U.S. Insurance Brands Underperform in Digital, Despite Customers’ Growing Willingness to Provide Data

New Gartner report ranks digital performance of 54 brands, with almost two-thirds ranked average or below

Stamford, CT (July 10, 2019) – According to new research from Gartner, Inc., U.S. insurance brands are decreasing investment across desktop sites, digital marketing and social media, and prioritizing mobile, but are falling behind in providing a more holistic digital experience for customers, despite their growing willingness to provide data and shop online.

The second annual Gartner L2 Digital IQ Index: Insurance U.S. report ranks the digital performance of 54 brands operating in the U.S. market. These brands were measured across more than 1,200 data points against four critical dimensions: digital marketing, social media, desktop site and mobile site. From these calculations, two brands (State Farm and GEICO) were classified as Genius, 17 as Gifted, 11 as Average, 14 as Challenged, and 10 as Feeble.[1]

“U.S. insurance brands reached the mobile tipping point in 2019, with an average of 52% of total traffic to brand sites taking place on mobile devices,” said Elizabeth Elder, Principal, Financial Services at Gartner. “However, the numerous drop-offs in mobile site features showed that insurance brands have not adjusted well to the new landscape.”

Basic features such as site-specific login, editorial content and keyword search were found on desktop sites, but not mobile sites. In addition, some brands failed to port certain customer service elements, such as their Contact Us page, to their mobile sites. Mobile app promotion was the only basic feature to see higher adoption on mobile sites than desktop sites. “To thrive in this new landscape, insurance brands must create a seamless transition from desktop to mobile, and ensure all crucial elements on the desktop site translate to smaller devices,” added Ms. Elder.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • The declining quality of brand sites: Compared with last year’s Insurance Index, Gartner observed a 6% decrease in the average brand site score. This decline highlights the lack of basic features on many brands’ sites, and is also revealing of a disconnect between customer expectations and what brands provide. As insurance brands increase their investment in digital, it is vital that they do not ignore the branded-site experience, as these sites facilitate conversion opportunities, customer utility and promotional cross-selling.
  • The rise of text ads: In 2018, text ads represented only 21% of nonbranded search results. This figure nearly tripled to 61% in 2019. Gartner found that more text ads surfaced at the bottom of a result page than the top, which highlights a competitive environment dominated by spending, rather than strategy.
  • The return of programmatic: Looking at the value of ad placements on desktop and mobile via direct and programmatic placements, it appears that insurance brands have regained trust in their agencies, and that this has paid off. Ad placements on desktop and mobile via programmatic placements saw increased quality scores from 1Q18 to 1Q19, with impressions growing by 88% in 1Q19. Direct desktop placements were the only format or device method to suffer a decreased quality score.

Additional details on the digital performance of insurance brands in the U.S. is available to Gartner for Marketers clients in the report “Gartner L2 Digital IQ Index: Insurance U.S. 2019.”


1. Companies were classified as follows:

  • Genius” – their digital competence is a point of competitive differentiation for these brands;
  • Gifted” – the brands are experimenting and innovating across site, mobile and social platforms;
  • Average” – digital presence is functional yet predictable;
  • Challenged” – limited or inconsistent adoption of mobile and social media platforms; and
  • Feeble” – investment does not match opportunity.

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Source: Gartner

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