What it took to give Perpetual a digital facelift

Website overhaul is 'first and most important step' in digital journey, says its senior manager of digital content

Perpetual's John Joyce
Perpetual's John Joyce

Like a lot of companies, being old isn’t good enough anymore for Perpetual, its senior manager of digital content, John Joyce, said.

The challenge was the financial service’s Web presence and customer-facing interactions at the 130-year-old company were getting old and tired.

“We were facing into a whole lot of customer issues that a company with a great tradition doesn’t necessarily have itself set up to deal with,” Joyce told a crowd of attendees at the Sitecore Trendspot 2017 event in Sydney.

Perpetual is a financial planning business specialising in high-worth individuals, and manages the investment of native title trusts, 1000 charitable trusts, as well as corporate trusts. It’s also one of the biggest owners of Australian shares in the country.

“We are now competing in a space where there’s tons of information available, where fintech is a threat to all of us, where even our large, old competitors like the Commonwealth Bank, for example, are highly prized for their technical skills,” Joyce said.  

“We are dealing with clients who are increasingly ready to go hunting for information on their own, who aren’t waiting for us to tell them what to do. We are traditionally a company that cares very much about the individual, so we needed to integrate that with providing services in a digital fashion.”

The organisation recognised clients are now looking at Perpetual through multiple devices and are “willing to experiment”, Joyce said.  

“They aren’t just going to stick with Perpetual anymore because we have a good brand name. They are looking at other companies who have as good brand names; they are looking at companies who are coming in from overseas,” he said.  

Consumers are also no longer comparing companies to their direct industry competitors, but the user experience they get at companies like Uber.

A mandate for change

It was clear it was time to change. What really got things going, in addition to ever-increasing customer demands, was the fact Perpetual received a negative score after hiring outside consultant, Forrester, to do a customer experience rating.

“The point we were trying to make to our executive and board is that the customer experience at Perpetual, largely through our website, was so poor it was actually affecting the brand,” Joyce said. “Our competitors were starting to look a lot better than us, even though we were performing as well, if not better than them.

“We had to change pretty quickly because with each passing year, we were getting worse and worse.”

The first step in Perpetual’s digital journey involved a complete overhaul of its website.

“For some, that might be old school or something you did yesterday, but it was a big step forward for us,” Joyce said. “The thing that happened as soon as we built that website is that people who had been quite sceptical about the value of it, or not really helpful in creating it, suddenly kept saying to us, ‘What’s next? What are you going to do next?’”

For Joyce, trust is a key factor in determining customer service. “If your website isn’t good and you don’t deliver the right information to your client, then the trust you’ve built up with that personal contact, quickly goes out the door,” he said.  

Moreover, the implications of a substandard website can permeate across the entire organisation.

“If you’re website is outmoded, the people who work on your website, who work creating content, are going to think in that outmoded way. They are going to think in small spaces,” he continued. “I can’t put a video on this article. I can’t put in an infographic. Nothing I want to do I can do because the website is so bad. So you are affecting the whole influence of the organisation, particularly the marketing function.”

Perpetual’s website overhaul was complicated as the three-silo business had nine different business segments. “We threw out something like 600 pages. There are thousands of pages on the website. It took a lot of work,” Joyce said.  

The company also had to build for mobile. “We have an old client base, a rich client base, but we also do a lot of work in high-net worth. And some of the chronically high-net worth people in Australia are doctors. So mobile is very important to us for an interesting reason - we do a lot of work with medical specialists,” Joyce said.  

Changing mindsets

Perpetual’s website overhaul, which Forrester reviewed six to eight months after launch, offers an enhanced customer experience thanks to enriched content, including video content of advisers running the charitable trusts. The company has also tapped into its 800-strong database of medical specialists and created a series of videos featuring medical specialists talking about their financial positions, a powerful tool to win the ‘trust’ of medical experts and turn Perpetual’s ageing database into a strategic asset.

“We have gone from being the worst site in our competitor set to being in the top 3 per cent, as assessed by Forrester,” Joyce said. “We got the job done - and then we got lots more work straight after that.”

Website traffic has increased by nearly 30 per cent, with 37 per cent growth in community, a 30 per cent increase in engagement, 32 per cent new visitors, and a 13 per cent increase in returning visitors. 

“People spend longer there. They don’t get there and then run away, as they used to do,” Joyce said. “Those are the key immediate metrics for us. Forrester told us the client experience was working, and the people who came to the site seemed to be enjoying themselves when they got there.”

The website facelift has also provided an engine for business growth. “Thanks to the arrival of the new website, it not only changed what we could do in the digital space, it changed the mindset of the company,” Joyce said.

“It’s not just functionality or capability, but a mindset shift. We now think about the website in a completely different way, and our digital channels in a completely different way,” he said.

As an example, Joyce said the company is now advertising on Facebook, doing syndicated content, and exploring personalisation as a way to improve the ‘nurture cycle’ when keeping in touch with clients.

“It is not genius on our part, but it is just giving our clients the ability to interact with us in the way they want to,” he said, adding 87 per cent of new clients now come through a combination of an interaction with a digital channel and a human channel (BDMs and financial advisers).

Next cabs off the rank are marketing automation, lead generation and lead nurture. 

“As a business, culturally, I still think we have a lot of work to do in terms of turning the start we've made in digital into making Perpetual a digital business,” Joyce said. “But it's a lot better than we were a year-and-a-half ago.” 

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAu..., or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Extremely informative. One should definitely go through the blog in order to know different aspects of the Retail Business and retail Tec...

Sheetal Kamble

SAP retail chief: Why more retailers need to harness data differently

Read more

It's actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed ...

FIO Homes

How a brand facelift and content strategy turned real estate software, Rockend, around

Read more

I find this very strange. The Coles store i shop in still has Flouro lights? T though this would have been the 1st thing they would have ...

Brad

Coles launches new sustainability initiative

Read more

Well, the conversion can be increased by just using marketing, but in general if you are considering an example with Magento, then it is ...

Bob

How Remedy is using digital marketing and commerce to drive conversion

Read more

yo nice article

Bob

6 Ways to ramp up Social Media to Your Web Design

Read more

Blog Posts

9 lessons from 7 months of relentless failure

The most innovative organisations embrace failure. Why? Because it is often through failing the most creative out-of-box thinking happens. And with it comes vital learning opportunities that bring new knowledge and experience into teams.

Jacki James

Digital product lead, Starlight Children's Foundation

Why conflict can be good for your brand

Conflict is essentially a clash. When between two people, it’s just about always a clash of views or opinions. And when it comes to this type of conflict, more than the misaligned views themselves, what we typically hate the most is our physiological response.

Kathy Benson

Chief client officer, Ipsos

Brand storytelling lessons from Singapore’s iconic Fullerton hotel

In early 2020, I had the pleasure of staying at the newly opened Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. It was on this trip I first became aware of the Fullerton’s commitment to brand storytelling.

Gabrielle Dolan

Business storytelling leader

Sign in