May 23, 2016

Behind the Scenes with Bill Barrett: Creating BNY Mellon’s New iPad® App

Bill Barrett

Bill Barrett

Bill Barrett, managing director and global head of corporate digital marketing, recently sat down with us for our “Behind the Scenes” series to talk about Big Ideas™, BNY Mellon’s new iPad® app. He explains why the time was right for an app that delivers thought leadership from BNY Mellon and selected news websites.

Before we get into the app, tell us a little bit about your background and role at BNY Mellon.

I’m so fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living. My academic background is in advertising and graphic design.  My career path has taken me on a journey through creative services, marketing communications, and business development at several leading global organizations, with a focus on using innovative technology to be more effective. Since joining BNY Mellon in 2013, I’ve been able to draw on 20 years of diverse experience to lead the corporate digital marketing strategy. Our job is to promote the BNY Mellon brand in the financial services B2B marketplace.

Over the years, I’ve led initiatives to develop corporate intranets and web sites and to brand social media. At BNY Mellon, the commitment to a coordinated digital marketing strategy is unparalleled. 

My own interests help to inform the way I approach the job. For instance, I use the app Flipboard® to harness information that I want to read to keep up with professional developments as well as personal interests. I use it to build my own magazine, which includes articles on marketing, communications, finance, as well as baseball (Let’s Go, Mets!) and motorcycles. 

BNY Mellon has a robust thought leadership section and Newsroom on the website. Why did you decide to complement them with an app for the iPad?

The simplest answer is that it’s more mobile, and so are our users. Mobile devices accounted for less than 1% of our website traffic when we launched the new website two years ago. Now, we’re seeing more than a 20% annual increase in mobile traffic to our site. The iPad is one of the devices that our site visitors use the most to access the site. Tablets are popular because they offer many conveniences, including the ability to read content offline. 

Research shows that people typically download 40 to 50 apps on their smartphones, yet they only use eight to nine of them. That’s why we hit on the idea of a feature-rich app that extends beyond our own thought leadership content. The Big Ideas app includes articles curated from credible third-party news sources such as Forbes and American Banker. The app enables users to select and save articles they’re interested in and read them at their convenience. 

We’re focusing on an app for the iPad initially based on how our audience is consuming its information, but we plan to explore expanding the app to other devices in the future. 

What are the benefits and features of this app, and who do you think will use it?

Users can save articles offline, and they can create and share collections of content with colleagues, clients or their personal networks. We’re leveraging the share functionality of various social media sites.  

One primary user group is our clients and prospects. They can use Big Ideas to keep up with topics of interest to them – business transformation, investment insights, regulation and risk, culture and society – and to reach out and connect with us. 

The other audience is our own people, especially relationship managers, sales, and marketing. When they start a conversation, they can share our thought leadership in the iPad rather than pulling out a print brochure. The days of hauling around binders and brochures or even carrying USB sticks and CDs are gone. 

How did you get the app ready for the market?

It took over a year to design, develop and fine-tune it. It was a pet project that grew as we saw more and more mobile activity picking up, and we recognized that an app could complement our entire digital strategy. We beta tested it internally with a cross-section of 25 employees in March. Then we took it to 60 MBA students at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business to get feedback. During a three-day Social Media Strategy immersion course, they spent hours answering questions about the app’s overall effectiveness, relevance, and shareability. Their feedback was very insightful. We incorporated many changes, and we left with a checklist of things we could do in the next version. 

Technological transformation is a major theme across the BNY Mellon organization. How does this app fit into the bigger picture?

We are experimenting and determining which channels work best for our clients and other stakeholders. Our digital strategy boils down to telling our story to the right audience through the right channel. We are very focused on simplifying the journey for our clients, our prospects, and our BNY Mellon team.  Amplifying our thought leadership through digital channels that are important to clients and other users is a great example of how we’re extending our reach and executing on our digital strategy.