See related stories from the LIMRA Distribution Conference for Financial Services, including Virtual Selling Might Be Here to Stay and Hybrid Is The Future For Advisors, Says LIMRA Researcher.
Northwestern Mutual is working with a startup company to leverage social media for not just lead generation, but conversion as well.
Amit Nanavati, vice president, digital products for Northwestern Mutual, explained how it works Monday during a session titled, Next Wave of Customer Engagement at LIMRA’s virtual 2021 Distribution Conference for Financial Services.
The startup, Socialeads, is developing a way to pull information from social networking websites to help financial representatives know when and how to make connections with clients. Northwestern Mutual is connecting it with LinkedIn, Facebook and its internal lead generation tool to see what it can produce, Nanavati said.
“We’re using a personality algo that matches the adviser to the prospect to create that successful connection,” he said. So think of it like a dating app, a matching algorithm for an advisor and a prospect.”
Socialeads, founded by Larry Hitchcock and Matthew Salzer, was the first investment for Northwestern Mutual’s Cream City Venture Capital fund, which kicked off in 2017.
Just connecting and getting leads is not the end goal for Northwestern Mutual, Nanavati emphasized.
“They’re also looking at how do we increase the conversion rate because that’s important,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you get a lot coming in — If you’re not converting at a high rate, it’s really meaningless.”
The LIMRA panel agreed that technology is here to stay, something life insurance executives have acknowledged for years. But 2020 forced companies to utilize digital processes faster than many had planned.
While the industry agent/advisor force trends older, Nanavati said the early returns on technology adaptation are encouraging at Northwestern Mutual.
“When you look at the spectrum of advisors, those that have been in the business for 30-plus years, you would think that they’re going to be a little slow to adopting technology,” he said. “Actually, they’re not. They’re the ones who are challenging us because they’re seeing, during this time, tremendous opportunity to grow the business.”
Unleashing advisors online meant loosening up traditional compliance restrictions at State Farm, said Kristyn Cook, senior vice president, agency and marketing. The company’s 19,000-plus agent force was granted permission to create profiles on social media sites such as Instagram, she noted.
“Through the pandemic, it’s been kind of a catalytic effect,” Cook said, “to help us further modernize our online space to make sure that we’re helping our agents meet customers where they are.”
Of course, going digital doesn’t work unless customers are not receptive, the panel acknowledged. A pandemic survey by State Farm found that people were more concerned about their personal financial situation than their physical health, Cook explained. And many of them are online in search of financial advice and information.
“I was blown away at how many people get financial advice from YouTube and Reddit,” Cook said. “And the reason why they do is because they trust strangers more than they trust large institutions.
“There’s going to be continued accessibility throughout a lot of the financial wellness programs and products that are out there, because you have to address the whole person in order to free up that space in someone’s mind to actually have a conversation about planning or about the future.”
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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