Direct Line: Really know your target audience, especially if it’s the youth market

Kerry Chilvers (Direct Line)With 12 per cent of all fatal road traffic collisions involving 17 to 19 year olds, despite the age group only representing 1.5 per cent of all drivers, it’s important to find ways to put an end to reckless driving amongst the young drivers, especially in the first 1000 miles.

Direct Line realised this was an area it could help and recognised the best way to do this was through a mobile app – the things that many young people’s lives now revolve around.

“This is an area of real focus for us in our vast topic of young driver road safety – somewhere where we felt we  could focus and make a real difference using the best of a capability with telematics,” said Kerry Chilvers, brand director at Direct Line, speaking at the Mobile Marketing App Marketing Summit. “And it gave us a clear goal for social responsibility work: to reduce road deaths in the first 1000 miles to zero using the best of our telematics capability and an app for new drivers.”

“We needed to use telematics, and use our app, to reframe what good driving meant. And turn good driving from fast driving to controlled driving.”

Riding Shotgun
With these aims in mind, the insurance company decided to introduce Shotgun – a nod to people calling ‘shotgun’ to claim the front passenger seat.

Chilvers said: “That’s how we saw the Shotgun app, as their wingman. A mobile wingman helping them through their first 1000 miles of driving.”

The app uses telematics data to score people’s driving out of 100 and provides feedback, however good or bad they are. These scores are then added to leaderboards, gamifying the experience so drivers can compete with their friends to see who is the best driver. Users are kept engaged through rewards that provide incentives to continue driving safely.

Using ‘Shotgun’ as a name offered Direct Line some problems when presenting the idea to its board, but overcame any worries through the use of consumer research.

“[Consumer research] was essential,” said Chilvers. “To be able to demonstrate to them that this really mattered to young drivers and this was a term they commonly use. Whilst they [the board] weren’t the target market, it’s absolutely the type of thing young drivers wanted to hear from and it was the type of app they’d be happy to have on their phone.”

Kerry Chilvers (Direct Line)Rocky road
The problems faced in developing the app made the insurer realise the importance of knowing about your target audience.

Much of the time when working on app, the team developing it will have very little knowledge of their audience. Direct Line knows that this means ignoring your own thoughts and take into account the views of people that are actually going to use it.

“Lesson number one: Really know your target audience, especially if it’s the youth market,” said Chilvers. “Most of the people working on the app were not 17 to 19 year olds, and are quite a long way from that group.

“The world has changed a lot in-between so we really need to get to understand this young market much better, and really understand what is going to appeal to them from a branding and visualisation point of view. Because everything really mattered, the details mattered.”

It’s for these reasons why Direct Line decided to collaborate with 17 to 19 year olds on the design of the Shotgun app.

“I was blown away by the importance of design in the app on their phone,” Chilvers continued. “The apps that they had on their phone really mattered. It was all part of their self-identity. They manage their identity through their mobile phones, and their identity is all that matters to them. The little things were really important.”

Sex sells
Direct Line knew that young male drivers wouldn’t be very easily impressed by the Shotgun app, so the company came to the conclusion that its promotional campaign would have to connect with that audience through something they are interested in.

The insurance company decided that it would centre its campaign around the thing that most young males enjoy – sex.

“We created some films to be shared on social and mobile channels,” said Chilvers. “We created three episodes specifically targeted at the 17 to 19-year-old boys. [The films are] perhaps not to everybody’s taste but are to the 17 to 19-year-old boys, and it worked and got us noticed.

“On Facebook alone, in the first 10 days, we reached over 1m young drivers… and drove downloads all for only about £4000 spend. So, being brave mattered.

“Also critical was our ability to harness that engagement and convert it into downloads… Using this across all social channels, principally retargeting those who have engaged in viewing the video content or shared it.”

Market savvy
Through the journey of developing the Shotgun app to having to launch a sexually-driven campaign, Chilvers came to the realisation that marketing an app doesn’t differ too much to traditional marketing.

“Conventional marketing wisdom still applies to app marketing,” she said. “Harnessing engagement, get people engaged in what you’re trying to achieve, and then absolutely harness that engagement through direct targeted activity – using data analysis to optimise results as you go.”

The transferrable marketing skills used by the Direct Line team to promote the Shotgun app has led to 2000 drivers hitting 1000 miles in the first three months of the app being live, with half of users still in their first 500 miles.

Furthermore, 99 per cent of those who download the app complete registration, 86 per cent of these completing their first drive with the app – while redemption rates on rewards are at around 50 per cent.

“We’ve already hit our half-year target seven weeks early. Our users have now covered over 4m miles with Shotgun as their wingman,” said Chilvers. “We’re really surprised by the engagement levels we’ve seen through the app.”

Users of the app don’t have to be Direct Line customers so scores achieved do not have any bearing on insurance premiums. Chilvers said that, if the app continues to show this positive growth, Direct Line may consider linking it to its insurance offerings.