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Financial Services

Nationwide Mobilizes 'On Your Side'

10 Jul, 2010 By: Thomas Haire Response


 

The success of the Nationwide Mobile app got McManus to think more deeply about a major consumer insight the Nationwide team had long grasped: that consumers spend a lot of time researching new car purchases and seek out unbiased sources of information before going to a dealership. “At the same time, when you buy a car, you often have to shop for a car loan and insurance — both products that Nationwide offers,” McManus says.

Citing the success of Web sites that provide car shoppers with unbiased information (such as Carfax.com and Edmunds.com), McManus says, “We wanted to demonstrate that we were on the car shopper’s side in a very modern way much sooner in the process. That’s where we came up with Cartopia, an iPhone app for car shopping, providing ratings, reviews, safety information, total cost of ownership and more. Like Nationwide Mobile, Cartopia provides users with an on-your-side experience, at a time when many people shop around for new auto insurance and a new auto loan.”

The Cartopia app saw immediate success upon its debut in December 2009, with “downloads during the first 30 days outpacing those of Nationwide Mobile,” according to McManus. Calling it a “soft launch” to ensure that users were having the “desired experience,” McManus says the company used online and mobile display ads before adding TV advertising to the mix earlier this year.

“We wanted to reach our target segment first — iPhone users who are really comfortable and prefer using apps. The best way to reach them is through targeted ads — AdMob for iPhone users, and also on the iPhone user universe on Facebook and other social media,” McManus says. “Then, the TV advertising was geared at the awareness of Nationwide, the Cartopia app and getting people to try the product.”

Has it been successful? “It is definitely driving measurable auto insurance quotes and auto loan applications,” McManus says.

However, with Apple conducting upgrades to its operating system for iPhones — requiring redesigns for all existing iPhone apps — Nationwide recently decided to roll a number of the most popular Cartopia features into the Nationwide Mobile app and run with a single, more powerful app going forward.

“Combining the apps will provide a better experience for users,” McManus says. “We remain pleased with the success of our mobile efforts and optimistic about improvements to Nationwide Mobile to come.”

Perfecting the Mix

The Cartopia app was also featured in one of the spots aired during the company’s new TV-centered campaign — “The World’s Greatest Spokesperson in the World.” The comedic TV spots promote various benefits to becoming a Nationwide customer and drive traffic to the company’s Web site and, in specific cases, to unique phone numbers and the iPhone app store. Throughout all media, the look and message of the TV spots are echoed.

Such integration is nothing new for Nationwide, but one media has outshone all others recently. “Online becomes more important each year,” McManus says. “It’s a perfect balance between awareness and DR marketing. When people shop for auto insurance, 85 percent use a search engine. Therefore, search, both paid and organic, has played a huge role. We are constantly measuring and optimizing.”

That constant effort means that the Nationwide team looks for very specific things when seeking out agencies and partner vendors for its marketing efforts. The company’s agency of record, Durham, N.C-based McKinney, and its key online/mobile partner, Cleveland-based Rosetta, share three key attributes.

“First is innovation,” McManus says. “We are consistently looking for agencies to give us best-in-class and groundbreaking DR solutions that align with our strategy. Second, our agencies must be able to measure and demonstrate a significant positive impact. The third factor is a sense of collaboration. Nationwide needs its agency partners to form one team. We expect them to work together, even if they’re competitive outside our business.”

Such a cohesive relationship with its vendors has allowed the marketing operation at Nationwide to maintain consistent success — even when entering new territory, such as mobile and social media. “In our most successful campaigns — in any and all media — we’ve been able to measure early, predict quickly and shift creative into the high-response areas,” McManus says. “When we were first getting into social media, we had to not only understand audience and social media, but also realize that we’re in a low-interest category in this space. You cannot lose your core marketing principles — ever. No matter what media you work in, you have to align the campaign within your overall strategy.”

It makes sense that DR has played a bigger role in Nationwide’s strategy. “The increasing importance of DR in our marketing is clear,” McManus says. “You can’t lose sight of what’s working, and marketing budgets continue to get more pressure. Focused, measurable tactics tend to survive.”


 

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