by Jaimie Pickles on October 3, 2017

In the CMO's Suite: Driving Growth in the Insurance Industry Amidst All the Chaos and Innovation

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The insurance industry continues to evolve as consumer trends, technology and compliance all impact the way that insurance is bought, sold and serviced. To help offer some clarity as to the trends and challenges marketers face in the insurance industry, I asked CMOs of  leading insurance companies to share their views and intelligence with us.

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In this, the third and final blog in the series, I will share my conversation with Laura Zimmerman, EVP and CMO at Fidelity Life and Efinancial.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up in the insurance world?


“When I launched my career, the marketing “dream jobs” were in the consumer package goods world. So, I followed the dream, joined a leading advertising agency, and put my heart and soul into marketing Heinz ketchup and Nestle candy bars. Years later, after completing my MBA at Kellogg, I was again CPG-bound, when a colleague introduced me to meet the CMO of American Express’ latest acquisition, a financial service and life insurance company called IDS (now Ameriprise). This meeting forever changed my career trajectory. I discovered an industry aligned with my purpose: where I could play a part in securing families’ futures. And, there were tremendous opportunities to apply marketing practices, honed-in consumer goods, to unlock new sources of economic value.

The purpose that initially attracted me to insurance still inspires me today. That purpose, however, may be the only constant. After 20 years, and three insurance companies later, I’m rediscovering an industry that’s embracing new technologies, big data, and analytics... and in the process, reinventing itself and the customer experience.”

Given the current availability of consumer data, do you think insurance marketers are taking full advantage of all the data that is currently accessible?

“As an industry, we’ve only scratched the surface on leveraging data to inform and transform our business. P&C insurers are further along in using advanced analytics to improve risk selection and develop new products. Life insurers are in the early stages and just beginning to realize the potential of both big data and predictive analytics. The challenges for most companies is what data to collect, where to source it, and ultimately what to do with it.

Today, life insurers use internal and external data from a range of sources including administrative, underwriting, and claims systems; medical, motor vehicle, and prescription databases; and zip-code appended information. Looking forward, these sources will expand as more insurers start to harness data from agent/ customer voice-to-text logs, social media, websites, and the Internet of Things.”

If there was one piece of consumer data that you would like to access  to help influence your marketing programs, what would it be?

" From my perspective, the magic doesn’t come from one piece of data. Rather, it comes from the analytic talent and tools needed to derive value from the vast amount of consumer data we already have. As a direct-to-consumer life insurer, we’re applying analytics and predictive modeling across the customer journey. These models represent opportunities for competitive advantage. It’s hard to imagine one piece of data providing the silver bullet. That said, I’m open to listening!"