Digital communications are no longer a nice-to-have for pension schemes.
They’re a necessity for engaging members. It’s estimated that by 2025 75% of smartphone users will only access the internet using their phones, and 85% of all communications will be digital. The way that people are consuming information has changed. Schemes have to consider what that means for them, and what they need from a communications partner.
But one area that’s often overlooked in this digital journey is branding. A brand is much more than a logo – it’s the way a company or product is perceived by those who use it: in pension scheme terms, the members. Do your members view your scheme as simple, helpful and friendly? Or distant, dated and formal?
The communications you issue have the opportunity to either reinforce or reinvent those perceptions. If a pension scheme is seen to be investing in its brand, it will make its members feel that it’s moving with the times, building confidence and trust that the scheme is fit for the future.
Under the traditional model of communicating with members only a couple of times a year, perhaps via an annual benefit statement and newsletter, digital branding was relatively unimportant. But in today’s world, where members are interacting with your scheme 24/7 – and predominantly via screens – digital branding is a vital component of a coherent customer experience. If we want pension saving to become integrated with everyday life, we need our schemes to have a consistent and recognisable face.
At our recent client conference, we shared our experience of reimagining the Teachers’ Pensions brand for the digital age. We went through a process of analysis, surveys and workshops to establish perceptions of the scheme across its various stakeholders, then developed a fresh brand concept to make Teachers’ Pensions feel more approachable. It’s been particularly effective across social media, with channels like YouTube and Instagram reinforcing the new image and engaging a younger generation of members on their own terms.
That last point is critical: today’s pension scheme members want to be spoken to as individuals. We know that segmented communications are more effective than a one-size-fits-all approach. People are 53% more likely to open an email targeted at their specific demographic. Rudimentary segmentation into active, deferred and pensioner populations has long been a feature of scheme communications, but we’re increasingly using data and digital channels to do more sophisticated segmentation, along the lines of age, career stage, financial health and digital adoption.
Our work with Pfizer’s pension arrangements is a good example. Through focus groups we established that their under-35s wanted simpler language and a more colloquial tone than the scheme had traditionally used. We developed a new website with dynamic content based on age segments, and followed this through with the messaging in email campaigns.
These experiences have led us to pose three questions to the schemes we’re working with:
- Where are you on your digital journey?
- Is your scheme brand fit for a digital future?
- Could you be using segmented communications for greater impact?
These questions are the gateway to fresh thinking, better communication strategies, and an improved experience for members. If we’re to make any headway with public perception of pensions and engagement with retirement saving, digital communications are sure to lead the way – but to be truly effective, they need to be underpinned by clear and creative thinking around branding and segmentation.
Watch our session on branding and digital communications
Head of Sparks, Capita.
Joanne Arch heads up our member communications division – Sparks. Jo has 23 years of experience in marketing and brand management delivering award winning campaigns for public and private sector organisations working within London agencies and client-side.