Why iSelect is ramping up its martech play in 2018

Single view of customer and a host of marketing investment on the comparison site's radar as it looks to beef up customer experience

iSelect is making big investments into a single view of customer and martech initiatives as the company moves to “unlock insights” and deliver improved customer experience, according to iSelect CEO, Scott Wilson.

The news comes as the company confirmed its CMO, Geraldine Davys, has left the organisation after less than 18 months.

Wilson told CMO building a single customer view across platform will unlock the ability to view and value customers differently and target marketing investment accordingly, delivering more efficient and effective marketing.

In its latest half-yearly results, iSelect’s revenue was up 7 per cent to $83.3 million, driven by a combination of five per cent growth in customer leads, strong conversation rates and a 6 per cent increase in sales units. Wilson highlighted strong growth in underlying earnings, with EBIT up 23 per cent to $3.5 million, reflecting improved customer engagement through newly implemented technology and economies of scale.

Wilson said marketplace growth was driven by a host of technology initiatives. On the martech front, the company completed investment in iSelect’s proprietary iConnect platform, which is generating increased leads, enhancing customer experience and increasing cross-service ability.

iSelect consultants are now interacting more closely with customers through a 360-degree single view of them on the platform, Wilson noted.

“We are seeing the early benefits of iSelect’s technology investment flow through a greater number of high quality leads and increasing revenue per customer,” he said.  

iSelect's Scott Wilson
iSelect's Scott Wilson

“We are continuing to invest in technologies so our customers can have highly personalised recommendations while transacting more online. Our large and growing customer base serviced by our state of the art technology is benefiting our marketplace partners and iSelect.”  

Other investments include a martech stack that enables customer-first marketing solutions and automation at scale; R&D investment to develop and deploy iConnect for marketing in the next quarter; appointment of a new creative agency partner – The Royals; and further marketing activities to address the challenging health market.
“iSelect is a technology driven marketplace, and our vision to become Australia’s trusted life admin partner is now a reality," Wilson continued. "The second-half has traditionally been a much stronger trading and cash generative period for the business, and we have a number of initiatives in place to deliver on the growth opportunities we are creating.”

Wilson said the overall goal of having a single view of customer is to gather deeper insights from a multitude of data, thereby giving customers improved customer experience.

“We know by targeting the right customers, at the right time, with the right channels, and making that contextual through the single view, we can really start to improve that for the customer and get a better outcome,” he said.

Over the last 18 months, iSelect has sold insurance policies or connected energy to more than 1.6 million Australians, but has gathered data on over 11 million.

“We use that as part of our iConect platform, which is a series of 15 pieces of proprietary machine learning or AI," Wilson explained. "Over the last 18 months, we’ve replaced seven custom-built CRM systems and put in Salesforce over the top to unlock all of that single customer view.

“This is why in the first half of this year we redid our entire marketing technology stack across Google Doubleclick, Google Analytics and Adobe.”

For example, the data science team has built machine learning software that matches the customers’ metadata. Instead of relying on individual pieces of data, such as name, phone and email, it gathers insights by taking it all the way back to the original query or keyword.

“What we’re able to do is follow from that query or keyword all the way through to revenue," Wilson said. "What we can now start to do is have a look at the analytics for every dollar we spend in marketing, what’s the return on that investment we’re getting? Where are we getting negative return?”  

Specifically, it helps iSelect understand the value of each customer, Wilson said. Normally, an automatic bidding platform will give an average cost per lead, average customer, and who’s buying a quantity at a certain price.

“In our case, we are now starting to value the individual customer. We might be bidding, for example, on a auction in broadband, but we can now see that that customer has gone on to buy energy and we start to value them differently,” he said.

Wilson said the in-house data science team will work exclusively on R&D in marketing and martech this year. Key priorities include cross-selling multiple products, product recommendations and automation, as well as the bidding platform in real-time using the metadata.

“We have 15 pieces of software that personalise the experience of customers through our website and our contact centre, but what we’re aiming to do is essentially join our own first-party data and the machine learning with the automatic martech platform. That way, instead of having to make static decisions about budgets, and how many customers and leads, we can start to make dynamic, real-time ones using the machine learning.”

Building AI-driven chatbots and other service models will also change the customer experience and guide and prompt customers to a host of service options, Wilson said.

“The data science team will be pushing the boundaries of what a lot of these platforms can do - so it is quite exciting work for our team.”

Meanwhile, Wilson also confirmed to CMO the company is looking for a new chief marketing officer in the wake of Geraldine Davys’ departure late last year. Davys clinched the role back in July 2016.

“We have a strong group of leaders within the iSelect marketing team led by our group executive for marketing together with our head of digital," he said. “In due course, we look forward to welcoming a new CMO on board at iSelect to drive further success within our marketing team.

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