industry: Insurance
Use Case: Personalized Digital Experiences

Physicians Insurance Uses Act-On to Personalize Communications and Retain Customers

Targeted and personalized communications increase engagement and drive policyholder loyalty.

Company:Physicians Insurance
Physicians Insurance - David Kinnard

David Kinnard

SVP of Business Development

Success by the numbers


Email engagement rates due to more targeted and personalized communications.


Customer retention rates due to more customized content and advanced segmentation strategies.

Realized Business Value

  • List management and data hygiene opens pathways for more targeted segmentation and an uptick in customer engagement
  • Integration with Sugar CRM saves time and resources while providing invaluable insights for brokers.
  • Personalized content and campaigns better inform numerous broker audiences and drive a significant increase in conversions.

Pain Points

  • Coping with a steadily decreasing insurance market for physicians due to established doctors leaving their independent practices to work for larger clinics and hospitals with their own self-insurance programs.
  • Struggling to expand their business model to market to a more broad and diverse range of buyers, such as hospital administrators and executives.
  • Ineffective email service providers didn’t properly integrate with their internal systems and failed to provide the complex segmentation needed to deploy targeted and personalized communications.

Customer Challenge

A study by Johns Hopkins University found that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States and claims the lives of more than 250,000 Americans each year. It can also be traumatic for the physicians and medical teams working with patients. Forbes reported that 75% of doctors in low-risk specialties have faced a malpractice claim at some point in their careers, and a Diederich Healthcare analysis revealed that in 2017, medical malpractice payouts to plaintiffs totaled nearly $4 billion.

These statistics indicate a great need for malpractice insurance, but changes in the marketplace have created new challenges for the companies that sell it.

“The insurable market has been shrinking because many established physicians have been leaving independent practices to work for large clinics and hospitals that have their own self-insurance programs, and younger physicians are bypassing practice ownership altogether,” said David Kinard, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Physicians Insurance. “Coupled with this, we also are marketing to a new buyer, such as hospital administrators and executives.”

These shifts made it critical for Physicians Insurance to more fully engage a broader range of buyers. The solution was to deliver targeted content that addressed the specific needs of each buyer persona, but Kirstin Williams, Physicians Insurance’s Marketing Program Manager, said the company’s MarTech wasn’t up to the challenge.

“We were first using Constant Contact, then MailChimp, both of which didn’t integrate well with our internal systems or support the complex audience segmentations we were aiming for,” she said. “Personalizing our content was difficult because we had to manage and segment our lists manually. The process was time-consuming, labor-intensive, and prone to error.”

The company’s first move was to purchase SugarCRM, which integrated with their internal systems. But they also needed a marketing automation platform that would allow them to streamline operations – and to nurture their diverse buyers with relevant content.

5 Marketing Challenges Facing Insurance Brokerages

Customer Approach and Solution

David and Kirstin considered several platforms, including Marketo and HubSpot, but ultimately chose Act-On for its powerful functionality, and because it integrated seamlessly with Sugar, which gave them access to all the data they had internally.

Physicians Insurance relies heavily on a relational approach to selling insurance. And most of the company’s revenue comes from maintaining its core book of business, so customer retention is a critical component of their strategy.

To do this, Kirstin used Act-On to implement three monthly customer newsletters. The first provided resources to help companies reduce the risk of medical errors. The second delivered thought-leadership content, and a third was sent to brokers to educate them about resources, and to support them in servicing their clients. Act-On simplified the entire process.

“Act-On made it easy to segment my audience by their job title, specialty, geographic region – even the size of their clinic, and then tailor the content in my newsletters to each group. With just a few clicks, I could alert administrators to a potential cyber threat, offer obstetricians online courses about new developments in managing post-partum hemorrhage, and promote a live seminar to physicians in Portland,” Kirstin said. “And Act-On’s drag-and-drop editor made it easy to build each piece and repurpose the branded look for future messages. The platform helped me deliver the right content to the right buyer.”

Kirstin also leveraged Act-On’s reports to make these and other communications more effective. For example, by tracking and assessing how buyers interacted with her messages, Kirstin learned that doctors read their emails very early in the morning, as well as on holidays and their days off, depending on their specialty. “Act-On gave me the insight I needed to better strategize how we engage our different audience segments,” Kirstin said.

And Act-On’s integration with Sugar benefited both marketing and sales. “Act-On and Sugar has enabled us to leverage the wealth of data in our internal systems by syncing automatically, so my lists are always up to date,” Kirstin said. “Sales reps use the Act-On dashboard in Sugar to follow buyer engagement and determine how to best respond.”

Using Act-On to send content designed to meet the diverse needs of their buyers has led to email open rates as high as 31% for existing clients and a customer retention rate of more than 95%.

Increased Engagement Leads to Improved Customer Retention

“Act-On has helped us personalize and expand our messaging, while also reducing costs,” David said. “Automating our programs makes it easy and inexpensive to send more meaningful communications, whether they are one-to-one, one-to-some, or one-to-many.”

The platform has also helped Kirstin work more efficiently. “Act-On saves me a great deal of time managing and segmenting my lists,” she said. “I used to have to ask IT to download every list from our database systems, and then upload it into another tool. Now the process is streamlined, which frees me to focus on programs that add more value.”

Kirstin also credits Act-On with deepening the company’s relationship with its buyers. “Engaging our clients with all the services we provide is imperative for maintaining long-term relationships, but our clients face other mission-critical priorities with their patients all day,” Kirstin said. “With Act-On I can have a consistent, high-quality presence in their inbox by continuously assessing and improving my campaigns. This ongoing optimization allows me to provide greater value to our clients, who then become more loyal and expand their business with us.”

David heartily agrees, and says that Act-On has provided additional gains that are perhaps even more valuable. “Act-On’s customer service is exceptional. They’ve been a terrific partner from the moment they gave us our first demo, through installation, onboarding, and beyond,” he said.

5 Marketing Challenges Facing Insurance Brokerages

About Physicians Insurance

Physicians Insurance is the premier provider of medical professional liability insurance for physicians, clinics, and hospitals in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Wyoming, and Idaho.

Serving more than 8,500 members throughout the Pacific Northwest, Physicians Insurance provides risk-management counseling, continuing medical education, and claims administration services.

The company has grown to be the largest insurer of physicians in Washington, the largest insurer of rural, critical access hospitals in Oregon and Washington, and is rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company.