In a time in which customers demand a personalized digital experience, understanding customer behavior is key to capture leads more effectively. But gathering information about your prospects and establishing their whereabouts is easier said than done. The marketing funnel and the customer journey are tools to ease the challenge. Both can help brokers gain insights into how leads become clients, but they are not interchangeable. In this week’s post, we explain how to combine the marketing funnel and the customer journey to understand insurance customer buying behavior and help you boost your lead nurture strategy.
What Is The Marketing Funnel?
The marketing funnel is comprised of the stages that prospects go through to buy a health benefit plan or sign a broker of record letter. If you are developing digital marketing strategies to successfully sell insurance, you have stipulated certain actions you want your prospects to take to drive them towards hiring your services. These actions fall into one of the stages of your funnel. The process by which a lead becomes a client is a cone-shaped funnel because of the natural drop off in the sales process and the aim to narrow down your target customer.
The marketing funnel is often mixed up with the sales funnel, depending on which environment you work in, marketing or sales. Historically, the main difference has been the starting point. The marketing funnel starts when a visitor interacts with the company through any of the active marketing programs, while the sales funnel starts when a visitor becomes a prospect. These points vary according to the business model of your agency. Nevertheless, technology has been interlinking departments and the trend is moving towards one universal funnel.
How The Marketing Funnel Works
Regarding insurance customer buying behavior, following your leads down the funnel will help you locate each of them in a specific stage depending on how they are interacting with your agency. Leads start at the top of the funnel. As they learn more about your agency or your benefit plans, they move down the funnel towards the bottom, which ends with the leads becoming clients. As we mentioned before, the funnel is divided into different stages. The stages set in the marketing funnel depend on each company’s business model, but it is typical to find the awareness, consideration, and conversion stages in its structure.
Like any other marketing concept, the funnel is constantly being updated as new technology appears and customers’ behavior changes. In the last few years, a new shape for the marketing funnel has been developed. The new funnel is based on the idea that your marketing efforts shouldn’t stop when your leads become customers. Nowadays, customer retention and customer advocacy are more important than ever. If you don’t market to your current clients, your growth strategy won’t be effective. The new funnel shape looks like a bow tie or hourglass incorporating stages pre-purchase and post-purchase: after your leads convert into clients, implement marketing activities to increase loyalty and advocacy.
What Is The Customer Journey?
The customer journey is a roadmap that compiles the sum of experiences that customers go through from the moment they become aware of your company to the moment they become clients. Every interaction a lead has with your agency’s marketing programs is a touchpoint. For example, opening an email, visiting your website, or following you on social media. The customer journey is not linear, on the contrary, it usually is meandering and loops back on itself as leads can return to an earlier touchpoint in their journey.
How The Customer Journey Works
Mapping your customer journey is not an easy task. You need to access a lot of information to know what your leads are doing before they hire your services, and probably the picture you paint won’t be 100% accurate. Don’t assume that all your leads follow the same route. But developing your customer journey map is key to understand insurance customer buying behavior.
For example, a lead in the consideration stage might have signed up for your email newsletter and visited your blog multiple times. Another lead in the same stage only interacted with your agency on your Facebook page. They traveled through your marketing funnel in the same stages and end up at the same point, but they didn’t follow the same route. To map your customer journey, you need to access the data generated from your marketing programs. When you collect enough data, you will be able to study your customer’s route and identify the touchpoints to the moment they convert.
Mapping the customer journey for each of your leads would be impossible. Instead, create a customer journey from one of your average leads and make that your model. If you offer health plan benefits to groups with different characteristics, or the way they find your agency varies depending on the industry they are in, you could create different maps for different audiences.
Understanding Insurance Customer Buying Behavior
The marketing funnel allows you to keep track of the stage your leads are in depending on how are they interacting with your agency. On the other hand, the customer journey helps you get into your customer’s head and answer questions such as how they are discovering your agency, how they are researching your offers, or what problems they run into along the way. Combining both, you will improve your lead nurture strategy and customer experience.
Improve Lead Nurture Strategy
When thinking about insurance customer buying behavior, building your own marketing funnel will help you locate your leads and establish the workflow in your company. Combining it with your customer journey, you can check if your marketing funnel makes sense based on real-life customer experience.
For example, you create your marketing strategy expecting your prospects to get to your website from your paid online advertising. When mapping your customer journey, you learn instead that they are finding your agency from your blog. Why are you spending money on online advertising then?
If when observing your marketing funnel you find out leads are getting stuck in one of the stages, combining it with the customer journey will provide insights about what the problem is. For instance, if leads are not going down to the consideration stage, you are probably not creating enough content for them to research about your offers.
Better Customer Experience
Working with the marketing funnel and the customer journey map will provide insights about how your customers and leads like to engage with your agency. Considering all your marketing activities and content created, what are they really interested in? Comparing your marketing funnel and customer journey to understand insurance customer buying behavior will allow you to focus your efforts on what really matters.
Continuing with the same example, in which leads are getting stuck in the consideration stage, you realize the traffic on your services page is high but the conversion rate is low. This is, leads are getting to your website, considering your services, and bouncing out. Next, you decide to run a heat map on the page to get more insights about what the problem might be, and you find out that your leads are trying to click on a specific health plan that is actually not clickable.
Your leads are in the researching stage and they want more information about something that is not accessible. Now that you know exactly what your leads are interested in, you can optimize your page and, also, send personalized emails to those leads with more information about the offers they were trying to click.
Final Thoughts About Insurance Customer Buying Behavior
Marketing funnels and customer journeys are both tools to understand insurance customer buying behavior, improve your nurturing strategy, and increase conversions. If you don’t know how your prospects are finding you, how they interact with your agency, or what is interesting for them, how can you improve your marketing activities to attract them? Combining the marketing funnel and the customer journey map, you will be able to recreate the road trip your customers went on to get to your agency, improve the route, and build a better experience.