Brand Strategy Insurance Marketing

Why are the world’s top players in insurance missing their shot digitally?

By Craig Johnson, Chief executive officer

Remarkable Group


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

Find out more

April 3, 2023 | 7 min read

The insurance sector is supposedly a hotbed of digital innovation, so why is it lagging? Craig Johnson of Ultimedia addresses the industry’s pain points.

Tall glass office building

Research by Ultimedia shows the insurance sector is behind on its SEO game. / Willem Chan

Insurance is big business. Last year, the total combined assets of global insurance companies rose by 4.9% to $44tn, whereas total liabilities increased by 4.3% to $38tn. A tiny percentage of this growth was attributed to the introduction of policies specifically created for ‘social media influencers’; it’s an industry aware of digital transformation.

Given the money involved and the targeted nature of specific insurance policies, you would expect insurance to be at the forefront of digital innovation and digital transformation. Insurance is just betting for grown-ups, so you could expect the sector to be on par with the online gambling sector when it comes to the sophistication of its digital offering.

News sources regularly highlight the insurance sector as a hotbed of digital innovation. Stories about innovative insurance brands determining policy premiums by telematics data in ‘black boxes’ have been doing the rounds since 2007. In 2007, MySpace was the world's leading social media platform, so a lot has changed since then.

To measure this, our team of researchers compared approaches to digital transformation across the top 100 insurance companies in the world. The insurance sector has been slow to embrace digital change and lags behind travel, gambling and e-commerce. Here are our top four takeaways from our research.

1. A disjoined user experience from ineffective websites

In the insurance sector, it takes an average of eight touchpoints or website visits, to convert a lead. Therefore a seamless user experience is crucial to maximizing conversions. We conducted in-depth research into the websites of the top 100 insurance brands to see how effective they were at generating new business.

10% of the websites in the research failed Google’s mobile-friendly website test. There were speed issues with 99% of the websites in our study. The slowest load time in our study for a single page was an eye-watering 38 seconds.

The user experience for an insurance buyer was often difficult with almost 75% of customers who attempted to purchase insurance online reporting problems. Though many insurance providers offer online purchase options, consumers often have difficulty navigating them and getting the help they need.

2. Poor search performance

Many of the brands in our study had a huge dependence on comparison engines for lead generation. This is perilous as they are reliant on a third-party provider for their business growth. To mitigate this one would expect an aggressive approach to search marketing, particularly SEO.

With over 1.2m insurance-related searches globally every day, according to Google, this represents a simple way to be front of mind when customers research insurance. As 78% of insurance consumers call a business after running a search this is a great way to generate leads.

We found that only one in four insurance websites is optimized for Google. There were gaps in technical features, content marketing and offsite factors that hindered Google’s position in the world’s top 100 insurance companies. What's more, opportunities for remarketing via search, display and other channels were not used to try and secure a lead from potential customers with intent.

3. Lack of website personalization

Digital audiences expect a personalized experience. Can you imagine an experience with Amazon, Netflix, Uber or even Tesco that wasn't personalized to your purchase history, location or demographic data? 90% of consumers say personalization is desirable when choosing an organization.

We found that none of the top 100 insurance brands show signs of website personalization. This is mad considering that many of the firms in the research have invested heavily in DXP platforms that boast personalization on their list of features, such as Adobe and Sitecore.

4. Ineffective email marketing

It isn’t the sexiest digital channel but email marketing remains the most effective in terms of return on investment. With 4.26 billion email users worldwide, and an average open rate within the financial services sector of 28.12%, this remains a great way to secure insurance renewals and follow-up new business leads.

67 of the top 100 insurance companies did not offer an option to sign up for email alerts. Only three of the organizations in the research complied with email marketing best practices.

Aside from researching company websites and digital marketing activity, we spoke with some of the world’s leading insurers to get their view on digital innovation in the sector. It is not a lack of resources or ambition. There is significant investment happening in digital transformation, but this is largely in systems and technology. The key reason for the lack of digital maturity in the sector is an investment in people and change.

Our findings uncovered that despite taking steps forward digitally, many of the basic foundations are lacking. In such a highly regulated sector, which is understandably risk averse, it is difficult to embrace a change in the way of working and change traditional ways of doing business.

Brand Strategy Insurance Marketing

Content by The Drum Network member:

Remarkable Group

Sagittarius. Ultimedia. Nemetos Tanasuk. Unify. A new group for remarkable brands and remarkable people. We are Remarkable Group.

We plan the future so you...

Find out more

More from Brand Strategy

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +