I worked at American Express for 6 years. The first two years were in the American Express Interactive team (AXPi), and the last four were in their OPEN Small Business unit. My time at American Express was both challenging and very rewarding. During the four years in the Small Business division (it was called American Express OPEN at the time) I managed Online Acquisition Marketing and was on the Product Marketing team managing the Business Gold Card portfolio of Card products. For the Online Acquisition Marketing role, my primary responsibilities included managing the Affiliate channel, Online Acquisition Advertising/Paid Media, Paid Search, Word of Mouth Marketing, and New Channel Development. The following are examples of creative/campaigns I developed.
In partnership with Federated Media, and through perseverance and a will to win, I created, developed and launched a ‘content marketing’ program called the OPEN Forum Blog (now called OPEN Forum Idea Hub).
I devised this initiative as a method to enhance the targeting and retargeting efforts for my primary responsibility, Customer Acquisition. My thought process was that if we were able to publish niche, targeted content that appealed to small business owners, and we were able to ‘cookie’ their browser with a floodlight tag, whenever we were able to recognize them through acquisition campaigns or if they came back to the American Express site, we would have confidence they were Small Business Owners and would be able to target them with a more relevant offer.
The blog was a collaborative effort, with John Battelle, Anita Campbell, Guy Kawasaki, and Scott Belsky being some of the first author / bloggers / influencers to contribute to the site. This was, and continues to be, a huge success from a user engagement perspective, and it also was very effective in helping OPEN’s relevance in natural search results. In 2008, the OPEN Forum site and blog won the Golden MIXX Award (Marketing and Interactive Excellence Awards) for Brand Awareness & Positioning. The OPEN Forum audience grew to upwards of ~5MM visitors and ~10MM pageviews annually through 2011-13. Since then, American Express has deeply integrated this element seamlessly into their overall web presence.
I managed the creation and execution of a ‘proof of concept’ “Word of Mouth Marketing” campaign supporting the newly launched JetBlue For Business Card from American Express. My team’s leadership was willing to experiment with different methods and ideas for how we could promote and market our products. For one week in October, 2006, 1 in 20 applicants for the JetBlue For Business Card received a free flight from JetBlue. In order to generate conversation, buzz, and anticipation for the program, we started promoting it a few weeks ahead of the giveaway week with banner advertisements on the OPEN.com site, targeted e-mail, Forward to a Friend Email functionality, and other “underground” marketing tactics. In hindsight, the challenge that we ran into was that the JetBlue card appealed to a very ‘niche’ market and the buzz we were hoping for did not materialize. However, we did take the learnings from this initiative and applied them to future programs that we developed.
In late 2007 and early 2008, we developed what we called the “Cash Flow Management” campaign. In this initiative, I developed banners and landing pages that kept the same consistent theme throughout the customer experience and across card products. All the messaging focused on the subject of cash flow management and the landing page included a PDF document outlining how a Small Business Owner can effectively manage cash flow.
Early in 2007, we had the opportunity to work with Microsoft and its Office Live product. The partnership program we agreed to was to offer a free 3 month subscription to Microsoft Office Live for those who had been approved for the Business Gold Rewards Card. For a variety of reasons, this project never was released, however we did get as far as to develop creative for the program, which I was very happy with because it did a good job of visually integrating the attributes of both the OPEN and Microsoft Office Live brand elements.
One approach I took was to create a multicard banner that would the enable the prospect to compare several of our cards within the interface of an expandible banner. In this unit, we featured the SmiplyCash Business Card, the Business Gold Rewards Card, the Business Platinum Card and the Delta Business Card. In addition to being able to compare the cards, the user could also provide their email address so we could send them a reminder email to themselves. The banner was effective because we were able to capture over 300 email addresses, and the users interacted with the banner from 20-60 seconds. The unit also was effective in driving Card conversions.
The SimplyCash Business Card was introduced in the Fall of 2007. At the time of launch, the value proposition of the card offerd 5% off of Gas, Wireless, and Office Supplies, and 1% off of almost all other spend. To drive acquisition of this product, we developed a set of banners that I am most proud of in that they do a very clear and effective job of deomnstrating the value proposition. These banners were some of the most effective we had in market.
The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card was introduced in the Fall of 2007. The big challenge with this card was the balance we had to strike between the visual imagery of the Starwood properties with the branded elements of American Express OPEN.
When Yahoo! was part of the OPEN Savings program, I developed some media banners to promote the relationship and the 5% discount that OPEN customers would earn when they used their American Express OPEN card to buy Yahoo! Search keywords, Site hosting and other Yahoo! online marketing services