An executive perspective
2016 marks 100 years of service for LIMRA, a worldwide research organization and the trusted source of industry knowledge for over 850 finance and insurance services firms. LIMRA provides its members with the latest insight and analysis on retirement, insurance and distribution, helping them develop effective business strategies that positively impact the bottom line.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with James Kerley, LIMRA’s Chief Membership Officer, to discuss his views on the significance of email marketing as part of the distributed marketing strategy that’s so crucial to the success of financial services and insurance brands.
Our guest: James Kerley
Navarro: Good morning, and thank you for sitting down with us today. Can you begin by sharing a little bit about your background in the finance and insurance industry?
Kerley: I’m the Chief Membership Officer for the largest global trade association in the insurance industry, and I’ve been in the financial services and insurance industry for over 45 years.
My background includes time as a senior-level marketing officer, marketing consultant to a number of major financial companies, and I’ve done a fair amount of work in helping large distributed sales organizations become effective both in terms of sales management and marketing effectiveness. As you can imagine, over the 45 years a lot of things have changed as it relates to how to get your message to the local market.
Connecting corporate with local
Navarro: Have you seen a shift toward national brand adoption of multi-channel marketing techniques and a distributed marketing model?
Kerley: I’ve seen a very significant shift in the way national brands are helping local distributors get the local message out. That’s particularly true in the life insurance area where, for years and years, national companies have developed corporate messages and then sent them to the local office with the hopes that they would be intuitive enough to figure out ways to get the brand message out.
Today national brands have the ability to distribute messages on behalf of local offices and local sales representatives in a much more effective and efficient way. So I’m seeing a major shift in the way national brands, particularly the insurance and financial services sector, communicate both with their distributors and on behalf of their distributors.
Personalization with corporate control
Navarro: Why is the ability to have a centralized set of email templates with permission capabilities so important to your corporate marketing members?
Kerley: The use of email as a primary method of communications is just an expected way to communicate today; across all generations, across all business sectors, across all product solutions.
Any national brand that wants to deliver a local message is relying significantly on their ability to manage the way their email is delivered.
To be effective, you must have a centralized methodology and technology that distributes a message that appears to be coming from the local market; but in actuality, will be created and controlled by the national brand.
Measuring for success
Navarro: Have you seen a significant growth in automated email adoption?
Kerley: Yes. Many corporate organizations are recognizing that if you’re going to launch a digital strategy, you need a sophisticated marketing platform to help you manage the distribution of the messaging properly. You can’t analyze campaign data without the right platform.
Some of the biggest advantages that Distribion’s marketing platform offers are the feedback and data analysis features that are an essential part of today’s technology revolutions and solutions. That’s why companies continue to make marketing platforms a dominant factor to the way they do business today.
What does the future hold?
Navarro: What do you predict the overall sales and marketing landscape will look like in five years?
Kerley: Here’s what I know for sure. The financial services industry is going to look entirely different in five years than it does today. Our industry landscape of tomorrow will look much like the retail industry of today.
I expect to move from a distribution-based go-to-market strategy to a retail-based consumer strategy. This will allow sales teams to take advantage of national brand communication strategies and help our customers understand and interact with brands in both traditional and digital ways.
Customers will have access to national branding and the local sales agents who represent those brands in a very digitally savvy way.
We are on a steep trajectory of change that is occurring at a more rapid pace than what I’ve seen in the last 45 years. I think in the next five years, the finance and insurance marketing practices will be radically different than what we have seen in the last 25 years.
No question about it. I think it’s all for the good.
The complete interview will be available for download with the release of our latest ebook on email marketing in just a few weeks.