Best's News Service via Bestwire - July 03, 2013 09:43 AM

New Farmers Digital Strategy Chief: Social Presence, Email Marketing Increasingly Vital for Agents

LOS ANGELES - Farmers Insurance has tapped Patrizio Spagnoletto, a former Yahoo Inc. executive, to lead the company's digital strategy in a newly created position and oversee the company's consumer web presence, including mobile.

Spagnoletto, who has been with Farmers for a few months, is tasked with helping Farmers improve their customers' online experience and integrate that with Farmers' agent network, he told Best's News Service. "I see my role here as making sure that a customer has a world-class experience online, and that it's one that can be translated easily and seamlessly between the various channels," Spagnoletto said. "If a customer so chooses to start one path, go online and finish it with an agent, or vice versa, we're able to do that for them."

Spagnoletto he wants to help agents meet the needs of their customers, drive more traffic, increase business and engage with their customers. "Things like their local Farmers page, their social presence, email marketing and the like, become increasingly important in the life of an agent," he said. "Our role here is really to help them be successful in that."

Spagnoletto has 18 years of experience in U.S. and international marketing, management and digital strategy. He was most recently vice president of global marketing services for Yahoo, where he managed all marketing channels for the company. He was also responsible for marketing Yahoo's advertising solutions.

Spagnoletto is a newcomer to the insurance industry, which he says is ripe for "disruption." "It will require some different thinking, some different dispositions in terms of being able to take risks, but ultimately the company that does it best is really the one that's going to win the customers' hearts," he said.

Other insurance companies are directing resources toward online and mobile development as consumers shift their eyes to smartphones and tablets. About a fifth of Progressive Corp. direct business quotes now stem from mobile devices, making steep increases in the past few years in a consumer channel that's "on fire," company Chief Executive Officer and President Glenn Renwick said previously (Best's News Service, May 20, 2013).

Market consultants in China have also identified the trend, saying that mobile devices will reshape many aspects of the insurance industry, including distribution and claims, along with marketing (Best's News Service, March 27, 2013).

Farmers Insurance Group in 2012 had direct written premiums of $18.3 billion and a net income of $29.3 million, according to BestLink, A.M. Best Co.'s online financial system. Private passenger auto liability was the group's largest line in 2012, accounting for about 34% of direct premiums. Homeowners was its second-largest line, making up about 27% of direct premiums.

Farmers Insurance Group companies currently have a Best's Financial Strength Rating of A (Excellent).

The interview with Spagnoletto can be heard at
(By Michael Buck, senior associate editor, BestWeek: BN-NJ-07-03-2013 0943 ET #

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