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Signals for 2019

Adrian Holloway Adrian Holloway , 11/29/2018
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Lately I have been hearing a lot about signals. What signals are we sending to search engines? What about cloud filters – what signals are our email campaigns giving them? It goes on and on –in technology you must send the right signals or your business will suffer.

So, I decided to read some of our data, talk to insurance agents and some of our advertisers and come up with a few key signals for 2019.

Positive signals for 2019 -

1. Our data is showing that premiums are going up slightly (E&S, Commercial) - ~+3%. Correspondingly, we are seeing an uptick in submissions, submission size and estimated value.

2. Agents are looking outside their pre-established network of appointed markets. This is especially true if there is a corporate oversight. Corporations (and large agencies) that used acquisition as a growth and shareholder strategy during the low interest rate years have begun to realize that they cannot hold agents captive to 'in-house' markets, as the risk of losing the business is too great.

3. MGA's, Wholesale Brokers and PA's are much better suited to play competitively in an open market. This is driven by better technology and more efficiency from the last 5 years. Wholesalers are able to turn quotes around without an appointment process (which can be handled before binding).

Challenges for 2019 –

1. Distribution – email marketing still handily beats any other distribution method (print, event, social)  in terms of cost effectiveness and ROI. But, spam cloud filters are making it harder for marketers to get into the inbox. It doesn't matter how opt-in-solid your email distribution I, if you don't have the technology, resources, creativity and savvy your emails will not get past cloud filters and therefore will not make it to the spam/junk folder, let alone the inbox!  A lot of in-house marketers (using constant contact, mailchimp, etc.) are reporting massive drop-offs in delivery and positive engagement.

2. Consumer loyalty is dropping off. Consumers are price shopping and looking for speed and value. As a result, the agent-client relationship is becoming transactional and commoditized. In other words, agents are forced to shop and 'sell' and move on to the next opportunity. There is less emphasis and value on agents playing the role of the 'trusted advisor'. So, what does this mean in terms of marketing? The challenge is to get the agents attention early, often and at the right time. So, getting the brand and message in front of the agent at least once a month is highly recommended.

3. Competition is fierce – perhaps more than it's ever been. Our most successful advertisers are the ones that market often and work every opportunity. If you market isn't exclusive, then you can count on the differences between you and your competition to be negligible in terms of price, value and positioning. Customer service, quickest response times and dogged pursuit of every deal are the hallmarks of success when the visible differences on the playing field are so minor.

In summary –

It certainly looks like 2019 is going to be a good year for the E&S industry, signaling revenue growth and market differentiation for those that employ their distribution tactics well. But, it is not without challenges however, and finding the right combination of distribution mediums, channels and marketing service partners will certainly be a difference maker for most companies.

With that said – I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback. And, of course, I would love to chat with you and explore how we can help you achieve your 2019 goals. :-)