Insurers have tried a variety of enticements to get people to
"like" them on Facebook -- from enrollment in sweepstakes to
company donations for social causes.
Now Esurance is upping the ante: The San Francisco-based company
is offering a 10 percent discount on auto insurance to new or
current customers in Texas and Arizona who "like" Esurance on
New customers who sign up for car insurance and "like" the
company get the discount right away. Current customers can get the
discount when they renew their policies.
"It really fits with our insurance brand in a way many other
companies can't match," Esurance spokesperson Danny Miller
With roots as a Silicon Valley startup, Esurance provides auto
insurance direct to the consumer online, over the phone and through
select agents, including sister company Answer Financial. The
insurer, acquired by Allstate in 2011, promotes its line of
products as "insurance for the modern world" and a "smart choice
for Web-savvy consumers."
Here's more about how
insurance companies are trying hard to be "Liked"
So what's in it for Esurance?
"The primary purpose is to attract new business," Miller says.
"Many people get recommendations through family and friends, and
one of the ways they're doing this is through Facebook."
One big popularity contest
Every time someone sees a friend's "like" of the company,
Esurance gets free exposure and the chance to win over a potential
"There are 200 million Facebook users in the U.S., and 15
million of them are in Texas and Arizona," Miller says.
As with any insurance discount, the company had to get state
regulatory approval to offer it. The process for approval was
simpler to get in Texas and Arizona than in some other states, such
as California and New York, which have more complex regulatory
structures, Miller says. The company is looking at expanding the
discount to other states where it does business, but Miller would
not disclose which states or a timeline.
Esurance says it's the first car insurance company to offer a
discount on coverage to Facebook users, but it may not be the
"If the company is successful, others will follow," says Eileen
Smith, program manager of global technology and industry research
organization at International Data Corp. (IDC), headquartered in
The discount is a bold move in the insurance industry. According
to IDC's July report, "2012 U.S. Social Media Trends by Vertical,"
authored by Smith, the top three reasons property/casualty
insurance companies say they're using social media are to:
- Increase awareness of products or services
- Gather feedback from customers
- Help employees be more effective
Generating revenue through direct sales, which is similar to
what Esurance is striving for with its discount, was at the bottom
of the list of 10 reasons -- named as a top social media driver by
only 9 percent of surveyed insurers.
By offering the discount, Esurance is taking a page out of the
retail industry's playbook.
"Which is a good thing," Smith says, "They're really taking
advantage of the power of social media. As a consumer you're
expecting to get something for the 'like.'"
The move also opens up a wealth of data for the company, Smith
says. And data is king in the insurance industry.
Where's the love, er, like?
recently reported that advertisers are pressing Facebook to
share more information about its users
. Miller says Esurance will not use any Facebook data on individual
customers for marketing, pricing or any other purpose.
"We're not using this to track people on Facebook," he says.
However, the company will use aggregate data, such as the number
of "likes" it gets by city.
Whether Facebook discounts result in new business remains to be
Miller says he can't report how many new customers or likes the
company has received since it debuted the offer about a month ago.
But, he adds, "We're pleased with the response so far."