Image from: Auto Insurance/Shutterstock
The leading auto insurance carriers have invested heavily to inject a large dose of humor into their fierce battle for customers. On a nightly basis, FLO, Mayhem, the GEICO gecko and other light-hearted spokespersons trumpet their respective brands on TV. One battlefield that attracts less attention, unless you happen to actually be in-market for auto insurance, is search engine results pages. There, a consumer’s erstwhile search for insurance unleashes a barrage of ads from the likes of Progressive, GEICO, State Farm, and Allstate to fill the page.
For all of the brand- focused advertising intended to drive consumers to the respective websites, consumers often go instead to search engines and use generic rather than brand-specific keywords when shopping for insurance. It is therefore on the resulting search results pages that the battle often rages. Insurance carriers invest heavily in search marketing to acquire new customers. Across the leading carriers, approximately 3 in 10 website visits are generated from search engines.
While State Farm is the most reliant on search for traffic, which carrier is most successful in standing out from its peers in search engine results and subsequently driving shoppers to its site?
Our analysis focused on generic “auto insurance” searches, rather than brand-only searches such as “Progressive” or “GEICO” as this provided an even playing field for all carriers. When a consumer conducts such a search, they effectively trigger a jump ball among all the insurance providers.
In terms of simply being “present” following consumers’ auto insurance searches, GEICO takes the prize. In the second quarter of this year, GEICO appeared at least once, as either a paid or natural listing, on 67% of all resulting search results pages. While rivals are also a mainstay in results, GEICO appears 17% more often in search than its next closest rival, Progressive and 27% more often than the average of all its peers.
Although GEICO is the brand most likely to be found listed at least once, and in fact appears 1.8 times on average per page when present, Progressive strives to blanket the pages it appears on, chalking up an impressive average of 3 listings per page. Progressive listings per page numbered 66% higher than GEICO during the second quarter, and helped the carrier clearly stand out from rivals.
Although many factors contribute to a brand’s ability to generate a search click, such as page ranking, page position and the text of the ad, Progressive’s aggressive strategy of maximizing the number of appearances it generates per page, combined with its strong presence in general, resulted in the highest clickthrough capture rate of its peers. During Q2, Progressive captured 10.4% of all clicks from generic auto insurance searches, compared to its next closest rivals GEICO and Esurance which earned 6.2% and 4.9% respectively.
Progressive’s has succeeded in building a dominating position on this critical battlefront and rivals would be well served to reevaluate the degree they are truly winning their fair share of auto insurance prospects.
As VP of Millward Brown Digital’s financial services, retail and consumer products practices, Matt is responsible for vertical growth and strategy and the delivery of digital insights and best practice marketing consulting to leading Fortune 500 advertisers. Follow Matt on Twitter @mattpace.