At a time when guaranteed income products have become more popular, Prudential has created a retirement planning site with innovative features that match consumers’ online behavior and deliver often complex information in manageable fashion. IncomeCertainty.com seeks to answer consumers’ retirement research needs through responsive design that lets users collect information their own way and share it with a chosen financial advisor.
Consumers are doing more research before making purchases, including for investment products, according to Kimberly Supersano, chief marketing officer, Prudential Annuities. Investors also tend to underestimate the amount of income they’ll need to retire, so Prudential saw the need for a site that effectively educated investors about the options available to them, she says.
“Retirement can be a complicated subject to navigate, so we took an approach that allows us to break down information into bite-sized pieces that let investors go as deeply into products and solutions as they choose,” Supersano comments.
Supersano relates that Prudential took an “outside-in” approach to developing IncomeCertainty.com, researching consumers’ retirement needs and preferences for accessing information. The site’s content is ordered according to the specific style of different users, in order to cover the needs of a wide range of consumers. “Every piece of information on the site is tagged to a level of sophistication, and depending what a visitor is clicking on, it will serve more or less content on a given level of sophistication,” Supersano explains.
Like other industry sites, IncomeCertainty.com includes retirement planning tools, such as quizzes and retirement income calculators, to enable users to interactively obtain information customized to their needs. The site provides educational “snacks,” which Supersano describes as bite-sized, image-based facts designed to guide users’ thinking about how to plan for a secure retirement.
IncomeCertainty.com’s most unique feature is a “virtual binder” – an industry first, according to Supersano – which allows users to collect information from the site that is most relevant to their needs and potentially share with a financial advisor. “It works similarly to a shopping cart on an online retail site,” Supersano explains. “If you see items of interest, you can add them and either print or share via email.”
Consumers using the virtual binder can enter a financial advisor’s contact information and share content they have saved, along with a message. “That helps to facilitate the retirement planning dialogue and allows investors to focus in real time on what is most relevant to them,” Supersano comments.
IncomeCertainty.com also features a variety of sources of retirement expertise, including videos, brochures and research reports and input from experts from entities such as AARP, the Insured Retirement Institute and the Social Security Administration. “We want this to be a go-to place for consumers, so we took time to assemble not only our own research, industry and white papers from notable organizations expert in this area,” Supersano elaborates. “We took time to identify what would be most relevant and aggregate it in a convenient way for consumers.”
Prudential began the IncomeCertainty.com project in the fall of 2012 and developed the site within 14 months, according to Supersano. Prudential built the site in-house, consulting with external partners whom Prudential declines to identify. The initiative drew on contributions from across the enterprise, including content and retirement business experts, marketing and sales professionals, legal and compliance. “We wanted to ensure that as customers come in through all of our advertising vehicles that they enjoyed a consistent experience,” Supersano says. “That required collaboration with all the technology functions, both in annuities and more broadly across Prudential.”
Looking Outside the Industry
Prudential sought inspiration for IncomeCertainty.com largely from outside the financial services industry, focusing instead on more traditionally customer-focused industries such as consumer products, according to Supersano. “Our advertising partners were very helpful also, because advertising tends to be very cutting-edge on how to engage with consumers.”
The site won a 2014 Communicator Award from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts for excellence and distinction in the financial services website category.
“In the end, we wanted to focus on need rather than product,” Supersano adds. “We had to shift the way we think, starting from where the customer starts.”