Inevitably, we’re all aware of the ‘gig economy,’ or the ‘sharing economy,’ as it has recently come to be known. Companies like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the world of transportation, giving people a more flexible way to earn and live. Now, we’re starting to see similar innovations in the world of business. For example, companies like Shopify and ClickWorker enable businesses of all sizes to operate almost entirely online. Even businesses that operate primarily in real life, like physical shop-based retailers, can use online marketplaces, like Amazon, to gain more traction and to attract more customers.
The Rise of Online Marketplaces
While many business and financial journalists are likely to attribute the rise of the sharing economy to the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic pressures that followed, the truth is that these businesses have been gaining popularity for some time. In fact, many of them have been around for quite a while and have served a variety of different purposes. Here are a few of the most significant milestones of the sharing economy:
2010: The Blogging Revolution
Whether it was intended or not, the explosion of content online in the 2010s paved the way for the sharing economy. With the rise of platforms like Medium and WordPress, anyone with a good idea and a passionate interest in their topic could potentially start a blog and connect with an audience. The advantage of blogs is that the content is often more conversational, less promotional, and less focused on selling a product than traditional online content.
2012: Online Marketplaces Enriching the Experience of Shopping
It’s no secret that shopping online has multiple benefits. It’s easy to do most of the shopping that you need from the comfort of your home. Plus, you get the advantage of comparing several different products and shopping for what you want when you want it. Online marketplaces like Amazon have made it possible to purchase almost anything from the comfort of your couch. They’ve also made it possible to discover a world of products that you might not have heard of before if you’ve never been exposed to them. In the world of insurance, a few of the biggest marketplaces, including Quidco and Lemonade, make it easy for agents to find the insurance products that they need, compare them, and purchase them directly from the company. No middleman-ing around here!
2016: The Year of Online Marketplaces For Agents
Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to avoid hearing about the role that online marketplaces, and more specifically, online marketplaces for insurance agents, have played in the past 12 months. For example, in December of 2019 alone, there were over 80M Google searches conducted globally for the term ‘insurance agent.’ That’s 80 million people looking for help with their insurance needs. The volume of searches is expected to reach 114 million this year. (Statista Inc.) At least as far back as March of this year, it was obvious that the pandemic and the economic problems that followed would change the way that people interacted with insurance agents. Just look at the number of people searching for ‘insurance agent’ or ‘insurance help’ in the month of March 2021 compared to previous years. In March 2021 alone, there were over 29 million Global searches conducted globally for ‘insurance agent’ and ‘insurance help.’ In the previous year, there were only 20.8 million searches conducted globally in March 2020. (Statista Inc.)
Why Are People Searching For ‘Insurance Agent’ In The First Place?
As we’ve established, the search volume for ‘insurance agent’ is on the rise. But, why? Is it simply because people are looking to purchase insurance as a result of the pandemic? Is it because they were previously unfamiliar with the concept of insurance or because of the various Covid-19 restrictions that have been put in place? Maybe it’s a little of both, but for the most part, people are looking for ‘insurance agent’ because it is a highly-searched term in the first place. That is, before the pandemic, people were already searching for ‘insurance agent’ and finding the information that they need. Now, with the pandemic providing a steady stream of new information, it is only natural that people would come back to search for more. Plus, with the various measures put in place to combat the spread of the virus, people might be more in need of insurance than ever before.
The Growth of Online Marketplaces For Insurance Agents
It’s important to keep in mind that the growth of the sharing economy is largely due to the influence and innovation of tech-gurus like Mark Cuban, who popularized the term ‘sharing economy.’ Even though most of his suggestions, such as Lyft and TaskRabbit, have become household names, Cubb was originally inspired by old-school companies like Zipcar and Intervanque, which he saw as potential competitors.
These days, the best-known online marketplaces for insurance agents are designed to make the process of purchasing insurance as easy and efficient as possible. For example, Quidco was founded in 1999 and currently serves as the world’s #4 online marketplace for insurance agents. They boast over 1.73 million members and over 250 million appointments booked annually, and have recently been valued at over $11 billion. (Quidco)
Another marketplace worth looking into is Lemonade, which was founded in 2014 and is currently valued at around $5 billion. (Lemonade)
The Future of Online Marketing For Insurance Agents
Based on our analysis of the top 5 online marketplaces for insurance agents, we can make some pretty interesting observations about the future of marketing and advertising for insurance agents. First and foremost, digital marketing and advertising must adapt to suit the changing needs of insurance agents. For example, the days of simply shoving your SID into a computer and hitting ‘enter’ might be over. (We’ll discuss the SID in more detail in a bit.) Today’s insurance agent must be willing to embrace new technologies and utilize platforms like chatbots, which can answer basic insurance questions, automate tasks, and provide additional value for agents by reducing the time that they need to dedicate to administrative tasks. (HubSpot)
The role of social media in influencing purchasing decisions is also changing. In the past, people would often rely on their social media followers to find them businesses that they can then patronize. However, since the inception of the pandemic, the influence of social media in consumer behavior has shifted. Now, people are more likely to learn about businesses and purchase things that they see posted on social media. (MarketingCharts)
These shifts in consumer behavior mean that traditional marketing and advertising strategies, as we know them, might not always translate into the same results. That is, instead of simply seeing increased engagement on social media as a compliment, we might find that it has actually detracted from the overall effectiveness of traditional marketing and advertising. (To learn more, check out this outstanding HubSpot blog post by Mike McDermott.)
Even with new methods of marketing and advertising emerging, the role of the insurance agent remains mostly the same. People still have questions about their insurance needs and want to find the answers from someone who knows the industry, has the authority to bind the deal, and is easy to reach.