Profile of a Growth Marketer is an ongoing series where we feature performance marketing industry leaders from around the globe.
Acquiring new customers in the highly-competitive world of insurance is no easy feat. Even more challenging? When you’re a company with a business model that is completely disrupting the industry.
Metromile, the first and only company to specialize in “pay per mile” car insurance, is doing just this.
We asked Metromile’s Senior Acquisition Manager, Kevin Wycoff, to share insights on what this innovative company is doing to attract consumers and educate them on Metromile’s policy offerings and how the affiliate model is helping contribute to scalable growth.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR ROLE AT METROMILE?
As a Senior Acquisition Manager, I’m in charge of optimizing the growth of our business and ensure we’re hitting our key success metrics – volume, cost, retention and quality – across direct mail, paid social, our aggregator partners and our affiliate network. I try to ensure we acquire the right blend of customers at the right price.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE WORLD OF PAY PER MILE CAR INSURANCE?
Prior to joining Metromile, I spent three years in ad tech managing Facebook advertising strategy for some of today’s most disruptive businesses, including Uber and Dollar Shave Club. After a while, I knew I wanted to make a move in-house and focused my search on finding a consumer-facing product with clear product/market fit and a high-growth potential.
While I wasn’t all that attracted to insurance initially, after meeting the incredibly sharp Metromile team and learning more about their unique business model, I was hooked. I like that I can explain what my company does in one phrase (“per-mile insurance for low mileage drivers”) and have it immediately resonate with most anyone I’m talking to.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL WEEKDAY LIKE?
It can be all over the place. In weeks where I need to get our next mail drop out to print, most of my time is consumed by diving into audience analytics from recent campaigns, ensuring our targeting model development is on track, collaborating with our creative team to align on new messaging tests, and coordinating the logistics of getting ink onto paper and into homes across our footprint.
In other weeks it can be very partnership-focused and include connecting with our Acceleration Partners team and top affiliates to prep content that will resonate with potential customers; having regular syncs with our insurance aggregator partners to tweak traffic filters and adjust commission structures; building internal dashboards to surface performance trends; and making sure our Facebook ad campaigns are meeting efficiency and volume targets. I just try to prioritize my time according to the most pressing needs for the business.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST REWARDING ABOUT WORKING AT METROMILE?
As someone who had basically zero experience with insurance companies prior to joining, I’ve been consistently amazed at how complex it is to be successful. Since our primary competitors tend to be over 100x our size and no one else specializing in per-mile insurance, there’s no real playbook or proxies to go off.
Unlike more straightforward industries, getting our economics to a point where we’re comfortable pouring on the marketing gas requires a lot of carefully made actuarial bets and close observance of policy cohorts over the 3+ years they’re on our books. It’s interesting trying to be nimble in a vertical that is slow by nature. It makes my job far more challenging, but also engaging. I’m also fortunate to work with such smart people who are all trying to ensure this business realizes its full potential.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN ONLINE MARKETING TODAY?
I think mobile measurement continues to be an area that has lagged behind the sophistication of some of the ad products and targeting capabilities available today. If you think about the amount of time eyeballs spend staring at phone screens these days, being able to properly connect the cross-device dots is hugely important, especially in a space like insurance where people still prefer to complete a purchase on desktop.
Furthermore, using statistical lift models to go beyond click tracking to isolate the value your mobile impressions have on bottom-line acquisition is crucial to justifying and furthering that investment. We’ve tried to be forward-thinking about this at Metromile, but still have a long way to go.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, HOW HAS THE AFFILIATE MARKETING MODEL ADDED VALUE TO METROMILE?
The growth of our affiliate program has come at an opportune time for the business. We’re big enough to have real momentum and have established some core acquisition channels, but one of our biggest challenges is that people aren’t all that familiar with Metromile or the concept of pay-per-mile insurance.
I think of our performance partnerships as strategically placing our brand across the medium/long-tail of the internet to find consumers at behavioral inflection points that have tangential relevance to our offering. You may not be in the market to buy car insurance, but perhaps you just retired and find yourself driving less or have just moved into a city and are looking for ways to optimize your lifestyle – our affiliates help us capture that casual discovery behavior and turn it into demand.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF WORKING WITH ACCELERATION PARTNERS?
We’ve been working with Acceleration Partners for about a year now and couldn’t be happier with the experience thus far. Everyone I’ve worked with – from the sales reps, to our dedicated account team, and even the senior leadership – has shown a genuine interest in the success of our partnership.
I came in with little affiliate knowledge and have leaned on AP to help educate me as we work together to define our growth strategy. I have full confidence in the team to manage all core network activity, and have been very impressed with their ability to creatively source new high-potential publishers in pursuit of our aggressive growth goals. The service level is top-tier; I feel like they’re basically members of our marketing team.
WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT THE AFFILIATE MARKETING MODEL?
I continue to be surprised by just how many different forms the affiliate model can take. It requires creativity and persistence to source and build all these partnerships that, over time, snowball into a meaningful source of consumer education and customer acquisition.