NEW YORK: Barclaycard, the credit card, has successfully built brand awareness in the US by using relatively unfashionable digital channels like affiliate blogs, paid search and display ads.

Despite working with 38 partners – including Apple, L.L. Bean and the NFL – Barclaycard, a household name in the UK, only launched its first branded card in America in December 2012, and started marketing it this year.

Laura DeGraff, Barclaycard's digital marketing director, told delegates at the Chief Strategy Officer Summit – run by the Innovation Enterprise – that the Barclaycard Arrival card found success via largely unexpected means. (An exclusive Warc report can be read here: How Barclaycard began to build its brand in America.)

"We realised that we could do it – that we would get traction, and that it was going to be different channels than we expected that would be effective for us," she said.

Barclaycard Arrival offers two "miles" – redeemable on various travel purchases – for each dollar spent, as well as 40,000 miles if users spent $1,000 during the first 90 days after activation and a range of other perks.

"If people could just see our product, we felt we could disrupt that category" said DeGraff. Therein, however, lay the challenge, as the brand had a budget of just a "few million" dollars.

Following a small paid-search campaign in February 2013, a fully-integrated marketing effort promoting Barclaycard Arrival was unveiled in two cities, Tampa and Pittsburgh, in April this year.

While receiving a lot of airline traffic, neither of these locations was a hub for a major airline, offering a neutral testing ground for Arrival. A small trial area also allowed for precise measurement, to help determine if the product should be rolled out across America.

The media channels used included DRTV, a new website, a mobile app, paid search and pre-roll video, as well as various activations in the relevant airports. PR and affiliate bloggers also featured prominently in the mix.

Barclaycard found that awareness climbed by 60% in its test markets, where clicks on its paid search ads leapt by 182%, a figure standing at 231% when discussing applications rates and 159% for approvals.

While DRTV did not deliver the desired results, mainly due to the limited budget available, Barclaycard's analysis showed press releases and blog coverage were driving enormous consumer activity on the web.

Indeed, online impressions rose by 32% nationwide, a total hitting 75% for applications, boosted by favourable online word of mouth and the Arrival card receiving awards from online and offline financial experts.

"It actually took off nationally without us even trying to do so," DeGraff said. And, looking ahead, paid search and affiliate bloggers are going to be at the heart of its marketing, supplemented by online display ads.

Data sourced from Warc