CASE STUDY: How to entice an Insurance executive

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GRX Technologies knew their market, and how to target it. but that doesn't necessarily mean instant sales in the corporate insurance technology industry. More imagination was needed.

You can tell from the GRX home page that they know exactly their three types of sales prospects, and what these targets really want.

Instead of falling into the B2B web design trap of photographs of either a generic group of business people or an Asian woman (take your pick) and some jargon-laden sales copy about the company, visitors to GRX.com can take their choice of three appealing options:
- Risk managers - Make your job easier while stretching your budget dollars
- Brokers / Advisors - Market risks faster, improve client relations, and increase profits.
- Underwriters - Write more business while lowering administration costs.

No instant answers
But a great website doesn't necessarily translate into instant sales in the corporate insurance technology industry. Marketing manager Erik Dorsey explains: "They tend to be very conservative when they move forward looking at technology. Our sales cycle is anywhere from 90 days to two years."

Dorsey did his best to get attention when the site launched in February 2001, with a full-throttle marketing campaign including:
- space ads in trade magazines
- direct mail
- telemarketing
- public relations.
The marketplace is fairly limited, with less than 5,000 potential customers. So, within a few months Dorsey had reached them all repeatedly.

Keeping their interest
Now he had to find a way to keep them interested in the company as the sales cycle progressed, without being obnoxious about it. He notes, "Everyone tries to sell to the insurance industry because there's a lot of money there. Lots of vendors target it pretty heavily. They are inundated with letters, postcard mailers - all the tricks of the trade."

Luckily most of the marketers targeting the insurance industry are as slow moving about technology as insurance executives are. So although the industry is knee-deep in direct postal mail, Dorsey noticed very few emailers targeted it.

Something for nothing
So, he added an email newsletter sign-up form to the GRX website home page. It reads simply, "Get the Bulletin: Submit your email address below to sign up and receive the GRX bulletin." (For industries that are inundated with newsletter offers, you'd probably need to add more benefit-oriented copy for this to work.)

Within a few months more than 2,000 executives in GRX's target audience signed up.

Dorsey is well aware that insurance executives often use fairly old-fashioned computer operating systems such as Windows '95 ("They don't change unless there's a drastic need to change") so he developed both a text-only and an HTML version of his newsletter.

He also makes sure each issue contains a summarized item of interest to each of the company's three target audiences. And, that all three items are visible 'above the fold' (i.e. without scrolling) when you view the issue with a typical 800x600 screen resolution. Interested readers can click through to the GRX site to read entire stories.

Disaster
Although the email newsletter and website were working well, the GRX sales team was looking forward to meeting their top prospects in person at ther most important conference of the year, CIAB's leadership forum, scheduled for early October. Dorsey was busy planning a special meet-and-greet breakfast for the event when disaster struck on 11 September. The show, like many others, was cancelled.

Thinking fast, Dorsey decided to throw a virtual breakfast Webinar instead. He emailed an invitation to the 134 executives who were on his opt-in list and had been expected to attend the event. Instead of running one big Webinar, Dorsey gave executives their choice of five different times between 11am and 3pm - both to be more convenient and to allow his sales reps greater intimacy with a smaller number of attendees.

Scrumptious breakfast box
In general just one third of RSVP-ing businesspeople who say they'll attend a Webinar, actually end up attending. Dorsey wanted to stack the odds in his favor. So he shipped every RSVP a breakfast box from Mrs Fields containing gourmet coffee, juices and coffee cake, timed to arrive the day before the event.

Success
GRX's email newsletter has proven to be unusually successful, with an average of more than 40% of recipients clicking through to read stories on GRX's site. Dorsey notes that in early 2001 only 40% of his readers were able to read HTML copies. Now that figure is up to 60% (which is still far below the general big business executive average.)

Almost every executive who received the emailed invitation to GRX's breakfast Webinar replied in the affirmative. Then all but one single person actually attended! This attendance rate is certainly a record. Several attendees were outside the US - including the UK, the Bahamas and Argentina.

Dorsey notes, "Our data shows these were very, very targeted people. Everyone was interested."
Lessons learned
If you learn to leverage your website as a market research tool, you can:
- Obtain first-hand customer insight direct from your site
- Capture underlying concerns, preferences, and trends
- Use direct feedback to improve the quality of site content
- Improve user experience while reducing support costs

GRX Technologies

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