First, DVIA will purchase independent insurance agencies to gain and leverage existing books of business and carrier relationships. Starting with an existing agency footprint will allow immediate placement of disabled veterans to perform internal retention and cross-selling campaigns for the existing book.
While the existing operations are capable of sustaining the initial hires for as long as 24 months, this will provide the required time to build and refine the online customer acquisition model.
In order to provide the needed agency services to support the effort, the target acquisition(s) would consist of one or more agencies that meet our core requirements.
|Revenue||Under $1 million annual property and casualty revenue|
|Mix of Business||Minimum 50% personal lines direct bill revenue|
|Growth Potential||Capable of sustaining 15% annual growth|
|Geographic Location||Texas or Southwest Florida preferred|
Second, in addition to the physical location(s), DVIA will build and launch a virtual independent insurance agency specializing in generating and converting high volumes of online consumer traffic into new agency customers.
More than 70% of all automobile insurance shoppers begin with online research.1 With personal automobile insurance accounting for one in three premium dollars in the property and casualty industry, the amount of online shopping is considerable – and, more importantly, still growing.
Building a nationwide virtual agency to support this portion of the initiative will allow DVIA to hire the best candidates regardless of their location.
The personal lines market is DVIA’s primary market. The target markets will be personal auto and homeowners insurance, which represent $233.2 billion, or 98.7%, of the personal lines property and casualty market.2 The most immediately relevant market is comprised of current online insurance shoppers (not online insurance buyers.)
Consumers who want to circumvent the agent relationship and buy direct, based on price or an expedient impersonal process, are not likely to be the highest priority prospects for DVIA. The best prospects for the independent agency channel are likely to be captive agent defectors who are interested in exploring the options and benefits that agencies provide.
DVIA will target a broad age demographic but focus on those consumers with a higher propensity for utilizing an agent (e.g., more complex insurance scenarios, higher-than-average net worth, etc.). In addition, DVIA will focus on competing with other distribution models that have major market share but comparatively low customer satisfaction indexes. Captive agent carriers currently have more than half (51.7%) of the personal auto market and 56.4% of the homeowners insurance market.3
Unique Selling Proposition
DVIA’s marketing efforts of its USP to consumers will focus on emphasizing the value of independent advocacy and choice—from choice of insurance carriers to choice of a professional agents to help with coverage or claim questions.
Competition is expected from online direct-response writers (e.g., GEICO and others), captive agent carriers that account for approximately 86%4of online quotes, and online aggregators.
DVIA is positioned to offer the convenience and cost benefits of the online direct writers while adding the choice, coverage customization, and advocacy that are the hallmarks of doing business with an Independent Insurance Agent.
Direct response is the only personal lines channel that wrote more in premiums in 2010 than 2009. In 2010, it added nearly $2 billion in premiums (totaling $30.9 billion) and increased its market share to 13.1%.5 Direct writers have large traditional and online marketing budgets and in 2010 accounted for approximately 55% of online quotes. However, price and convenience are the primary drivers that motivate consumers to use online direct writers.
Despite direct writers’ dominance in online quoting, research indicates that captive agent carriers (e.g. State Farm, Farmer’s and American Family), are likely the primary competition. They have customers more closely matching the consumer demographic— and who have a preference for an agent.
Finally, online aggregators such as lowermybills.com and insurance.com account for approximately 14% of online quotes6 but lack infrastructure support and face certain optimization inefficiencies, often having to rely more heavily on costly paid media strategies.
Digital Marketing Strategy
Given that 72% of consumers use the Internet in their insurance shopping process, it is clear that digital marketing represents potentially the largest opportunity to meet today’s consumer’s needs.
DVIA will deliver a website that generates high volumes of consumer traffic nationwide and converts it into customers. The website will allow consumers to research insurance options, receive quote indications from multiple carriers, and contact insurance professionals to complete their research and purchase insurance.
All consumer behavior related to the website will be tracked (e.g., from what sites consumers were connected and what sites they connected to as well as actions taken). This valuable knowledge on consumer behavior is proprietary business intelligence and will be used to improve the various content and methods being deployed.
The primary traffic generation strategy relies heavily on earned media to achieve necessary traffic flow at an overall lower cost per visitor than competitor’s paid media. DVIA’s earned media strategy leverages existing content and expertise and places it appropriately within the digital media environment. Since search optimization value is partially driven by online thought leadership, and since organic optimization yields benefits for multiple web presences, earned media will benefit not only DVIA’s web presence but also that of its carriers’ web presence.
Paid media will be used to enhance the success of earned media efforts, including a faster ramp-up of initial visitor traffic and increased overall brand impressions. DVIA will actively focus on paid media strategies that efficiently manage cost per visitor while also targeting market segments that have better statistical conversions (as determined through analytics and business intelligence gathering). Paid media strategies will be a part of the overall marketing budget.
A state-of-the-art technology infrastructure is a core element for DVIA’s success. Multiple trading partners are using disparate systems that need to communicate with each other in safe, efficient and secure channels.
These key trading partners include the agency itself, remote employees and their managers, the insurance companies that will quote and issue the coverage – and, most importantly, the customers who purchase the appropriate coverage. Other less significant trading partners also will include insurance rating software vendors, regulators, licensing bureaus, trainers, investors, and others.
In addition, the infrastructure must not only support various remote employees, but it must comply with the latest American’s with Disabilities Act requirements to foster interaction among and between clients and disabled veterans.
Finally, beyond computers, the infrastructure also will support voice communications in a way that allows for remote routing of phone calls to the various stakeholders via voice over IP protocols. All these systems – including websites, databases, voice and email servers, application servers, web servers and firewalls – will utilize the latest cloud computing components to make them accessible, redundant and secure. Because of this, the core of the systems will be able to be managed from the host location as well as anywhere else on the planet.
The high level scope of this project calls for DVIA to build a mobile friendly website that attracts consumer traffic, provides knowledgeable information regarding insurance, generates automobile and homeowners quotes, convert visitors to customers, tracks sales results, and allows customers to request service for the products purchased. Functionality will be limited at launch to a select set of states to allow validation of functionality and acceptable accuracy levels in a live environment, as well as to ensure an adequate number of insurance carriers are in place.
DVIA will have a strong and unique traffic generation plan to attract and convert visitors into customers.
Consumer use of the DVIA website will generate robust business intelligence and analytics. Business intelligence design elements will include creation of entity relationship diagrams, and the identification of drill-paths, hierarchies, relationships, and dataflow diagrams. Analytics design elements will include strategic placement of tracking code to ensure detailed user experience reports are generated (including productive workflows, user activities, and breakage). The design architecture centers on business intelligence gathering to answer key stakeholder questions, such as:
|Traffic||Where are visitors coming from? What traffic generation strategies are working? What demographics are the most valuable for converting to customers?|
|Competitive Landscape||How competitive are carrier offerings across certain demographics, geographies, or psychographics?|
|Conversion||What are the conversions compared to the desired goals? What proportion of traffic actually is converted into clients?|
Unlike some applications, collecting, processing, and sharing personal information on the web brings much responsibility and potential liability. Therefore, DVIA will give great consideration to the security provided by its technologies.
1 ComScore – Auto Insurance Shopping Report, May 2011.
2 IIABA-AM Best, 2012 Property-Casualty Insurance Market Report, February 2012.
3 IIABA-AM Best, 2012 Property-Casualty Insurance Market Report, February 2012.
4 ComScore – Auto Insurance Shopping Report, May 2011.
5 IIABA-AM Best, 2012 Property-Casualty Insurance Market Report, February 2012.
6 ComScore – Auto Insurance Shopping Report, May 2011.