How a Digital Mindset Has Created Positive Brand Engagement for Direct Line Group

Direct Line Group's Marketing Director, Mark Evans, discusses trends in digital marketing and their impact on customer service satisfaction.

MarkEvans2.jpgMark Evans is the Marketing Director of UK insurance company Direct Line Group. He studied at Nottingham University for a BA in Economics and an MA in Corporate Strategy & Governance, and he started his career in Mars where he worked on a number of their global brands across sectors and geographies.

After Mars, Evans worked at 118118 and HSBC, before joining Direct Line Group in 2012. Over the past three years he has overseen the transformation of DLGs brands and marketing approach. He is in the 2015 Marketing Power 100 and the 2015 Marketing Week Vision 100.

Hi Mark, thanks for joining us today. First of all, can you briefly describe what your role as Marketing Director at Direct Line Group entails?

I joined Direct Line Group in 2012 in the build up to the IPO of the company and my role is to support our aim to transform the UK insurance industry.

On a day-to-day basis, I am responsible for all marketing activity for some of the most well-known insurance brands in the UK including Direct Line, Churchill, Privilege and Green Flag.

This stretches from brand communications, digital marketing, PR and social media through to insight, CRM, data and propositions development.

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What are your main responsibilities and how have you developed the companyã??s marketing and customer experience strategies since you have taken on the role?

My key responsibility is to ensure that our brands are leading the market in meeting customers' needs.

In the last couple of years we have overhauled our strategies based on deep insight and a new segmentation model in order to be really clear about what we want each brand to stand for in consumers' minds, and how we activate those positionings across the organisation.

Unsurprisingly, our research shows us again and again that buying insurance and dealing with insurers is stressful and seen as a hassle. Itã??s our job to make sure we present clear offerings and make the processes of purchasing, servicing and making a claim as hassle-free as possible.

What has been your biggest success at Direct Line Group so far?

The re-launch of the Direct Line brand last year has become a signature activity for our organisation. It effectively de-positions the rest of the market, which focuses almost exclusively on price, by evidencing that it is a high performance brand in dealing with peoples' problems in their moment of need.

Bringing back the iconic Winston Wolf character (thanks to the wonderful Harvey Keitel), the "fixer" communication campaign amplifies this message. The customer is left in no doubt that it does matter what insurance you choose and that choosing the cheapest may let you down when you need it most ("Can your insurance do that?")

What do you believe to be the biggest changes and opportunities coming up for digital marketing? How can marketing leaders such as yourself evolve their marketing strategy for the digital era?

In line with macro trends digital marketing is of increasing importance to insurers. We like to think that we are ahead of the curve in terms of our share of marketing spend and our social media activity, where Direct Line has been ranked number one by Harvard Business Review as the most empathetic company on Twitter globally. Our always-on content strategy and the creation of an in-house Digital Services team are making a significant difference to our customer service satisfaction.

We are achieving a double digit improvement in digital ROI year-on-year and will maintain a high level of focus in the coming years, particularly to take advantage of programmatic buying and native advertising, but also to become a more digital business from top to bottom.

Can you give an example of an innovative way you've utilised digital marketing at Direct Line Group?

Our partnership with Guardian Labs is a good example of how we are moving into different ways of working around digital. We worked together to create a content channel from Direct Line that took fixing problems beyond insurance, to give people a reason to engage with the brand outside of a renewal or claim process.

The platform gave people solutions to everyday problems through content including 'How To' videos and Vines. This also included a live web chat car clinic and a Twitter Q&A with an expert vet discussing how to keep pets healthy. We also used well-known experts and celebrities to bring useful content to life.

Digital is a cultural mindset, so for Direct Line Group it's about saying let's use technology and make things happen in minutes and hours rather than days and weeks. Our Fixology campaign is a great example of reaching customers instantly and engaging in real-time, leaving them with a positive brand engagement and useful information to help them in their everyday lives.