(Image credit: Dollar Photo Club.)
Jackson National Life Insurance Company (Lansing, Mich.) recently added new tools to its suite of digital resources for advisors and consumers, including the Jackson app, designed to offer easy mobile access to information regarding the carrier’s products, and the Retirement Hub app, which provides interactive educational content for investors on a wide variety of financial topics. The Jackson app enables advisors to customize sales presentations and tailor information to their clients’ financial needs and knowledge level in real time. Retirement Hub is designed as a one-stop-shopping channel for financial industry information, designed to complement the Jackson app. Insurance Innovation Reporter recently spoke to Luis Gomez, VP of Marketing and Digital Strategy for Jackson National Life Distributors about the new tools and their place within Jackson’s distribution strategy and concept of customer experience.
Insurance Innovation Reporter : Luis, tell us a little about what you do, so that we can put these tools in context.
Luis Gomez: We execute marketing efforts—running campaigns, producing collateral, etc.—for product launches and other corporate initiatives. We work closely with the product and compliance teams, we monitor cost justification and development and implementation, and we undertake training of advisors and wholesalers.
IIR: Where do the digital tools fit in?
LG: We base all of our objectives on an overarching multichannel marketing strategy wherein we consider all the different channels, both traditional and digital, to create a consistent message across them all. Digital capabilities fit within that, including things like using social media, digital advertising and applying SEO (search engine optimization). And of course tools such as the Jackson app and the Retirement Hub app. We consider digital avenues of communication not just to communicate better with advisors, but to make sure we provide our advisors with tools that help them to communicate better with their clients.
IIR: LIMRA and other organizations have published studies indicating that consumers misunderstand insurance and wealth management products. Is that why educational and communication tools are so important today?
LG: Certainly we need to educate consumers, but we have to educate advisors first in order to educate their clients. But that’s not a new thing; it’s always been at the core of what we do because financial products, variable annuities in particular, are sophisticated investments and not easy topics to talk about. We need to make sure that our advisors are sufficiently well-versed in our products to educate clients, and in particular that we ultimately communicate a simpler message to the client. That’s always been at the core of our strategy.
IIR: What’s the role of technology today in educating advisors and clients?
LG: There are various ways technology makes communication easier. The Jackson app and Retirement Hub app are examples of course. Another one would be the evolution of how we use video. Well over a decade ago, we began providing interactive videos via DVD or CD. Today, we can put them on microsites. Technology makes distributing rich media much easier.
IIR: What about the type of the experience enabled by modern technology?
LG: I think there are both challenges and opportunities in that regard. For example, advisors and clients alike are consuming information from a variety of media, going from tools to other tools, social media, websites, etc. The digital ecosystem is changing the way consumers behave, and it is evolving quickly, making it a bit of a moving target. We need to be mindful of that. In terms of effectiveness, websites and other digital channels need to quickly engage the user because of changes in how people are making purchasing decisions. Today we assume a large portion of the sales process is complete by the time the consumer decides to pick up the phone and talk to a representative or advisor. We need to influence the customer earlier in the process.
IIR: How do the new apps exemplify that? Tell us a little about them.
LG: Using Adobe DPS (Digital Publishing Site), we can take consumer-friendly content that we might have printed in the past and publish it periodically in digital form. Retirement Hub is very much a client tool. We’ll be publishing material quarterly on the topics of interest rates, market volatility and the benefits of tax deferral. The Jackson app is a tool that gives advisors access to digital collateral to explain concepts and products to clients. While meant for advisors, it’s also approved for use by and made available to clients directly through download. Advisors can direct clients to download materials relevant to their needs. There’s also a feature that enables advisors to create custom presentations, aligning available materials to present to clients in their office.
IIR: What’s the importance of mobility in particular today for life and annuities carriers?
LG: We’ve seen a big increase in demand for mobile just in the last year. The advent of the iPad has changed our business. In January 2014 we exchanged wholesalers’ laptops for iPads. Since then they’ve been using their iPads for everything. They no longer carry printed information kits in their trunks.
IIR: How will Jackson be following up the new apps?
LG: Going forward it will be important to look at new tools. This year we’ll focus on social media more, in addition to building on existing apps, continuing to add value for our advisors. We’ll focus on digital generally and mobility in particular, as well as SEO, remarketing and display advertising. We’ll be focusing on cost-efficient ways of promoting awareness of Jackson while simultaneously improving how we support our advisors and help to educate consumers.