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Marketing insight from PensionBee CMO: ‘Opinion and behaviour are two different things’

Jasper Martens is CMO of online pension providers PensionBee and answers our questions in the latest of Press Gazette’s Marketing Maestro interviews. This series is produced in association with Lead Monitor, New Statesman Media Group’s content-driven marketing arm.

What’s been your proudest achievement in your current role?

In 2015 I jumped ship from an established company to join a newly founded PensionBee. We had the huge task of building a financial brand from scratch and turning it into a household name. While we’re not there yet, we’re well underway. It’s been a once in a lifetime opportunity and doing this with PensionBee has been fantastic. We started with a shoestring marketing budget and are now a fully multichannel operation, including TV, radio and out-of-home.

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What media channels do you see as most important and best value when it comes to marketing spend and activity?

I’m a big fan of forgotten and overlooked channels. While out-of-home or prime time TV spots can build trust amongst your audience, you need extra brand touches to encourage action. Radio is one of the best ways to achieve this – and the most cost effective. Radio has proven to be a steady channel during the pandemic. Car usage and working from home are both settings where radio works really well.

What is the best way to improve your social media output?

Social media is an instrument to communicate to your followers and fans. It shouldn’t be treated as just a broadcast channel. Simply asking questions triggers engagement. At PensionBee, we run a community of HoneyMakers – customers who like to be involved in testing new product features. We also find the customers we use in our own advertising via social media.

I believe it’s important to use social media in a way that audiences are familiar with and to not try to reinvent the wheel by setting up a new platform. From a commercial perspective, it’s fine to retarget customers through their favourite social media platform if they have had prior engagements. But simply repeating the same content on social media as seen on TV won’t cut it. The conversation needs to continue on the relevant social platform to be successful.

What for you is the key to any successful marketing campaign – what actually makes a ‘good lead’?

Knowing your target customer inside out makes great campaigns. If you know them, you also know what triggers action when you communicate with them. In financial services, trust is key to overcoming inertia. Whilst your product might be revolutionary or new, that usually wears off quickly.

A great campaign is not purely product-focused but triggers the emotion that comes with it. By following this approach, you avoid acquiring customers that were randomly triggered to sign up, who in time may end up leaving your service as their expectations don’t sync with your product!

How important is technology in modern marketing?

Without technology you simply don’t know how to reach your customers effectively. We can track customers’ behaviour before they sign up and, crucially, their actions after signing up to help tailor our marketing efforts.

However, I do think you can also use too much technology in your marketing. There are so many platforms and services to choose from, but many of them are duplicates or simply obsolete. It’s important to define what you need and search for solutions that fit your requirements, resisting the urge for the extras.

What are the biggest pain points in a marketing campaign?

The advanced planning needed for marketing campaigns can be a bit of a nightmare to navigate during a pandemic! Overnight channel consumption changed dramatically due to the ‘stay at home’ order and instead of being on the streets in busy cities, people were at home on their phones. As a marketer, you have to be prepared to make last-minute changes in your channel mix. That can be hard and channel owners will not always agree! Building long-standing relationships with channel owners and making sure you negotiate flexibility in your contracts can be a huge help.

And finally, if you could ask your peers for one piece of advice or help, what would it be?

I’d be interested to know what tactics other marketers have used to get their target or existing customers to open up about how they really feel about their brand and product. Customers might say one thing but then behave differently. Opinion and behaviour are two different things. How can we close that gap? I’ll buy you a coffee if you can share what worked for you and what didn’t!