Digital consumerism is a train that can’t be stopped, and in fact, the global pandemic has accelerated it. Many businesses spent months working remotely. Company leaders have learned that this is a tenable option for the long term. Buyers became used to the luxury and convenience of services that can meet them where they are. Or in the case of COVID-19, where they are stuck.
Here’s a stat that you might think is irrelevant. Amazon reported $75.5 billion in earnings in the first fiscal quarter of 2020. This may seem like an outlandish number, but keep in mind their profit actually declined.
From Market Watch, “Amazon (AMZN), 0.85% reported first-quarter earnings of $2.5 billion, or $5.01 a share, down from $3.56 billion, or $7.09 a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue grew to $75.5 billion from $59.7 billion in the year-ago period. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had estimated $6.23 a share and revenue of $73.7 billion on average.”
Consumers have relied on Amazon for all their pandemic essentials over the last few months… masks, paper towels, toilet paper, and the oh-so-valuable disinfecting wipes. So, it’s easy to assume Amazon would be making more money than ever. But, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos began shifting his focus to COVID-19-related expenditures and looking toward the future. That means keeping his employees safe and ensuring orders ship on time.
This underperformance in the first quarter is actually a sign of growth. Bezos and his army of analysts understand that COVID-19 is poised to create a new level of long-term demand and usher in a heightened age of remote consumerism.
What’s important to ask is why. The obvious answer is they have created an empire capable of providing goods faster than any competitor. The less obvious answer is they have reformed how consumers think about buying products.
Bring on the micro-moment.
What is a micro-moment?
Google coined the term in 2015. They define micro-moments as the critical touchpoints within today’s consumer journey. Consumers are acting on a desire or, in their mind, a need. These actions resemble one of these four things:
- To learn something
- To do something
- To buy something
- To watch something
Consider these micro-moment scenarios:
Scenario 1: Want to find a restaurant near you?
- Open Google.
- Type in restaurants near me
- Pick from 50 restaurants near your saved current location.
Scenario 2: Want to watch a trailer for a new movie?
- Open Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or any social media app.
- Type in the name of the movie.
Want to order groceries? Want to research that appliance you need to replace?
All these scenarios take less than ten minutes for the modern consumer. Technology has improved the customer experience and reduced our decision-making process to minutes. The expectation has been set.
Here’s a search scenario you might relate to on a more professional level: Independent insurance agency near me.
Would your agency show up in this search?
The micro-moment and its effect on customer loyalty
What happened to customer loyalty? The simple answer is that nothing happened. Customer loyalty still exists, but it’s more complicated.
A good product used to be worth the wait and maybe a little extra money. Excellent service and support used to mean retention and returning customers.
The digital marketing boom of the last two decades has created brand saturation. Establishing relationships with prospects is now more complicated.
It’s now the responsibility of insurance agencies to effectively cater to consumers’ individual needs and provide an experience that makes the process easy.
From a J.D. Power study, “As consumers increasingly take control of the shopping process to find the value they desire, they are finding simple ways to compare carriers. Independent agents offer multiple quotes, and browser auto-fill makes gather several online quotes a job of minutes. Choice reigns supreme, and the consumer holds the reigns.”
With that in mind, it’s important to consider the buyer journey and how you can improve the shopping process.
Here’s a simplified version of the buyer journey:
Step 1: Become aware of a product
Step 2: Consider the product
Step 3: Buy the product
The buyer journey is not a straight line. It is more of a tiered, multi-variable tree chart.
Step one plays an exceedingly influential role in steps two and three. Creating product awareness can take time, especially without established, substantial brand equity. Some digital marketing channels that play an important role in growing brand and product awareness are…
- Online reviews
- Email campaigns
- Social media
- Social media ads
- Pay-per-click ads
Here are some statistics to consider when thinking about whether or not the list above is important to your overall marketing strategy.
- According to a 2019 study, search traffic generated 65% of total eCommerce sessions. Thirty-three percent was generated through organic search, and 32% was generated through paid search.
- By 2023, the number of social network users in the U.S. is expected to reach 257.4 million. The number of global users is expected to reach almost 3.43 billion.
- Eighty-eight percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Your goal should be to create a consistent digital presence during the awareness stage so that your agency is considered and purchased when the micro-moment occurs.
These digital marketing channels also help support a good experience in the micro-moment, helping you earn loyal customers.
How do you earn customer loyalty?
Here’s why the micro-moment is a good thing. Yes, people want what they want when they want it. But, for the most part, they don’t have a clear idea of whom they want it from. They turn to their smartphones for that.
Here’s another scenario.
Someone is shopping for insurance. This person doesn’t know a single thing about insurance. They find it to be a complicated subject matter. They are looking for someone to guide them through this process.
That someone is you.
Here are some tips to make sure your insurance agency is ready for the micro-moment:
Make it easy
According to a 2019 Global Consumer Study on insurance, 66% of consumers don’t care how you reach them. Consumers are more focused on getting their service completed quickly and easily.
This sentiment is reflected in the data. A bad experience is now a reason to switch brands. Thirty-three percent of Americans would consider switching companies over just one bad customer experience.
Retention rate is a key metric that defines the performance of many agencies. (Though be careful with a blanket retention rate.) So, I highly recommend an automated email platform as consistent communication with your clients can improve your retention rate.
Ninty-five percent of customers expect businesses to communicate proactively, not reactively, says another 2019 study. Get ahead of the customer service issues and notify your clients beforehand.
Get the most out of your website. We like to say that your website should be your best employee. It’s true.
Technology is the cornerstone of consistently excellent customer experiences. Insurance is a low-touch industry. This term refers to industries that only require annual attention. Because the process only occurs once a year, consumers are more likely to notice a poor experience. Therefore they are more likely to become hop at renewal time. A J.D. Power study states that customers who experience poor customer service are eight times more likely to shop for new insurance. Your technology must be smooth and seamless for those micro-moments.
Make finding out what your agency offers simple. Ensure that your clients can find what they need with ease. And if something complicated cannot be avoided, notify your clients and walk them through it.
The micro-moment is just beginning, and consumer expectations are still growing.
The buying process should be relaxed, sleek, and easy. The insurance agency that saves their clients time will retain those clients. Being ahead of the curve can’t be understated. Stay vigilant to consumer trends, so you always know what people expect from their experience with you.
With these three tips, you can insert your agency into those micro-moments and thrive in the modern consumer market.
Zach Weeks is a content marketing specialist at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of marketing, rating and management software and services to the insurance industry. ITC helps its customers across the U.S. grow their businesses and become more efficient through the philosophy of providing quality software and services. Currently, ITC serves more than 200 insurance companies and more than 7,000 agencies.
This article originally appeared on ITC’s blog and is republished here with consent.
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