“Talk about things people are truly passionate about.”
- Jennifer Hitchens, Assistant Vice President, Social Media & Community, Barclaycard US
Getting people excited about credit cards may seem like an uphill battle to the faint of heart. However, we’ve started to notice a trend – financial institutions are increasingly “leaning” into their online communities as a way of creating conversation, sparking engagement, and driving brand loyalty among their customers. We had a chance to talk to Jennifer Hitchens, AVP of Social Media & Community at Barclaycard US, about how a little creative, out-of-the-box thinking actually makes people truly love their credit cards (again).
Every community has its goals, but what would you say is your top priority?
My goal, day in and day out, is to build a true sense of community among our customers. On an average day, not too many people sit around thinking warmly, “Oh, how I love my credit card!” We wanted to change that, to a certain extent, but realized we had to dig a little deeper and go beyond traditional “marketing” tactics to get to that place. We’ve tried a variety of approaches to see what piques our customers’ attention most. What we’ve found, however, is that our customers’ interests vary significantly. What may be important to one is not even on the radar of another. Therefore, it was first an education (for us) about what makes our customers tick before we could even begin to create a community-driven experience that would ultimately encourage them to build a long-term relationship with us.
There are a number of ways to drive engagement within a community. Can you tell us one tactic you’ve used that’s been incredibly successful for you?
As I mentioned before, not all of our customers care about the same things or necessarily want to take part in the same conversations across the community. In order to ensure that we send the right communications to the right customers, we’ve found that email marketing is our greatest ally. In fact, it’s probably the biggest lever we’ve been pulling marketing-wise. Our email campaigns have been tremendously successful, one of the best ways we’ve found to re-engage customers who may have drifted off a bit. However, you have to strike the right balance and segment your communications in a thoughtful and relevant way. You don’t want to inundate your customers with emails to the point that they tune you out. You want your emails to spark some excitement.
Tell us about a campaign that really worked well to engage your community.
There are actually two recent campaigns that I personally loved (as did our customers).
The first was a “poll” that invited our card members to vote on a new card design and provide feedback before we unveiled the finished product. The response was overwhelming. It was so exciting to see the community interested in being part of the creative process. Not only did they vote in masses, but they left hundreds upon hundreds of bits of feedback that we immediately took back to senior leaders and the design and product teams to inform the final design.
The second was a sweepstakes called the “Great Getaway Giveaway.” The campaign asked people to answer the following question: If you were given a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go, why would you go there, and who would you go with? As you can imagine, the response to this was tremendous as well – and the stories were a unique mix of heartwarming, creative, funny, touching, and simply brilliant. The stories people shared were absolutely wonderful. It’s amazing the way people open up when they have the opportunity to do so. That’s what makes a community likes ours so unique and special.
WHO IS JENNIFER HITCHENS?
Jennifer Hitchens is an Assistant Vice President, Social Media & Community at Barclaycard US, the payments business of Barclays in the U.S. Jen is responsible for managing two online communities associated with Barclaycard-branded products to engage existing and potential customers through a variety of content management strategies. She has been instrumental in launching these communities by developing marketing and content strategies designed to create engaging and meaningful experiences for community members. In addition, she oversees day-to-day moderation and customer service inquiries. Jen has a solid background in social media and community management, including 17 years within the marketing and advertising industries. She holds a Bachelor’s in English and Art History from Lafayette College. (Not to mention, she’s a Lithium Hero!)
ABOUT BARCLAYCARD US
Headquartered inWilmington, Del., Barclaycard US is the fastest-growing top 10 U.S. credit card issuer. The company creates customized, co-branded credit card programs for some of the nation's most successful travel, entertainment, retail, affinity and financial institutions.The business also issues its own Barclaycard branded credit cards: Barclaycard Ring,Barclaycard Rewards, and the Barclaycard Arrival product series.