As a consequence of the move to stop car insurers from offering exclusive deals on comparison websites, companies have had to adapt their online marketing strategies in order to stand out from the competition.
In its final report on the £11bn private motor insurance market, the Competition and Markets Authority recommended a ruling that would prevent restriction of competition and stop car insurance premiums from rising, according to The Guardian.In this post, we consider the ability of car insurers to compete with comparison engines.
Now that the ruling has been adopted, car insurers can no longer undercut their competitors by offering drastically cheaper policies on comparison sites; insurers can only advertise the best deals on their own websites, which will undoubtedly decrease their influence on consumers and sales.
The question now is whether car insurance companies will ever be able to compete with comparison engines in terms of traffic to their sites and conversions.
The Power of Comparison Search Engines
In the last decade, consumers have increasingly turned to price comparison websites for the best deals on insurance and other products and services.
According to research by Consumer Futures, as cited by Search Engine Journal in March, over half of users (52 percent) use Comparison Search Engines (CSEs) on a regular basis for their online shopping, and 80 per cent use them to find better prices for goods, thus making them an excellent tool for retailers.
With their competitors’ prices available for immediate reference, car insurers can offer more intense competition. This development, coupled with CSEs sharing insurance companies’ data with thousands of sites across the world, gave car insurers wider exposure, attracted more traffic to their sites, and, subsequently, boosted their conversion rates.
The result, Search Engine Journal notes, was an average conversion rate of traffic from CSEs of 2.56 percent. Furthermore, according to PPC Hero, retailers saw an increase of up to 20 percent in website traffic last year thanks to price comparison sites.
Similarly, search engine advertising campaigns, unlike individual insurers’ campaigns, tend to reach a greater number of people. Adthena’s data compiled between 31 August to 27 September 2014 indicates that comparison sites achieved a larger Share of Voice (SOV) overall than insurers’ websites.
Go Compare achieved a 27 percent SOV compared to 15 percent for Direct Line, 10 percent for Churchill, and 9 percent for Aviva.
Lastly, NI Business claims that price comparison sites achieve results and are deemed good value for money in terms of Pay Per Click budget. This is in part because price comparison websites guarantee car insurers access to customers looking for their products and services.
What the Rule Changes Mean for Insurers
Since car insurers can no longer offer better deals on price comparison sites, they’ve been forced to work harder to stand out.
Interestingly, this is perhaps not the case for Admiral, which owns Confused.com, or Esure, which owns half of Go Compare, as these comparison sites will now be able to offer cheaper prices for their own insurance brands, James Daley, founder of Fairer Finance, told the Telegraph.
But just how hard will other car insurers have to work if they are ever to compete with price comparison sites in terms of SOV and reach?
Despite the popularity and success of CSEs noted above, data obtained by Adthena reveals some surprising insights. While CSEs did achieve a larger overall SOV in the August-September period, their success rates fluctuated over that time period. On some occasions, car insurers actually achieved a larger Share of Voice than their CSE competitors.
This was the case for one car insurer, the AA, which achieved a greater SOV than Go Compare on 21 September and at the beginning of that month. Also surprising is that the most popular keywords searched for by consumers during that same period were not the names of comparison sites.
According to the figures, after ‘car insurance,’ the most popular keywords were ‘direct line insurance’ with 86,948 hits, followed by ‘axa car insurance’ at 39,062 hits. Other insurers, including ‘Sheila’s wheels car insurance,’ ‘tesco car insurance’ and ‘AA car insurance’ also achieved traffic of more than 20,000 hits each.
How Car Insurers Can Increase Their Conversions
One way insurers can heighten their conversions is by refining their Pay Per Click (PPC) keywords. Adthena’s data suggests that car insurance companies should ensure that their PPC keywords include generic car insurance terms they can muster. By taking this advice into account, car insurers can overcome these imposed disadvantages and gain a large share of the market back from Comparison Search Engines.
(Main image credit: epSos.de/Flickr)