Majority of Consumers Use the Internet as a Research Tool

Most clients research insurance products on the Internet before they make a purchasing decision, according to a new LIMRA study. While the Internet has served as an important selling tool for some time, the percentage of people who use it as their main source of information for insurance has increased dramatically in the last few years.

Financial professionals who want to maximize client engagement must create a compelling online presence that establishes a relationship with consumers. The Internet has grown into the dominant research tool for today’s consumers, but it may be usurped by other Web-based technologies in the near future. Apps – small mobile programs that use Internet connectivity to provide quick access to information – may represent the next frontier in Internet-based selling.

Research moves online

Financial professionals should aim to be consumers’ primary source for information about insurance products, and that relationship is increasingly based on an Internet presence.

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau found more than 83 percent of Americans had internet connections. These numbers represent a massive increase from just a decade ago. Widespread adoption of Internet-capable computers has dramatically shifted how consumers interact with the world, and that change is likely to continue as the number of people online expands further and people become more comfortable with these technologies.

How consumers use the Internet

Despite the Internet’s popularity as a research tool, it has not usurped the financial professional’s role. Just 9 percent of consumers began their insurance research as a result of online information. It is far more common for consumers to learn about products offline before seeking out more information through online research. While many people trust the information online, financial professionals remain the most trusted source of information and advice for the majority of consumers. A large contingent of consumers follow their online research by completing a purchase through a financial professional they discovered online.

To harness consumers’ taste for online research, insurance producers should create highly educational websites that also feature frictionless ways to locate and contact financial professionals. This approach establishes the producer as a trustworthy source for information, and ensures that consumers will be able to easily find a financial professional for further questions or a final purchase.

A slight shift in the future

Right now, a strong webpage allows financial professionals to effectively communicate with consumers in the research process. That could change in the future, however, as the internet moves to a more app-centric model. Apps that run on phones and other mobile devices can offer a more convenient way for consumers to access content that would traditionally be posted on a website. Because the app is installed on a user’s device, however, it presents a substantially different opportunity than a standard webpage.

According to Insurance Age, apps may provide consumers with a more convenient way to access important information and can incorporate systems that make it easy to contact financial professionals. Consumers who have downloaded an app may be less likely to seek information through internet searches that could direct them to a competitor’s website. It’s possible that apps will allow financial professionals to instill their digital presence with a more personal sensibility.

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