IFoA Marketing, Communications and Digital Team: Team of the Year

11 Sep 2019

Entry to the 2020 memcom membership excellence awards is now open.

Guest blog by Gareth Groarke, Head of Marketing, Communications and Digital, The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries


This year we were absolutely delighted to win the memcom 2019 team of the year award. It’s hard to overstate just how much this meant to our team, coming as it did at roughly the end of our first year of operation.

We are an entirely new team, starting operations in earnest in January 2018, with a mission to bring together the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) devolved communications activities into a single, professionalised whole.

By starting with a blank sheet of paper we were presented with a unique opportunity – If you could build a completely fresh communications and marketing team without any of the baggage or hold-overs from the past – what would you do?


Understanding our member’s journey

To answer this question we tried to think afresh about what a really innovative, coherent marketing, communications and digital (MCD) team could do and how it could operate.

Our first objective was to really understand the membership ‘journey’.

By mapping out the different stages our members pass through in their journey to becoming a member of the IFoA we were able to put in place marketing and communications strategies designed to support our members’ needs – from the first contact they have with us through to becoming lifelong members of the IFoA.

As our members’ goals change, so our strategies adapt with them, presenting a different message and basket of products depending upon where they are in their membership.

Now we had a solid orientation towards our members’ goals, we could work out how best to deliver on them!

Our team is based around a fusion of the culture, technology and working practices found at Google or Facebook, combined with the structure of a big-brand, full-service marketing agency.

To enable this, the IFoA MCD team is split between two umbrella specialisms.

Stakeholder managers

The first is our stakeholder managers – expert strategists, planners, stakeholder managers and market researchers. Account managers are responsible for the distinct stages of the membership journey, from recruiting the brightest and most talented to the profession through to engaging and retaining lifelong members and volunteers.

This enabled rapid specialisation and clear areas of responsibility, ensuring our members always have an expert ‘advocate’ within the team, and making sure that what we do has a positive, measurable impact on the things our members care about most.

Our stakeholder managers also act as the internal face of the MCD team at the IFoA, connecting with internal stakeholders across the organisation, supporting them with their communications needs and ensuring each project is fully strategised before launch. Once all these elements are established and in place the project is briefed in to our channel experts – who form the second umbrella specialism in our team.

Channel experts

These team members are tasked with hands-on delivery. To ensure the highest possible standards we’ve assembled an accomplished team of specialists who are passionate about what they do. We’ve got advanced-level emailers, magazine and print specialists from top charity brands, media managers and staff-engagers, social media and digital marketing experts, content strategists and web designers, all of whom work together on every campaign we deliver.

Their job is to take the plans and strategies devised by the account managers and bring them to life through innovative, exciting communications campaigns that are naturally integrated from the ground-up.

Finally, our account managers feedback to the organisation at large, ensuring a continuous cycle of improvement.

A team powered by technology

We want to maximise the time our teams spend doing what they do best. So low-value overheads and unnecessary, repetitive tasks were slashed or eliminated entirely with the help of automation, maximising the space for creativity and innovation.

Email is out – in favour of dedicated collaboration software.

Our entire team works on Trello, ensuring every project’s status is visible at a glance, launch calendars manage themselves, version-control is a thing of the past and everyone in the team can contribute to each campaign we run.

By using Trello as a project management tool we ensure that every campaign automatically moves through a ‘production line’ of recognised phases, from submission of brief through to ‘Strategy and Development’ then on to ‘Campaign Live’ before finishing at ‘Evaluation and Feedback’ – with different parts of the team focusing on different stages of delivery, depending on their specialism.

Each campaign we run has an automatic Google Data Studio evaluation, tracking what performed well, what needs to be improved next-time and pulling out valuable insights that ensures we’re always adapting and learning. We use Conversion Rate Optimisation software, Google Analytics event-triggers and a range of digital dashboards to help our organisation understand what’s going on in their area.

Thank you memcom!


We know there are some truly great teams in the membership sector and the memcom awards showcase this excellence every year.

We were absolutely delighted to be this year’s Team of the Year, as we feel we’ve genuinely tried to do something new, innovative and different at every level of our operations.


Plans are underway for the 2020 memcom membership excellence awards and entry will open in the Autumn. In the meantime, please sign up to our newsletter for the latest membership sector insights and updates and offers from memcom.