Marketo (2015) writes that engagement marketing isn’t about fulfilling the need of customers by offering them the product that they want or even by providing them with an experience during their interaction with a company. Rather, they say that it’s about “creating meaningful interactions with people”. In other words, engagement marketing should focus on getting to know the individual customer. By effectively using user data, companies can find out their customers’ individual wants and needs and establish a meaningful relationship that grows over time.
Airlines have already been using customer loyalty programs for a long time to try and keep customers coming back. Frequent flyer miles and partnerships with credit card companies that provide points for travelling with them have been used widely across airlines in the past already. (Bouman, 2016) Presently, apps like Skyscanner and Expedia are focused on providing customers with the best search results and the best prices, across a platform of airlines and hotels, so how can airline brands build long-term relations with their customers?
In today’s world, customers are much more knowledgeable about products and services than they were in the past. It’s easy to look up prices, specifications and also reviews of a product or service. (Marketo, 2015) Moreover, customers are receiving impulses from social media to share and compare. Airlines can use this to their advantage by focussing on customer engagement marketing. By getting to know the company’s individual customers and using the knowledge about their wants and needs, companies can benefit on multiple levels.
Customers that are being interacted with in a meaningful way can gain more sympathy for a company and may even share that experience amongst their friends and family. Also, if the interaction is taking place online, other potential customers may take notice, which may also positively affect their attitude towards an airline.
The average person looks at their phone between 150 and 200 times a day. These are valuable moments that provide companies with opportunities to connect with their customers. As customers are using their mobile devices so often, they expect companies to also be easily engaged via mobile platforms. (Booth, n.d.)
Booth (n.d.) writes that especially airlines have a strong opportunity to build customer loyalty by “providing greater accessibility, enabling deeper connections and providing a superior, one-to-one service.” Moreover, airlines that make use of online and mobile platforms in an effective manner to connect with their customers on the right time, will have the opportunity to stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Creating a personalised experience is one element of online interaction that will become even more important over time. Most customers are now starting to expect companies to know what they are interested in individually and so a company must put effort into knowing what content they have used and know about their previous purchases. (Booth, n.d.) During a study amongst travellers, 85% said that they would value a website that remembers their purchasing history and behaviour and uses that information to present relevant choices first. (Kenny, 2016)
Airlines should also provide the customer with as much autonomy over their booking as possible. Booth (n.d.) writes that over 80% of Millennials want to “self-serve” their holiday and would rather not have to interact with airline staff. By using mobile platforms, airlines can engage with their customers in their times of need and prevent customers from having to stand in line and wait for a ‘long’ time before a physical employee can help them with their problem or question. In addition, 50% of travellers say that mobile rebooking and personalised engagement options should be available during disruptions relating to their travels. Airlines can increase their customers’ loyalty to their brand by exceeding their expectations concerning (self-serve) mobile services. (Booth, n.d.)
Lastly, airlines have the opportunity to influence and enhance their travellers’ travel experience. Providing important information with good timing on gate information, delays, airport navigation and security updates. To make full use of mobile communications it is advisable for airline companies to use push notifications, so they can provide relevant real-time information per travel stage for their customers.
Author: Yannick Jongejan
Booth, E. (n.d.). THE ROLE OF MOBILE ENGAGEMENT IN DRIVING CUSTOMER LOYALTY. Retrieved from http://www.mttnow.com/blog/the-role-of-mobile-engagement-in-driving-customer-loyalty
Bouman, J. (2016, March 2016) The big missed opportunity for travel apps: consistent engagement between bookings [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.appboy.com/blog/travel-app-marketing-needs-consistent-engagement/
Kenny, E. (2016, February 22). Getting beyond cost: What matters most to the modern traveler? Retrieved from http://www.boxever.com/getting-beyond-cost-matters-modern-traveler
Marketo (2015), The 5 Principles of Engagement Marketing,Retrieved from Marketo: http://uk.marketo.com/ebooks/elements-of-engagement-marketing/