How the Australian Finance Industry Association transformed its member insights
- 09 November, 2020 08:29
The Australian Finance Industry Association (AFIA) has implemented a new marketing automation platform, helping to transform how the organisation engages and communicates with its members.
The financial services membership outfit, which counts accounting firms, management consultants and software companies in its stable of clients, traditionally relied on spreadsheets for collating member details. Now AFIA has opted to roll out Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing to create a central repository for member information.
The tech capability sees AFIA able to automate its online payment process using Stripe, which previously took 24 hours for a team to manually transact each event payment and confirm with the member. It’s gained a more cohesive picture of data, having insights into open rates and click-through rates and is planning new offerings for members.
AFIA represents the entire finance industry and, despite significant member engagement levels particularly around advocacy activities, the organisation didn’t have a single source of data on its members.
“We needed a more streamlined way to collect, access and use member data in order to respond fast, be proactive in our approach to member communications and represent our members,” AFIA executive director of membership services, Mel Carpenter, told CMO.
AFIA was already using Office 365, meaning working with a cloud platform was already a way of doing things the organisation was comfortable with. Nonetheless, it was still important internally within the organisation to take it setp by step when bringing in a new platform for member details.
“We took a staged approach to rolling out Dynamics 365. First was marketing to support member and stakeholder engagement strategy, including new interactive communications – we needed a central repository for member information to ensure the success of our plans,” Carpenter said.
“We worked with 365 Mechanix – and that first module took three months to implement and populate with data. We wanted to make sure the foundations for the system were correct so we could evolve from there. It immediately changed the way we communicated with our members as we could connect with them more regularly in a more effective and efficient way. That simply wasn’t possible in the past.
"And we could cut the data how we wanted – publishing communications to specific groups of people on specific emerging issues and developments. And again, this was not possible previously."
Employing the new tools
The AFIA is a small team of 10 people supporting more than 100 financial services businesses and 40 service or product providers to the industry. To service all of its varied members and their clients which such a modest sized team, it needs maximum efficiency and productive capacity from its digital tools and platforms.
“We need to be clear, we need to communicate regularly on emerging industry issues and regulatory reforms and government policy and critically we need to champion change,” Carpenter said.
While AFIA’s overall marketing strategy is to embrace the challenges of the modern finance industry, it does that by leveraging the insights of its diverse membership, creating a unified industry voice to influence the future and drive a culture, based on integrity, transparency and fairness, to achieve better outcomes for our customers and our industry. “Our marketing and brand strategy aligns to that,” Carpenter said.
“It’s about creating awareness among our members on industry views, on emerging issues that will impact their customers, on regulatory reforms that will affect their business operations and ensuring that all of those changes lead to better outcomes for customers and the community.”
One of the key parts of the transformation has been integrating digital payments tool Stripe with Dynamics 365 events management. Carpenter described it as a gamechanger, bringing the speed and simplicity of instant payments, instant confirmation for members. “It is so much more efficient for us,” she said.
The data analytics can be fed into marketing campaigns by analysing the data immediately – checking open rates, clickthrough rates and analysing what content members are reading most. Carpenter noted its new platform makes it much easier for the marketing team to adjust campaigns based on a better understanding of what resonates for members and delivers the impact it islooking for.
“We also now provide the leadership team with monthly reports on the performance of our campaigns and content, it has driven our decisions on our member engagement activities,” she said.
The organisation is planning to further extend how it uses the Dynamics 365 platform to gain a deeper understanding of member sentiment. “The next one is Voice of the Customer that’s going to streamline data capture and drive consistency in terms of the information that we collect, Carpenter said.
Then 2020 hit
AFIA had already rolled out Dynamics 365 Marketing well before the pandemic, and was using that to manage member communications. Then the pandemic hit and changed everything. In February, as the pandemic crisis started to unfold, and it quickly become clear that in-person events would need to be shutdown, AFIA switched on the events management capability.
“The timing worked well for us as we had to quickly bring forward our plans for virtual events when the pandemic really took hold in Australia. We had a phased implementation plan for leads management and greater connectivity with the AFIA website,” Carpenter explained.
“One of the really great benefits was that we had instant insight into who was engaging with us in the online events – open rates of invites along with registrations and, coupled with the virtual event platform analytics, we could see when they tuned in, how long they stayed, if they were engaged."
These were great insights that AFIA simply would not have had without this. "Our implementation wasn’t disrupted – but it was refocused,” she noted.
AFIA wants to take a lead where it can with the economic recovery stage of the pandemic, from influencing positive outcomes for its members and their customers in the form of engagement with members as well as government, regulators and others in associated industries.
“The benefit of having Dynamics 365 is that we now have the data to help us do that better and faster,” Carpenter added.
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