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What are the challenges for financial service businesses that want to adopt a content marketing model?

Barclaycard’s B2B content hub launched a new section this month, ‘News and insights’, so I caught up with Andrew McNamee, vice president of digital strategy, to find out more about Barclaycard's content marketing journey.

Here's some of what he had to say...

andrew mcnamee, barclaycard

B2B; we're still talking to a person

I work in the marketing department supporting Barclaycard Business Solutions - this is the side of our business which works with SMEs and large corporates to provide ways for them to accept payments (e.g. card terminals) as well as make payments (e.g. corporate credit cards).

If you asked most people in marketing their opinion of what it's like to work in B2B marketing, I think most of them would consider it to be the 'boring side' of marketing. But in reality, the truth couldn't be more different.

The common misconception in B2B marketing is that because your target audience are businesses, your approach needs to be purely corporate in tone.

But, it’s important to remember that at the end of that communication is still a person and that mind-set has really helped change how we approach content marketing in Barclaycard.

We are focusing on the fact that we are talking to a consumer, not a business – and that’s quite a step change.

Moving from product focus to content focus

I joined Barclaycard in March this year, and since then we’ve not only been adding headcount to our content team, but also tweaking our content strategy and brand tone of voice.

Historically Barclaycard Business Solutions had focused on product marketing and used product as the ‘glue’ for all channels and content, but our new approach has shifted towards having content at the heart of our strategy meaning that the comms we develop are now content-led, as opposed to product-led.

These important changes have helped to ensure the message we communicate is consistent across our owned media, websites and also our social channels.

An example of Barclaycard's new Business News and Insights content.

barclaycard news and insights black friday articles 

A change in metrics

Many of the metrics we use to benchmark success are changing.

For instance, from an engagement perspective, we’re now more focused on our net promoter score (NPS), engagement levels on social and click-to-open rate rate for email.

Going to market on a regular basis (becoming a brand publisher)

Many of the metrics we use to benchmark success are changing. For instance, from an engagement perspective, we’re now more focused on our net promoter score (NPS), engagement levels on social and click-to-open rate for email.

Going to market on a regular basis (becoming a brand publisher) it was important to make sure we didn’t merely produce content with the theory that ‘if you will build it, they will come’, we wanted to make sure we were producing content in the right way.

That means the right formats and the right topics.

We undertook a lot of research, trying to understand what content our business customers want to read and also how they digest it (such as the channels they use and the frequency they use them).

Our research revealed quite a gap, in that we hadn’t been providing our audience with topical and relevant content, instead we had been producing ‘evergreen content’ which was continually relevant. This meant there was no ‘why now?’ or immediate reason for our audience to regularly engage with us. 

Our News and Insight section has transformed our approach. We now have a regularly updated and fresh content pipeline which ties into both the news agenda the issues which are important to our audience at any given time.

This new approach should help us to reach the goal of becoming a brand publisher and create a mechanism that allows us to go out to market on a regular basis.

Legal and compliance

And it’s not just a case of creating a blog on the site, there’s a whole host of procedures that need to take place internally to get to the point of publishing.

From a content production perspective, anyone working in a regulated industry will be experiencing exactly the same sign off procedures, the main one being legal and compliance. 

We’ve had to work very closely with our Legal and Compliance team to explain how we source our content and to ensure that we are using quotes and stats appropriately.

As a result we’re now at the stage where the business is comfortable with us producing new and increased volumes of content on a regular basis.

Barclaycard is using market stats to stay topical in its approach to businesses.

barclaycar infographic

Integration and the content strategy roadmap

To date we’ve focused on becoming a content producer, but there are lots of other teams within this matrix that we collaborate with to make sure our message is consistent across all of our channels.

We have a weekly editorial board and produce an editorial calendar which provides a platform for all of our teams from Social to Paid media to share and input ideas on how the content we produce will work best for their audience.

So, while there is already a good amount of integration happening in content production, the next step for us is to give a theme to our content and to create a proposition which pulls it all together – meaning that regardless of the channel our audience is digesting content on, it all has a consistent look and feel.

We’re also starting to look at how we can promote some of the rich content we have produced internally beyond our own channels, for example by leveraging it within earned media.

People talk about integration, as in ‘I talk to the social and PR team’. But if you’re just sharing what you’re doing, that’s not integration.

Proper integration is about working on projects together, and having a strategic plan in place that you all work towards, which allows you to ‘bounce’ and learn from each other.

Finally, our ultimate goal is to ensure our content is aligned to a single theme and has one editorial view across all of our departments.

From a logistical perspective, it might be quite a big ask, but from a cultural perspective, that’s really the way we’re going and there’s actually a real appetite for it - watch this space!

Ben Davis

Published 1 December, 2015 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Deputy Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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