Dan Reed is head of digital capabilities at Barclaycard Business. At the Festival of Marketing day one, he gave an impassioned talk about how his team has made digital performance and engagement a priority, in the process transforming their skillsets and meeting user needs.

Reed started by discussing the case study of website speed. He wanted to show ROI through enablement, proving the value of optimising digital platforms for speed.

Commercialising the enabler

The idea, of course, is that speed = conversion = cash.

To prove this, Reed and his team used RUM (real user measurement) to look at customer journeys, correlate those journeys to site speed and then use predictive modelling to envisage the impact of site speed improvement.

The theory goes that user perception of ‘instant’ is 0.1s, after 1s users will be cognisant of a delay, and that industry standard for pagespeed threshold for conversion is 1.8s.

Reed’s testing, however, led Barclaycard Business to transition from industry standards (1.8s) to a more accurate, custom KPI (closer to 2.8s).

Demonstrating hidden costs of future tech

This site speed testing is interesting, but Reed posed the question of how this work can help quantify upcoming digital innovations?

The answer is allowing the business to put a number on performance costs, or hidden costs, and hence properly cost up the opportunity of new digital tech.

As an example, if some new sample code adds 0.2s to page load, the exact hidden cost can be calculated based on the Reed’s predictive modelling.

A shift in digital content management

This work on improving performance has necessitated a change in the skillsets in Reed’s team. Typically, the team has been comprised of digital content managers, who have a background of doing editing and lots of work with content in CMS.

Now, Reed says, the team needs broader digital platform skills related to:

  • accessibility
  • third party code management
  • site performance
  • development pipeline management
  • agile
  • technical delivery
  • platform migrations

This shift has led the team to split into three parts: content, performance and technical implementation.

Driving performance strategy

Reed admits that “a year ago we barely understood [performance strategy]” and that the team has undergone a transition to “producing and implementing that strategy, embedding governance rules, showing ROI, and demonstrating hidden costs.”

This has proven of benefit to the customer through “better experiences faster”, whether that be:

  • logging into a secure account
  • finding what’s on offer
  • looking for help and support with an existing product
  • maybe even buying something

But implementing a performance strategy has also been beneficial internally, too, giving digital content managers the confidence to ask the right questions in the organisation and link up with the right people.

In summary

Reed’s talk was a brief but compelling summary of how his team has made digital performance and engagement a priority. This was born from enablers (things the team were managing already anyway), which allowed Reed to show ROI, demonstrated hidden costs of future tech and better serviced user needs.

This work is testament to the passionate narrative that Reed’s team creates, showing that optimisation is not just about classic A/B content testing, but broader performance, too.