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CMO50 2016 #26-50: Jenny Williams, HCF

  • Name Jenny Williams
  • Title Chief marketing officer
  • Company HCF
  • Commenced role March 2015
  • Reporting Line Managing director
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 26 staff, 5 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Insurance
  • 2015 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    Over the last 12 months, Jenny Williams has led a digital and marketing transformation at health insurer, HCF.

    This far-reaching change program has included a major upgrade in technology, including an analytics platform, content and campaign management, development of a renewed brand value proposition and psychographic segmentation, a rebrand and integrated campaign launch, and launching a suite of digital assets designed to help members with their health.

    The marketing team was also restructured around four functional pillars, and agency relationships were rethought.

    “All of this has been done to align the marketing strategy with our business strategy to allow HCF to realise its vision to make health care affordable, understandable, high-quality and customer-centric,” Williams says.

    “The digital and marketing transformation has already seen an upturn in key measures including increased share of voice among competitors, website sales conversation rates significantly increased and brand awareness is up. And importantly, we are now in a position to deliver major media transparency and efficiencies by giving members and prospective customers tailored marketing messages – the right message, to the right person, at the right time, through the right channel – with the ability to be agile.”

    But it’s when marketing launched the rebrand to all HCF staff that Williams felt her proudest, she says.

    “One of our branch managers came up to me and said this was the most excited they had felt in 20 years working for HCF,” she tells CMO.

    From the CMO50 submission

    Empowered business thinking

    One of the additional projects Williams has been responsible for outside of business-as-usual activity is overhauling HCF’s member website to offer digital self-serve tools and migrate to a new technology platform.

    This saw her oversee development of other digital tools to assist members, including tools to understand going to hospital, mental health and chronic disease management, along with the core system replacement of the CRM.

    Data- and technology-led approach

    Through all of the changes, Williams says marketing and digital transformation have been grounded in data-led insights and analytics. Research groups were undertaken with HCF staff and members to understand their needs, their expectations of the business and how they want both expected the group to communicate with them.

    On top of this, a major customer survey was rolled out to members in order to develop market segmentation identifying key attributes, attitudes and need states for members.

    “Demographics alone have their limitations, and we knew we needed to dive deeper,” William says. Divided in to eight defined groups, the data from market segmentation analysis is now starting to drive personalised and one-to-one communications.

    “By understanding how particular people think and feel about private health insurance and their health, we are tailoring messaging to them to drive effectiveness,” she says.

    Helping HCF marketers achieve this is a newly rolled out marketing automation platform. Overlaid segmentation data with RDA geo-data then enables highly targeted and geo-specific local area marketing initiatives in collaboration with branches.

    A further example of technology-led insights is the relaunched HCF website, which is using cookies and retargeting to serve up bespoke messaging based on previous consumer behaviour on the website. Data collected from apps is also being used to drive content personalisation.

    To highlight how insights are leading to action, Williams points to health-related tools launched by HCF during its major mid-year acquisition promotion in June and July. New members were given a Lenovo tablet pre-loaded with health and lifestyles apps and content.

    “This was an acquisition driver which further consolidated our position as a partner in health care for our members,” she says.

    Customer-led approach

    Given that customer centricity is at the core of HCF’s business and its vision for the future, customers must be embedded into every activity and undertaken. One way Williams has sought to achieve this is by creating a customer marketing group within marketing, which owns the relationship and manages customer communications.

    Business planning and project prioritisation is also based on impact to members and customer research is being used to drive all solutions and validate design.

    “Customer loyalty and retention now have the highest priority on the marketing agenda,” she comments.

    Fostering capability

    Since kicking off the transformation process in March 2015, HCF’s marketing team has grown from eight people to over 25. To manage such change, Williams has been working to build the skills and capabilities of staff to be able to undertake the marketing overhaul needed by the business.

    To do this, she has restructured the team to establish four key marketing disciplines: Brand; advertising and campaigns; digital; and customer marketing. Within these disciplines, specialist skills have also been added, such as local area marketing, which focuses on supporting individual branch outlets or a marketing specialist focused on supporting HCF’s corporate accounts.

    “Obviously, with the team growing so fast, it’s been really important to pay attention to our team culture and help to foster a strong and supportive team,” Williams continues. “The heads of each of the four disciplines are trained in change management and have been critical to helping the team and the wider business cope with the incredible amount of change we have been through in the last year.”

    A range of team-based activities are also in play, including sessions with The Energy Project, helping the team work more effectively and ensuring their needs are met.

    As a result of the above, HCF has seen an increase in employee opinion survey scores in 2016, with marketing being one of the highest rated departments within the HCF organisation.


    Creativity is highly valued throughout the marketing team, and William says new agency partnerships have helped raise the bar in terms of advertising and digital executions.

    “Creative thinking is recognised as being something that can come from anywhere in the business. We are continually exploring new ideas and evaluation methods,” she adds.

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