How the Insurance Industry Can Take Advantage of the Digital RevolutionJuly 07, 2016
Here at Zoomph, we’re indulging our love of data by monitoring the trends and anomalies of key industries. Our goal is to give you a taste of what’s happening month over month in your industry, or among your clients’ industries. This time, we’re zooming in on what’s happening in the insurance industry.
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In particular, we’ll be exploring these topics:
- The challenges of marketing in a regulated industry
- How consumers are viewing insurance companies through the lens of their sponsorships
- How consumers love to talk about commercials
- What consumers talk about when they’re actually talking about insurance online
The challenges of marketing in a regulated industry
Regulated industries, like insurance, are tricky spaces to advertise in. I used to work in marketing at a life insurance company and I know how challenging it can be to get anything out the door—the processes for checking compliance and legality are painfully slow, and often limit what you’re able to say or publish. Some brilliant campaigns have to be shelved in favor of caution. There are times when this type of caution is vital—and other times when it can actually lead to problems in the public perception of your company.
While using the Zindex feeds to monitor the insurance industry, I discovered that, as a whole, insurance companies are generating more buzz around their commercials and sponsorships than they are their actual products and services.
Case in point: GEICO topped our leaderboard this month, with quite a lot of influence and volume. But what are people actually saying about GEICO?
Consumers view insurance companies through the lens of their sponsorships
Most consumers aren’t talking about GEICO’s insurance. Right now, they’re talking about GEICO’s sponsorship of CNN, and CNN’s bias against GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump supporters are planning to boycott CNN and threatening to do the same to GEICO if their sponsorship isn’t canceled. In this case, GEICO’s public perception is being dragged down by something that’s somewhat out of their control.
@GEICO If you continue to sponsor CNN who love Hillary but are anti-Trump, contrary to News reporting ethics, 14.5 million will boycott you.
— DJ Lewis (@umpire43) July 1, 2016
Since Trump earns support from millions of right-wing Americans, GEICO certainly has reason to be concerned if the Republican base follows through with this boycott. And if you take a look at the sentiment around the insurance industry over the past month, you’ll see that it takes a nose dive near the end of the period.
This is largely in part to this tweet here—and the 1,000+ retweets it garnered.
— ViveLaFrance (@vivelafra) June 29, 2016
If the CNN/GEICO blackout continues as planned, we’ll likely see a continued dip in negative sentiment, although campaigns like this usually start off with lots of steam that fizzles out toward the end. Check back in a few weeks and we’ll recap how this campaign actually affected sentiment around GEICO.
Let’s put politics aside for a minute, and look at some larger patterns here.
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What are consumers saying about Allstate and State Farm, the next two on our leaderboard?
"chicago stars at the allstate arena."
via bradheaton on Instagram pic.twitter.com/YW5i3qAKrx
— TØP Updates (@topupdating) June 7, 2016
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) June 17, 2016
They’re talking about sponsorships here, too. In fact, insurance companies focus quite a bit of their marketing efforts and dollars on sponsorships—and it shows.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m all for influencer campaigns, and a sponsorship deal is basically an influencer campaign on a massive scale.
But how many people can actually name the insurance products that GEICO sells?
We know that Geico sponsors CNN, which doesn’t support Donald Trump. We know that the gecko is the face of the brand. We know that the company promises “more than just car insurance” in their commercials.
But can you list off GEICO’s full menu of offerings beyond car insurance?
Would the average consumer have GEICO as top-of-mind if they needed to purchase commercial general liability for their business?
How about Allstate? State Farm? Do consumers know who to call for different kinds of insurance needs?
Consumers love to talk about commercials
@IanKarmel image the ones that get turned down!
— Pepperoni Bodega (@hot_trash) May 31, 2016
I bet every dude named Jake who worked at State Farm quit when that commercial came out.
— Kacy Sager (@THESagerbomb) June 4, 2016
If you're really mad that there are no male Ghostbusters, you're forgetting the guy in the Progressive insurance commercial. And Kobe Bryant
— Dave Schilling (@dave_schilling) June 28, 2016
GEICO dominates approximately 1/3 of the 151.4K+ pieces of content we analyzed around the insurance industry and popular commercials — yet another area where they’ve really made their mark.
There’s a surprising amount of race-based discussions happening around insurance commercials. In particular, Leslie Jones’ “In Good Hands” commercial for Allstate was quite controversial among the black community.
What do consumers say when they actually talk about insurance?
Well…they’re generally negative. Overwhelmingly so, in fact.
Bad enough to be in an accident. Even worse when customer service at @Progressive has been pathetically slow. Six days later = no progress.
— catt sadler (@IAmCattSadler) June 16, 2016
Maybe my car will finally get fixed from an accident @GEICO_Service accepted liability for in April. Since its June now.
— Sylvia (@TheeSylvia) June 1, 2016
— Rick Macomber (@boston_camera) June 22, 2016
It appears that the only time people post about their insurance company is when they’re angry and want to put public pressure on the company to right any perceived wrongs.
And…that’s it. It’s not a long list. Consumers simply aren’t talking about insurance outside of sponsorships and commercials.
Our key findings and recommendations
It looks to us like insurance companies are using social media to promote their mass-communication campaigns instead of tapping into the nuances of the social space. They have a real opportunity to use digital media to educate people on what makes their company stand out, and why they deserve your business. In online advertising, social media stars have an even bigger impact on your target market’s trust in your brand than the next NBA star. Take advantage! Partner with smaller-scale and more effective influencers in the digital space. (But make sure that they aren’t just any influencer with high popularity — double check that they’re people who line up with your brand’s philosophies, work, and partnerships. The right influencer is always worth more than a popular, but irrelevant one.) And, most importantly—tell people why they should buy from you.
How can your brand make an impact online?
Here are some ideas to consider:
- Get testimonials on social media
- Inform consumers on what you sell, and why, and not just who and what you sponsor
- Tap into the digital mindset by running influencer campaigns.
- Consider using physiotherapists, massage therapists, and chiropractors to speak to the benefits of working with YOUR insurance company on a claim
- Tap into popular Internet celebrities and have them do a blog on the importance of having insurance (say, a mommy blogger on life insurance as protection for her kids, or a travel blogger on travel insurance, a home décor blog on home insurance…)