Culminating a multiyear effort to update marketing and improve cross-selling, Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide completed a redesign of its Web site (www.nationwide.com), replacing 50 customer-facing sites with a single Internet destination. "A large portion of our customers want to do business on the Internet, so this is going to make it easier for them to get the information and learn about the products," says Sue McManus, marketing officer for Nationwide.com.
Nationwide ($157 billion in total assets) developed its numerous Web sites over the past 10 years to represent the carrier's products in auto, property, life, health, investments and retirement, mortgage, and business insurance, according to Guru Vasudeva, the carrier's associate vice president and chief architect. But this created potential confusion. "If customers wanted to get life insurance from us, they needed to know they had to look on the Nationwide Financial Web site instead of the Nationwide Insurance Web site," Vasudeva relates.
To provide customers with a more user-friendly experience and improve marketing, in early 2005, Nationwide decided to unify the company brand and develop a stronger Web presence, explains McManus. To reintroduce the sites under one brand, Nationwide aggregated information from its different Web sites. "We needed a master business strategy that would align our brand, so we looked at some of our most successful customer-facing sites and brought them together," McManus says. In July, McManus' and Vasudeva's teams collaborated to develop a site that would brand Nationwide in "one voice."
With the marketing plans under way, Vasudeva and his IT team began the technical transformation by updating and standardizing all of Nationwide's Web applications in Java using IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) WebSphere zSeries on a Linux operating system. "This gave us more than 50 percent reduction in hosting cost and also allowed us to build a new Web-hosting environment with virtualization capability," Vasudeva asserts. However, to leverage the virtualization, Nationwide had to invest in a new content management system. Vasudeva chose EMC's (Pleasanton, Calif.) Documentum solution. "The new technology gave us the capability to rewrite 900 pages of content within five months," explains Vasudeva.
Nationwide's new site was launched in December. Enhancements to the unified site provide customers with educational content, tools, TV ads, video tours and calculators, as well as information on all products. "Highlighting the full range of financial services capability we have to offer leads to increasing customer awareness and the cross-sell," Vasudeva says. Since the launch, the number of page views on the site has increased by 30 percent, according to Nationwide. --Maria Woehr