Company: American International Underwriters (AIU)
Contact: Brian Takenaka, Director of Marketing
Location: Japan
Industry: Insurance, B2C
Annual revenue: $10,000,000
Number of employees: 200

Quick Read:

American International Underwriters (AIU) offers travel insurance plans customized to meet travelers' needs. It's a big market: About half of Japanese travelers purchase travel insurance, often searching for the cheapest price they can find. While AIU does offer discount insurance—called the Do-it-Yourself, or DIY, product—the company doesn't want to market itself as a discount carrier.

But by dynamically changing content on AIU's transaction start page (offering content about both its DIY and premier Infinity product) to targeted segments of site visitors, AIU Travel was able to increase the conversion rate in its transaction process by 12%.

Then, by testing the placement of additional product offerings within the transaction funnel, AIU Travel again increased conversions and buy-rates of the premiere Infinity product. Interestingly, those who saw the discount product message and then the additional product offering within the transaction process had an average order value that was significantly higher than those who never saw the discounted message, usually $15-$20 more.

The Challenge:

American International Underwriters (AIU), the Japanese member company of AIG, offers travel insurance plans customized to meet the needs of travelers. AIU's discount offering, what it called the Do-It-Yourself, or DIY, product, was difficult to find on its main website.

"It is buried six to eight clicks down," said Brian Takenaka, director of e-Business for AIU. Takenaka knew that most travelers tend to search for cheap travel insurance and plenty of companies market themselves as having the cheapest product available.

Takenaka's team, however, researched the market and found that their own DIY product was actually cheaper than its cheapest competitor; it also offered broader coverage. However, the competitor was branded as the cheapest and offered its cheapest product within two clicks of the homepage.

Takenaka decided to find out whether customers usually just look for cheap coverage or the best protection at a reasonable market price. His main test questions were these:

  1. What would happen if AIU prominently shows that it offers a DIY product, and explains where the DIY product button is within the website?

  2. Would that content and site architecture improvement help increase conversions or improve overall sales?

At the same time, the company feared that the DIY product might cannibalize sales of higher-priced plans, as Internet users seem to prefer to customize and tailor their coverage. So Takenaka decided to also run some structured and controlled tests.

The Campaign:

Working with online testing and optimization company Offermatica, Takenaka structured two campaigns.

The first targeted visitors at the campaign landing-page level and gave them different content, depending on the search engine and key term that was used in the search. The second experimented with additional product offers within the transaction funnel.

The first campaign, focusing on targeted content, involved various tactics.

  • Tactic 1: target visitors

    Takenaka created a content slot on the homepage that served different content to different visitors. This is particularly relevant in Japan because Yahoo users there tend to be women in their 20s and 30s, whereas Google users tend to be men of all ages, particularly affluent men.

    He set campaign parameters of the content slot so that visitors arriving from Yahoo and Google saw the content most relevant to the search terms used.

  • Tactic 2: test content

    Takenaka also ran tests on the actual content that was shown in the content slot. He tested a simple version, essentially saying, "We have a DIY product. Click here to find out more." He also tested mentioning the DIY product in conjunction with premier products.

The second campaign involved offering an additional product at the checkout.

  • When customers selected the DIY product before the checkout page, an additional optional product offering message opened a popup with more information, providing one last opportunity for the customer to revise the selection before proceeding to checkout.

  • Within that additional product offering, Takenaka tested a text-only message versus a branded logo message.

The Results:

  • Click-throughs from the homepage improved 12%.

  • Total conversions improved 7%.

  • Of the DIY customers who reached the step with the additional product offering, 70% clicked on the offer and viewed the popup for more information about more comprehensive insurance.

  • Of those, a remarkable 90% choose the higher-priced product over the DIY product—even though it was the DIY message on the homepage that had brought them into the site.

  • People who see the DIY offering and are then served content on the higher-priced offering have an average order value that is anywhere from $15 to $20 more than those who do not.

  • Finally—and perhaps most intriguing—total share of the DIY product has gone down by 2-3 percentage points, even though it has been brought to the foreground on the homepage.

"Our fears of cannibalization were just that: fears," said Takenaka. "We saw an immediate raise—an all-time record high—in our premiere product share vs. total"

"We continue to outperform week over week," he added.

Lessons Learned:

1. Make it easy for the customer to find what they are looking for

Let users choose the type of product (in AIU's case, coverage) that is right for them, and allow them to find it the way they want to search for or access that information.

2. Web analytics are fundamental

"Takeaways from the audit reports have been amazing," said Takenaka. For example, he has learned that visitors from search engines behave differently. "So we're shifting our SEM (search engine marketing) strategy and bringing in the appropriate tools to reflect and take advantage of those key findings," he explained.

3. Based on your analytics, respond and revise your content in real time

The content slots that can easily be set up via Offermatica or a comparable tool allow the e-marketer to change content—not just when running tests, but at any time. Takenaka uses that to his advantage by getting several types of copy pre-approved for any campaign, in order to conduct simple optimization tests of copy vs. the latest travel trends.

"We see overseas departure trends change from day to night, from weekday to weekend and we can now reflect that in our Web copy," Takenaka said.

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Case Study: How an Insurance Company Web Site Achieved Significant Increases in Click-Throughs and Conversions

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