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Going Viral: Let’s be Realistic

12 Sep 2019
Sarah Marks

Whilst viral marketing can, on the face of it, seem like a sure-fire way to boost brand visibility, it should never be thought of as a remedy for poor conversion rates or unhappy customers. In fact, although it is obviously satisfying to see your video achieve thousands of hits and shares, this should never be the goal of any marketing campaign.

It’s tempting to think that if your airport marketing campaign is viewed and shared enough times on enough social platforms that your products and services will outshine the competition. In some cases this is true, but for most businesses trying to be heard above the online clamour, the process of devising a strategy to create highly shareable content can be a serious waste of resources.

This is partly because while it is increasingly easy to predict customer wants, needs and even buying behaviour, it really is impossible to predict when content will go viral. It’s also down to the fact that ‘going viral’ is not a measurable goal in terms of KPIs, customer satisfaction or long-term customer retention strategies.

Marketing messages are not popularity contests. They are communications about products and services that offer real value to customers. Even if a video marketing campaign hits all the emotional buttons necessary for viral impact, there is little point if it doesn’t drive consumer action.

What is ‘going viral’?

Content is considered viral when it receives huge attention and is spread rapidly by audiences and publishers, much in the same way that a viral illness spreads rapidly but with more positive implications! It’s the story that appears on your timeline three, four or more times, shared by friends and Pages, and which you might click on and share yourself, furthering its reach.

This content becomes ‘viral’ because it appeals to people in a way that causes a large percentage of those who view it to share it. This sharing is often caused by evoked emotions – the content causes the viewer to feel something intensely and he or she shares it in order to relate with other people and discuss how they feel.

Funny videos, angry political rants, cute photos of mice asleep in flowers: What one person may find interesting or triggering another may find irritating or irrelevant. Despite the claims of some digital marketing experts, who have developed formulae to guarantee viral reach, it’s almost entirely unpredictable.

This is why going viral is so hard.

Marketing that speaks for itself

The priority, then, when developing your airport marketing campaigns, is to create relevant, useful, audience-appropriate content. If your content happens to go viral, consider it a happy accident; don’t spend the next ten years trying to recreate your success!

Creating shareability

As we’ve already implied, it simply isn’t possible to create marketing messages with guaranteed ‘shareability’. Building any campaign that moves people to action requires insight and creativity. You must have a clear, holistic understanding of your customer, and use this knowledge to address their needs and give them a clear sense of what you want them to do.

This intent – what you are trying to drive – is a vital part of marketing. This is another reason that trying to invent a viral campaign doesn’t work. Consumers want integrity. They will see through a campaign that is using them to achieve visibility, because the personalised intent that drives them to convert will be missing.

Empathise with your customer

Empathy is an important element when it comes to creating content that resonates. And it’s easily overlooked when you’re focused on your bottom line, products and services. However, understanding the worries, aspirations, vulnerabilities and pain points of your customers is really important, because this allows you to offer relevant suggestions and exceptional customer service.

According to marketing guru Ann Handley, in an interview for Forbes, “All the companies… that are actually using marketing to drive business are obsessed with their customers.”

While analysis of customer demographics and browsing/buying habits will give you some insight into wants, needs and concerns, the best way to really get to understand these motivating feelings is by asking directly for feedback.

Try using your automated email workflows to send incentivised surveys to your current and prospective customers.

Getting to know your customer

Rather than marketing with the aim of reaching thousands of people who may not be remotely interested in your product, it makes much more sense to focus on customers who want what you have to offer.

And the oft-quoted figure that it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one indicates that the most valuable place to start is with your current passengers.

While it used to be the case that airports knew fewer than 5% of their passengers, uptake of ecommerce technology and specialist integrated platforms like Rezcomm now deliver in-depth insights about customer wants, needs and behaviours. Customer data can be analysed and segmented using CRM and machine learning tools so that your airport can deliver relevant, timely marketing messages that keep your customers engaged and loyal.

Social platforms can be valuable without the ‘viral’

It is then really important that the customer experience across channels lives up to the promises given in your marketing messages. By matching or surpassing customer expectations throughout the customer booking and travel journey, you will build trust, loyalty and brand advocacy.

And when the customer experience either matches or exceeds expectations, you will generate positive press on social platforms too.

While social media and messaging platforms are a great place to answer comments, questions and concerns, they are also integral to developing reputation and leads through word of mouth recommendations. Interestingly, word of mouth marketing is sometimes referred to as a ‘near cousin’ to viral marketing. It’s the single-most powerful selling tool available to businesses, and what’s more, when it works, it doesn’t cost a penny.

A seamless omnichannel experience

You will also build trust and reputability when the booking journey is slick and frictionless. Website booking functions must be visually in-line with your brand, and they must make conversion easy. Rezcomm’s integrated platform has many industry-specific features that enhance the passenger’s booking journey and enable your airport to incrementally improve the experience in the terminal too.

Operational KPIs and the customer experience

In order to optimise operations and provide a first-rate passenger experience, airports must be able to answer a number of key questions throughout the day. How many passengers does the airport expect at any given time? Was yesterday a high or low performing day? What’s the average wait time for each passenger? How many security lanes should be open at any particular time? How quickly can passengers pass through the security checkpoints?

The real-time metrics available in your Rezcomm dashboard make it possible to focus on operational KPIs such as security, immigration and check-in wait time, mishandled baggage, baggage wait time, gate allocations and on-time performance of flights. They also mean you can keep passengers updated on wait times and other important information via your airport app.

Delays, stresses and frustrations become a thing of the past, and it is possible for passengers to have a seamless, enjoyable transition through the terminal, where they can relax and spend time and money in your retail and food and beverage concessions.

Rezcomm’s world-first combined platform for airport sales, marketing and customer-centric analytics can help you build your airport business long-term. We already partner with airports that serve a quarter of a billion passengers worldwide. If you want to land more sales and nurture happy, loyal customers contact us for a chat today.