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AmFam’s Blueprint for a Successful Agent Digital Maturity Model

May 7, 2019

At last week’s Hearsay Summit, we held our annual Hearsay Innovator awards. The American Family Insurance Field Digital and Social Marketing team won our ‘Transforming the Enterprise’ award for the way their cohesive approach is helping their agents grow their digital presence, using social media, agent websites and compliant texting and voice. But what truly stood out to us is a program they pioneered in 2010 to measure digital maturity and drive agent digital adoption.

AmFam Social and Digital Marketing Team – Jeff, Ashley and Josh

The field social media program and agent maturity model, “Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly,” was created by Josh Feyen, Field Digital and Social Media Administrator when social channels really started taking off, to enable agents and drive digital and social media adoption. The straightforward program name established easy-to-understand vernacular for the field and their staff, as well as the field management teams, to understand what the agents’ digital social media capabilities were – and what they needed to learn to move up. Since all sorts of metrics were tracked and shared, AmFam’s marketing team could show that moving up the digital maturity scale could help with desirable results like an increase in leads, motivating reps to participate.

3 Top Tips for Making the ‘Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly’ Digital Maturity Model Work

Agents are Inherently Competitive but Require Education Too
“Salespeople at heart, agents are a competitive bunch. As such, we knew we had to make metrics across regions transparent. We wanted one sales manager to see the team down the street further up the maturity model scale and think “What are they doing that we’re not doing?” to stoke their drive. Here’s a good anecdote: We sent the percentage of Walk, Run, Fly agents that each state had to field management. One state was at the bottom in the percentage of Fly agents. It’s a small state but the sales director got keen to reversing that number and charged his operations folks to work with the field. In a year he reversed it and they now have a higher percentage of Fly agents than any other state. We’ve toyed with the idea of giveaways or incentives but it just hasn’t been necessary so far,” says Josh.

That said, AmFam shared that ‘Fly’ status is aspirational and they tell agents it’s not a necessary status for success. However, the AmFam team truly believes that the criteria they’ve set for the Run level is what agents need to achieve digital and social marketing success. To get their, agents rely on continuous education and training. The AmFam team regularly develops field specific educational material such as a “5 ways to make your new website work for you” tip sheet, and a monthly newsletter with features like “In case you missed it/want to learn more” highlights section.

Provide Plenty of Content and Leave Room for the Agent to Create and Publish Their Own
AmFam uses Hearsay Campaigns to give agents a way to automatically publish prepared content. They know salespeople don’t want to spend too much time on their social media so they’ve created an ‘Ongoing Campaign’ which runs the gamut in content from holiday greetings to the value of Life, Auto, and Home insurance and the and the occasional safety information. They also include content around the American Family ‘Dream Fearlessly’ campaign, an inspirational lifestyle component. Since posts that are personalized or created from scratch by agents often receive more engagement than posts prepared by marketing (not because they’re better written, but because it’s more authentic – the audience knows it’s in the advisor’s own voice), AmFam leaves a couple of days per week without a prepared post from the Ongoing Campaign.

The Rules of Digital Success Continually Change
Every year the American Family Social team reviews the criteria to qualify for each stage of the Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly model, and updates it according to what’s changed in the digital and social marketing sphere. The digital landscape changes fast and so do best practices. To truly progress, they need to help agents easily keep up with the times.

They’ve found that it’s been easy to update tracking metrics since partnering with Hearsay, with regular information provided around things like agent created content, number of posts, number of engagements, etc. They also use metrics (from outside of Hearsay) like the number of online reviews for each agent. Then they combine all the metrics to generate an agent’s monthly score to compare against the Digital Maturity Model stages.

This year, AmFam is changing a key metric: post volume will no longer be tracked. The goal is to show the agents the value and importance of original content. There are two reasons for this. First, as previously discussed, agent-created content has higher levels of engagement (quality over quantity). Second, it supports their upcoming Instagram rollout where agents will be entirely on their own for content. As Josh says, “The last thing we want to do is unleash 3,500 of the same photos on Instagram one Monday morning. We want to get them into the mindset, now, early, well before we launch this, that it’s valuable to create their own content.”

One final note: Though Instagram calls for 100% original content and they’re emphasizing quality over quantity, the marketing team will not be decreasing the amount of content they create and make available to agents on every other social platform.

Lesson Learned – Metrics Overload: Another Move to Quality Over Quantity

Over the last five years, all AmFam Agents with a Hearsay account and their staff, have received a monthly newsletter from the AmFam team. As happens over time, more and more metrics have been added for tracking and those were all included in each newsletter. Salespeople like their numbers (!) but they also have to be able to make sense of them. Instead of the 23 metrics that had made their way into the newsletter over time, the social team recently decided to pull back and focus on one important metric each month, including a deep dive into why it’s so important, how it plays into the Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly criteria, and what an agent or staff person needs to do to advance to the next level. In each newsletter, the team will still share a link to the dashboard that tracks all 23 metrics and, for the foreseeable future, will also promote the value of original content.

Brittany Hedin

Brittany has been at Hearsay since October 2014 and works as a customer marketing manager. In her spare time, you can find her riding horses or in the mountains.

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