Technology has always played a major role in marketing, but a recent report reveals that organizations will seek greater input from IT departments to achieve better sales and customer performance. IBM’s The State of Marketing 2012 indicates that marketing professionals are aware that they’re falling short in reporting and analyzing online visitor data. They’re overwhelmed with the amount of data and systems they have to manage. The vast majority say improved integration and metrics tools would provide a tremendous benefit. They also admit that their social media efforts lack a unified, integrated vision that greater collaboration with the tech side could provide. Ultimately, marketers hope that progress in this area will help them make better decisions about product and service offers and campaigns.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking these comments only apply to large organizations. Your agency, regardless of its size, should be looking to your IT department for sales and customer service support.
IT’s role has changed
In the past, most insurance organizations looked at their IT department as a necessary expense. IT made sure your computer network was up and running, secured your organization from external security threats, performed software maintenance and updates, and generally became the “fix it” department. In today’s environment that’s no longer enough.
Today, your IT department should be looked at as a profit center for the organization. IT staff should be involved in agency strategic business planning. They need to be viewed as the innovator in the agency, searching for new technologies and processes that will increase revenue. IT needs to work hand-in-hand with the marketing department, providing informed ideas as well as the technical support necessary to maximize the agency’s Internet presence.
Social platforms continue to increase in importance. IT staff should be leading the organization and exploring how you can best use these new platforms to facilitate better relationships with your existing clients, as well as develop new relationships with prospects.
How can your IT department be a profit center? By developing platforms and processes that create revenue for the organization.
For example, the CIO at a medium-size agency in Florida began experimenting last year with a marketing website specifically designed for the agency’s marine insurance niche. It was his pet project. After a year of experimenting and testing search engine optimization and Internet marketing techniques, the website is currently generating over $40,000 a year in commission income. Based on the information learned, the agency is now creating multiple additional niche marketing websites.
It’s time for IT to stop being the fix-it department and become a strategic asset for your agency.