For: Nationwide Insurance | Role: Employee, Project Lead | 2016-2019
In 2016 Nationwide’s affinity program invested in a thought leadership initiative to educate non-profit partners on how to craft a best-in-class member experience. I led the development of two major portions of this program, developing the website and managing all marketing and communications strategies. Using a variety of user research methods to help develop the program and site, as well as a number of targeted and personalized marketing tactics we developed a program that had tripled in size over its two year lifespan.
Prior to 2020, Nationwide partnered with hundreds of non-profits to offer insurance products to their members. Using the partner’s marketing and communication channels was key to the success of each relationship, but often partners were not as savvy as Nationwide. In an effort to help partners be more successful, which in turn would help Nationwide, a $1M project was initiated to create the Member Experience Network.
The Network, as it was usually dubbed, had an educational foundation built around helping partners enhance their members experience. We formalized the experience building educational content into a six step process, and then created topical content specific to marketing, direct mail, and social media. A team of three led the initial development, myself, Abbi Failla, and Kortnee Campbell in partnership with a third party copywriter.
To distribute the content more strategically, we needed to develop a community website, as well as a full blown marketing strategy to engaging our partners members. I led planning and development, and managed both of these.
We knew that our partners had many desires in this space, so in order to better understand what features would deliver the most value from the start we conducted three different kinds of guerilla research to aid both in the development of the site, but also in the development of the product itself.
First, we had direct access to all partners and were able to submit a survey (via Typeform) to all partner contacts early on to gauge their interest on both the content and features offered on the site. After synthesizing the survey data into an interview guide, we conducted informal phone and in-person interviews with prominent and high-engaged partners to confirm our direction. Eventually we landed on a group of eight recurring contacts that became an advisory council that provided critical feedback throughout the life of the program.
Using our primary partner research along with a site vernacular compiled from other comparable professional focused education sites, we had a composite view of what needed included in our MVP. Based on this, I developed an initial hand-drawn wireframes for the developer.
Our developer, Shipyard, reviewed the initial wireframes and adjusted the to fit the common modules available within their proprietary CMS. These digitized wireframes were shared with the advisory council and adjusted based on their feedback.
The project was developed under agile methodology allowing us to focus on fitting components into the CMS as they were developed by corresponding design and content teams. Because we were comfortable with the fidelity and feedback to our wireframes, the initial site prototype was developed as a sandbox that would eventually pushed to the live environment.
Site UAT was done by partner managers, our marketing support team and the Nationwide UX team. Each area had disparate testing tasks related to site functionality. Because the site contained educational content, personal profiles, organizational profiles and documents, and more, a rigorous testing plan helped us roll out error free on launch.
The site was announced at the program launch during an in-person event in August of 2016. The site launched without issue in March of 2017. Users were preloaded into the site database and emailed a link to join by creating their password and acknowledging TOS. All of their information was prepopulated for their convenience.
The site itself ended up bigger than it was originally intended. As we decided to expand into a full on community platform with a discussion forum, user profiles and progress tracking, and eventually the inclusion of partnership documents. A simplified site-map to the shows far beyond educational content we ended up creating for.
Marketing and Communications
The audience for the program had both breadth and depth within our partner organizations, spanning both function and authority. Our first goal was to develop a small set of personas that would afford us some guardrails when developing our messaging and choosing channels.
Essentially, the higher up the individual at the organization, the more personal the communications channel that was chosen. Content was also selectively featured for users within different functional areas; e.g. fundraising, marketing, list management, etc.
To motivate users into the educational content, we selected a few key drivers to leverage. All users had the distinct desire for accomplishment, so we strummed that chord in most messaging and flouted the badges we’d developed showcasing users progress and newfound knowledge.
We also targeted mid and high-level associates with messaging around recognition, allowing them to show others their badges publicly. Occasionally we employed a scarcity motivator for webinar events by limiting the number of seats available or restricting access to individuals who had reached a certain point in the learning progression.
Under our 20-year-old ABM operations, we already had direct access to most of our audience. We stuck closely to the communication channels they preferred; emails, phone calls, in-person meetings, webinars, newsletters, and videos. For emails, phone calls, and meetings it was customary to provide our partner managers with scripts and templates they could use and/or personalize for each partner.
I personally created each of the 16 monthly community newsletters in MailChimp. I approached much of the newsletter as an editor, sourcing stories from our team about hot topics and curating top links from more than three dozen audience and topic focused blogs. I also shot and edited all video production projects like promotional videos, tutorials, and year end recaps.
A final key component of the marketing activity was a feedback loop from partners, advising us how they were using our content to better their organizations. Some of our more savvy partners also had regimented best practices that they wanted to bring to their peers so we worked closely with them to develop that content and release it via our platform.