July 2, 2018

Using data science to target multi-channel marketing recruitment spend towards longer term customer value

This paper will explain why targeting your marketing spend towards longer term customer value is not a one-dimensional problem. For instance, a group that may look bad by one criteria like retention may within it have sub groups that are of high value, and others that are the reverse.

  • Background

This case study has been derived from working with a substantial life insurance broker who has been using multiple channels to recruit customers in the UK.

We were asked to look at how best to target customer value as judged by the commission returned in the first 24 months from recruitment.

To give some insight into the kinds of issues we were presented with, lapsing early (i.e. in the first 24 months since inception) was one of the main causes of loss of customer value.

Lapsing early was found more amongst people recruited via outbound direct marketing channels than through more self-driven channels such as inbound to web. It was also correlated with the sum assured and the monthly premium. However direct recruiting is cheaper and higher premiums bring more commission.

The relationship between lapsing early and age was non-linear, with both younger and older people lapsing more than those in the middle.

As well as different recruitment channels having different costs per acquisition they also attract different age groups and sums assured.

  • Approach

So with so many factors at work how did we set about finding the best marketing tactics to deliver the highest return on recruitment marketing spend?

1 We discovered that lapses in the first six months are very reliable predictors of the propensity to lapse within 24 months for every customer group (we got an R² of 0.99 when fitting our predicted curve to the observed data); this meant that we did not have to wait for 24months worth of history before making a prediction of lapse rates.

2 The customer groups we were using were defined by a combination of age range, sum assured, and channel.

3 We used a combination of known lapse experience with predicted to build the overall expectation not only of overall lapse rates but also when lapses would occur.

4 The net customer value metric we used was the commission income up to 24 months after probability of lapse minus the cost of recruitment from the channel used.

5 Hence for each customer group we could predict the net customer value; we also knew the historic number of policies being sold in each group and hence we could calculate their overall value.

6 The net customer value by customer group ranged from -£1X to +£5X. This enabled our client to focus their marketing on areas where the net contribution was positive, customer numbers were substantial, and the required age groups could be targeted.

  • In conclusion

The focus for this client’s marketing turned away from broad brush channels like daytime TV towards direct marketing approaches. This switch made a very substantial difference to returns but with two caveats. First many direct marketing channels have a finite capacity, and second all recruitment channels suffer from saturation; in other words, the greater your spend in them, the worse the return.

However we strongly recommend that when looking at the effectiveness of different marketing tactics that you take a multivariate approach; that is allow the full effect of all factors on net customer value to be taken into account