Why do people come to life insurance websites? Two tasks are gaining more and more prominence on industry sites in the past 12 months: getting a quote and finding an agent. But, according to recent research by the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), the top two tasks are in fact estimating coverage and finding out how to buy a policy.

Our recent study on coverage calculators unearthed a series of issues lowering the performance of the industry in the former task. And explicit support for people working out how to buy a policy is surprisingly scarce. While Find An Agent buttons are usually easy to find, there is rarely an end-to-end explanation of buying a policy.

This indicates a disconnect between what people want to do and what content companies put on websites. Insurers can easily create a lot of content. Life stages material, case studies, videos about the benefits of life insurance, financial news, stock prices: They all feature on home pages and main menus.

But as of yet, we have little clear evidence, hard data, on why consumers visit insurance websites—the I.I.I. report is an exception. In fact, it is clear from conversations we have with web teams, and from examining many insurance websites since the early 2000′s, that the decisions about what content to include and highlight are made without finding out exactly what people want to do on these websites. The decisions are made on the basis of opinions.

Take, for example, putting company news or general financial news on the home page. Has any insurer ever demonstrated that consumers want to read this? We’d love to hear the evidence.

Furthermore, if insurers had worked out what people want most to do, you’d see convergence in what gets priority in menus and links. But there is still a lot of variation. Some commonality exists in putting quote engines in a prominent place, having a clear login box, and placing a "find agent" widget. But surprisingly not on every site. Visit five or ten insurance sites and you’ll probably see the same amount of variations on a global menu (beyond the common product categories). The only explanation is that every company has their own opinion. For this to be the correct approach would mean that consumers visiting each of these sites have different needs, different tasks to complete. This clearly is not the case.

This lack of a standard clearly indicates that web teams are guessing as to what consumers want to do, and naturally opinions differ between them. At the root of this is a lack of hard, actionable data.

This blog was posted with the permission of the Customer Respect Group.

Terry Golesworthy, president of The Customer Respect Group, has covered technology issues and innovations in the insurance industry for many years.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Terry using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He also can be reached at terry@customerrespect.com.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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