Your Insurance Agency Does Not Need a Mobile App

October 15, 2014 Laird Rixford

mobile phone with words around it

I'm jumping right in on this one. There I said it. Your agency does not need a mobile app.

According to a 2014 Nielsen Research study on smart phone trends, the average user has around 41 apps installed on their smart phone. Of these, users only access 27 of them on a regular basis. These include the normal suspects such as social apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Foursquare and Instagram. Search apps like Google, Bing or Yahoo. News and information apps like CNN, Fox News, TMZ and your favorite local news station. Entertainment apps such as Netflix, Hulu, NFL and Spotify. Games such as Plants vs. Zombies, Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Hanging with Friends, and Wordament. Communication apps like email, WhatsApp, Messenger and Telegram. Productivity apps such as Office, QuickOffice, Box, OneDrive and Google Drive. Shopping apps like Yelp, Amazon and Groupon.

The list continues on through categories such as travel, family, lifestyle, photography and finance. Finance apps include banking apps, credit cards apps and of course insurance. That is a lot of apps I just rattled off there, and I barely scratched the surface of the millions of apps available to today's smartphone user.

According to Monica Bannan, vice president of product leadership at Nielsen, 'There does appear to be a limit to the number of apps people are willing to access on a monthly basis.'

Would your agency app make the cut? What functionality would differentiate your insurance agency app from all the other apps out there? Do you even have your insurance company's app installed on your phone? How often do you use it?

Getting Face Time with Your App

Another interesting statistic from the study included the time using these various apps. Users spent more than 30 hours a month using apps on their smartphone. Users spend nearly 22 hours on social and entertainment apps combined. Communication and productivity apps together encompass six hours of users' time on mobile devices. Shopping, news, travel, lifestyle and photography all average more than an hour a piece. Finance brings up the rear with users spending 35 minutes a month. Again, this category is dominated by bank and credit card apps with users checking balances, paying bills and depositing checks electronically.

This leaves very little time available for your insurance agency's app to be used or noticed.

User Needs

Why do people need an insurance app? Make a payment. File a claim. Check policy status. Download an ID card. If your app does not allow them to do all of these actions, then your app is missing the core functionality that people want. Once they see that their needs cannot be solved by your app, they will uninstall it. Or it will go unused.

Putting It All Together

Not only do you have to meet a specific set of user needs while competing for screen real estate and limited user time, an insurance agency mobile app is expensive. It requires a steep up front cost and most have an ongoing recurring cost. Additionally, your app must be kept up to date for E&O reasons. Nothing would be worse than giving someone an ID card for a policy that cancelled that morning.

These are the reasons I think your agency does not need a dedicated mobile app.

What to do instead?

I suggest that you first start with a fully functional, mobile-enabled agency website that can offer the same functionality users want in a scaled down format. Can your website take a payment or redirect them to the carrier for payment? Same question for customer service items, including requesting policy status or ID cards and filing a claim. If so, you are already there. If it cannot, you need a new insurance agency website.

The other nice thing about a mobile-enabled website is that it caters to the lowest common denominator and works on all mobile devices with a browser. Are you willing to meet the needs of all your customers by launching iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry apps for the various available devices and versions? You might use an iPhone, but I don't.

Once you have a fully functional, mobile-enabled website, you should focus on other aspects of your digital marketing strategy, such as email, social and search engine marketing. When prospects or existing clients on a mobile device visit you via these methods, they would see your mobile website... even if they had your mobile app installed on their device.

Finally, if you have a well-rounded and executed digital marketing plan, and you want to create a mobile app, why not wrap your agency's mobile website in an app? Then, when you update your website, you update your app. You would be surprised how many apps out there do exactly that.

Do you disagree with me? Are your clients using your mobile app? Leave a comment, and tell me why it works for your insurance agency.



About the Author

Laird Rixford

As CEO, Laird Rixford is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership for the company. Rixford has a proven executive management track record and has more than 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and insurance technology. An expert in insurance technology and marketing, Laird is a recognized public speaker and has presented at industry events across the United States.

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