SDL Tridion Case Study: Virgin Money
Virgin Money, a financial service company which is part of the Virgin Group, was launched in 1995 using a call centre to field customer enquiries. In 2000, as adoption of the internet gathered momentum, Virgin Money spotted the potential of using a website to provide potential customers with information and the ability to order products, and so virginmoney.com was launched. Over the past two years, Virgin Money has made a strategic push to move its customer base away from telephony and onto its website, where it is able to communicate its product range and brand more effectively.
By Tim Norman
The main business line of Virgin Money is the provision of credit cards and, today, the majority of Virgin Money credit cards are acquired through the website. The site itself has over 50,000 visitors a day, with a 50/50 split between new and existing customers. “This means the site has to be all things to all people,” explains Jeremy Walters, head of systems development at Virgin Money.
Refocusing the website
Virgin Money’s website has used the SDL Tridion web content management platform for seven years. Having inherited it through a merger of Virgin Direct and virginmoney.com, only its basic functionality was being utilised until recently. Last year, Virgin Money underwent a significant rebrand. Its website was a key component of this process. “For my team, this was more important than a rebrand, it was a rebuild. The tone and functionality of the website had to change considerably,” said Walters. “We could only undertake such a project on a stable and well-architected platform, so we moved to the latest version of SDL Tridion – R5.3.”
With Virgin Money receiving much of its revenue stream from the online channel, Walters’ team were aware that they needed a platform which was scalable to future plans. Just as Web 2.0 has changed the face of website development and management, Virgin Money must be prepared for the next phase, whatever it may be.
WCM: When Content Matters
Virgin Money currently sells 12 distinct products. This is a relatively narrow product range and so even greater emphasis is put on keeping the content on the website fresh and new. “We were keen to avoid the trap of having a disconnection between the marketing and IT departments which often leads to no-one taking full responsibility for the website,” said Walters. We now have a team of e-commerce analysts who sit within the marketing team and manage the website. “We are renewing content every day, so it made sense to take the onus of this away from the IT department and bring it into the marketing team who are creating the content anyway. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
The e-Commerce team have a good level of web development understanding. They are able to launch a new product, such as a credit card, without input from the IT department, making the turnaround time on new content for the site exceptionally fast. “With the economy as it stands it is imperative that we have a quick time to market for new products and are responsive to market changes,” adds Walters.
Intelligent Web Management
Web analytics are a prerequisite for ensuring the website is working as it should. As launching microsites and new web pages is a swift process on the SDL Tridion platform, Virgin Money is able to take this one step further. It utilises a process called Champion Challenger for some new launches which involves designing and launching multiple versions of the same channel at the same time. Visitors are directed to one of these sites and their interaction with it is monitored through its analytics programme. This enables Virgin Money to make an informed decision as to which version they should use permanently. For example, they can choose to deploy the site which has been the most successful at taking a customer through to purchase of a product.
In addition, the e-commerce team can identify successful tactics in a test site and can deploy these across other parts of the website. “Other WCM platforms just aren’t responsive enough to do this,” explains Walters. “It’s this flexibility that we have with our platform which allows us to offer our customers the information and products they want, in the style that works for them.”
With a healthy customer base of over 2 million, Virgin Money is now looking to focus on increasing its two-way communication with existing customers. Personalised content will be central to this, enabled by the SDL Tridion platform. Virgin Money is acutely aware that one size does not fit all when it comes to personal finance. As customers log into the site, they will only be offered discounts, loyalty schemes and products which are relevant to them. There will also be a renewed focus on non-sales content.
Virgin Money is adopting a Web 2.0 strategy to increase brand loyalty and customer understanding through customer interaction. Over the coming months, it will be launching various communities on the site which will encourage customers to discuss money. “It’s a sensitive subject to many people, especially right now. We believe giving our customers somewhere to gather information and share experiences will be a valuable tool to them and will aid us in understanding their changing needs,” explains Walters. “That’s not to say that it won’t be a challenge to get customers talking about money in the first place. But, being able to adapt the forums to a style that is proving successful, will allow our communities the best chance to flourish.”
Virgin Money is present in the UK, the US, South Africa and Australia. Under a recent restructuring, these territories will work closer together to reinforce the brand. SDL Tridion’s platform boasts a blueprinting technology that allows multiple regional sites to be updated from a master template. This means that each region could still have its own website, but have the same corporate look and feel for customers. If a change needs to be made, only the master website would need to be redesigned and this will filter down to the regional sites, which will only need concern themselves with the content, reducing design costs substantially.
To support the restructuring of the business, Walters’ team is also undertaking the development of the company intranet. This again will sit on the SDL Tridion platform and will allow rich content to be accessible by all in the organisation.
Most recently the Virgin Money team has launched a new not-for-profit charity fund raising business, Virgin Money Giving. “The new Virgin Money Giving web site is very functionally rich however the not-for-profit business model we have developed is dependent on our users being able to self service as much as possible. In turn this means we keep our operating costs as low as possible and a higher percentage of the donations made through Virgin Money Giving go to the charities and the great causes they support. Therefore, we have provided the charities, fund raisers and donors with a wealth of information and help guides which need to be easily accessible and efficiently maintained. “ The SDL Tridion content management system supports this operation as well.
About the author
Tim Norman is Sales Director of Northern Europe for SDL Tridion, and Virgin Money is a customer of SDL Tridion.