Sue McManus, VP of Direct and Customer Solutions Marketing at Nationwide
Sue McManus, VP of Direct and Customer Solutions Marketing at Nationwide

As a Client Success Director for Bazaarvoice’s Financial Services team, I’ve worked with several financial services brands to build social commerce strategies that increase online conversion and search, as well as improve customer service and client retention. But sometimes it’s daunting to make headway with new media in such highly-regulated industries.

When we started collaborating with Nationwide Insurance, they faced questions from Legal, Compliance, PR and Customer Service about the risks of participating in social. Nationwide created a strategy for overcoming objections to UGC and now embrace “customer oxygen” across all aspects of the organization, and have seen measurable business results from doing so.

Shawn Morton, Director of Mobile, Social & Emerging Media at Nationwide
Shawn Morton, Director of Mobile, Social & Emerging Media at Nationwide

In our recent webinar with Nationwide, Sue McManus, VP of Direct and Customer Solutions Marketing, and Shawn Morton, Director of Mobile, Social & Emerging Media, shared how they were able to overcome organizational concerns about adopting Social Media.

Facing the fear of UGC

One of Nationwide’s brand tenets is “we listen,” and they saw social commerce as a new opportunity to listen to the needs of their customers. Before moving forward, Sue and Shawn faced the fear that many companies face in embracing UGC: the fear of the unknown. What would happen, and how would they deal with it? What teams needed to be involved? Who would run it, and who would make sure it complied with industry regulations? Even with evidence like the J-curve indicating reviews would likely be positive, Nationwide wanted to see the results for themselves.

Strategy for overcoming objections

The key to Sue and Shawn’s success in gaining company-wide buy-in was to garner executive support across the organization. Gaining this support required a four part strategy.

  1. Reinforce importance of participating in the conversation. Nationwide looked for best practices outside the insurance industry, taking inspiration from Dell’s IdeaStorm and Best Buy’s Blue Shirt Nation. They realized that participating – and being transparent in doing so – was important. Our executives realized the time had come to stop watching and start doing,” Sue said.
  2. Ensure brand protection through content moderation. Moderation was Nationwide’s golden ticket to social commerce. It allowed the brand to limit their risk while staying authentic.
  3. Demonstrate the business value of investing in Social. Sue and Shawn showed execs the business impact of the investment, examining how UGC would impact Nationwide’s advertising, reputation management, PR, and SEO to provide better, more relevant content on the brand site. Tying social to real business objectives created a compelling case for moving forward.
  4. Create a process for testing and measuring results. Nationwide tested the strategy first, sending review solicitation emails to a subset of customers to see what type of content they would get. As expected, customer feedback was extremely positive.

Using this strategy, Sue and Shawn were able to gain the executive level buy-in they needed to bring the customer voice to the center of the Nationwide brand.

Their biggest piece of advice to help position social commerce to senior management? Tie it to clear business objectives, says Shawn. It isn’t enough to say something is a “fun, new trend.” Make the business case the old-fashioned way, just as you would for any other investment. Demonstrate the value behind social in numbers; show how reviews impact decisions. From there it’s easy to gain the executive advocates you need to make a case for social across your organization.

Want more? The full webinar is available to download for free, here:

Download the free webinarThis is the first of two posts from our webcast for highly regulated industries. Stay tuned to our blog to see how Nationwide is using social commerce today, and how it’s transforming their corporate culture. You can also read more about Nationwide’s use of social on Shawn Morton’s blog, here.

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