“I have seen no one else that will send a single piece of mail based on actions in a Zoho CRM.”
Sean Turner, Buffer Insurance CEO & Founder
Buffer Insurance was founded in 2018 and immediately experienced rapid growth. The company specializes in two areas: employer benefits for small and medium-size businesses and insurance for seniors, including Medicare supplement coverage. They serve clients across the country, and they train independent agents on how to sell Medicare policies using Buffer-developed methods. This insurance direct mail case study reviews how Buffer has deployed automated direct mail from their Zoho CRM to effectively drive leads and referrals.
Many retirees find themselves arranging for their own health insurance for the first time. A lifetime of employer-supplied healthcare coverage is ending and replacing that insurance by working through a confusing array of Medicare options and private carriers is a difficult task.
US residents turning 65 years old are swamped with mail, television commercials, and phone calls urging them to sign up for coverage that supplements Medicare. Many of these messages use fear as a motivator, urging seniors to make a quick decision about their healthcare coverage “before it’s too late.”
Buffer Insurance had been using direct mail from the beginning, including hand-written notes sent to customers and prospects. As they grew, the company needed to automate direct mail while differentiating themselves from the competition by focusing on education and peace of mind.
When Buffer Insurance migrated their CRM from Salesforce to Zoho, they knew they wanted to integrate with a mail services provider. Part of the business strategy was to enhance the way the company communicated with current customers and to find more ways to develop quality leads. Direct mail was a channel they knew would produce results. As the company researched postal mail solutions, they found most were not supporting connections to Zoho.
Postalytics offered the connections Buffer Insurance needed to implement their vision of customer communications and lead development through the mail. The solution also offered something different — on-demand mailings triggered by the CRM system without requiring Buffer to send large quantities all at once.
Using the 2 page personalized letter format, this mailpiece is designed to create a personal connection between the prospect and their assigned Buffer Insurance Agent. The goal of the letter is to educate the soon to be 65 year old consumer on some of the options associated with Medicare Insurance once they become eligible, and to position the agent as an independent resource who can help the consumer navigate a complicated set of decisions.
The letter conveys a professional, calm and experienced agent will be able to assist the consumer. This is something that the letter format does very well. In fact, research shows that consumers trust the direct mail channel far more than other digital channels when it comes to making purchase decisions.
It also stands in contrast to the “scare tactics” that others in the Medicare Insurance industry use, which precisely what Buffer Insurance wants.
Strategically timed communications are a big part of the Buffer Insurance customer retention and referral strategy. Customers receive a personalized birthday postcard sent through Postalytics, triggered by the Zoho CRM.
Using the power of multi-channel, the CRM triggers a companion birthday greeting sent to customers via email on their actual birthdays. The company plans to add more triggered direct mail to their customer communication strategy as time goes on.
Large, oversized postcards designed with bright, fun colors are a great way to convey birthday wishes while subtlety reminding the consumer of their upcoming choices around Medicare Insurance.
Postcards and letters from Buffer Insurance often include interactive elements, directing prospects to online resources such as a Medicare checklist or informative videos. Their corporate goals of transparency, authenticity, and responsiveness are supported by the direct mail they send and the online resources to which the mailpieces are connected. Each of the mailed communications is personalized and may include a photo of the agent.
Personalized QR Codes help Buffer track the specific responders to these postcards, giving the team insights not normally associated with direct mail marketing.
The new generation of seniors is tech-savvy. Even before the pandemic, Buffer noticed that busy seniors often preferred to reach out to agents via email or text vs. phoning and setting up an in-person appointment. The old method of selling insurance to seniors primarily through face-to-face contact is no longer the dominant strategy. Direct mail from the company offers multiple ways to connect to Buffer Insurance, allowing them to choose the channel that works best for them.
Mr. Turner attributes much of his company’s success to referrals. Keeping in touch with his current customers is just as important as prospecting for new ones. This makes Postalytics’ connection to almost any CRM system a valuable feature of the platform. Now that Buffer Insurance is concentrating on leveraging the power of their CRM, they plan to use Postalytics more often to handle the generation and distribution of triggered postal mailpieces.
Logging and tracking the mail are important to Buffer Insurance. They take advantage of Postalytics reports that show them when their mail is expected to be delivered and they use that information to prepare to handle incoming inquiries. Predictability based on direct mail tracking allows them to arrange their resources to match demand.
Buffer Insurance believes the practice of using direct mail to promote online events will expand over the coming years. The CRM/Postalytics integration will be a key facilitator in this effort. The company also plans to explore new ways to use direct mail to reach small and medium-size business owners at home. This effort will acquaint potential new customers with the Buffer brand and the employee benefit services Buffer Insurance can provide.
Specialization in a niche allows a company to take advantage of deep knowledge in a particular area, as Buffer Insurance has done. With knowledge of a vertical market and appreciation of the needs of their customers, companies can create highly relevant and informative content.
Postalytics made it possible for Buffer Insurance to implement the highly automated, yet very personal, direct mail marketing campaigns that help build their customer base and drive referrals. They’re able to use a trusted channel in a new, modern way, and stand out from their digital only competitors that use scare tactics to sell.
Medicare insurance brokerage lead generation is focused on audiences that are about to turn age 65, making it a perfect fit for communicating by mail. Digital elements are still valuable pieces of any marketing campaign, and trackable direct mail is a natural bridge between the physical and digital worlds. Buffer has made an investment in CRM driven direct mail as a way to develop relationships with his clients and Postalytics helps him execute his strategy.