Improving response rates – RIAS Insurance

Improving response rates

Martin helped this top 10 Insurance company generate 5% more Home Insurance sales at a 13% lower cost per sale plus 23% more Motor Insurance sales at a 10% lower cost per sale.

With its over 50s positioning, competitive pricing and excellent call handling capability RIAS Insurance had grown rapidly to build a book of nearly 1,000,000 customers.  However by 2008 growth had stalled, sales were behind target and the web and acquisition teams had run out of momentum and out of ideas.

RIAS bought in Martin as Interim Head of Marketing to help get sales back on track, to improve response rates, strengthen the marketing leadership and to help the company achieve the next stage in its development.  For 18 months Martin lead the Web, Acquisition, Customer Retention, Upsell and Cross Sell and Production teams; managing 14 people and a £12M budget.  His team helped launch a new brand proposition, re-launched the website, embedded a new integrated Media Agency, rolled out new DRTV and Door Drop strategies and implemented a new marketing campaign analysis solution.

Improving response rates

Many changes were needed to improve direct marketing response rates


The business hit its volume and profit targets and online sales doubled.  As shown here many strands needed to work together to achieve this transformation.  At its heart, improved results were due to testing more of the right things faster, and taking the time to analyse the results I.E. test and learn.

Focus on the important rather than the urgent.

Big businesses have a dizzying number of competing demands and any change programme needs to identify the key actions and to ruthlessly make the time to implement them.  RIAS’s immediate needs were to change the media mix, to run more tests and to understand the results better.

To make time for this other things needed to be dropped, moved or streamlined.  This included outsourcing the management of press ad production, moving from monthly to quarterly planning and production buying, amalgamating direct mail into fewer, larger cells and rationalising the number and size of meetings.

Getting more out of the team.

High pressure plus time consuming admin can lead to dumbing down. In the rush to hit deadlines people can forget to think; ‘is this the right thing to do or the best way to do it’?

Giving greater responsibility alongside better mentoring helped create a learning environment.

Getting more out of Suppliers.

The secret of getting more value from suppliers is simple; openly share results, challenges and the responsibility to deliver, plus give frank and rapid feedback.  I’ve never met an Agency that doesn’t enjoy working with collaborative Clients and who doesn’t go the extra mile as a result.

Better, faster reporting and campaign tracking.

Most companies struggle with marketing campaign analysis and campaign tracking.  Making it accurate and timely requires the development of efficient end-to-end processes.

For RIAS I introduced an outsourced solution using Unique Telephone Numbers (UTNs) to circumvent the miss-allocation of source codes by the Call Centre and the over-counting and long delays from match-back analysis.  See the article on using UTNs for Marketing campaign analysis.

Understand the customer journey

Conversion can be transformed by understanding prospects’ needs and behaviour through the purchase journey.  For example finding exactly how quickly an outbound call must follow an online quote helped double sales from online leads.

A balanced media mix, using each medium appropriately

A company’s media mix is often the result of history and the strengths of it’s marketing team.  But highly competitive markets demand effective use of the media mix; a mix that must change rapidly.  Diversifying RIAS’ marketing allowed it to improve cost per sale and to reach a wider audience; vital for it to meet its growth targets.

Faster introduction of new creative and propositions

Only by getting meaningful, appropriate tests to market more quickly, and then analysing and acting on the results could RIAS drive forward its marketing performance.  This only became possible as a result of energy consistently applied across all of the areas listed above.

Test & Learn

The result of lots of hard work by lots of dedicated, talented people. Simple!