Save perhaps funeral services, it’s difficult to think of an industry which has a harder time putting a positive spin on its marketing than life insurance provision.

This wasn’t such a major problem when the traditional routes were still king in terms of reaching a relevant audience, but the seismic shift in influence towards digital marketing that has taken place in recent years has left many within the industry scratching their heads about how to adapt conventional tactics in this uncharted new space.

After all, who wants to be reminded of their impending expiration whilst surfing among ‘funny cats’ and ‘cute pandas’?

Those life insurance companies which have successfully managed to employ social media as a sales channel demonstrate well the strategy needed to succeed in a much more dynamic marketing environment. Indeed, a recent report by LIMRA, the world’s largest association of life insurance providers, found that 93% of life insurance companies have used social media campaigns as part of their marketing strategies, and our own research tells us that brands do indeed belong in this space; 83% of millennials follow companies on some form of social media with 56% following companies on multiple social media platforms.

93% of life insurance companies have used social media campaigns as part of their marketing strategies. - Highlight to share -

Good or bad, there are things that we can learn from each of these campaigns.

DELA: emotional manipulation

Dutch funeral insurance provider DELA used the power of social media with their ‘Why Wait Until It’s Too Late?’ campaign.

Built around the premise of the funeral eulogy, which is of course filled with beautiful statements about the dearly departed, they created an integrated campaign which challenged the everyday person to say something beautiful to someone they love. People’s responses to this challenge were filmed and they were then encouraged to share them via social media.

DELA effectively managed to tap into the enormous emotional significance which is often intrinsically linked to financial matters but which most financial institutions fail to emulate in their marketing campaigns.

The initiative was enthusiastically engaged with, and resulted in handsome returns for DELA, who had until this point suffered from negative brand associations. Most markedly, over the course of the campaign, the level of insured capital increased by over 50%, as thousands of participants took to Facebook, Twitter and so forth to share their videos.

The level of insured capital increased by over 50%, as thousands of participants took to Facebook, Twitter and so forth to share their videos. - Highlight to share -

MetLife Insurance

MetLife is a US life insurance provider that recently cut to the heart of the issue by seizing upon the inherent emotional connections between life insurance and the people who use it.

The companies ‘Live For’ campaign flipped the standard morbid scaremongering on its head and injected the topic with an energetic and positive slant, making the focus not death, but life itself.

The campaign simply engaged with customers on social media platforms asking for their own expression under the hashtag #WhoILiveFor. Customers, clearly invigorated by the sentiment of the campaign and fresh approach to life insurance marketing, responded enthusiastically to the campaign which led to far-reaching online conversations.

These conversations were very much sparked by the user-generated content which people created to express ‘who they live for’. These were especially effective in sparking and spreading conversations because most people opted to create visual / audio visual content as a way of engaging with the topic.

What’s particularly impressive is that they managed to do all of this in a manner which was suggestive rather than overt, making a subtle reference to the inevitability of death without upsetting people’s fragile sensibilities regarding their own mortality. The campaign played directly to the philosophy that content marketing is about having a conversation with people, rather than merely shouting a thinly veiled sales pitch.

Thai Life Insurance: traditional meets social

Little needs to be said about this campaign by Thai Life Insurance, other than it takes a clever and thought-provoking approach to social media marketing, and in doing so, appeals to sentiments which are so effective in engaging customers.

They created a video entitled ‘Unsung Hero’ which was originally broadcast as a TV commercial but has since been posted on YouTube, gaining some 26 million views worldwide.

It depicts a man carrying out various acts of kindness during a single day – acts which are merely ignored by onlookers. What happens at the end epitomises the sentiment and shareability that life insurance providers are hoping to capitalise on through social media campaigns.

The campaign very clearly demonstrates the creativity needed to engage customers in a conversation which has traditionally been perceived as morbid, and also the potential that online platforms have to be a mechanism for this conversation.

Takeaway tip? Don’t be afraid of engaging with your customers, even when the circumstances are difficult.

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Death and taxes