CMO50 2016 #19: Vanessa Lyons

  • Name Vanessa Lyons
  • Title Group head of marketing
  • Company AUB Group
  • Commenced role June 2014
  • Reporting Line CEO and managing director
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function Not disclosed
  • Industry Sector Insurance and financial services
  • 2015 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    AUB Group’s Vanessa Lyons is the first to agree the insurance broking industry has been subscribing to a highly antiquated marketing approach.

    Up until last year, the group’s marketing to business clients was sporadic, disparate and typically focused on retaining existing customers rather than bringing new ones through the door. This was restricting the potential to generate new customers, drive further growth, and for marketing to start becoming a revenue generator.

    But thanks to a raft of changes Lyons has been implementing at the insurance services group, marketing is fundamentally changing the way, and how often, the organisation engage and service customers/clients.

    “One attribute we’re fostering in the marketing function is ensuring all our strategic priorities link back to improving the customer outcome,” she tells CMO.

    “We’re delivering this by applying a lifecycle view to all deliverables and tactics. We’re using data more holistically and fostering business intelligence and reporting to achieve outcomes that have increased five-fold. We also have a new approach to agency roles and accountabilities. Automation and workflow management are entrenched. And importantly, marketing has become the agent and ambassador for change. No longer is ‘good enough, good enough’.”

    Over the last 12 months, Lyons is proud to say she’s transformed the perception of marketing from revenue generator, rather than cost centre. It’s also why she believes the key metric AUB’s marketers are using to demonstrate their effectiveness is a “balanced combination of revenue generation, cost optimisation and risk minimisation”.

    From the CMO50 submission

    Innovative marketing

    One of the big shift in the marketing strategy is reorienting the emphasis away from the healthy existing client base, to a more healthy balance between marketing to new and existing clients. All customer touchpoints, methods and initiatives have become customer lifecycle-led, and correct segmentation and insights have become fundamentals, Lyons says.

    Workflows and accountabilities have also been unified, an approach that required transformation across many teams of the business. Through CRM implementation, customer-facing broker/sales teams became jointly accountable for converting leads generated. All sales touchpoints were streamlined, integrated and aligned with marketing efforts, and a full customer view was applied in all instances. Structurally, this meant sales teams were readjusted to align with new customer segments to ensure a single customer view was in place across the business, Lyons says.

    Another big step forward was to make marketing accountable for quality versus quantity, and all marketing initiatives aligned to a point on the customer lifecycle to ensure there was a seamless service and no duplication, Lyons says.

    “Customers were targeted after careful segmentation, so only those contacted were ‘high potential’ conversions. Results and performance was assessed on the quality of the outcome, not the number of people engaged,” she explains.

    “Our service delivery and interactions with our customers are varied based on these stages, but always remain integrated and personal in nature. Leveraging this approach builds richer, more relevant, more valuable service for us and our clients.”

    AUB has seen a five-fold improvement in returns in terms of effectiveness of marketing initiatives, plus additional Net Promoter Score (NPS) improvements. Customer conversion has increased from 2.5 per cent to 15.1 per cent, campaign investment is personalised and automated, and investment is recouped within six weeks of launch.

    Annualised across 450,000 customers, this new approach should result in multimillion dollar revenue growth once complete, Lyons says.

    Empowered business thinking

    The other holistic change Lyons is making is to implement a centralised group marketing service. Across AUB Group’s 75 businesses, there had been leakage and duplication in marketing and advertising spend. By centralising the marketing service function, Lyon’s team can deliver the same outcomes at 30 per cent less cost, reduce delivery times by 50 per cent, improve the effectiveness of each business while applying best practice marketing and strategy.

    Already in place across 10 per cent of the business, it’s helped reduced leakage by $200,000 in its first year.

    Data- and technology-led approach

    There’s been plenty of changes afoot in terms of data and technology utilisation to assist the AUB marketing team. In the past 12 months, a marketing automation platform (Microsoft Dynamics Marketing) has been scoped, customised and deployed across the Group. Led by marketing, this initiative involved setting up a platform that integrates all data, insights and activity in a single place, Lyons says.

    “It also shows us a holistic customer view in a much more succinct manner,” she says.

    With the introduction of a marketing automation platform, the Group has visible, measurable ROI information regarding marketing investments. On top of this, a single and integrated business Intelligence and performance dashboard has been rolled out, providing revenue reporting, integrates social media and online marketing channels and the sales pipeline together to provide a single place to analyse the impact on our company’s revenue.

    Lyons says marketing is also leveraging cross-channel campaign management and predictive analytics. Part of the Business Intelligence tool recently implemented now provides scenario-based situations to show marketing where to focus.

    “‘What if’ scenarios and projections are available to show where best returns can be achieved,” she says. “For example, when it comes to pricing and offers, we can now run ‘what if we increased fees by x%.?’ These scenarios help us to ascertain the likelihood to adopt and overall revenue projection versus another scenario.”

    Implementation of these platforms impacted a number of key capabilities, all of which were led by marketing. This was implemented over a 12-month period and revisited regularly to ensure the change program was achieved.

    Lyons highlighted several key component to her approach, including a strategic rationale, scope development, and executive endorsement; workflow definition and new process development; user training and expectations; and behavioural and new ‘ways of working’ to ensure success.

    “Real-time insights, optimisation, lead scoring and analytics are now part of our everyday approach within the marketing function,” she says.

    Customer-led approach

    With a heavy emphasis on customer lifecycle, Lyons says metrics and initiatives in the marketing function had to follow suit. Today, these are categories under key lifecycle areas, ensuring everyone has a customer-led view to everything AUB does: Awareness, engagement, service/retention and growth.

    Along with all financial measures, all business cases, investment/development initiatives and executive endorsement are now assessed and awarded according to whether they improve the customer outcome.

    “For example, our number one strategic growth initiative is focused on providing a new solution that achieves a longer term, 360-degree improvement in client service,” Lyons says.

    In addition, all content and campaigns are aligned to a long-term relationship mindset. “It is all about improving the customer experience and improving the engagement/trust in us, rather than swiftly moving onto the next topic,” she says. “The pipeline for insurance programs is at least 12-18 months, so all marketing initiatives and touchpoints are treated with this horizon.”

    On top of this, AUB is increasingly using reviews and endorsements to show the benefits of the outcome from one customer to another.

    “People now understand that we are driving better client outcomes, not just selling a service or pushing a product,” Lyons says.

    Fostering team capability

    With cross-channel initiatives and a ‘holistic customer view’ now standard practice, the biggest of area of focus to strengthen the AUB Group marketing function has been to upskill the team to become more adaptable.

    While much of the personnel came to AUB Group with a marketing specialisation, Lyons says their roles and accountabilities are now expanding to cover elements such as social, PR, and analytics. Each individual is being trained in other areas of marketing so they can truly represent and reflect a holistic customer view.

    “As the marketing function has now become a revenue generator, the requirements for the team to understand what/how to make money and manage to results has been compounded,”Lyons continued. “As such, additional emphasis in understanding financial statements and drivers has been provided in the last 12 months.”

    Lyons has also established a new service delivery model that maintains SLAs, optimises costs, and minimises risk.

    “Given the rate of growth at AUB Group (increasing from 50 to 75 businesses), the amount of work required by the marketing function has increased dramatically,” she says. “It was essential that the cost and quality of the marketing service was not jeopardised, and as such, a new delivery model has been established.

    “We now engage and use agencies in a different way - whereby our AUB Group marketing headcount is now funded and managed by our outsourced agencies. This means all employee overheads are provided by the agencies, thereby minimising cost, risk and effort by AUB Group.

    Additionally, accountability of delivering efficiencies sit within the agencies. “This relationship expands the knowledge of our business beyond AUB Group employees and is a more sustainable model in both the short and long term. It allows our AUB Group marketing to focus on strategy rather execution, and ensures continued growth can be resourced at pace.”

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