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14 Sep 2021
by Steve Watson

Why better pension data analysis could help improve engagement with financial wellbeing

If there is one thing that’s certain in pensions and broader financial wellbeing, it’s that when it comes to communications you can’t have a one size fits all approach. The product itself is the same no matter who you are, but depending upon where you are in your life, the messaging can’t be the same – it needs to be appropriate and relevant to you at the point it’s delivered; if it’s not, then it will fall on deaf ears.


This is one of the biggest reasons why engagement levels with pensions, especially among younger employees, are so low. Logically, how can the same piece of communication resonate across an entire pension scheme membership base? Well in short, if you want to elicit a response or action, it can’t.

And this is where data analysis can be a powerful tool for successful communications.

Understand your audience

The starting point of any communications campaign must be about gaining an understanding of all the message recipients, and this means understanding the underlying data. Before you even start to craft the message, you need to understand who you are talking to; ages, earnings, gender etc. The more analysis you do, the more well-suited your communications and the better the engagement levels will be.

Segment your audience

A top line data analysis is just the start; it enables you to understand the broader make-up, but you still need to segment your audience into “interest” groups. This could be informed by activity levels; for instance, when did they last interact with the pension scheme or when did they last review or adjust their contributions or change investments.

The underlying message will be the same for everyone, but the way that message is positioned will be different for each segment. Basically, the more personalised you can make your message, the better.

Provide the wider context

Context is critical if a message is going to land. Let’s take an example of a communication going out to pension members about the importance of reviewing their pension investments. Now for a 50-year-old, the wider context could be about preparing for retirement and this has a chance of hitting the mark. But it’s not going to have the same impact on a younger employee who might be 20, 30 or 40 years away from retirement. We know it should – as the adage says – the more you put into your pension at an earlier age, the better. But in the real world, this is not the case.

For younger employees, a better context would be around how their pension is helping to tackle issues that are important to them today. For instance, helping tackle climate change. They might not be able to “benefit” personally from their pension for a long time, but how their pension is invested can still be impactful today, so they need to take a look.

Putting messaging into context allows people to see the relevance of the message. You’re helping them make the connection which is what is going to drive any action.

Use an appropriate tone of voice

Regardless of the segment, get rid of any stuffy language. Your message needs to be clear and in plain language. Complexity and jargon are barriers to engagement and so they need to go.

A great way of ensuring that you don’t have “jargon creep” is to craft and review messaging through a retail lens. If you were a supplier trying to sell a retail product, would the language you’re using resonate? For instance, at Cushon in direct communications, we don’t refer to “our pension members” but talk about “our customers” – it means all our messaging is consumer friendly and considers service and experience.

This customer-centric focus means that you adapt your tone of voice to each segment. It’s still fundamentally the same but it’s tweaked so the message is better received.

Use appropriate channels

Not everyone will want to receive communications in the same way and certain communications work better delivered via one channel than another. You need to understand the needs of your audience and the message you’re looking to deliver, and choose the most appropriate channel or channels.

Get feedback

Although data analysis will definitely improve communications and ultimately engagement levels, you still need to constantly test your analysis with more qualitative data. Surveys are a great way of enriching your data – you can get people to tell you what they want to know about, how they want to be communicated with and how often.  

At the end of the day, the more you give them what they want, the more they are going to engage.

Keep reviewing

Your data is going to be changing all the time – people leave and new people join. So, data analysis cannot be a one-off job, it needs to be constantly reviewed and your communications strategy adapted.

It’s an iterative process – a job that’s never completed!

The author is Steve Watson, head of proposition at Cushon.

This article is provided by Cushon.

REBA’s Maggie Williams will be in conversation with Baroness Ros Altmann CBE at REBA’s live and in-person Employee Wellbeing Congress on 30 SeptemberFind out more and register to attend.

In partnership with Cushon

Cushon is an online savings&investments platform provider, offering holistic workplace savings.

Contact us today

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