I seem to use price comparison and insurance brands as frequent examples, I suppose this is because in the UK they are very heavily promoted and have strong on and off-line presence.confused screen grab

The latest tv ad to catch my eye is a dreary effort from confused.com (the one with the singing cartoon character), but what catches my eye is the comment at the end of the ad, something along the lines of “confused.com 18 million strong and growing”. This seems to be an attempt to move confused.com from being a transactional website to some sort of community. But surely there are a few issues with this:

  • What exactly does 18 million refer to? Is it 18 million site visitors (over what time period) or 18 million quotes given
  • How exactly does this stack up as a community? Getting a quote from a site doesn’t mean I see myself as part of their ‘community’ or that I want a relationship with their business, at the simplest level, I wanted to get some quotes!
  • What social activity exists to support the community? Well, I haven’t checked their site recently, but I’m still getting an email newsletter which whilst technically a form of social marketing, doesn’t really push down the community route

The web and marketing world is littered with the corpses of failed social media enterprises. Although confused might know something about me eg contact details, basic personal information etc. that doesn’t mean I’d want them to leverage that knowledge to include me in their community. The most successful communities grow through word-of-mouth and natural viral growth – not because someone thought “hey we’ve got lots of details of people, let’s call it a community”.

A community grows through common interest and engagement, getting a quote for car insurance is something that I’d probably have in common with you, but doesn’t mean we’re going to best buddies (sorry!). What does confused hope to do with this community concept – challenge Facebook? build market share? add value?

To my mind confused.com is living up to its name, promoting an idea ‘our community’ that seems to have little to do with their primary purpose of price comparison. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops in 2011.

For a slightly harsher (but amusing) review of the ad, see this link http://www.adturds.co.uk/2010/11/confused-com-somebody-to-love-advert.html

What could confused.com do better:

  • Pick a brand strategy and give it time to work
  • Explain why you’d want to be a part of their community
  • Make their offer stand out from meerkats, tenors and the rest!
  • Provide genuine value & content on their site – customers will naturally migrate to it