Rising sales targets spurred HumanaOne — a division of Humana (Louisville, Ky.; $10.13 billion in total assets) that offers health, dental, vision and life insurance — to reexamine its Web site. "Although our Internet sales were steady in 2005, they wouldn't meet our 2006 goals," explains Jennifer Merrick, the carrier's Internet direct response marketing manager. [Ed. note: Since I&T's interview with Merrick, she has left the company.] "Our Web site was becoming outdated, so we turned to our reps at our search engine marketing firm, iProspect [Watertown, Mass.], for recommendations. They suggested we consult with their sister company, Molecular, for specialized assistance with brand positioning and Web site redevelopment."
After a preliminary discussion with Molecular (Boston) in late 2005, HumanaOne reviewed proposals from two other vendors. "Molecular had superior expertise and a proven record," says Merrick, explaining why the insurer selected the Austin, Texas-based service provider. "Molecular's experience also included building feature-rich Web sites based on our existing content management infrastructure, Interwoven's [Sunnyvale, Calif.] TeamSite running on Microsoft [Redmond, Wash.] Windows 2003 servers."
Molecular helped develop presentations for HumanaOne's senior management. After the project was greenlighted in mid-May 2006, the insurer formed an implementation team comprised of marketing and IT staff that met with Molecular to provide business information and establish technical requirements. "Since we wanted our new Web site to reflect HumanaOne as a distinctive stand-alone product, separate from Humana, Molecular also held a brand-definition workshop," Merrick recalls.
Molecular pursued an iterative and collaborative design process, starting with external end-user research. This included interviewing existing HumanaOne customers as well as an independent survey of several thousand consumers, according to Merrick. Molecular also conducted interviews with HumanaOne's marketing, direct sales, product development and IT departments, she adds.
According to Molecular's findings, consumers were confused and intimidated by traditional insurance jargon, which significantly reduced their willingness to buy, Merrick relates, adding that consumers wanted approachable, plain-English descriptions that empowered them to make confident and informed decisions. In turn, HumanaOne needed a scalable, low-maintenance site that improved the conversion of visitors into buyers, she notes.
Molecular created three design options, and by August a final design was selected and site construction began. Employing an iterative process similar to the design phase, Molecular developed Interwoven infrastructure templates for HumanaOne's IT department. Concurrently, marketing created new content and built out the pages using a site-specific style guide provided by Molecular. Beta testing occurred throughout the process, and the new site launched in mid-December without any glitches, Merrick says.
Since the relaunch, Web site conversion rates are up almost 30 percent, according to Merrick. "And ... our department is more efficient because we spend less time babysitting the site," she reports. In addition, Merrick says, improved architecture and design provides the agility to meet changing consumer expectations and market new offerings effectively.
"Before, our site was static and text-heavy," says Merrick. "Now it speaks our users' language, and we can quickly alter pages, or assemble new ones. ... We can even do multivariate testing, which allows for constantly fine-tuning our site."
Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio