Culminating a multi-year effort to update marketing and improve cross-selling, Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide has completed redesign of its Web site (www.nationwide.com), replacing 50 customer-facing sites with a single Internet destination.
Nationwide ($157 million 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. "It was really more of a corporate Web site before, and if a customer 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," explains Guru Vasudeva, associate vice president and chief architect.
To provide the customer with a more user-friendly site, in early 2005 Nationwide executives decided to unify the company brand and develop a significant Internet presence to market products more effectively, explains Sue McManus, marketing officer for Nationwide.com. To re-introduce the products under one brand, Nationwide aggregated information from all of its disparate Web sites. "We realized 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." In July McManus collaborated with Vasudeva to develop a site that would brand Nationwide in "one voice" and align with both the print and advertising campaigns.
With the marketing plans underway, Vasudeva and his IT team began the technical transformation by updating and standardizing all of the Web applications in Java using IBM (Armonk, NY) WebSphere on Linux using zSeries. "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 use the virtualization, Nationwide had to invest in a new document content manager. Vasudeva chose EMC's (Pleasanton, CA.) documentum content manager and put together a team to work with consultants to implement the new system. "The new technology gave us the capability to rewrite 900 pages of content within five months," explains Vasudeva. Nationwide's Web site was released in December, donning the new slogan "Life comes at you fast." Enhancements to the unified site provide customers with educational content, tools, TV ads, video tours, information and calculators, as well as information to all products. Since the launch, the site's popularity has increased by 30 percent. "By highlighting the full range of financial services capability we have to offer, that leads to increasing customers' awareness and the cross-sell," Vasudeva says.
As part of its marketing campaign for the first quarter of 2006, Nationwide will promote its new Web site with an advertisement during the Super Bowl. "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 McMannus.