New York Life

The Start of a Consumer-Centric Approach for New York Life

Re-Architecting 170 Years of Success for Today’s Evolving Expectations and Opportunities

New York Life, the nation’s largest mutual life insurance company, came to us with its core business was at an inflection point. While life insurance sales continue to grow year over year at New York Life, the industry as a whole has experienced a 45% decline in sales in the last 20 years. To ensure the stability and growth of their core business, and as a result, maintain their highly successful investments business—New York Life needed to modernize their approach. Proprietary products, sold by career agents, backed by thoughtful long-term investment strategies—had built success for over 170 years. However, to maintain their relevance and success in today’s evolving market, they had to move away from being a product-focused company to a customer-first company. The key was to achieve this without alienating their agent-led competitive advantage or adding risk. New York Life wanted to enable customers to better understand how the company could meet their individual needs—which meant seeing the brand as one they could trust to build and protect their financial futures.


The Challenge

  1. Communicate relevance to a new generation of consumers, while adhering to FINRA regulations.
  2. Move multiple lines of business from various technology platforms onto a unified AEM platform that would allow each group to leverage systematic design and experience systems.
  3. Help NYL move from an entrenched Sales Company to a Sales and Service Company.
  4. Build and enhance micro-conversions to better understand path-to-purchase and tailor content and experiences directly to them.
  5. Move NYL to an omni-channel approach, supporting 12,000 career agents without affecting their positioning in the sales process.
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The Strategy

Defining a New Ecosystem and Approach to Data

A change of this size could only be undertaken with a deep knowledge of NYL’s diverse and complicated business structure(s) and its multitude of legacy platforms. Across all lines of business, Code and Theory outlined their current state. Then we developed a vision for a simplified future that was strongly customer-centric—but also considered the company's 20,000+ employees and agents to be key members of the audience model.

The primary goal was to design an ecosystem that could scale to accommodate all lines of business, CRMs, customer portals, partner providers, agents, DOBs and general offices. We needed a strategy that would create both customer relevancy and business efficiencies, from search to underwriting—all with a clean data view across interactions. Plus, we needed a unified content approach that progressed NYL’s messaging and adapted to their users’ ever-growing needs and levels of understanding.

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The Solution

Choosing enterprise platforms like AEM and Salesforce provided a clean base on which to build the next generation of the NYL digital ecosystem. From an experience standpoint, we could ensure flexibility, while systematizing and simplifying the back-of-house process for simple day-to-day management. Tying both platforms together was a robust analytics strategy that enabled NYL to steadily build customer knowledge and relationships through micro-conversions (either on-site or through direct contact).

Outfitting our clients with self-reliant digital systems includes building systems that enable self-governance, centralized management and ultimately the ability to scale according to their needs.

Component and Template Library

Utilizing atomic design principles allowed us to rapidly design and develop systematic elements, components and templates that enable maintenance at scale, continuous iteration and optimization over time. This library, complete with annotations, history and use cases, is found in the Living Style Guide. This document allows NYL and other vendors to easily access and evolve their digital ecosystem and reference the codified design system.


Combining the needs of content strategy, user experience, analytics and development, we created a taxonomy to understand and track visitors—letting us deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.

Copywriting and Media Development

To remain consumer-focused and ensure our new content and pathing strategies performed well, we developed copy guidelines and media assets for various use cases; these were based on audits, search data, audience development and assessments that determined which content to migrate, sunset or rewrite.

Editorial Guidelines and Editorial Calendars

We worked with content publishers throughout the organization to determine editorial marketing needs, and then developed guidelines to enable well-considered, self-sufficient content production.


The Conclusion

Since launch, we’ve enhanced the NYL website through a process of test, learn, iterate and launch. We’ve created many new on-site experiences using multi-variant testing, allowing for a robust set of data to select success criteria based on customer engagement and usage. Utilizing this methodology, NYL has been able to keep up with their customers’ needs, while adhering to its core business strategy.

NYL’s website is now a tool to initiate business ideas and approaches that guide their ongoing organic growth towards a unified goal. Code and Theory has set up a multi-tenant solution that allows NYL to continue to expand the system design across multiple lines of businesses, customer portals for consumers and financial advisors, and into the application, pre- and post-purchase, tracking, and underwriting experiences.

Set Up For Long-Term Success

We scaffolded NYL with the tools, workflows and governance to optimize the site over time and continuously report on progress to the organization. We decreased their reliance on third-party vendors by training their in-house team, who now owns their analytics, optimization and testing capabilities.

  • 3x growth of dedicated digital analytics and optimization
  • 7.3x increased A/B testing and personalization activities in adobe target

A Modern Approach to Marketing

Because of our platform, NYL can now optimize previous marketing campaign work, moving from a legacy approach of static marketing content to more dynamic and engaging content. This shift featured deeper UX thinking, more meaningful interactions, abetter linking strategy, and more site integrations to explain complex products in a compelling way—ultimately leading to an increase in data capture.

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We Are a Technology-First Creative Agency

What We Do

Code and Theory is a strategically driven, digital-first agency that lives at the intersection of creativity and technology. We solve consumer and business problems with end-to-end solutions that flex to meet the needs of today’s ever-changing digital landscape.

Our Services

We provide a range of offerings built to support the entire ecosystem.

  • Data, Analytics and Research

    Our data-driven approach enables us to understand every aspect of end-to-end consumer journeys, and powers our work from start to finish.

  • Business & Organizational Consulting

    We work with our clients not only to define and deliver products, services and communications, but also to design the business itself.

  • Transformational Technology

    We help our clients reinvent their technical infrastructure and roadmap in order to deliver for the needs of today and tomorrow.

  • Services, Platforms & Products

    We create best-in-class platforms built around both the user and the business goals, often extending into connected physical expressions.

  • Integrated Marketing

    We deliver the right messages to new and existing customers across the entire ecosystem.

Our Offices

We have locations around the world.

Join Our Team

We're not typical, and neither are you. We're always looking to hire smart, interesting and forward-thinking people.
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Code and Theory is a proud member of Stagwell Group. Stagwell is the challenger network built to transform marketing. We deliver scaled creative performance for the world’s most ambitious brands, connecting culture-moving creativity with leading-edge technology to harmonize the art and science of marketing. Led by entrepreneurs, our 13,000+ specialists in 34+ countries are unified under a single purpose: to drive effectiveness and improve business results for their clients. Join us at