MassMutual-Backed Insurance Startup Lives For Relationship Marketing

Marketing challenge: Selling your product requires getting millennials to contemplate their own mortality.

That’s John Latona’s job. He oversees marketing at Haven Life, a three-year-old digitally focused subsidiary of MassMutual, which was one of the first companies in the sector to sell low-cost, medically underwritten term life insurance online, often requiring no exam, for people who don’t get it as an employee benefit at work.

But life insurance should be about more than just an easy signup process, even for what Latona calls the “self-serve generation” of millennials. Most life insurance providers have almost no relationship with their consumers.

“You’re asking people to pay policy premiums for 20 years or more with the promise that, if you happen to die sometime during that period, we’ll take care of your loved ones to the tune of $500,000 or $1 million,” Latona said. “But we did a survey in July and found that 50% of respondents had no idea who their life insurer even is – even though this is one of the biggest financial expenditures you make over the course of your life.”

On Wednesday, Haven Life added a suite of new products to its core offering as a way to foster a closer relationship with its policyholders during their lifetimes. Haven Life Plus includes a free online safe deposit box for storing important documents, a discount on at-home health tests, 15% off family health services at CVS and Target walk-in clinics and a free digital will-writing service.

“This is about people being able to get something more out of their life insurance than just the promise of insurance,” Latona said. “This is an ongoing relationship to help people in their lives.”

AdExchanger spoke with Latona.

AdExchanger: Who likes to think about needing life insurance?

JOHN LATONA: I was that way before I joined Haven Life. When we’re younger, the road ahead is long and thinking about mortality is not top of mind. But we’ve seen millennials be more financially aware and, in some ways, more responsible at this age than older generations. First and foremost, life insurance means talking about death and forcing people to think about and talk about something that by nature they don’t want to think or talk about.

So, how do you get your audience to do it?

With life insurance, there is a magic moment when someone moves from thinking about me to thinking about we, which can happen when a person has their first child, gets married, purchases a home or any other life-changing event. The “me to we” factor is what we try to target into.

We do this by, for example, creating content that is not just about life insurance. If someone is already thinking about these life events, they’re going to have higher intent around the idea of life insurance.

We focus on these higher-intent folks first and explain who we are.

How are you approaching the marketing campaign for the new Plus products?

Phase one in August and September is focused on our existing policyholders, each one of whom gets a unique code to access their benefits. We’re starting with an email announcement and a postcard teaser to get them interested and then we’re going to start retargeting them on Facebook. We’re also going to use Instagram Stories.

Then, we’ll begin integrating this idea of protection beyond just life insurance into our general marketing and our prospect marketing. Eventually, we’ll do some [addressable] TV for awareness and move down the funnel to affiliate messaging.

Why include direct mail and how do you measure it?

People are so overwhelmed by so many messages all the time. But getting the same message in a different context is something that’s uniquely suited to life insurance. Someone can throw our postcard onto their cork board. That postcard might stay up there until the weekend or it might stay up there for three months, but it’s very useful as a reminder.

We can measure what we send to applicants based on whether they finish an application. We use direct mail very selectively and work with PebblePost to reach folks who visit our site or go into our app.

What data are you using to inform your marketing?

There’s an internal data science group at MassMutual that we can leverage. It’s great having access to a 165-year-old company with 165 years worth of data. But we also use more recent information throughout the funnel.

We use things like Acxiom data to build lookalike audiences and drive top-of-the-funnel awareness all the way down the funnel to when we start getting applications. There’s a lot of marketing work to do to get someone to covert.

Do you buy programmatically?

We do, and TV is probably one of the most interesting ones. It’s an area we’ve been experimenting with, because we don’t have a monster budget. We’re using LiveRamp to get our audiences and we’re working with Simulmedia to target them more or less directly. It’s not quite that precise yet, and we do reach folks with a little bleed over into other areas. We also use lookalike audiences and do retargeting.

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