The Digital Tools That Drive Growth

Using more advanced tools to drive growth

So which digital tools drive growth?

Our research looked at which digital capabilities were most correlated with revenue growth. Our 2020 survey found seven digital capabilities highly correlated with growth, spanning the range of complexity from fundamentals to modernizations and innovations. (Read our previous report to learn more about the digital hierarchy from fundaments to innovations).

In 2021, five digital tools were correlated with growth. Only two (online quoting and live online chat) were also correlated with revenue growth in 2020.

These tools may be a good starting place for agencies that want to improve or optimize their digital capabilities.

5 revenue-driving digital capabilities

Hover over the pyramid to see the 5 digital tools that were highly correlated with growth in 2021


  • 5 Google Ads
  • 4 Call Tracking


  • 3 Live online chat
  • 2 Self-service portal


  • 1 Online quoting

Agencies that aim for aggressive growth are more likely to use digital

Our research found that the most forward-thinking, growth-focused agencies use more digital tools than those that aim for slow and steady growth.

When asked about their agency growth plans, roughly one-third of survey respondents said their agencies are aiming for aggressive growth, such as doubling the agency size in five years.

These growth-focused agencies grew annual revenue at a rate more than double that of agencies planning for slow and steady growth. And they stood out from the rest in their hiring strategies, digital use, workplace cultures and more.

Growth-focused agencies are more likely to be high digital adopters and invest in digital tools alongside other growth tactics. They are also more likely to track the source of new business to digital marketing activities.

When it comes to digital tools, growth-focused agencies are more likely than other agencies to go beyond the fundamentals and focus on the more complex tools we’ve categorized as modernizations and innovations.

Digital tools used by growth-focused agencies vs. slow and steady growth agencies

Growth-focused agencies
Slow and steady agencies
Self-service portal
Video calls
Live online chat
Video quotes and policy reviews
Paid Facebook ads
Chatbot or AI

Pulling all the growth levers

Growth-focused agencies clearly recognize that digital tools can help them grow.

When asked about their five-year agency growth plans, 60% of growth-focused agencies said they planned to invest in new digital capabilities, as opposed to 42% of slow and steady growth agencies.

Fifty-five percent said they planned to increase their marketing investment, as opposed to 35% of slow and steady agencies. And 30% planned to hire a dedicated marketing specialist, compared with just 11% of slow and steady agencies.

Growth-focused agencies are also more likely than other agencies to include looking for new lead sources, adding new producers, targeting new market segments and adding new products in their growth plans.

Forward-thinking agencies are using digital tools strategically alongside other growth tactics to sustain their momentum.

Emerging trend: Increased concerns about cyber liability

With more business interactions taking place online, cyberattacks have become increasingly common, affecting both businesses and individuals.

Global cybercrime costs are projected to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. A 2021 survey by Norton found that more than half of all consumers had experienced a cybercrime at some point and more than 1 in 3 had experienced one in the last 12 months.

Agents are aware of the threats related to cyber. Our research found that cyber liability is one of the emerging issues that most concerns agents. Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents predicted that the need for cyber liability would have a major effect on their agencies by 2025. This was up from 46% who thought the same in 2017.

Click through to the next section for resources to help you strategically implement digital in your agency.