Barclaycard's ecommerce campaign highlights success of the human touch and emotional engagement
Alex Clarke explores how Barclaycard’s recent campaign led to its ecommerce landing page enjoying a 47% rise in engagement levels, as well as a 40% uplift in ecommerce sales rates
While B2B marketing is all about adding the ‘human touch’ – and has been for years, in fact – it’s a concept that’s far easier to discuss in the boardroom than practically implement in the market.
Statements such as: ‘We’ll just add some emotion here’ and ‘Let’s turn this campaign into a real story’ are commonplace during campaign planning sessions, but can be real catalysts for marketer madness thanks to their vagueness and ambiguity.
As we all know, the B2B market is an extremely complex industry, mainly due to the pace of technological change – but the same can also be said for the banking sector, due in part to the levels of regulation. So, taking the human approach to simplifying that complexity has become increasingly important.
When a brand gets it right, the results can be formidable. As Alex Naylor, director, marketing communications planning and development, digital engagement at Barclaycard explains, research is the key to successfully establishing that illusive human touch.
“Through our own observation and insight, we recognised the market is extremely cluttered with technical jargon and faceless corporate communication,” he says. “We really wanted to phase something different, and that’s why we focused on our USP, which is our expertise in the market.”
Hence, the ‘People included’ campaign was created, with Barclaycard solving that irritatingly vague cliché of adding the ‘human touch’ through an unlikely source: its own employees.
The human touch of marketing
The global bank’s main business objective was to drive consideration for its online payments solution, offering its business customers a more consultative way of identifying and implementing ecommerce solutions, but as Alex observes: “The campaign itself was very much built on the very clear evidence that our customers and clients were craving our human expertise, which would subsequently enable them to make the most of all these new tech payment products.”
The ‘People included’ platform worked in two ways: firstly, it presented a very clear value proposition into market, and secondly, as Alex explains: “It was a great organising thought for all our marketing activity, because it speaks to the expertise we put to market, which is what really differentiates us.
And here’s where the storytelling element enters the fray. The campaign was fronted by a team of three Barclaycard ecommerce experts who appeared in the marketing and advertising collateral, with the platform playing host to a plethora of content stories – including both video and written examples of exactly each of Barclaycard’s featured ecommerce experts helped their clients.
"The campaign represented the business mission that our board articulates to Barclaycard clients on a daily basis”
What’s more, it was delivered via an integrated media mix, including high-profile outdoor video distribution, social media, events, London Underground billboards, and a dedicated landing page on the Barclaycard website.
“This approach enabled us to reach a lot of prospects, manage leads throughout the funnel, and drive engagement over time,” Alex explains. The core marketing activity ran for two months, although the digital ‘People included’ platform will endure.
How to convince the board
Something all B2B marketers – from executives to senior leaders – shudder at is the prospect of convincing the board your campaign will yield results. Yet in this instance, Alex reveals the persuasion was surprisingly straightforward.
First of all, the marketing team ensured what they were doing was deeply aligned with Barclaycard’s strategy and objectives, which was essentially about evolving its ecommerce offering.
Secondly, they made sure they linked closely to the executive board throughout the campaign journey, constantly discussing what they wanted to achieve and sharing creative at every stage.
“Most importantly,” as Alex reveals, “the campaign was a real reflection of what the business does. Rather than a marketing veneer, the campaign represented the business mission that our board articulates to Barclaycard clients on a daily basis.”
Although the potential ‘board buy-in’ stumbling block was overcome with relative ease, it wasn’t all plain sailing, admits Alex: “The creative approach was so fresh, especially for B2B, which ended up being quite a challenge.”
This was because – in a departure from typical advertising – the marketing team was keen to convey a documentary-style impression with its creative, which it felt would create a real sense of authenticity.
“Ultimately, it all comes down to trust and who your customers believe can make their business more successful"
And this, as Alex confesses, was a constant hurdle: “We needed to hold ourselves through the process to make sure we were focusing on true emotion, genuine stories and real authenticity – not slipping back into advertising clichés.”
Another potential pitfall was the Barclaycard stars themselves, with three employees featuring across London Underground billboards and Tube carriage ads.
But Barclaycard experienced a welcome byproduct from this internal engagement: “Although we obviously we had to engage the three starring colleagues in the right way, we’ve also witnessed an incredibly strong internal impact from this campaign.”
Campaign metrics included 300,000 views of the core video asset and over 100,000 social engagements on campaign related content.
Perhaps most impressively, the ecommerce landing page enjoyed a 47% rise in engagement levels, while there was a 40% uplift in ecommerce sales. These are metrics any B2B marketer would be envious of, but the success of this campaign really lay in marrying together best practice around a company’s overall business objectives with a human emotional aspect.
“Ultimately, it all comes down to trust and who your customers believe can make their business more successful,” summarises Alex.
"Customers are looking for people to provide expertise, not just the product."
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