- Busy Month for Revamps – March was a particularly dense month for public and private site revamps. Across all monitors, we reported five main site revamps and four for private sites, a significant increase over February’s tally of only two main site overhauls. Our Asset Management firms were especially active: Invesco released an overhauled site for both individuals and financial advisors; RS Investments completely altered its site’s design, content and focus; and American Funds rolled out a new dynamic and feature-rich advisor website.
- Spate of New iPad Apps – A quiet February saw no new mobile apps in our coverage groups, but the trend picked up again in March with the launch of three new iPad applications:Liberty Mutual launched a new CarZen app to provide a unique iPad experience for car shopping; MetLife published an app dedicated to helping financial advisors sell life insurance to clients; and Fidelity released its NetBenefits app for plan sponsors for the iPad.
- Microsites and Social Campaigns Remain On Trend – Coverage firms launched six new microsites on a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from TransAmerica’s microsite for March Madness Brackets to J.P. Morgan’s Anatomy of a College Saver site – and although this number is higher than usual it still falls within our monthly expectations. March also saw the launch of three new social campaigns, such as Allstate’s “Debunkinator” and BarclayCard’s “Be Your Possible”campaigns via Facebook, a tally much more in line with historical trends than February’s outsized offering of six campaigns.
Invesco, RS Investments, and American Funds each completely redesigned their websites. Despite the firms’ many differences, their site revamps shared common themes in that they focused on improving site navigation through better menu design and content organization, and all three implemented new responsive designs. It is American Funds’ new site for financial advisors that truly stands out as a new leader among our Advisor Monitor firms. In addition to a greatly improved design, the site features much better practice management content, a renewed focus on thought leadership commentary, and exemplary visual information for its fund profiles. For example, one standout feature is the ability to browse funds by their volatility and return in relation to a selected benchmark index, presenting each fund a single point in a scatter plot.
Volatility & Return Search on American Funds Advisor Site
Our research profiled two new and unexpected iPad apps in March. Most of the mobile apps our research tracks are mobile versions of our firms’ existing website offerings, but these are independent entities. First, Liberty Mutual partnered with CarZen to release a new app for researching and shopping for new and used cars. Available to both policy holders and non-clients, the app stores millions of automobile listings and provides technical information on each available vehicle, such as how one model year differs from preceding models. In addition, MetLife launched a new Whole Life Up Close app for advisors, which helps them illustrate future portfolios and forecast how certain life insurance products would be of direct benefit to their clients.
Whole Life Up Close App: Policy Overview
The insurance provider rolled out two fun innovations over the course of last month. The Esurance apps for mobile phones were updated to accommodate video appraisal, a unique feature that allows users to conduct a video chat with an Esurance representative to visually document automobile damage. At the conclusion of the chat, the firm representative will send a repair estimate. The firm also introduced a novel Fuelcaster tool that helps customers locate nearby gas stations and check current fuel prices. The tool will recommend that drivers either buy gas now if prices are expected to rise in the future, or to wait until the next day if prices will fall.
Fuelcaster Tool in Action
BB&T is a robust regional bank, primarily serving the American Southeast, that offers an extensive lineup of checking and savings accounts, loans, credit cards, insurance and more. One of BB&T’s standout products is its Identity Protection Checking account, which provides a $10,000 insurance policy against identity theft and access to personal fraud caseworkers in the event that the account is compromised. The bank boasts a strong online presence, including a dedicated iPad app and live website chat; but its private site, though perfectly functional, is not particularly innovative or noteworthy.