In recent years, social media has dominated the consciousness of destination and venue marketers. Easy share-ability and image-centric appeal made channels like Instagram and Facebook a straightforward and attractive choice.
But as the travel industry hots up to the holiday season in 2018, email remains a powerful communication tool for airports. In fact, new technologies such as interactivity and animation are making emails more interesting and appealing than ever, and with 74 trillion emails sent each year (Optinmonster, 2015), it is definitely a channel worth engaging.
Email marketing has traditionally been seen as a method for building lasting relationships with current and potential airport users. Now, according to an article in Marketing Week, Saul Lopes, customer lifecycle lead at Virgin Holidays, claims email is, “becoming cool again.”
According to Lopes, “Email is generating a lot of money and, in my opinion, it is having a rebirth; many companies are rethinking it.”
The statistics agree. According to the DMA’s Marketer Email Tracker 2018 report, return on investment for email increased from an estimated £30.03 for every £1 spent in 2016 to £32.28 in 2017.
A separate study by Marketing Week’s sister brand, Econsultancy, found that 73% of marketers see email as the top digital channel for ROI, generating retail sales worth around £29bn annually in the UK, not including offline sales influenced by email.
According to air service development firm, Community Flights, 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of receiving an email, and 74% of airport customers prefer to receive commercial communications by email.
Email is about much more than brand awareness. If your airport works with an integrated travel reservation software like Rezcomm Engage, marketing communications can be used to let customers know that they can book flights and parking directly through the airport website. Use email to tell customers and prospects about new destinations or routes, to share details about the airport facilities, to up-sell lounges and valet parking, to share special offers and vouchers for on-site retailers and food and beverage concessions, and to ease the passenger’s journey through the airport with details such as carry-on baggage allowance and information about what they can take through security.
New interactive emails that allow a customer to make online flight bookings within the body of the email can help to capture the traveller at the point of purchase.
To return to the example of Virgin Holidays, and Lopes, whose team won the email category at Marketing Week’s Masters of Marketing Award in 2017, the brand uses email to increase sales at all points on the customer journey – pre-booking, post-booking and post-holiday. Email campaigns are designed to manage customer interactions throughout the journey, with a different strategy for each stage.
Virgin Holidays worked with artificial intelligence and technology experts to improve reach with better subject lines, and to optimise content using real-time data such as weather feeds, pricing and the number of people looking at certain offers.
The brand’s email campaign aimed to be timely, relevant, valuable to each unique recipient and visually appealing in order to convert website visits into bookings. It resulted in a 31% increase in site traffic. Awareness through emails opened increased by 65% compared with the previous sales period, and revenue from CRM communications grew by 37% to £10.6m.
Email builds connections with customers, developing trust and giving you the opportunity to present the value of your airport services. It remains the best marketing tool for airports for three reasons:
1. Everybody loves a bargain
Just think about the volume of special offers available. Daily Groupon emails, vouchers for pizza restaurants and Black Friday deals: We’re addicted to discounts.
Promotional email marketing is an effective way to engage customers with deals and special offers, particularly at times when consumer interest in booking flights is high. Many people will book a summer holiday in the week when they return to work after Christmas. You can also use the emotional engagement of post-holiday nostalgia described by Travel Republic as, “Depressed – You arrive home; it’s just not the same, everyday life and back to work is all that’s on the agenda. You nostalgically look through your holiday photos and remember the good times.” Use email to catch passengers who have just returned and want to book another trip.
Discounts and special offers are actually useful for customers who are often overwhelmed with choice. 62% say promotions have helped them to make decisions. Executed properly around relevant seasonal opportunities, your airport can offer timely, time-sensitive deals that drive conversions. Offers like ‘buy one, get one free’ are the most attractive to consumers, and figures from Paymentsense show that women (71%) are more likely to respond to a bargain than men (57%)
From email to conversion
An integrated marketing solution like Rezcomm can help your airport drive email sales. User-friendly automated email templates make it possible to create promotions and to send targeted, personalised emails. For example, you could design a campaign to tackle seasonal lows, offering discounts on flights on all routes for a limited time bookable through your online booking software.
Your CRM system will allow you to fully track each email, quantifying the revenue generated by the campaign, and breaking down its results by specifics such as country, language, airport and any third-party services, allowing your airport to make smarter and more profitable business decisions.
2. People want convenience
Online e-commerce apps such as Amazon have made shopping convenient than ever. Customers have become used to finding what they want quickly and easily, and to comparing a range of products, prices and reviews before making a purchase.
According to Statista, in 2017 an estimated 1.66 million people purchased goods online. During the same year, global ecommerce sales amounted to 2.3 trillion U.S. dollars. Projections show a growth of up to 4.48 trillion U.S. dollars by 2021.
Email has already proven its worth in resolving cart abandonment: Online retailer Smileycookie.com achieved a 29% success rate from its cart recovery campaign (Econsultancy.com). And according to Joe Teplow, the founder of interactive email startup RebelMail, “Email generates 11 times the revenue of every social network combined.” Add to this the recent developments in technology pushed forward by Teplow’s company that facilitate in-email checkout and email grows new muscles.
“It takes a really innovative marketer to recognise that their job was never to generate click-through,” Teplow says. “It was to generate meaningful impact for the business that they’re working for. And maybe you don’t have to generate a click-through to make that happen.”
3. Mobile phones have revitalised email.
Statistics from email marketing company BlueHornet show that almost 34% of American consumers say they check their email “throughout the day.” The same survey found that, on average, consumers look at their phone more than 150 times a day. Mobile is a huge reason for this.
According to Statista, the number of mobile phone users in the world is expected to pass the five billion mark by 2019. In 2016, an estimated 62.9 percent of the population worldwide already owned a mobile, and continued growth is forecast, with mobile phone penetration reaching up to 67 percent by 2019.
Shoppers are increasingly using mobile and tablet to purchase. SmartInsights reports that m-commerce conversion rates are around half of those on desktop.
In 2015, travellers began using mobile devices more than desktop to browse travel destinations. By May 2016, mobile represented 52% of all travel browsing. While mobile still remains most popular as a device for pre-purchase research, this represents significant revenue and significant opportunity.
For airports, the increase in mobile use offers more than just a point of purchase. Mobile offers a chance to build lasting customer relations, from WiFi sign-up at the airport to using email to streamline the passenger experience.
The biggest shift is in how mobile complements the physical travel experience. The best brands are using it to give travellers the information they need when they need it. Details such as flight delays or gate change notifications can make the overall travel experience better for passengers.
Matt Asay, VP of mobile at Adobe, says it’s important to take a mobile-first mindset rather than trying to replicate the desktop experience on mobile. When a brand achieves the integration of mobile, Asay says, “They know where users are, entering payment information is a breeze, and everything is taken care of for the user.”
Use email to connect with passengers at every point in the customer journey. Send relevant, impactful messages, personalised to the needs of individual customers, delivering the right message at the right time more accurately and powerfully than ever.
If you would like to speak to Rezcomm about our integrated email marketing, booking and CRM management solutions, contact the team today.
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