Digital media perspectives from Prudential Corp (and an iPhone app)
Just caught up with Sean Rach, Prudential Corporation Asia’s Director of Media & Corporate Events over email (with help and prompted by their PR agency Burson Marsteller)
Discussions started with the fact that Prudential had launched an iPhone application on retirement planning- the first insurance company in Asia to launch a mobile phone application as a marketing platform.
I found the concept interesting- specially with the perspective that it is a first in the industry, though I’d say the real deal will be how the concept is extended and moves forward. Media is where people attention shifts to- and marketers need to quickly adopt their marketing to fit the new tools.
Alongside, think I need to migrate quickly to the voice/video based Brainstorms as they allow for taking a more conversational approach and a more dialogue based interaction- but here it is- perspectives from Sean on his (and Prudential’s) viewpoint towards Digital Media:
What are the key challenges to the insurance industry today and how can the digital medium help mitigate those challenges?
In keeping with our brand credo – - “Always Listening, Always Understanding” – - we understand that consumers and our customers are using digital media everyday in many ways. We are exploring ways that we can appropriately reach out to prospects, as well as, serve our customers through our digital platforms. As we have a very large agent network, digital media is becoming key in providing our agents with the latest customer information, product details, and training.
Could you elaborate on why and how the idea of the ‘Retirement calculator’ iPhone app was conceived? What exactly are the main points it is trying to address and how has the audience reaction been till now? There are many insurance calculators/retirement planning tools on the internet- could you elaborate what is special about migrating an app like this to the mobile web? (going beyond the fantastic point that it is a first in Asia)
The “What’s Your Number?” Retirement Calculator is an evolution of PCA’s existing – and very successful – “What’s Your Number?” retirement campaign, which was established to address growing retirement protection needs across Asia. Prudential is committed to helping people understand that careful planning is critical for a carefree retirement – people need to understand what their retirement goal should be and how to get there.
Migration to mobile
Seeking to reach people via mobile is natural given the penetration and usage of mobile phones in Asia – in most markets much more than the penetration of the internet. Mobile marketing via SMS is a very common and effective way of reaching out to prospects, customers and even our agents.
We developed this application as a “branded utility”, which aims to drive greater awareness and understanding about the importance of retirement planning. Taking learnings from our web-based calculators, we have sought to create an intuitive way to determine your “retirement number” – the first step to effective retirement planning.
In testing, we found that by placing this calculator in their hands, we allow users to determine a range of scenarios that they might consider. This is the power of mobile – the most personal form of media.
As we have recently launched the application, we are receiving comments on a daily basis. Most users find it very user friendly and surprisingly comprehensive. It has been noted that it has started conversations among family members and increased the realization that a retirement plan is needed.
What are some of the other ways in which you are using the digital medium for marketing purposes? (It could be anything related to branding awareness, customer engagement, agent empowerment or closing sales) How do you measure success for these activities?
Prudential has for some time sought to leverage digital media. Whether with consumer websites, extranets, intranet, email newsletter, or sms, we recognize the opportunity to reach out and appropriately communicate using these media.
Measurement is key to any form of marketing, especially digital marketing in the financial services industry. We use a range of web and mobile analytics tools to monitor and optimize the success of our campaigns. Digital media, as the most measurable media platform, provides a valuable listening opportunity for Prudential.
What roles did your various agencies play in developing this app?
To develop this application, we worked with a team from both OgilvyOne and Cherrypicks.- – with OgilvyOne taking the creative lead and Cherrypicks leading the technical implementation.
What role do you think the various ‘types’ of agencies could play in the near future when it comes to digital marketing? Especially with respect to mobile marketing? Which of the existing agency ‘types’ is best suited for leadership in the digital space? (PR/creative/media/digital). Do you think there is a future for digital ‘specialist’ agencies?
This is a rather broad question.
Having led a leading digital and direct marketing agency for several years, I view your question in a slightly different way. Given consumer’s media consumption habits, I feel that the best marketing solutions come from understanding all the possible ways to reach and influence your desired audience. This may be through earned media (PR), paid media (advertising), word of mouth, direct marketing and the list goes on.
A truly integrated solution can be accomplished with one lead agency coordinating partners as there is no “one-stop shop” or with a selection of agency partners coordinated by the client.
Digital specialist agencies do offer a great deal of value in understanding the intricacies of how the various media options work, especially regarding mobile media. As digital is often technical, this understanding of capabilities can mute some of the ability to manage the interplay between media options. Thus, digital specialist agencies run the risk of pursuing ideas that fit their particular media versus ideas that can be integrated and brought to life across various media platforms.
From my point of view- this stands for all types of agencies- digital or non-digital. The non-digital ones have difficulty porting the concept to digital, and in many ways, vice-versa. Though in the not-so-distant future, both will do each other and everyone else’s jobs.