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CRM vs Marketing Automation Software: What Do I Really Need For My Airport?

20 Jul 2018
Victoria Wallace

Civil aviation is booming thanks to nose-diving air travel costs. According to Statista, 2017 saw 36.8 million flights operated worldwide, and an article in the Telegraph neatly demonstrates the drop in price from 1955 (‘the Golden Age of Flying’) to 2018 – the advertised price from London to New York one way in 1955 was £5412. Today it’s only £231!

The result of this increased accessibility is that as the number of passengers, routes and flights continues to grow, air travel is one of the fastest growing businesses in the world.

However, this increase in demand is adding pressure for airports, which are expected to constantly maintain and enhance their performance.

As new challenges evolve, technology develops to take the burden. Airports need to improve operational efficiency and profitability, and to do so they must take advantage of this technology.

According to SITA’s Air Transport IT Trends Insights 2017, airports will spent more than $8 billion on IT services in 2018. Virtual reality, big data, robots, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), automation and integrated data collection are fast becoming integral, and airports are employing CRM and marketing automation to keep up with a mobile, digitally savvy customer base.

But what is the difference between CRM and marketing automation, and what software does an airport really need to achieve its full potential both operationally and in customer satisfaction?

What is CRM?
CRM, or customer relationship management, is a sales-focused system used to store and optimise customer information. Data is segmented and analysed to build a clear picture of each customer, informing marketing decisions and facilitating the airport to deliver the best service.

Where airport footfall previously benefited airlines, car parking operators and retail concessions, airport CRM enables the airport to learn about its passengers, offering a real-time, accessible, integrated approach to information management.

It also improves operational efficiency, allowing for the automation of small tasks such as reports, online forms and emails, meaning that employees can focus on customer engagement.

What is Marketing Automation Software?
Marketing automation software is used to automate the marketing process, streamlining marketing tasks such as customer retention, abandoned cart recovery, lead generation and ROI measurement. As with CRM, data held within the system can be used to analyse customer behaviour, predict peaks and lows, personalise communications and make marketing more focussed and efficient.

At its best, marketing automation is software and tactics that allow your airport to nurture prospects with useful, highly personalised content that converts them to satisfied customers. It’s designed to help you streamline and prioritise marketing tasks, generating significant revenue and an excellent ROI.

The ultimate aim is to nurture your leads through the entire buying process. This is done by delivering highly targeted, personalised messages that address each customer’s specific barriers to purchase.

A basic automated workflow:

  • Step 1: Send an email invitation to explore a new destination or flight from the airport, asking people to download a free destination guide
  • Step 2: Send a thank you note to all the people who take up the offer
  • Step 3: Several days later, follow up with an email to those people, offering them a discount on flight booking to the new destination through the airport
  • Step 4: When a lead clicks through to the online flight ticket booking page, send your sales team a notification so that they can follow up with that person in order to convert

Now imagine that you are the customer. If you were receiving information from an airport about flights, destinations, ancillary services or concessions, would you prefer to get personalised, targeted messages, or an email that has been blanket-sent to thousands of people? Personalised emails impact on how the customer interacts with the company, and the level of trust they hold, which in turn makes them more likely to buy.

Generate Leads
According to Hubspot, the term ‘marketing automation’ has become a buzzword. Marketers look for automation software believing that it will offer all of the tools necessary for growth, including those needed to generate new leads. Hubspot says this is a misconception, suggesting that marketing automation focuses on the middle of the sales funnel and offers little in the way of inbound leads.

This seems to be a subjective view and much depends on the quality of the software and the way that impacts your overall strategy. A combination of successful marketing and CRM will create loyal customers who will become brand ambassadors, and, if marketing successfully builds brand awareness and trust, leads will convert.

Where some software sold for automation may not be comprehensive enough, quality marketing automation software allows for easy integration of marketing and sales, the data from which can be collected to allow the sales team to target specific customers and generate leads.

Do your research before choosing a marketing automation system. Make sure you choose a product that offers specific lead generation tools. Don’t take it for granted that every system will offer what you need.

Measure ROI
Marketing automation software allows you to collate all your sales and marketing data. This can be used to determine ROI for email marketing campaigns, webpage designs (using split A/B testing), social media and special offers.

A marketing automation system should have the capability to analyse the data to give you real-time, trackable, actionable insights.

Keep Hold of Your Customers
According to MyCustomer, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. So while lead generation is crucial to develop your airport’s customer base, customer retention is essential to growth. Marketing automation provides insight into customer behaviour and preferences, which allows your marketing team to build better communication strategies.

How do CRM and Marketing Automation Differ?
Marketing automation should by nature be marketing focused, starting with raw leads and tracking their data to foster commitment. CRM is sales focused: Once a lead has engaged with your airport, either showing an interest in your products and services or actually converting to a booking, CRM is the tool that builds personalisation and manages the ongoing relationship with that person.

Can I have both?
The good news is that because marketing automation and CRM systems share much of the same data, they can be integrated into one solution, offering your airport the best of both worlds.

Rezcomm Engage, the integrated CRM and marketing automation software from airport experts, Rezcomm, offers all of the features of an industry-specific CRM alongside comprehensive automated marketing capabilities.

Rezcomm’s system allows your airport to build a detailed view of each customer, including behaviour prediction and customer engagement, value and demographic.

Its customer acquisition plan can support visitor number growth with data acquisition and validation tools. It can drive awareness, increase brand consideration, engage potential customers, and underpin the quality of your airport’s service.

The business intelligence tools offer real-time operational financial, product and buying trend reports, so you can see in detail how efficiently your airport is running. You will be able to pinpoint which destinations are performing well and act to promote less popular routes with targeted special offers.

The marketing automation tools within Rezcomm Engage are rich with potential, offering workflows and focusing on customer needs right from the introduction of a new prospect though to customer re-engagement.

Engage can support your airport, helping you to move forward and provide the very best service for your passengers.

Rezcomm is the partner of choice for a growing number of airports. Take a look at our airport case studies to find out how our integrated systems could help you.

And if you would like to speak to Rezcomm about our integrated CRM and automated marketing solutions for airports, contact the team today. We’d love to hear from you.