Acceleration of digital in retail insurance acquisition 29 September 2020

For many European countries, the research online, purchase offline (RoPo) trend has kept on growing in retail insurance products distribution for several years. Even for relatively standard products such as motor, home and health insurance for individuals, the share of direct digital sales sits below 10% across the vast majority of European countries (e.g. Germany, France, Belgium and Spain, …). Yet a large share of customers will have searched for information online before making an insurance purchase, whether online, by call or physically through an agent. Insurers have been looking to capitalize on that trend and acquire customers digitally, developing various business models, from direct digital sales to omnichannel models, with different levels of success.

In light of this continued development, growing competition has built up among insurers and other intermediaries such as brokers and aggregators, with each player battling for digital visibility and customer attention. One of the main consequences has been an increase in the price of leads generated through SEA (search engine advertising) campaigns, which has threatened the economic model of digital customer acquisition in insurance. On the other hand, new sources of leads have also emerged in parallel, as well as new partners that offer services and tools to support insurers in their quest for digital visibility.

The Covid-19 crisis has also accelerated the digitalization of insurance customer acquisition, as customers have spent more time online during the lockdown period across Europe, giving a boost to players that are well positioned and visible online. Its full impact is yet to be assessed but is nonetheless expected to persist over time.

This joint Efma and Roland Berger study assesses the acceleration of digital in retail insurance acquisition and examines the key success factors involved in defining and implementing a sustainable model for digital lead generation and conversion. The study focuses on retail insurance through B2C distribution models. The structure of the study is as follows: first, we provide an overview of the current trends that are impacting the digitalization of retail insurance customers acquisition, then we define the critical dimensions that insurers have to address to build a significant and profitable acquisition model. The purpose is to assess the best practices they have established or are looking to establish and share their vision on how insurers will adapt to an increasingly RoPo environment in most countries in Europe. To do that, we developed a comprehensive framework mapping out the eight key success factors in digital lead acquisition and conversion based on interviews with industry leaders, lead providers and insurer partners. These eight key success factors are:
1. Build a strong experience in paid lead generation
2. Track the overall performance of paid leads
3. Optimize all dimensions of SEO to gain organic traffic
4. Redefine the brand positioning and its differentiation
5. Develop an adequate product offer
6. Strike the right balance between all channels
7. Free up commercial time in the physical network
8. Support the physical network centrally and locally

For each of these key success factors, the study assesses the various maturity levels and best practices currently observed in the market among insurers, offering a snapshot of the direction the insurance industry is taking and which levers an insurer can implement to reach the next maturity level.

Insurers can take concrete actions to overcome barriers, reach their ambition in digital acquisition and build a sustainable model. Having a clear vision of what a successful acquisition model can look like and designing an actionable plan should then be top priority for insurers. Ensuring economic sustainability and, hence, relevance in digital customer acquisition will remain a critical topic in insurance in years to come.

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