SXSW 2015: Esurance Uses Big Data to Drive Engagement

Most consumers don’t engage with their insurance companies on social and across other digital spaces, but Esurance isn’t most insurance companies. Esurance sat down with ClickZ at South by Southwest to talk about using data to drive engagement. 

Unlike most insurance brands, Esurance considers itself a tech start-up that has collected data to personalize the user experience since 1999, according to Alan Gellman, chief marketing officer (CMO), of the company. “People expect personalization,” Gellman said. “We take a holistic approach for a broad digital strategy to create surround sound for engagement, and we measure everything.” 

For example, in Esurance’s Super Bowl campaign, which featured ads starring Lindsay Lohan and Bryan Cranston, the brand teased the spots on social for weeks beforehand, using its stars’ celebrity status to garner interest. After the ads ran, Esurance monitored social media response as well as site traffic to measure the boost in brand awareness.

“We’re only 15 years old, but we’ve become a $1.5 billion company by leveraging data. We can quantify how much awareness and consideration a campaign brings to the brand. For example, we look through huge numbers of tweets and measure spikes in engagement to find new ways to talk to our customers in ways that resonate.”

Esurance sometimes even uses that social data to fix campaigns that go awry. For instance, the brand recently released a series of Spotify ads that alternated sounds from left to right in listeners’ earbuds. Consumers took to Twitter to complain, and Esurance was listening. They cancelled the spots shortly after. 

Esurance also has a tech team that has created exclusive data collection tools to help the company develop new products. For example, in 2014 Esurance launched its homeowners insurance program, and in order to help customers personalize their plans, Esurance’s team put together visuals to help new customers answer questions about their homes.

“When you buy insurance, they ask you questions like ‘What kind of roof do you have?’ No one knows what kind of roof they have. So we just ask customers to click on the picture that looks like their roof.” 

“We’re using the digital space for customer’s benefit,” Esurance vice president of advertising Nancy Abraham told ClickZ. And as other, older insurance companies struggle to gain a foothold in the digital world, Esurance thrives on social and in data collection because the start-up was born and lives online. “We belong in the digital space, and it’s clear to our customers,” Abraham said.

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