26 50

CMO50 2016 #26-50: Georgina Williams, AustralianSuper

  • Name Georgina Williams
  • Title Group executive, engagement, advocacy and brand
  • Company AustralianSuper
  • Commenced role January 2014
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 30 staff, 5 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Financial services
  • 2015 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    AustralianSuper’s group leader for marketing, Georgina Williams, says three foundations are now ensuring data propels customer engagement strategies and drives all marketing and communications activity.

    The first was implementing a new team of data scientists working to better segment, target and meet members' needs. The second was bolstering internal data by introducing Mosaic.

    “We created a team whose single purpose is to implement agile multi-variant testing of communications through our data and insights framework,” she says.

    “The next stage is to begin to affect behavioural change in our members to help them make the best possible decisions on their retirement savings. We asked ourselves: How do we fix the problems our members have in their decision-making process to make retirement decisions?”

    To help, the superannuation provider partnered with Monash University’s Behavioural Psychology Division to better understand the steps Australians take in financial decisions.

    AustralianSuper also created a new position, researcher in residence, to work collaboratively across the fund to unpack behaviour opportunities and blockages and apply behavioural economic principles to data-driven communications activities.

    “We are now constructing an ‘interception model’, where all touchpoints are aligned and an agile test and learn approach is taken,” Williams continues. “This model sensitises customers to proposed behavioural change opportunities, and then places them in a nudge program to encourage this change and beneficial decision through our communications touchpoints.”

    It’s a lot of change in how things are done, and Williams says her proudest moment in the last 12 months has been watching the willingness of staff to change and adjust their focus and work together.

    “This has meant AustralianSuper staff and hundreds of thousands of members now feel a greater level of connection through the ‘part-owner’ initiative with their superannuation,” Williams tells CMO.

    From the CMO50 submission

    Innovative marketing

    In the past 12 months, Williams says AustralianSuper has been on an inside-out brand transformation to put members at the heart of everything it does.

    “On our members’ behalf, we have committed to help them ‘build tomorrow’ as our core brand promise,” she explains. “Build tomorrow as a strategy means AustralianSuper is responsible for the adequacy and confidence members feel for their super.”

    Building adequacy means meeting the needs of members, intercepting them at critical decision points and guiding them to take the right decisions for their future retirement. Complementary to this, building confidence is critical to ensuring brand fosters advocacy and trust.

    AustralianSuper is taking an integrated approach to marketing, engagement and advocacy, for example, with its work on the superannuation gender gap. A coordinated campaign saw activity through marketing, advocacy, including appearing before a Senate inquiry into the issue, and social media, and the group saw 10,000 people engage with the campaign on social media as a result.

    Empowered business thinking

    Another project Williams is actively involved in is hothouse, a dedicated test-and-learn environment that sits independent from core marketing and communications functions. The fund tests ideas and hypotheses and gather insights about what works and doesn’t work when engaging members.

    The team is currently focused on interaction with pre-retiree and retiree member segments, and targets small controlled groups of members based on actions they have taken, or behaviours that are likely given demographic segmentation. One of the best elements of the program is the ability to share what doesn’t work as well as what does work, Williams says.

    More than 20 trials have been conducted to date, with great success. As a result of the program, Williams says the brand has simplified the way it talks to members, and also knows which channels are most effective in prompting different member age groups to take an action in their best interests.

    “We implemented a number of actions that would have otherwise gone unrecognised,” Williams says. “Contrary to our assumption that members would not like getting cold calls from us, members reaction has demonstrated they are pleased to receive a call from our contact centre and are grateful to hear from us.

    “This insight alone led us to observe core differences in our brand perception which we then tested to confirm and then implemented through to our ATL and BTL propositions.”

    Customer-led approach

    One of the biggest hurdles the superannuation industry faces is the lack of engagement members have with their super account. A factor that contributes heavily to this is that people don’t feel a sense of ownership over their account or what it is invested in, the exact opposite trend to money invested outside of the super system.

    With this insight, AustralianSuper embarked on a marketing strategy that centres around the idea of ownership and reconnecting members with their money. Delivering this has required involving departments that have not traditionally worked together, primarily in the investments group, Williams says. This also required processes to be established around engagement of internal stakeholders and third parties.

    Off the back of this, the fund launched the concept of being a ‘part owner’. “The ultimate measure of success for this strategy is that members can name assets that they own as being part of AustralianSuper, and non-members want to join the fund because they want the opportunity to invest their money in the type of assets that only being a member of AustralianSuper offers them,” Williams says.

    Fostering capability

    More widely, Williams says her marketing team is taking the “radical new approach” of examining all communications touchpoints through behavioural economics. Team members across the marketing team have gone through extensive training in behavioural economics in the past 12 months to do this.

    Once they understood the behavioural economic drivers underpinning members’ decision making, teams set about ensuring communications were aligned to nudging members to make informed and beneficial decisions for their retirement saving.

    On another front, our annual statements have been significantly improved in a short period of time to provide retirement income projections for a large proportion of our members to help them see what their potential retirement savings could be. If a member does not have a projection, this section features segmented messages appropriate to their specific circumstances.

    “The ability to provide specific data and messages to members has proved to be very powerful,” she says.


    For Williams, creativity does not simply mean an advertising idea. It’s about challenging ideas and getting teams to a solution for members creatively through research and analytics, using data to ‘wow’ them.

    “We don’t believe superannuation is boring. Super is just a group of people coming together to buy investments they couldn’t otherwise afford. Super is about ownership and taking control of the future,” he says.

    “We don’t believe our members, and Australians generally, won’t be both wowed and surprised with the things they own, and how much they can save. If we can succeed in wowing people with our marketing, we can have real impact on Australian lives.”

    By using more creative solutions over the past couple of years, AustralianSuper has already directly uplifted the number of members who have directly taken action by over 100,000.

    “That’s exciting,” she concludes.

    Share this article