Insurance marketers broaden reach by expanding into new channels

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Hiscox and Esurance hope to build brand preference with direct mail and print tactics
Hiscox and Esurance hope to build brand preference with direct mail and print tactics
As for direct mail copy, some health insurers are using longer-form information to help customers understand current healthcare law, and copywriters are also thinking about the coming onslaught of aging baby boomers, says Rubin.

Howard calls national television the most efficient media buy for Esurance. “We buy our national TV as DRTV, so we typically get the best rates and the best clearance across cable networks,” he says. “We're also a big player in direct response syndication, but we do not really play on a regular basis in the broadcast prime world. Esurance's competitors like TV, too. Progressive, Geico and Allstate all launched new spots at the end of 2010 or the beginning of this year, and Geico partnered with Xtranormal (a DIY animation site that entered the national consciousness with a viral video making fun of iPhone obsessives) for a TV spot.

Radio, on the other hand, has been a less successful affair lately, admits Howard, as more listeners move away from traditional, terrestrial radio. “We're still running terrestrial radio at this point, but it's taking us a lot more radio station buys in a market to really achieve the reach that we want to achieve in that market,” says Howard.

Esurance has also launched iPhone and Windows 7 mobile apps in the last year. 

Howard says the iPhone app, primarily for use by existing customers, launched last summer, and has had 30,000 downloads to date. Esurance has also experimented with Google's AdMob for mobile users. Blue Cross recently launched a mobile website and communicates with members when they log on, says Lynn Locke, senior manager of database marketing at BCBS Florida.

Online, Esurance's Facebook sweepstakes, “The Best Nickname Contest Ever,” asks participants to submit a photo of their car, and explain how the car got its nickname. Ten winners are chosen each week, and one winner picks up $522 — the amount of money a consumer would supposedly save with an Esurance policy — each week. The contest will run January 5 to March 11.

Howard believes the contest can build brand preference “so that next time they're in the market for auto insurance, they'll come and get a quote from us.”

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