Insurance group TAL flips its marketing focus to ‘journey building’

Paige Murphy
By Paige Murphy | 2 July 2019

Australian life insurance company TAL has flipped its batch and blast marketing approach to focus on “journey building” instead.

Mike Nixon, TAL head of customer relationship management (CRM), says the insurer wanted to move away from the traditional linear marketing model to a more omni-channel approach.

He told AdNews the transition was a major challenge as the business began to learn the ropes in CRM with Adobe Campaign.

It wasn’t a seamless process either, he admits, with one mistake taking 18 months to recover from.

“We’ve gone down a big journey of moving away from single communication journey building and that’s come with a whole host of challenges,” Nixon says.

“We had a few teething problems with it when we first launched. Mostly data integration. We got that wrong.

“The other thing [was] we got a little bit excited and carried away with our new shiny toy and we started to send emails out left, right and centre. We ended up getting blacklisted on Microsoft, Yahoo and Gmail.”

This hurdle meant it had to overhaul its whole CRM process again.

While it managed to fix 70% of the issue and get back on Microsoft, Yahoo and Bigpond, Nixon says it is Gmail that has been the toughest and continues to remain an ongoing challenge.

“They’re looking for you to have engaging content in campaigns and interacting with your customers and as a life insurance company that was built on batch and blast, it was a very big transition for us to make,” he explains.

He says TAL’s new approach starts at the onboarding process with a customer which includes welcome emails, net promoter score (NPS) surveys, a loyalty program and health check campaigns.

It also had to change its sending strategy to customers to avoid hitting the Gmail blacklist again.

“Instead of doing it in one hit, we’re now bell curving,” he says.

“So, start with 500. The next day go up to 700, ramping up to 4,000 a day and then bell curving it back down the other side.

“Gmail can see that growth coming. So, you don’t get that big shock factor of a massive spike of 40,000 emails simply hitting inboxes at once and that’s been a huge success.”

Since regaining the trust of email servers, Nixon says the insurer has run a successful campaign for the new Protect Your Superfund (PYS) legislation with seven of its partners.

The campaign involved white labelling a program for the partners which included email, email reminders, SMS, links to personalised web opt-in forms, data extractions and web analytics.

“That one alone has been hugely success with obscene rates of over 20% [and] over 12,000 members opting back in,” he says.

“Now the foundations are fixed and the capabilities are there, we’re obviously putting campaigns out a lot quicker and having some huge success.”

He says the business also cleaned up its email database to fix issues surrounding deliverability.

This was a decision that wiped out 30% of its contacts but led to bounce rates dropping from 20 or 30% to less than 1%.

His biggest takeaway from the whole process? Aside from having good quality data, it is important to have the essentials right too.

“You’ve got to really make sure your basics are right, and people are going back to the basics,” he says.

“I think there’s a fine balance between being too complicated and too simple. It’s getting that right balance between the two.”

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