Life Insurance companies need to improve their websites, Forrester’s study finds


The number of people who conduct research online before making a purchase decision continues to increase each year. Your company website is more important than ever to your bottom line as digital touch points are continuing to reshape the customer journey and the way that Canadians are researching and buying life insurance.

In a recent study, Toronto based Forrester Research used their Digital Sales Functionality Benchmark methodology to evaluate the digital functionality of leading Canadian life insurance companies, and how well they are using digital touch points to win new business. The evaluations were categorized into three stages of the client experience journey:

  • Discover: Make it easy for prospects to find relevant coverage details quickly
  • Explore: Help prospects research and find the right coverage
  • Buy: Simplify the application and sale
Results of the Study

Overall, the study found that most of Canada’s largest life insurance companies are doing a poor job of helping prospects find adequate information online about life insurance. The study also found that these life insurance firms are less effective in helping consumers pick the right coverage and Advisor.

The study evaluated the public websites of four Canadian life insurance companies:  Great-West Life Assurance based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Empire Life Insurance based in Kingston, Ontario, and Toronto based Sun Life, Kanetix, and Manufacturers Life Insurance (Manulife).

Sun Life earned the top score of 75 out of 100 in the study. The report outlines how Sun Life communicates its strong value proposition, its ability to help clients navigate information to suit their needs and inform their choices, and the support it offers to clients looking for an advisor with a strong advisor locator tool. On the contrary, the study found that all of the companies have a ways to go to improve their websites, as the average industry score was only 47 out of 100. Forrester found that most of the other companies’ websites were inadequate in terms of providing tools to connect clients with local Advisors.

Given Advisors represent the most popular channel among Canadians to purchase life insurance, it is surprising that most websites fall short in terms of providing prospects with tools to connect clients with Advisors. A strong Advisor locator tool could help translate into more sales. One of the goals of a website is to take away the work from your prospects, making it as easy as possible to do what they want to do. The easier it is to complete an action, the more likely that action is to be completed.

Additionally, the report found the other areas of improvement include:

  • Tools to help clients and prospects get a quote and fill out an insurance application.
  • Information and tools to help prospects determine what type of coverage suits them, and how much.
  • After getting prospects attention, converting that attention into a sale.

The Forrester report explains that Life Insurance companies must address the cross-touchpoint shopping behaviors that exists in the life insurance market. Consumers are moving outside of the traditional buyer journey by changing the way they research and buy products. They are using digital touch points to research their options and move themselves through the buyer journey. Life insurance companies must respond to this new customer journey with a well designed, easy to navigate website, with clear calls to action. This is one of the most important factors in attracting and converting the new digital life insurance customer.

Before Upgrading Your Website – Part 2


Is it time to upgrade your website? As discussed in Part 1 of this series, it is impossible to ignore the fact that most people “Google” almost everything. In fact, according to Nextopia, 86% of Baby Boomers and 90% of Millennials routinely research products online. For Financial Advisors, a professional and relevant website is becoming so critical to their business that it cannot be ignored. A website not only helps keep Investment Advisors in touch with their clients but will be necessary to gain and service new clients in the future.

So where do you start? You might be feeling that this will take time and may even be a little painful. The best way to begin is to take the steps to have all the aspects of your website well thought out so that it tells a cohesive story about you and your business.  Here are things you should consider before you begin in order to make the process more constructive and maybe even pain free.

  1. Carve out some time to work on this. Book some uninterrupted time in your calendar to go plan out what your site will look like and what you want your visitors to “feel” when they come to your site.
  2. Take a look at your competitors’ websites. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take note of what you like and what grabs your attention. It is also important to note what you don’t like or what makes you lose interest. These negatives can be great in helping you avoid some of the pitfalls of a poor website design.
  3. Create your BRAND. This is very important! Your website is a reflection of you, how you do business and what your strengths and values are. Start by asking yourself these questions:
  • What makes you unique?
  • What do you like most about your business?
  • What do your clients like about you?
  • What are your business values?
  • How would you like to appear to others?
  1. Create a tagline. Taglines are like slogans or mini mission statements that can succinctly describe who you are and what you stand for. Once you have determined your BRAND, you can work at developing a tagline which can be displayed prominently on your website. Just to be clear, this is not a value proposition but a short, catchy phrase which reflects you and your business.
  2. Create your topics. Topics will be represented in different pages on your website or links found in the navigation bar at the top of your page. Take a look at other sites to get an idea of what you might want to include for example, “About Us” and “Products and Services”. It is important, however, that you make sure that you have at least one topic that reflects what makes you unique.
  3. Create your text. Good text is the backbone of your website. This is also where many websites get it wrong. A long, rambling essay is not going to attract the attention of your website visitors. Define what you want to get across about your business, use clear and friendly language, be concise, and be direct. Let them know, in an obvious way, why they should do business with you. Calls-to-Action are important to encourage your visitors to interact with your website.
  4. Use professional photos. Your visitors want to see a photo of you and your team. Much like house buyers looking at houses online will only consider those which have photos, most people will likely not show interest in your site if there are no pictures. Try to get several different poses of you and your team, including some that seem more spontaneous.
  5. Add interest by using stock photos. One of the most important things to take into consideration when designing your website is how users think. Think about how you navigate websites when you are online. Most users want instant gratification and a website which gives them interesting and credible information fast. They scan, not read, a website which means you have to grab their attention immediately in order for them to remain interested. You can do this by adding pictures to complement your text. Stock photos are a good way of making your point in an instant.
  6. Consider ways to keep your website fresh. Keeping your website fresh and updated has probably not been your number one priority and may seem like too much work. However, consider this, updating can result in more traffic to your site, allows you to deliver information in a timely fashion and to more individuals and lets you repeat your BRAND and uniqueness to visitors. On the other hand, not updating your website may create a negative opinion. There are many ways to keep your site updated by blogging, creating newsletters, market updates, and demonstrating community involvement. How you do it will probably depend on your firm and what support they provide.


Marielle Demers is an Investment Advisor Coach who has worked with Advisors across the country. She has been in the financial business for over 20 years and strongly believes that Canadians should be using an Investment Advisor for all their investment needs. As a coach, she also believes that the most important part of building a strong financial business is to see it through the clients’ eyes. She works with other experts to help you build a customized plan and to IMPLEMENT that Plan. Marielle can be reached at or 416 540 5158

Why you NEED a professional website! | Part 1


Recently, I have been looking for a new dentist, someone who practices closer to where we live, in order to avoid the stress of the Toronto commute. Some friends graciously provided me with the names of dentists in our area. You might not be surprised to learn that the first thing I did was “google” them. What might be surprising is that the professionalism and look of each of their websites influenced me more than I expected. I became annoyed at those who did not bother to have a website and was pleasantly surprised by those who took the time to set up a professional website to convey their business practices.

As a Financial Advisor, it is important for you too to communicate your business practices and to do so in a professional manner. One of the best ways to do this is through your website. While most Financial Advisors have websites, a large majority of them do not make it a priority to upgrade them in order to use them as a communication, marketing or prospecting tool. So take the time to look at your website to see if it is a reflection of you and if it is something you are proud to have your clients and prospects “Google”.

Here are the reasons why my clients tell me they have not made their websites a priority:

1)              “I don’t know where to start.” One of the most important aspects of a good website is to have it be a reflection of you, your uniqueness and your strengths. Discovering what you want to communicate about your business takes a little time and consideration but it is well worth it as it can become the cornerstone of every aspect of your business. Start at the beginning and write down what your clients should know about you.

2)              “I don’t have time to do that.” Most of the time, I find that it is not time that is the issue but priority. Make it a priority and carve out time to work on it.

3)              “It costs too much.” Some Financial Advisors’ firms provide access to a web platform and to a department that can upgrade their website at no cost. If your firm does not provide free access, the cost of a website has come down significantly. In addition, the return on investment of a website is so high it has now become simply “the cost of doing business”.


So, why should you have a professional website?

1)              Don’t ignore the fact that everybody “Googles”. It’s just a fact. Your audiences are Googling everything from menus, store hours to product reviews. You want potential clients to find you online and you want to make the best first impression.

2)              The Baby Boomers are redeeming assets and the next generations are investing. Finding clients who want to invest and grow their money is a must for your business. The Echo Boomers and Generation X’s and Y’s are reliant on social media and the Internet for information. It would be safe to say that a website will be the minimum necessity for your business in the years to come.

3)              You will gain credibility. Executed properly, a professional website will not only create a great impression of you and your business, but will give you more credibility. In this very competitive environment, credibility and confidence can make the difference between a client and a prospect.

4)              You can build relationships. Yes, it’s true. If you would like to see a good example of this, take a look at Coca Cola’s website. Their primary goal is to create a “feeling” and build relationships. You can do this by adding “non-financial” information such as community involvement, charitable endeavours, local events, and relevant trending topics.

5)              You will save time and money. Although it is true that there will be a cross section of your clients who will NOT go to your website for information, the trend will be towards more and more individuals accessing it to gain insight. Providing information to your clients and prospects takes time and your time is money. A website is up and running 24-7.

6)              You will improve your client servicing. There are most likely some types of questions that your clients often ask you… Or facts that they always want to have access to. Your website can provide these facts and can also answer FAQs as a value-add.

7)              You can use your website as a quarterback to your other social media accounts. The financial industry is slower to broadly adopt social media due to compliance and logistic issues. However, because many people are now using social media as a source of news and information, more wealth firms are starting to encourage their Advisors to sign-up to sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. Once on social media, Advisors can direct traffic to their websites for more information.

Next time: What You Need To Think About Before Upgrading Your Website – Part 2


About The Author

Marielle Demers is an Investment Advisor Coach who has worked with Advisors across the country. She has been in the financial business for over 20 years and strongly believes that Canadians should be using an Investment Advisor for all their investment needs. As a coach, she also believes that the most important part of building a strong financial business is to see it through the clients’ eyes. She works with other experts to help you build a customized plan and to IMPLEMENT that Plan. Marielle can be reached at or 416 540 5158.