Outsmart or Outspend: Lessons From The World of Life Insurance Marketing

by Tannen Campbell | February 21, 2020

4.5 Minute Read

Life insurance is a 300-year-old industry and its advertising can be just as antiquated. What used to work, simply doesn’t anymore.

Innovation is Inevitable

There would be riots in the streets if we reverted to dial-up internet or rotary phones. But we’re cool with weeks-long life insurance applications, clunky paperwork, and sometimes pushy agents? 

Probably because until very recently, we simply didn’t have a choice. 

Some Things Never Change Graphic

This is something we think about a lot:  life insurance is an industry that has yet to adopt all the benefits technology is able to provide. We are rebuilding it from the ground up, and that includes its marketing. 

So what does that look like in real life? For the Bestow marketing team, it means never losing sight of the 4 guiding principles that drive us everyday:

Principle #1 — Remember What Matters

Insurance began with a simple and heart-warming premise: the community sets aside money to be shared when tragedy strikes one of its members. 

But by today’s estimates, roughly 130 million people in America have little to no life insurance coverage, and that translates to a $25 trillion aggregate mortality gap with the average household being unable to get the life insurance they need.

What went wrong? 

Not everyone can pitch in, which means some people get left out.

You see, life insurance is a product bought by people who will never see its benefits. It’s such a lovely, selfless gift. A gift we believe everyone should be able to give not just the wealthy. Not just the healthy. 

At Bestow, we aspire to invite as many people to our community as possible and to someday make life insurance products available to everyone. 

Principle #2 — Know Your Community

We don’t think in terms of “users” and “consumers”, rather, we are looking to build a community. For this to work, people have to want to hear from us. We want to speak to people who are already in-market. 

The good news is, people don’t just need life insurance, they actually want it. In a commissioned research study we found that 75% of people report being interested in purchasing term life insurance and only 19% of those currently have a policy.  

Term Life Market Percentages

What else do we know about this community? First, they are often motivated by life triggers, so they are primarily new parents, new homeowners, and newlyweds. Additionally, we found overlap with those who value credit protection and money management products. These are people who understand that beyond the emotional pull, life insurance is part of their financial plan, not a lottery ticket for their family members.

Speaking of lottery tickets though, we’ve consistently seen sales spikes on paydays. Indicating that when people have the budget, they are ready to spend then and there. So while most people impulse buy shoes on Instagram (it can’t be just me), it turns out they’re ready to check life insurance off the list in that impulse moment too.

When is that moment? For our customers, it’s working hours, generally 9-5pm (accounting for timezones).

Term Life Market Percentages

In getting to know our community even more, we asked about what factors influence their buying decisions. We discovered that while price and coverage amounts are the two most important factors in choosing which provider to go with, 64% said the number one motivator for buying life insurance in general is to protect those they love the most. 

Reasons For Buying Percentages

Principle #3 — Build What They Need, Not What You Do

Speaking with our customers we found that not everyone is ready to buy on the spot. They are often savvy shoppers looking to learn more about life insurance. It’s a considered purchase. So easy-to-find information is crucial. 

For those members of our community, we recently relaunched our website to include a learning center to help people navigate the life insurance landscape giving them an idea of what they might need and answering their basic questions, in a truly watchable format.


Principle #4 — Build For The Long Term

In an industry like life insurance, when every brand is claiming to be “The Cheapest! The Fastest! The Easiest!” you have two options to succeed: outspend or outsmart. And how boring is that first option?

Admittedly, the Bestow marketing team’s job is easier because our product fulfills all those claims: it’s super affordable, faster than any provider’s offering and we never require a medical exam. So even if it is a commodity war, it’s a war we can win.

The marketing challenge then becomes getting in front of the right people with the message that matters most to them.

And if our goal is to get more families covered, then we have to ask ourselves, how we can break through? How can we get someone to take action without making them emotionally vulnerable? Enter, humor. While life and death are certainly serious topics, getting insured and financially protected doesn’t have to be. Here are a few recent examples of how we bring a wink and a smile to the topic:

While we continue to focus on growth and market traction as a company, we are also building a brand. We view this as an especially critical advantage in our commoditized landscape and we’re approaching that endeavor with the same data-informed focus on our community. Stay tuned for the roll-out — we’re hoping you’ll enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed making it.