The Rise Of The Modern Marketer – Interview with Anika Agarwal, VP & Head Marketing, Digital & Direct Sales, Max Bupa Health Insurance

Paul Writer launches The Rise Of The Modern Marketer,   
Video interview series of CXO’s highlighting best practices and trends in the use of technology for marketing.

Anika Agarwal

Vice President and Head Marketing, Digital & Direct Sales

Max Bupa Health Insurance

Customer engagement across marketing channels

There has been this huge conversation and debate around the role of marketing channels and how it is changing and evolving. And Digital sort of subsuming everything that you do currently. Yes, while there has been an evolution, I think the customer engagement patterns remain the same. So you do have certain media which creates that memory structure and visual memory in the customer’s mind. So you have the traditional like T.V playing that role and you have other reminder mediums which drive brand saliency. But of course with the coming up of various digital assets and measurement tools, personalisation I think is the big driver. And our ability to contextualise and personalise today, a marketing channel whichever it is, is what is driving the customer engagement.

“Role of a Chief Marketing Technologist will only grow in importance because a lot of analytics, data and measurement that we are talking about is actually measurement of customer behaviour. So it actually offtakes from where marketing leaves which is the score on what the customer needs and what is the customer insight that’s driving all these behaviours.”

Integrated experience to the customer across all touch points

If you look at the customer journey in entirety, I think what is happening is that right from the stage where you attract customers to when you connect with them to actually deepening the relationship there are multiple things that you can do. A service like Insurance for example, the availability of measurement tools is actually a big boon cause if you start from acquisition for example, we have long gestation cycles. A customer who initially expresses interest would probably buy a health insurance anywhere between eight weeks to even six months. How do you keep the customer engaged at that point in time? There are various techniques that we use. What is the right messaging? What is the time that we need to remind him about our offering? Moving on from there to actually connecting and fulfilling the sale, there are various things that we need to do. It’s an advisory based sale eventually. But how do you really ensure that you are able to do it either completely digital or through a tele-assist model? These are things that we are working on. We have video chats working as a good option currently because for the category it is still human intervention. Touch, feel and conversation becomes important. Moving on to deepening relationships, up selling and cross selling in a category where even the first sale is difficult. So it’s very difficult to even get the first sale with the customer. It’s actually much easier for us to get an up sell when he’s moving with us the next.

So there are various initiatives that we drive across the customer journey currently using measurement techniques that are now available in the digital space to drive the same.

If you look at us, we are primarily a player which is focusing a lot on health and wellness. So there are conversations, campaigns, media utilisation for driving that conversation beyond just selling of insurance which becomes a big driver for us in terms of land building and customer engagement. And in terms of actually deploying digital assets to drive that transformation, its actually early days for the industry but we see ourselves being at the forefront in the next 12 to 18 months.

Biggest challenge with respect to Omni Channel Marketing

For our category there are two big problems because of the long gestation periods, you’ve got customers coming back to you multiple number of times when they’re in the acquisition phase. So you will have a customer who will come and search for prices probably on a mobile. He will compare but he will never complete his buying journey on the mobile. Then he goes to a desktop experience and probably moves onto an agent advisor to sort of complete the sale. So you’ve got these multiple drop off points there. Even when the customer is actually intending to buy us, there will be multiple drop off points that we see as part of that entire journey. You have medical underwriting, you will get medical tests done which is an offline experience which comes back online. So how do you really ensure that across your offline and online channels, you give a seamless experience to the customers?

It’s not so much a communications challenge in terms of breaking. It’s more in terms of what it is that we are really converse with you about every time, each time? After I’ve acquired you 6% of customers claim in our category. They only come back to us once a year, transactional which is the renewals. So how do you ensure that a customer who is with you for twelve months is actually engaged? I think that is the biggest challenge that we have. So there is a lot content work which happens, a lot of health and wellness personalised content that we work on to engage this customer. There are programmes that you can run as marketers in the health care industry, whether it’s a second medical care opinion on a disease that he’s had, diet management for a diabetic and so on and so forth. It’s a lot about ancillary services and alliances as well for us in the ecosystem.

Technology as an enabler in providing a Omni channel experience 

As I have said, there are a lot of drop off points in a customer’s journey when he’s buying health insurance. Technology, basically helps us pick up from where the customer left. So you’ve got your basic tools of free marketing, cookies, talking to him wherever he dropped off and sending reminders. But also a lot about personalization. For us, context and personalization are the two biggest enablers that we see technology brings to the table for an insurance customer.

We are using some technology and there are a lot more on the anvil, whether it is programmatic buying which allows you to remarket effectively or the usage of those kind of tools for personalisation when the customer is visiting your asset again. Both those things are actually what we’re working on currently for our customers.

Data and analytics becomes the backbone. We’re a business which has CRM enabled now, at least in parts. So a lot of data and analytics is actually the backbone of this personalisation and context. It can’t happen without that.

Rise of Chief Marketing Technologist in today’s marketing landscape

There is this whole debate on who should be the chief digital officer in an organisation and it’s a debate which is ongoing whether it is information technology, marketing or a person who understands business processes. I think the role of a Chief Marketing Technologist as you’ve called it, will only grow in importance because a lot of analytics, data and measurement that we are talking about is actually measurement of customer behaviour. So it actually offtakes from where marketing leaves which is the score on what the customer needs and what is the customer insight that’s driving all these behaviours. I think the Chief Marketing Technologist is a role that’s going to be growing in importance and you’ll see more and more organisations adopting and embracing it.

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Paul Writer

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