Increasing insurance adoption in Africa is an intricate endeavor, where navigating the nuances of language, tradition, and accessibility is paramount.
In this blog series, we will be sharing the experience Catalyst Fund and our portfolio company Assuraf have had testing strategies to drive up insurance penetration. We are exploring offline and online channels, B2C and B2B2C approaches, short-term tactics and long-term educational engagements in an effort to learn from a variety of models. In this first blog, we describe a first set of experiments we ran to drive insurance awareness and acquisition testing both messaging and channels (either Whatsapp or by giving them a missed call).
Over the course of three weeks we tested responsiveness to three different messages, using two different channels, to later double-down on the most effective strategies.
We tested three messages, each prioritizing different values: support during emergencies, exposure to financial risk, and health risks.
The ads not only varied messaging, they also varied the call to action. In one set, people were instructed to “call now for free” (via a missed call), while in the other set, the call to action was to engage via a whatsapp number. The goal was to test which conversion channel worked better. The experiments led to three lessons:
The ad highlighting Assuraf’s affordable insurance products got the highest traction among the three, regardless of the call to action (whatsapp or missed call), the geography (Dakar or outside), and age and gender of the potential user. As a matter of fact, this ad was twice as efficient in terms of reach and engagement than either of the other two ads.
This may be because the copy and image were the most relatable to the audience in Senegal. The messaging suggesting that Assuraf can help users avoid hefty hospital bills accompanied with an image of stacked up money notes resonated. The money avoided the need to portray individuals, whose class or cultural markers may alienate some. It may also be that the audience in Senegal is more interested in broader health insurance than either car or pregnancy coverage (which were specified in the other ads).
While the phone call campaign resulted in 151 calls, the WhatsApp ad generated 193 messages. However, using a missed calls modality was more effective, particularly in reaching slightly older populations, especially outside capital cities.
While both campaigns targeted a nationwide audience and pushed the same ads, the campaign asking people to contact Assuraf by phone generated more leads overall and a higher percentage in rural areas. Only 16% of leads generated by Whatsapp were outside the capital-city Dakar while this proportion was almost twice as high (27%) for the campaign encouraging people to give Assuraf a “free missed call”.
We believe that free missed calls reduce frictions and barriers for people to engage with a product they are otherwise not familiar with: insurance. This channel is not only free (no data or airtime) for users but it can also be used when people don’t have 3G/4G coverage. It also offers the opportunity to speak to a person, which may be more appealing to those with lower digital comfort.
A similar - though less dramatic - trend was observed looking at the ages of the population reached. The average age of the population who reacted to the WhatsApp campaign was 23, while it was almost 28 years old for the missed call campaign.
Looking at the cost to run both campaigns, the average cost per lead was quite similar for both campaigns at about half a euro (slightly cheaper for the missed calls campaign). However, when investigating whether that initial engagement converted into a sale, things varied a bit more. Among the 151 people who gave a “missed call” to Assuraf during the three-week campaign, 16% called to buy an insurance product, while the rest sought to learn about insurance more generally. However, among 90 messages received, more than 80% directly enquired about a specific insurance product (health and automotive).
Firstly, one of the initial implications from this first series of tests is that health insurance remains the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to converting the non-covered population to any form of insurance. Similar campaigns with similar budgets for car and health insurance products seem to systematically get better traction for the health insurance product.
Secondly, this experiment allowed us to validate the assumption that using a non-digital channel to allow customers to engage (in this case missed calls) works comparatively better with less urban and less young populations. This is definitely encouraging us to continue exploring the potential of missed call campaigns to drive insurance awareness and adoption across a less tech-savvy, more rural and older target population. This being said, the conversion rate on such “offline” channels also appears to be significantly lower as a result of the higher amount of “customer education” needed on the topic of insurance for the population segment that seem to be more inclined to use this channel (more rural and older usually).