Northwestern Mutual Uses Feedback Loop to De-Risk Decisions, Get Rapid Consumer Insights

Northwestern Mutual uses Feedback Loop to reduce the time to deliver research results from months to days.


A stalwart in the financial services industry for more than 160 years, Wisconsin-based Northwestern Mutual prides itself on its Midwestern roots and commitment to putting clients first. It may be a surprise that such a traditional company would be a vanguard of innovation, but “culture of innovation” is one of their brand pillars. And as they continue on a path from primarily offering life insurance and risk products to serving as a holistic financial services company, they’re relying heavily on experimentation and digital transformation, always with a finger on the pulse of what their clients want and need. 

That pulse has been changing rapidly in recent years, and to help them stay ahead of the game, Northwestern Mutual embarked on a project to rebuild 300 antiquated websites with a more localized presence to fulfill consumers’ expectations. 

But there was an issue, reports Senior Product Manager Kimberly Tzeng: “We basically built websites based on what the field thought consumers wanted, and we never actually talked to consumers.”

Reliable input from real customers

Tzeng and her team needed reliable input from actual consumers, and they needed it fast. Feedback Loop, the agile research platform for rapid consumer feedback, allowed them to remove the guesswork from their project.

“With Feedback Loop, this is the first time we’ve been able to talk to consumers during the entire process,” Tzeng says. In addition to running numerous simultaneous experiments with the easy-to-use platform, she and her team utilized Feedback Loop’s capabilities to create and test multiple digital experiences in order to uncover user insights. The Northwestern Mutual team was able to understand how people interact with financial content and build an experience that reflected their consumers' expectations. Feedback Loop gave them the opportunity to understand their user’s journey, from beginning to end, for the very first time.

“When we have consumer-driven data, we can build websites tailored to the consumer. Feedback Loop changed and improved the way we work at this 160-year-old company,” says web developer Nathan Steele. 

Audience insights at lightning speed

Since Northwestern Mutual was already on a march toward product launch, they needed both reliable data and actionable insights very quickly. 

“Oftentimes with research, it takes weeks or even months to get results back and have them synthesized,” Tzeng says. “With Feedback Loop, it’s literally two days, and we could have insights that fast.” The rapid delivery let Northwestern Mutual increase the speed with which they could iterate and get their product to market.

The team’s use of the Feedback Loop platform didn’t stop with a product launch, though. They continue to test their websites with consumers to get on-demand insights, using the ongoing findings to make real-time improvements as needed. 

“With Feedback Loop, we could really know what our external clients and the marketplace are looking for,” says Charles Worman, senior director of website marketing. “We were able to leverage that to validate a lot of assumptions. Feedback Loop gives us the confidence that we know what we’re building is correct.”


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