Reflections from 10 Months at Chill Insurance
Well, today signifies my 10 month anniversary at Chill Insurance. For the benefit of UK readers of SWT (whom make up about 2/3rd of the readership) Chill Insurance is Ireland’s fastest growing insurance broker. The business has trebled in size over the last three years and amongst all the economic doom and gloom, it can rightly claim to be something of a success story.
And in recent months the team have launched a responsive website, been nominated for a Digital Marketing award and received praise for our content marketing efforts. The company is currently in a period of expansion, good things are happening and it’s genuinely an exciting place to be.
10 months also means I’ve been in the role long enough to draw firm conclusions between in-house and agency life. I must say one of the most satisfying aspects of working in-house is seeing the leads come in and hearing the phone ring as a result of our marketing activity. Agency-side you seldom get access to that level of business intelligence.
It’s also been intriguing to study the different business functions, such as compliance, information systems, customer service, sales and HR and assess how social tools can improve communication and process as we become a more social business.
I appreciate 10 months may not sound that long, but my experiences during this period have undoubtedly expanded my knowledge of digital marketing, management, business, insurance and working in Ireland. So, without further ado, here’s my 10 learnings, thoughts and observations from 10 months at Chill Insurance.
1. PR’s PR problem
We’re seeing the emergence of a two-tier PR system in Ireland. Tier-one are agencies that deal in tactical publicity and tier-two is those which take a data driven, strategic approach and have digital embedded within. Unfortunately, for the Irish PR scene the previous are prevalent; this risks under-valuing PR and harming the industry as a whole.
2. Importance of AdWords
In my mind there’s nothing as strong in terms of clear ROI than Google AdWords. It really is the CFO and marketing mathematician’s favourite. And rightly so. If you’re looking to increase your standing within your organisation and increase your marketing budget, i’d advise you to get to grips with AdWords. Now.
3. Business value of blogging
Great content is something organisations need to invest in as it gives them the opportunity to earn attention in a more meaningful way than say, paid activity. This is important. If you make content that people love, you will be able to reach more customers, generate more website traffic, gain more leads and ultimately, get more sales.
4. Mobile ready
Over the last few years tech analysts have been busy telling us about the growing importance of webs traffic from mobile and tablet devices. For many businesses in Ireland, 2013 seemed to the year this trend finally hit home. Investing in mobile websites or a responsive design is now a commercial imperative.
5. Robust ROI is crucial
The number of proposals we receive for expensive print advertising and sponsorship opportunities with the flimsiest of ROIs is quite simply staggering. Unfortunately, if you don’t include a realistic, robust and measurable ROI, you’re wasting everyone’s time. It just smacks of tier-one thinking (again).
6. Love the data
From where I’m standing, the companies which are growing and thriving are those which are hugely data-centric. If you want to get on, succeed and become a valuable asset to your business you have to embrace the data. Understand what the numbers mean by mastering Google Analytics and AdWords, speaking to the number crunchers in your business and asking management lots of questions.
7. SEO has to run through your business
If you have a website which looks to convert visitors in one form or another, then SEO has to be deeply ingrained into everything you do. In a hugely competitive industry, small tweaks can have a big impact and help you earn more website traffic, thereby reducing the need to buy it in from PPC activity.
8. People research online and buy offline
This is an industry observation having spoken to colleagues from other companies. People research financial products online, but look for offline advice to help them make the final decision. This may change as Generation Y age and become interested in financial services, but there’s still a reluctance to buy online. Businesses must address the needs of today, but keep one eye on tomorrow.
9. Making an intangible product lovable is challenging, but not impossible
Trying to make an intangible product within the financial services industry, such as insurance fun, exciting or lovable is undoubtedly a challenge, but not insurmountable. Whilst it’s certainly not mission accomplished, our on and offline activity has helped us craft a distinctive brand that generates lots of goodwill.
10. Lifelong learning
This year I’ve sat two insurance exams as I work towards my Professional Certificate in Insurance (APA). Although, I’ve worked with clients in the financial services sector previously, by studying for a professional qualification I’ve managed to deepen (and formalise) my understanding of the insurance industry. Learning doesn’t end upon graduation, in fact, it’s only the beginning.
Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts, learnings and observations? I’d be delighted to continue the discussion in the comments section below.