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How American National Builds Social Strength

The insurer’s new partnership with Hearsay Social is the most recent stage of its evolving communication strategy.

Last week, American National Insurance Company announced a partnership with Hearsay Social developed to boost social media use among agents. The insurer has strengthened its focus on digital communication techniques to improve interactions for agents and policyholders.

American National has been building its digital strategy for about a year and a half, says Scott Campbell, the carrier’s SVP and CMO. Its goal is to strengthen marketing capabilities with a focus on interactive media to encourage agents to expand their customer interactions.

“We build our brand in the local market through our agents, and expecting agents to market themselves wasn’t getting the job done anymore,” says Campbell. “[This strategy] gives a company of our size the ability to get in there and have conversations with the marketplace.”

[ Personal Lines Insurers Best-Equipped to Handle Small Biz: J.D. Power. ]

The insurer first established a marketing team to collaborate on a broader, more creative digital communication strategy. Its top priorities were revamped agent and corporate websites, enhanced search capabilities, mobile offerings and a stronger social presence.

“Our industry is not traditionally a leader in those areas,” notes Campbell, who says that the team looked outside of insurance for marketing inspiration. Its research determined that customization and mobility would be key components of agents’ digital communications.

The popularity of mobile goes beyond mere convenience, he explains, as the interfaces are simple and allow users to decide which features are most important to them. As American National redevelops its agent websites, mobile-first design will be a priority.

Today’s agent websites resemble corporate webpages. Modernized webpages will allow for customization so agents can feature experiences, honors and associations most relevant to their viewers, in addition to appropriate content, so each page is noticeably unique. “It’s standard, yes, but also customizable.” Campbell says. “They can pick pre-packaged content depending on the market they want to focus on.”

Agent input is considered throughout the redesign process, he continues, and usability testing will be conducted to ensure their demands are being met. As new agents join American National, Campbell hopes to create the expectation that they will have the freedom to create and customize their own website.

Kelly Sheridan is an associate editor for Insurance & Technology. Prior to joining InformationWeek Financial Services, she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. Kelly has also written for trade publication Promo Marketing and a number of ... View Full Bio

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Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
8/28/2014 | 8:38:58 PM
re: How American National Builds Social Strength
Definitely. It's important for agents to have the option to customize their profiles so customers can get to know them better. However, it's tough to work around regulations in order to give agents that option. So far it seems like American National is building a strong social strategy; it'll be interesting to see how it evolves over time.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
8/14/2014 | 7:18:06 PM
re: How American National Builds Social Strength
The customization angle is very interesting -- a great opportunity, but also a challenge, especially in a highly regulated industry such as insurance. It will be interesting to see how American National balances the requirements for standardization and customization.
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