Good Growth was engaged by ACCA Chief Executive Helen Brand who was intrigued by a unique, commercially focused approach to digital effectiveness.

“It was immediately apparent that Good Growth had a broad and highly strategic approach that was focused on outcomes. They were quickly able to contextualise the challenges that we faced in terms of our online offer. As an organisation, we felt that we were making progress in this area but we were also well aware that there were many additional challenges that we had to overcome and it was refreshing to be challenged in such a manner”, she said.

ACCA commissioned Good Growth to work with their Marketing, IT and Strategy teams to assess the sales effectiveness of their global business through a proof of concept project. This resulted in a highly focused, three-month Route to Action™ project.

Route to Action™ is a complete organisation performance benchmarking audit that gives a clear and substantive assessment of where change should be prioritised to transform commercial performance. It acts as a powerful lever that can be used by leaders to drive change. A 15-week engagement mapped the top customer journeys and identified how the organisation responds to customers in the market.

The project had multiple outputs that included reviewing the sales effectiveness of the website, assessing the impact and effectiveness of the sales and marketing processes and testing the alignment between vision, strategy and execution in the task of attracting potential students.

This review took place at a time when ACCA was changing dramatically, both in response to the change in potential student engagement and application behaviour and in response to internally driven changes to achieve a clear vision of the need to excel at customer-focused delivery of products and services.

Working closely with ACCA’s project team, Good Growth developed an early – and very challenging – hypothesis about the market and the scale required to become the 3rd largest professional accountancy qualification body in the world.

This was founded on attracting over double the number recruited online the previous year, generating around an additional 20,000 students a year. This rise would generate c.£29m over 5 years and £60m over the lifetime of those who pass through to membership.

It was clear to the Good Growth team that one of the immediate challenges centred around sales effectiveness, with a lost sign-up of nearly 40,000 students identified. Conversion rates from the Home and Apply Online pages were both low, particularly for an organisation with a strong brand presence where 92% of web traffic came through people inputting the website name direct or searching for ‘ACCA’.

This performance was compounded by a lack of a highly differentiated proposition, unclear signposting and an ineffective call to action. By utilising a customer-centric approach through surveys, mystery shopper and informed by Google Analytics, it was evident that the vast majority of issues were driven by platform performance and process complexity. One of the strengths of the surveying approach deployed was that it generated responses in users’ own words and asked them to highlight where the problem areas were.

Good Growth challenged ACCA’s strategic ambition to become customer-centric in all its products and services, outlining a way forward that used online as the cheapest, quickest and most accurate source of customer feedback. In outlining this approach, it meant that ACCA could build a powerful insight platform and test its responses quickly and cheaply online to measure their impact – before investing the time and financial resources required to execute mainstream change. This was seen as a key step in enabling ACCA to accelerate the pace of change and stay aligned to its customers.

Helen Brand was extremely positive about the experience of working with Good Growth. “Through this one engagement we were really able to switch the lights on around what could be achieved digitally and the outcomes we should set ourselves and this has become embedded in the way we approach digital today”, she explained.

“The project delivered an outline of the scale of opportunity open to us as well as a platform of rich customer insight and a methodology that places an emphasis on change from a customer perspective”.

“ACCA is a large and highly complex organisation with multiple stakeholders and Good Growth were able to navigate the internal issues whilst at the same time retaining the trust and confidence of the wider team. It was beneficial to be exposed to a range of new, different or better ways of working. All in all, it was a very dynamic experience”, she concluded.