With a global business model built primarily around face-to-face selling, MetLife spent 2020 reimagining their sales and marketing approach to focus on digital selling and content marketing. We recently sat down with Matt Diiorio, MetLife’s Assistant Vice President of Global Brand & Marketing, to talk about how marketing has changed, as well as his predictions for the near future.
studioID: Tell us about what your day looks like – without a global pandemic complicating matters.
Matt: As the leader of the global demand-generation practice at MetLife, my role is determining how we can best generate demand for our products. I am responsible for helping marketers think through everything from “How do we progress people and prospects to the marketing funnel?” to “How do we generate quality leads for our agents?” The challenge is that every customer has a different journey, and we must deliver the experience that’s right for each specific person. As part of answering these – and many other – questions, we have to decide the right platforms, technology, content, tactics and experience to actually deliver on those needs.
studioID: What is your favorite part of your role?
Matt: Because I work with marketers and business partners across the world, I find it very exciting to be able to apply what we learn while working in one country or region to other parts of the world. It’s so important for us to really understand all of our customers – no matter where they are. I’ve spent a lot of time interviewing current customers to understand their pain points, needs and how we can deliver the right customer experience.
studioID: Let’s talk about MetLife’s almost overnight pivot from selling in-person to digital marketing.
Matt: Once we realized that face-to-face meetings were not likely to be possible for the short-term future, we had to step back and rethink the entire customer journey and how we engage with our customers. We had to answer many questions very quickly. What content should we send before a video meeting? What should we send after a meeting? How can we use the different touch points for communication, such as SMS, email, WeChat and WhatsApp? We were able to quickly make decisions based on having access to data that gave us insight into our customers’ needs and expectations.
studioID: Was there any part of digital marketing that became more important during the pandemic?
While digital was already a key driver, especially in our key markets, the pandemic made us place more emphasis on business-focused metrics, such as conversation rates, CPL and CPAs, instead of traditional impression and reach type metrics. The other change was that we really thought about creating an organic journey for our customers, meaning how we use SEO and to actually create the content that people are searching for online.
We took this even further – we began thinking of the entire paid, owned and earned landscape as one, not individual levers.
studioID: What’s the biggest challenge right now for marketing leaders?
For me, hands down, it’s attribution to sales. At the end of the day, how do we show that we can deliver qualified leads to our sales team, but also show that marketing activities have a direct impact on sales? To do this, we need to stitch data across the entire journey, which is really difficult with multiple data owners and data sources. The answer is a comprehensive data strategy in partnership with marketing, business and IT to show that the dollars invested in marketing pay off.
studioID: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given related to marketing?
Matt: One of my first bosses told me that it’s okay to not know everything, and the goal is to challenge yourself to learn new things to the point that you are uncomfortable. As an industry – and as marketers – we need to challenge ourselves to learn new things. At MetLife, we call new things we are trying “pilots”, which gives permission to see if something works or not. We use what we learn to not make the same mistakes twice. It’s up to each individual marketer to continue to learn how to create better customer experiences by leveraging the right content, data, and technology. Otherwise, you are going to fall behind the curve.
studioID: Let’s talk about trends. What’s the biggest marketing trend that you are currently seeing?
Matt: At the end of 2020 we had a presentation about top trends in 2021, and the top three were personalization, optimization and segmentation. While I agree with all of these on the surface, they actually point to what I think is an underlying trend – a comprehensive data strategy. You need data to implement personalization, optimization and segmentation to deliver the right customer experience.
But even more than just data, you need access to the right data – and then the ability to act on the data.
I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy to do this. And it’s tricky. But a data strategy really is the key piece that we need to succeed as marketers.
studioID: We are really impressed with how MetLife crafts a layered brand story. Can you share how you achieve this marketing goal?
Matt: For us at MetLife, our brand story, which is about being a trusted partner that helps customers navigate their changing lives, is really our reason for existing. This means being there for our customers in the moments that they need our support, whether it’s the right experience, service or product. And we try to keep this at the center of all our content. At the end of the day, we try to remember that throughout the end-to-end customer journey, it’s the moments that matter. We are continually asking what we can actually create to reinforce who we are to our customers. Our hope is not to sell you insurance, but that you want to partner with us because all of your interactions with us show you that we are the right choice for you.
studioID: Thanks so much, Matt, for this insightful conversation. Is there anything else that you want to leave us with?
Matt: One of the challenges with our industry is that our customer journey isn’t linear or transactional. We often have customers who aren’t ready to buy from us immediately. Instead of us offering a product and our customers buying it, we build relationships – for life, in many cases – with our customers. By using data to create the right customer experiences through content, we can be there for our customers in the moments that they need us.