This is the first instalment of a two-part series on ASFA’s Spotlight on Member Engagement event. Here we cover ‘Customers – the fight for attention is real’ and ‘the engagement tool kit’. The remaining sessions will be explored in the November issue of Superfunds.

In the digital age, the fight for member attention has never been more acute and the super industry is facing some significant challenges. Statements from the Hayne Royal Commission and recommendations from the Productivity Commission signal that the super landscape could well be remodelled, so the need to attract, retain and engage fund members is of paramount importance.

The ASFA Spotlight on Member Engagement, held in Melbourne on 12 September, looked at how super could respond to the changing “rules of attraction”. Can we turn-on our members to create a deeper and richer level of engagement? Are funds themselves changing from a product to a customer-focused model? What is the role of brand and how can actionable insights be developed?

The power of branding

Umberto Mecchi, the chief marketing officer at HOSTPLUS said the Royal Commission has exposed a lot of brands throughout the financial services industry. “The challenge for brands in our sector will be to win back the trust and confidence of their customers.”

Mecchi, who chaired “Customers – the fight for attention is real” with Deloitte partner Kareene Koh and group industry director for Facebook and Instagram Naomi Shepherd, said the industry needs to look at the rapid change in customer preferences and media consumption habits as well as how its own structures can keep pace.

“Technology is clearly pervasive in our lives and is influencing what we choose to see, when we choose to see it and how we choose to see it. We can’t also ignore the probable reality that our own organisational structures and capabilities are perhaps being challenged to respond and keep pace with these changing forces.”

Shepherd said the ubiquity of smartphones is the chief agent of change as far as customers are concerned. “If you’re thinking about repositioning super with your members, about what role you’re playing in their financial literacy, and giving people the confidence that they’re with the right fund, then chances are you’re probably thinking that you’d like a very positive brand image and you’d like to be at the top of people’s minds pretty consistently.

“Building your brands on our platforms, on Facebook on Instagram and on Messenger, really isn’t that different to the way that you might build brands anywhere else. All of the things that are important to brand building—like fame and emotion and consistency and having distinctive assets—generally haven’t changed, but there is one important distinction, and that is that consumer behaviour really has changed.

“People are walking around with the most personal and portable device ever known in their pocket … we’re really at this inflection point of where consumer behaviour is massively shifting and that is changing the way we think about bringing our brands to market.”

Earlier this year Facebook and Deloitte collaborated on a report – Shared Stories: building brand in the digital age. Deloitte’s Koh said a key tenet of the research was looking at how the value of brands has changed in the digital era.

In 2017 the top 100 brands in Australia were worth $143 million, which is almost half of the intangible assets in Australia. In the US, the top 100 businesses with the most valuable brands had net profits 43 per cent higher than the Standard & Poor’s 500 average.

When you combine those two things, the value of brands and their impact to profitability, can be seen as an important asset. However, the Facebook and Deloitte research found that:

  • Only one in six marketers considered brand to be their most important objective, falling behind increasing sales revenue and building customer or member engagement
    Nearly one in three marketers reported a brand that had either stagnated or declined in the past 12 months. For those whose brands had stagnated in the past year, revenue on average had fallen by 13 per cent. So in a billion dollars of earnings, that’s $130 million of foregone revenue.
  • Measurement tools have not evolved sufficiently to allow marketers to quantify their effectiveness across different channels
    Less than half of the businesses surveyed use cross-channel measurement to quantify outcomes and marketing success. This creates a misunderstanding of what’s actually driving impact for marketers and can hinder future planning.
  • Organisational structure matters
    Product silos are creating inconsistent experiences for customers, and making it difficult or wasteful for marketing strategies. There was an increase in focus on short-term measurement at the expense of long-term. Businesses that focus on long-term metrics are 30 per cent more likely to have an experienced improvement in their brand performance than companies who only measure short-term sales. Ultimately, businesses need to use a combination of short-term and long-term metrics in order to be successful.

Of particular interest to the superannuation industry, the survey found that social and digital unsurprisingly were seen as a really rich channel for delivering a customer experience and customer engagement.

“People enjoy hearing more than just marketing message, but an opportunity to engage with that message and engage directly with the business or a brand, which of course social lends itself to,” Koh said.

Success in the digital age

Marketing professionals today are being challenged to reassess how their brands can be built and managed over time. The shift in media consumption from traditional channels such as television and radio to digital channels such as internet and social have reinforced the need for having the right tools.

“This means a new toolkit and new skills for the team, and investing in team marketing technologies and starting to work with an ecosystem of partners, like media agencies, PR agencies, and platform providers like Google and Facebook. These are all going to be critical components of the modern marketer’s toolkit.”

Success challenges

Deloitte and Facebook asked marketers about the barriers to success. Apart from budget-size, two main obstacles were identified:

  1. the inability to measure success, and
  2. measuring the outcomes of their marketing investment.

Koh said, “It’s really important when you’re setting up your campaigns to be able to measure and target your audiences throughout the experience, rather than just on a single particular channel, or a particular touchpoint.

“We saw a growing need for value measurement that can demonstrate outcomes between short-term and long-term revenue conversion, customer engagement, customer retention.”

Mobile the new “remote control”

Facebook’s Naomi Shepherd suggested ways super can tap into the changing behaviour of their members through mobile.

This includes marketers learning skills unique to the mobile platform, such as writing succinctly, rather than in longer form. She said it might also mean delivering the punch line up front because your members are likely to scroll past, or their attention will start to wane after the first few seconds.

“If you think about people’s behaviour on mobile, they tend to be hyper-engaged at the start and then they’ll scroll straight past if they want to. The control is within their thumb; this is the new remote control,” she said.

When marketing to customers using their mobile devices, Shepherd recommended thinking about shorter form, quick snappy messages or snackable content.

“It’s really not about the length of time, it’s just about saying one thing and saying it beautifully using the aesthetic and all of the crafting skills that you have around the rest of your creativity,” she said.

A smoother customer journey

Shepherd said there is a need to remove friction from the customer journey, citing Qantas who is achieving this with Facebook Messenger to deliver boarding passes and send alerts of gate changes.

Qantas has also recently added a travel inspiration bot, where customers go onto Messenger and find more information about the places they’re considering visiting. With nearly 400,000 open consumer conversations when they launched, Shepherd explained “it’s a very familiar platform for millions and millions of Australians that they use every day as a utility and Qantas wanted to be front and centre there.

“Your members are on our platforms. Think about how you’re facilitating the conversation with them. It’s not really just about having a conversation about life stage, but really how do you as a super fund insert yourself into that conversation.”

View your work on mobile

Quite often when working with agencies, campaigns are presented on big TV screens. Shepherd advised asking to see what design looks like on mobile, because it is likely this is how your members are going to view your brand. What does that amazing television commercial look like when the sound is off? What does that great member message look like when it’s viewed on a smaller screen?

“Hopefully you can have fun with the platforms. They are very interactive, they have the ability to really delight your members,” she said.

The design thinking approach to tools

Developing the right toolkit to roll out in the digital landscape has taken on new levels of importance. Willis Towers Watson head of digital Rick Body said a design thinking approach can help drive the greatest outcomes from technology.

“This is user-centric design that aims to move the effort from traditional projects which were probably 95 per cent in the build phase and 5 per cent in the design phase, and to spend more time and effort trying to understand your customers or your members, so you build better solutions.

“In the end, with this sort of process, your solutions and services are much more closely aligned to your members’ needs and services, and desires. It really is that simple. With Facebook, Google, all the big technology players, they’re using this all the time. They’re always in touch with their customers, understanding what’s working, what’s not working.”

Know your customer

Body said it’s essential to spend time with members while you’re designing and developing tools. This should be done in two steps:

  1. define a problem you want to solve, and
  2. understand how your members are thinking.

Case study

This was a digital statement of advice project with a $30 billion industry fund over six weeks. It involved iterations every week, three vendors, 10 fund stakeholders and 20 member interviews.

Body said the problem trying to be solved was how to help and encourage 20 per cent of 45 to 60 year olds with low balances, to take positive actions when they don’t know what they need to retire. “Critically there were lots of measurable items in that problem statement.

“So how can we motivate 40 to 65 year olds? We found that focusing on lifestyle and retirement was really motivating; people were worried about working longer, so presenting how long you may need to work was also motivating. People were more encouraged to save when they knew that. The third one was peer comparison, and that tested really, really highly.”

The first week was spent focusing on ideation and concept development; that “problem statement” and empathy workshops. The following three weeks were the iterations and the validation – scheduling member sessions, running through the different concepts with them, changing them as we went through, different target groups, different areas.

The last two weeks were around preparing for the implementation. This was the technical solution design, the requirements’ definition, and then the costing project planning and development.

Body said, “The other part of the project was what did the members need to know? Financial literacy was important. Without that understanding, they lack the confidence to make choices. And, finally, how can we encourage them to take action? The biggest factor there was simplicity and that came through in all of our tests. Give them simple actions they can easily do along with good help being available when they needed support for their decision-making.

“There was also the concept of a trigger – we found members were very open to being contacted when things were changing in their world.

“Involving your members in your technology development—anywhere you can—is a positive and you’ll get better results because of it.”

This is the first instalment of a two-part series on the Spotlight on Member Engagement. ASFA would like to thank NAB and Midwinter for sponsoring the event.