. Yes, they let me keep doing this stuff!
04:24 MG: Fantastic, okay. Cyber's quite a big area for Hiscox. You also have your cyber academy. Is that part of your marketing or is that more for people when they've signed up?
04:34 OH: No, it's fundamentally part of the same kind of core proposition, which is around educating and building resilience really in our target audience. So the cyber academy is about giving them access to insulating their business. What we know today is that two-thirds of cyber breaches within a business are human error driven, so it's easy to inform yourself and help alleviate some of the risks, so that's the purpose of that and the benefit for companies that go through it is they have no excess, so there's a tangible business benefit to those who go through it.
05:12 MG: Oh, interesting. So they take the cyber academy, then you remove the excess, so you pay from the full claim. Very interesting. Okay, so the question everybody asks is "How do you measure success in marketing?" So what key metrics do you use to go back to your board to explain? I guess 20 million downloads is a [chuckle] pretty good one. What other key metrics do you use to show what you're doing?
05:33 OH: So, it's kind of brand health, fundamentally. Yes, the 20 million views are good, but actually what's more important is what impact that has in terms of brand health. That means brand awareness. How many people know the brand, brand affinity, how they feel about the brand and so forth. Secondly, we run econometric modelling, which really explores the key drivers of brand growth, and that looks at what are the key channels, the ROI by channel. So, we do a lot of outdoor, as many people have seen the ROI that that delivers and finally the standard kind of acquisition metrics that you would look at and probably any brands here would look at in terms of the return on investment.
06:10 MG: Great, Robin. Did you that, econometric?
06:13 Robin: [06:13] Yup got that.
06:13 MG: Yes, next big word, great. Olivia, thank you very much, thanks for joining us on stage tonight.
06:22 MG: Next up is Andy Yeoman, CEO and founder of Concirrus. So, whilst Andy is making his way up to the stage, Concirrus was founded in 2012, and the reason that I asked Andy to join us tonight is I've been very impressed by his marketing in a B2B space. So again, show of hands if you've heard of Concirrus. Andy you are doing really well.
06:47 AY: Yes.
06:47 MG: That's about 60% of the room. So Andy tell me, first of all, for the other 40% that haven't heard of you, your elevator pitch on what Concirrus does?
07:00 AY: Yes, so, in three sentences, we help marine insurers improve their loss ratios. We do that by providing behavioural-based underwriting, so we reveal the underlying behaviour of the assets and we do that by ingesting massive amounts of data and pumping it through some proprietary AI and technology.
07:15 MG: Okay, fantastic, and now you joined the insurance industry in 2012 and you didn't have a background in insurance. What have you done to manage to get such a high visibility into the space so quickly?
07:29 AY: Well, I think it's a couple of things. The first thing, we approached it with something which is actually not natural for me, which is a degree of humility. And we networked around, we got introduced to some really good people, one of the gentlemen is a guy called Rupert Atkin, I don't know if anyone knows him, he's the chief exec and founder of Talbot, and he sat down and said, "The one mistake" he said "I see most companies make when they come into this market is they treat these companies like an industry," he said "whereas actually, it's a community. We all know each other, we've worked together for years, we've made money together, we've lost money together," he said, "and we'll all talk about you behind your back." And he said, "So decide what your personality is going to be as a company, and stay true to it, help the industry make money, and they will look after you too."
08:20 MG: And marine is particularly difficult to break into, the mariners tend to think they've been doing insurance for the longest of anybody, I mean the fact that Lloyd's has got marine and non-marine. You talk about humility, how did you manage to crack into that space when they've been doing this for years?
08:35 AY: Well, we'll get into marine. When I get asked, how did you get into marine insurance, sheer bad luck is the answer I usually give. But actually on a more serious note, my heritage was in telematics, and truck and fleet telematics. And when we saw the marine market, what we actually saw was a market that was based here in London, primarily. It was awash with data, they were technology laggards, and there was no other company in that market serving the need that we saw, and all of those things were attractive to us. Even the technology laggards because, candidly, when we modernize some of the things that they were doing, we would pick up the benefits of that, whether it was an indirect benefit or not. And then we've had to approach it with, I think the best metaphor is probably the one of the ‘boil the frog’ metaphor; if you go in and tell people two or three steps down the line, how their world can be, it's very confused, but if you can just give them, okay if you just take this step, you'll get here, if you take this step, you'll get here, if you take this step, you'll get there. It's amazing how you can transform an organisation.
09:42 MG: Having known you for a while, I think one of the reasons you've got such visibility is you've just taken on a really difficult space to go into. And lots of people out there building apps for insurance and consumer engagement is important, but I think you've tried to tackle something really hard and that actually creates a level of awareness. So, well done. And the other thing I was impressed with, right from the very beginning, is your ability to get some senior people together in a room, late in the evening, but slightly differently than we do it. So if you could just tell me a bit about your dinners and the thinking behind that?
10:16 AY: Yes, so we annually we run an insurance dinner which a few of the people in the room have been to. And our thinking was that actually we wanted to be part of the community, so we started off just inviting... I think in the first year, we invited four people and four people turned up, and in the second year I think we had about 12. You came to, I think, the fourth year, where we had about 50 insurers in the room, and it tapped into a really interesting market dynamic in that the industry is actually quite paranoid, nobody wants to be first in taking on this innovation, but nobody wants to miss out. So when we would go around and say to everybody, you make us sign NDAs, I can't possibly tell you who I'm talking to, but we are talking to everybody. When we actually put them in the room together, and they could see that we were talking to a lot of people, that for us, was a pivotal moment. It helped drive the industry forward. One of the other things that we've done actually is install the industry in our own company, so if you look into our organisation, we are an interesting mix of technologists, data scientists, and insurance people. Our parties are quite crazy, actually.
11:22 MG: Yes, I've been there. So marketing is one thing, you get the visibility, you've started to sign up some clients. So, you’re clearly making some progress, but what step or what stage do you find the most challenging for your team when you've got the visibility, you get the meetings, but actually you've got to go and close a deal. Where, in that whole pipeline, is it most difficult for you?
11:51 AY: I think that Marco, who heads our sales, is here. I think probably, about six months ago, the most difficult stage we realised was recognising that as committed as we were to make everybody move forward, that commitment didn't actually occur at the same level in our customers. So we've had to categorise people into digital leaders who we'll absolutely engage with, digital laggards who we just kind of park and say, "Well, they'll get there eventually" and then the digital pragmatists, who we need to put through our process. But you can't take a laggard and make them a leader. We just have to just let them go at their speed.
12:28 MG: Want to name any names for any of those categories?
12:31 AY: No. Well actually in the leaders, I can put in all of our customers, there you go.
12:37 MG: There we go. Fantastic. Now, I do appreciate you being here, I think in this space as someone said, you could almost wine and dine or certainly eat lunch, breakfast and supper, probably not in that order, at various different fintech and insurtech conferences. You're a big supporter of InsTech London, thank you for coming, but also why? What do you see in what we're doing at InsTech that makes you choose to support us?
13:01 AY: Well, the thing I like about InsTech is it plays into that community as well, so we're very fortunate in that we're having some success, but we've been in business as a company for seven years and we've had some dark days. I've had a day where I've been doing strategic planning in the morning and then the afternoon had the insolvency practitioner come and talk about winding the company up. So we've had a couple of dark days in our history and I wouldn't want to put anybody through that. I wouldn't want anybody else to go through that. So our view is if we can give back to the community and the industry, then that will probably serve us benefit as well, in the round.
13:37 MG: Fantastic. Andy, thank you very much.
13:39 AY: Thank you.
13:47 MG: So, a slight shift now. Chris Williams, do you want to come and join me on stage? So for all of you who are using LinkedIn, which I don't even need to ask the audience, I'm suspecting that's almost all of you, and have wondered how some people have managed to be successful and why others don't. I came across Chris because he had a very active profile on LinkedIn, so I thought it'd be interesting to ask Chris to join me on stage and talk a little bit about what he's doing and a little bit about what the secrets are for LinkedIn. So, if nothing else hopefully you'll leave today with some tips for how to raise your profile on LinkedIn. But Chris, first of all, just tell us a bit about what you do and what's brought you to this point in your career.
14:32 Chris Williams: I’m originally a data strategist, to a degree, or digital strategist working predominantly with data. I got involved with a start-up, GetDoddle, and discovered that we needed to really up our marketing game and I looked at probably the best way of doing B2B. That was LinkedIn, that was what all the Google ads were saying. I got a little bit heavily involved in that a couple years ago and not really looked back.
14:56 CW: The crux of it is you've got a network of, or a potential network of 600 million active - and I'll use the term "active" loosely - accounts, personal accounts on LinkedIn. There are about 10% of them which are actually being used efficiently and effectively, but with three clicks you can connect up to 500 million people, 600 million people. Massive network, and it is totally and utterly underused. Company pages, straight out, they are pants. They don't get any engagement. They get very little engagement. You've got Hiscox who have got 45,000 followers and the majority of the company posts that are going out, they're getting less than 50, 60 likes, something like that. Sorry, but just as an example, your follower count doesn't necessarily matter, it's literally how LinkedIn is treating content and how they continually move the goal posts and I know we're going to touch on the algorithm slightly in a minute.
15:56 MG: Good. Well so just before we get on to that, most people don't want to spend their whole day going on to LinkedIn and liking things. They may write a little bit but what's the characteristic of a successful professional who's got a day job and how they use LinkedIn?
16:13 CW: They hire a marketing team called Proper LinkedIn Marketing to do it for them.
16:19 CW: Realistically if you want to grow a network and have 10, 15, 20, 30,000 connections that are going to be active and engaged.
16:26 MG: So how many is that?
16:27 CW: 20, 30, 40,000. However many, you've got to put the work in. You can subscribe using lots of bots and automation tools such as LinkedIn Helper or Dux-Soup or any of those. I can give you the affiliate links if you want. But ultimately you've got to put the time into it. We tend to save our clients between two to three hours a day on the path that they're wanting to achieve based on their goals.
16:56 MG: Don't you then get the risk of over-saturation? If I'm seeing Chris Williams pop-up every-day liking something or comment, then I just un-follow you and you've destroyed the whole potential..?
17:05 CW: It's a risk, but it all depends on what point you are at in your buyer journey. So you're not going to be on your buyer journey where you want to buy every single time you see one of my posts. So it's about making sure that you are pushing your personal brand. Do I dare say that marketing flowery word? But making sure that you are prevalent and essentially relevant at the time, at the buyer journey, or the buyer is at that point in their journey where they want to make the purchase.
17:33 MG: Okay, and then short form versus long form. For those of us who find we can't write less than 1500 words and end up writing articles, what have you found is most successful in terms of getting engagement and getting the message across as well? It's not just about the likes, but it's actually getting the message out there and building on that.
17:54 CW: Essentially, articles used to be very, very good. We used to have LinkedIn Pulse for those that have been on LinkedIn for quite a while and it's now been integrated into the main platform itself. An article still slightly takes you away from the platform, they're good as key information points, but essentially they don't get the same algorithmic reach as a post. So your post is 1300 characters, that's your status or your update, whatever terminology you want to call it, and that's got the ability to get far more reach and regularly does. We do testing on a weekly basis with some of our dummy accounts and also those clients that take part in our testing. And we have never been able to get an article to get more reach than a standard post, and that's purely down to how we as consumers want to consume data and consume information. It's short, it's sweet and we want that information as quickly as possible. You've only got to look at the likes of Twitter to see how that's grown as a platform, although it is in a bit of a decline. 244 characters - it's never going to get more than that, 144 was enough.
19:06 MG: Don't tell Nigel Walsh. Nigel, are you still here? Twitter is in decline. I'm interested in that short form, long form because I've actually found that long form has been much more successful in terms of getting engagement and particularly in the comments in there, but it's interesting what the trends are. But what about the algorithm? Can you tell us a little bit about what's going on behind the scenes when somebody posts an article, how does LinkedIn treat that, how do you optimise for the algorithm?
19:33 CW: I can tell you how the workflow of the algorithm works. I don't work for LinkedIn or Microsoft so I can't tell you exactly how it works. There are a lot of LinkedIn gurus, ninjas that will say they can. When you post something on LinkedIn, it's making an instant assessment of how good that is. And it puts it in from a small section of your first degree network. If there's a lot of engagement on that early on, and you'll have seen this if you get quite a few likes, comments, maybe a share within the first hour or so, that post tends to do a lot better. And it is what we call recycling. So the more likes and comments that you get, the more they generate views. The more views, the more likes and comments. Now, all that means absolutely bugger all when I tell you that metrics like that are basically just vanity. You can have 20, 30, 40 million views of a post, but if no one's actually going to engage and talk to you and become part of your pipeline, if that's what you're doing, it's pointless. So don't get caught into thinking that, "Well, if I get 100,000 views of my posts that means I'm doing really well." If that's not generating anything from it, it’s pointless.
20:44 MG: So any questions for Chris on LinkedIn, other LinkedIn top tips?
20:48 Speaker 6: Thanks very much. You said that company pages are dead, and ultimately not worthwhile ventures. What can younger businesses do to effectively build a brand in an industry where actually, it might be more of a personal approach to it?
21:06 CW: Great question, I'm glad you reiterated that company pages are dead. When I said they're dead, they're not as active as personal accounts. I don't know if I'm the only one in here, but you tend to look at a company page to see what sort of activity is going on, you might not necessarily engage with it. It’s what you see and it's checking off that credibility factor. So, engagement isn't particularly good. I wouldn't suggest you put lots and lots of content on a page, on a daily basis expecting to get engagement. Having a company page on there is still good to keep that brand message ticking over and making sure that when people are checking you out as a person and you've listed a company that you work for, the credibility factor exists.
21:44 MG: Chris, thank you very much. And if anybody wants to find you, Chris Williams LinkedIn, I guess, is going to get them there.
21:49 CW: Chris Williams N-F, I think, is my user. Very, very, very quickly. If you're on LinkedIn and you go on to the my network setting, there's a little button on there called, "Find nearby." If you all click that on, everyone in this room that clicks it on, you can connect with everybody like that. Last little tip.
22:06 MG: Fantastic, thank you very much.
22:13 MG: Okay, next up, we have Alex Hearn, CEO and founder of Slipcase.
22:20 Alex Hearn: First of all, Matthew thank you very much for having us here to speak today. So Slipcase in its simplest form is a central content platform, for the commercial and speciality part of the market. So we enable individuals, brokers, underwriters, risk managers around the world to come to one place and build a personalised feed of content that's updated throughout the day relevant to their specific role. And on the flip side, we enable organisations, carriers, brokers, service providers to clearly showcase who they are, what they specialize in, and every time they produce new insights, or announcements, we then enable them to reach targeted audiences across the market with that information.
23:00 MG: Good. Actually, just a quick hands up. Who's come across Slipcase? Wow, Alex, you're doing well. It's, again, about half.
23:06 AH: That's brilliant.
23:06 MG: Either we've got people who like putting their hands up and we think we're doing really well and we're not. Or actually you've got good penetration into the market. So you've got no paywall, so, just talk a bit about what the business model is.
23:18 AH: So indeed, we don't charge individuals to use the platform so when they sign up, we vet them in, so we can guarantee the quality of the audience that we've built. But our model is to charge the organisation to be represented on Slipcase. Companies, carriers, brokers, service providers have a dedicated page and we fully manage that on their behalf. We keep it updated with all their latest news and insights, and we report back to them every month on how they've performed on the platform and who they've reached. That's how we've decided to monetise the platform instead of charging for individual subscriptions.
23:51 MG: And it’s going well because you're building up your number of clients or people that publish on the site?
24:00 AH: Yes, so we've now got 36 organisational pages represented on the platform. We also represent 16 of the major trade publications across the market, who use us to distribute their latest news and insights. So yes, a really broad variety of information available. We also pull from third party sources. So if Reuters, for example, pick up that a cargo ship has sunk in the Atlantic we will pull that from Reuters, and push that directly to our Marine audience. So, in no way is the content available to users limited to our organisational pages and our trade publication pages, but those are currently the organisations that we work with on that side.
24:35 MG: And are you commissioning journalism yourself or looking to get breaking news and putting that onto the site, or are you more just a facility to repost other people's information?
24:46 AH: So, we're a facilitator, we don't produce our own content at all. What we've just built on our mobile app is the push notification function. To use that same example, a bit of a morbid one, but Reuters pick up on an article that's relevant to the marine world like that, we can then send a push notification to that audience through our mobile app, to keep them informed of what's going on. To that extent, it’s breaking news but it's not our own. We pick it up online and we then push it out to relevant audiences.
25:11 MG: And one of my favourite topics, which we are going to be doing an event on before long - the API. So you don't currently have an API, but you're thinking of releasing one. Have I just given away some secrets?
25:22 AH: Oh no, not at all. I have only just learned what API actually means.
25:27 MG: Well please explain, just to test you on that one, because Robin would also like to know what API stands for.
25:30 AH: Well, I'd better get this right. I believe it means.
25:36 AH: Application Programmed Interface.
25:38 MG: Is he right, Robin?
25:40 Robin: Yes, very good.
25:41 AH: Thank God for that. So, yes in its simplest form, that means that we can plug our platform into an organisation's own systems. So that can be an intranet or a trading platform, whatever the organisation likes, and we can keep their own employees or their own users informed with the latest and best information from across the market, relevant to those audiences. So as an example, we're about to go live next week at Marsh, in their global internal system and we're accompanying it with a newsletter which goes out to all their employees on a day-to-day basis, to help drive traffic to those articles.
26:16 MG: Great. And which insurtech community do you think provides you with the best insights and information to publish?
26:21 AH: InsTech London I would have thought!
26:26 MG: Fantastic. Okay, so just finally, popular themes, what do you find most people tend to be reading? I think it's fascinating, you can do the metrics now and it goes back to the question we had earlier with Olivia about how do you measure marketing? Being able to provide dashboards really does demonstrate the value, but presumably you can actually also break that down thematically, about what people are hearing and want to hear about?
26:48 AH: We can, yes. So for clients, we report back every month, but actually quite recently we produced a report with a PR agency in London to give more of a macro-view of what people are reading across the industry, in which formats and in which geographies. Which topics are of particular interest, etc, which we're more than happy to share with anyone - if they have an interest in that please grab us afterwards. But yes, top line stuff. I think what was particularly interesting is only one of the top five topics was a specialty line of business, the rest were general interest areas, like insurtech or claims and losses or financial results. Also, some really successful pieces were very short responses to big events in the market, so a lead cyber underwriter giving an opinion on a recent cyber attack, or after the big storms in the US last year, a response from that, from one of the major carriers as well, from their North American property underwriter. It can be very brief, but has a great impact across the platform.
27:41 MG: Right, we'll put a link, for those of you listening on the podcast, to your survey. And just given that actually we've now got one-third of our audience listening from the US I think you've also got plans to go beyond the UK. Is that right, with Slipcase?
27:55 AH: We do, yes. So we are very much focused on the London market, originally, and about six months ago our US traffic overtook our UK traffic. We're now 42% US and 29% UK and we're looking to keep expanding that this year to make sure we jump on that momentum. So yes, we've been out there a lot more. We're introducing more US-based organisational pages and I think with the API integration, some of the bigger brokering houses, that's going to really help us reach a much wider audience across the US market, especially.
28:23 MG: Great, well Alex again, another founder building a company, really appreciate you taking the time to come and talk to us tonight. If people want to find out more about you, I guess slipcase.com is the way to get to you?
28:33 AH: Absolutely, please do. Thank you very much.
28:35 MG: Okay, thank you very much.
28:35 AH: Thank you.
28:40 MG: Okay, we've up now Neil Edwards welcome into the hot seat.
28:44 Neil Edwards: Thank you very much. Thank you.
28:45 MG: So Marketing Eye, tell us a little bit about what you do.
28:48 NE: Thank you. Yes, so we're a demand generation agency for the alternative finance, fintech, and more recently, the insurtech industries, which in plain English means that we get eyeballs on people's propositions, on their content, analyse and measure who's engaging with that content and then help move them towards being a paying customer, ultimately.
29:10 MG: How do you find B2B sort of understands marketing and particularly in insurance, how well do they get what marketing is all about?
29:23 NE: Yes, sure. I think it would be un-gracious and untrue to say that insurance as a whole doesn't understand marketing. I think what we see in insurtech is actually very similar to what we saw with alternative finance and fintech, it’s maybe a de-prioritization of marketing and a lack of understanding of its value, perhaps. So people are coming to the marketing piece too late. So there's lots of focus on the product. Lots of money and investment goes into the product without doing that initial testing and really facing the fact as to whether customers actually want to buy this. So it's actually very common that people will come to us and say, "This is our proposition and this is the year one target," but there's no prior analysis as to whether that year one target is achievable and when you drill down into it, the only reason it's there is that's the number that was in the investment memorandum. That was a promise that was made to investors. So we would always encourage, particularly new businesses, to do that analysis beforehand; do that consultancy, do that scenario modelling and then get that product and that proposition to market very early. As they say, "You fail fast if you're going to fail," and then build your case on proper metrics, as opposed to, "Well, that's just the figure it needs to be to make everything else add up."
30:55 MG: And who would your typical clients be in the insurance space?
30:58 NE: Sure. Well in the insurance space, it is definitely the insurtechs. It's definitely people bringing new propositions into the market. As I say, we cut our teeth in alternative finance. So, I'm talking here about the peer-to-peer lenders, the equity crowd funders. People bring new forms of invoice finance and the like to market, so lots of SME marketing in that. And as fintech grew, as it became a noun in itself, and the church sort of broadened and insurtech grew up, we realised that actually insurtech was going to go along the very same journey, or much of the same journey as the alternative finance and fintech industry had done, so we felt there was a lot of experience we had to share there.
31:48 MG: I just want to go back to your point about you saying you encourage people do the marketing early. So one of the things that Dan White at Ninety said…what they do is when they're helping their clients figure out a proposition, they will essentially mock-up some insurance products, buy some Facebook or Google ads and see what the response is to that. Is that the type of thing you mean by that, by sort of marketing the product maybe very early in the process and seeing what the response is before you invest too heavily in building the product?
32:21 NE: Very much so. Because we've been doing this for quite an amount of time, we've got a lot of data on average engagement rates, average conversion rates and the like. So before anybody takes anything to market what we can help a client do is to do that scenario modelling and say, "If we've got X amount of budget and we do this marketing mix. What's that likely to mean in terms of an outcome, in terms of number of customers?" And guess what? They never tie up. The budget to the figure never meets what's needed. So, step one is can you change the marketing mix? But then the next step is, do we need to have now a decent conversation about do we need more budget, or do we need to be more realistic about what that target should be?
33:12 NE: So, step one you can do a paper-based exercise and just try and get people having real good honest conversations with each other. But then step two is absolutely, small-scale control testing. Commit some budget, understand that this is your test budget, you can't be putting an ROI target on that. The whole objective is to get early data, so you move from this sort of scenario modelling, which is all based on averages, and other people's averages, into what your scenario is. And when you've got that, then you can properly plan your scale-up.
33:49 MG: And so on content, back to Chris' point; his experience being that people prefer short touch short form versus long form, although that's across the whole area, not just insurance. What's been your experience? When you do your newsletter on Friday morning, you have obviously got quite a lot of experience in this area. What is the most popular content, and what's the balance between short form and long form?
34:15 NE: Yes, so a slight difference of opinion with Chris on this, but I think it's how the content is got to and then how it's consumed, and the journey that you take people on. So, to get people properly engaged with your proposition, and what you are trying to say, particularly if it's a thought leadership piece, my experience is that the long article does actually get read. The trick is, how do you get people through to reading that long article? That's where I think Chris and I do agree. You need that short post, be it on LinkedIn or Twitter, whatever, to lead people through to maybe a short blog which has maybe chapter one of your longer article and then 'read more' to get into the full piece. And if you can then make that full article downloadable, if you gate it in some sort of way, that gives you your lead, then that opens up a whole raft of other opportunities to allow you to move then into a direct marketing environment, using email and the like.
35:19 MG: And just more broadly, I guess, around social media, Twitter, LinkedIn, what's your experience on how effective social media is in the clients you're working with and more broadly in this B2B space and insurance?
35:30 NE: Sure, sure. Answer number one is, it's really important in the mix, and it's often undervalued in there. And again, I come back to this point around it's understanding why you're doing something. And the only reason we're really doing anything as marketers, is to ultimately to try to get a paying customer. So I look at social media.
35:58 MG: Not everyone understands that in this space that it's to get a paying customer. So you say that, but it's actually sometimes helpful to stop and remind people that it's about bringing revenue in and not just vanity metrics.
36:09 NE: Absolutely, and it is very easy to just produce content for its own sake, and not really keep a focus on why we're doing it. So, to the point of where does social media and LinkedIn, in particular, fit into that? I look at it, really quite ruthlessly, as a distribution channel. Content generation is useless without distribution, you've got to get it in front of your customers - or your prospective customers - and to be able to understand and measure who's engaging. And social media is fantastic for targeting because we put all our lives on there, we can be ‘rifle shots’ in how we're getting that content in front of people. So, yes, create your content, but make absolutely sure you have got a mechanism to get it out in front of the broadest possible relevant audience, and more often than not that broadest possible relevant audience is going to be on social media.
37:11 MG: Great, and finally, Friday morning 7:00 AM is when you send out your newsletter. Conventionally people would have said, "Don't send out newsletters on Friday." I'm assuming you've done the testing and you've found that actually is the most effective time to get it out?
37:26 NE: Yes, well, as Chris was saying it's “when's your network active and willing to engage in your content?” And we've found that actually Friday morning is good. Get it to people very early, first thing, so it's a little bit of breakfast reading. It's not too interruptive in that it's easy to consume. But I think the more important point as to whether it's Friday morning, Thursday morning or whenever, is we're absolutely consistent in when it arrives, we're metronomic. So, people now know that our newsletter comes at 7 o'clock on a Friday morning, and that happens week in week out, low news, high news, and the exception is if it's Christmas Day, or something like that.
38:10 MG: There you go, if you're struggling to have reason to get out of bed on Friday morning you can set your alarm to 7 o'clock in the morning. You can see the Marketing Eye newsletter from Neil and his team. Neil that was tremendous. Thank you very much.
38:21 NE: Been a great pleasure, thanks for having me.
38:28 MG: So thank you to everybody we had on stage for our evening event. And also of course to our audience of over 200 people who joined us up in Shoreditch, details about the speakers and all the topics they mentioned are in the episode notes and also more information on this, and all of our recent events can be found at www.InsTech.london.
38:51 MG: Next week I'll be talking to Pascal Millaire, founder of cyber modeling company, CyberCube, who was over in the UK recently. And to find out what myself, Robin and Paolo are finding interesting each week, please do sign up to our newsletter. You can find information on that on the website as well. Our next event will be on June 3rd, back at the Steel Yard, and we'll be talking to some of the leading companies and thinkers about what is happening in the world of algorithms and insurance.