Perkbox on why employee experience matters

Building employee experience is at the heart of Perkbox’s offering but they also know great B2B marketing. Here, they share what it takes to achieve an emotional pay-off with a content campaign (spoiler: cupcakes, apparently). 

As ‘best practice’ as it sounds, catching our audience (HR leads, MDs and ops directors) with the right message at the right time is vital. 
Part of this is down to efficiency. We’re maturing as a team and becoming more targeted in our approach. We need to combat the evergreen reducing-cost-per-lead-and-opportunity problem, but it’s also about becoming more sustainable and focusing on the longer game (something that doesn’t always come naturally in an aggressive start-up/scale-up).

As a B2B content marketer, a big challenge is meeting the huge demand for content with original and editorially sound work.
We launched three new products in 2019, each needing its own foundational layer of content (one-pagers, brochures, landing pages and videos). And while paid social has always been key to our performance marketing strategy, the perennial challenge is reducing what’s essentially the cost per demo (CPD) of our software.

In marketing, they say most things have already been done. But to our knowledge, no one’s ever used a 1970s sitcom (Fawlty Towers, for example) to sell business software. 
That’s partly why the Perkbox ‘Which fictional leader are you’? campaign went down so well. The plan was to reduce cost per lead (CPL) on LinkedIn and Facebook and welcome a bunch of new decisionmakers into our funnel. We conducted a survey to find out which leaders of fiction people admired and loathed – think everyone from David Brent to Miranda Priestly.

The content examined the best and worst qualities of a handful of famous fictional leaders, providing a few lessons on leadership itself. For the ad creatives, we created a bunch of memes capturing iconic snapshots of the leaders in action. We were able to piggy-back off some of these most loved and memorable TV moments while delivering engaging and useful leadership advice at the same time.

‘Which fictional leader are you?’ smashed our lead gen targets and cut cost per download by £15 while increasing lead quality.
It also clawed in the vanity metrics, racking up 250,000 impressions. Following its paid social success, we ran it on Google search ads, where it’s our best performing piece of content to date in terms of conversions.But the most exciting thing was the social engagement. People were taking pictures of their bosses dressed up as David Brent and sharing them (and our content) with their networks on social channels. For a brand that strives to remain down-with-the-kids (B2B2C), that’s gold.

To the chagrin of everyone on the team responsible for the brand, the ad creatives that work best for Perkbox – time and time again – are pictures of cupcakes and confectionery…
The ‘Get free perks!’ message paired with a picture of a cupcake is apparently irresistible to our audience. We’ve tried many things to beat it: filming celebrities, inventing characters appealing to the emotional, rational, quizzical and the interactive. Nothing trumps the cupcake creative.

With our recent advertising campaign, we wanted to create something to cut through the noise and show the benefits of Perkbox. We also had free rein to reduce CPL.
In a business-meets-pleasure passion project, we started working on a (slightly self-indulgent and very silly) skit about the awful people who cook fish in communal work microwaves. It seemed to strike a chord with people in offices – guess everyone can relate to it.

Sure, the campaign wasn’t about HR metrics – employee retention, engagement etc – but our thinking was that with a little positional acrobatics we could tie it back to the Perkbox product. 
We stripped the idea down to its logical conclusion (idiot puts fish in work microwave) and went from there. On a mega-low three-figure budget we came in on a weekend and filmed a few different characters ramming several giant salmon into a microwave with a tagline about Perkbox. “Attract the right employees with Perkbox.” (With the implication being “[…not the kind selfish enough to foul microwaves]”.)

We put spend behind the videos on YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook and saw good traction – 300,000+ views – and a load of positivity in the comment box.
As a branding campaign for views, interactions, engagement and word of mouth, it was great. But did it beat the cupcakes on the acquisition front? Sadly not.

The campaign taught me a number of lessons – the first of which was to be mindful of people’s sensibilities.
One ad received some backlash, with a commenter saying that we should have showed more respect to the fish in question. While we’re still unsure of the correct level of respect to afford a dead fish, we understand the impact that an angry mob of animal rights campaigners could have on a brand. So, with a heavy heart, it had to be pulled.

We also learnt that you need to choose your (marketing) battles carefully. 
While the fish idea was a mildly amusing one, it wasn’t right for generating a tonne of piping hot leads. In essence, it was more of a branding piece to position us as human, approachable and observant. Observational comedy is actually Q4’s objective. (Never forget your objectives). That said, sometimes it’s good to run with flights of fancy. We’ve had loads of positive feedback from peers on this, so that’s been great.

Hit two or more of the Holy Trinity of Content Marketing and you’ll probably be pleased with the results.

  • Is it honest (or at least not a lie)?
  • Is it original (or at least interesting)?
  • Is it cringeworthy (can you look someone in the eye and say it without flinching)?

If you’ve got an idea clearly laid out, have a tangible objective in mind to validate it, and are willing to put yourself forward (and risk looking a bit silly in doing so), people will usually respect and support you.

Our tone of voice at Perkbox is pretty irreverent. We’re a young and progressive company – so it’s about conveying that attitude in our content. 
Some of our competitors are more experienced, but I guess Perkbox has a more affable personality. Tone of voice is important for any business. Society is becoming less formal and deferential, so your marketing efforts should follow suit.

People need to put their heads above the parapet a bit more.
Yes, your biotech conglomerate probably shouldn’t introduce a cockney rhyming slang house style, but doing things differently makes sense from both a commercial perspective (to get your messages heard) and a personal perspective (to make life that bit more interesting).

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