In recent years, the marketplace has changed almost beyond recognition for both B2C and B2B interactions. Machine learning and advanced analytics provide airports with unprecedented amounts of data, allowing them to predict sales. A modern, digitally savvy customer demands sophisticated customer relationship management, and marketing has become strategically customer centred.
These disruptive changes have forced an evolution in B2B sales towards a more data-driven format, underpinned by the needs and motivation of the customer. According to a study by McKinsey, companies that embrace the ‘science of B2B sales’ register 2.3 times industry average revenue growth, profitability and shareholder value.
A key factor in the success of B2B marketing is to engage customers in the way they want to be engaged. McKinsey’s research found from a survey of over 1,000 large organisations across industries that the best channel to reach B2B customers depends largely on whether they are first-time or repeat clients. 76% of B2B buyers found it helpful to speak to a person when exploring a new product or service, but only 15% wanted to speak to a sales advisor when they were purchasing the exact same product or service again.
Given the current sophistication of digital marketing, it makes sense that there’s a correlation between B2C marketing techniques and strategies for engaging B2B contacts. The most important factor, whether you are targeting an airport customer or another business, is the human connection that creates and meets the need for your products and services.
The impact of multi-channel marketing on B2B is particularly relevant over the holiday season, when companies and individuals are bombarded with marketing messages. While not every B2C Christmas marketing method applies to B2B communications, there are certain core tactics that can be used.
In your B2C interface you might be focusing on holiday destinations, family gatherings, videos full of happy faces, gift ideas and fun giveaways. But how can you introduce some of that Christmas or winter cheer into your B2B email messaging?
1. Use seasonal sales and special offers to catch Q4 buyers
The Christmas holidays are a great time for B2C marketing. Many customers are likely to have been eyeing products for most of the year with the intention of buying seasonal gifts for their loved ones. Interestingly, businesses behave in a similar way, researching and budgeting for software, professional services and other products they may implement in the following year.
In fact, by selling in the fourth quarter, your airport has a significant opportunity to help shape client budgets for the next year, and to capitalise on the client’s eagerness to invest before the seasonal slow down. Many strategic purchases are decided on in Q4 and implemented in the New Year.
For the majority of B2B businesses, larger investments will take longer to consider. If the business is familiar with your brand and offering but is still hesitant to commit, approach of the year’s end can lead to conversion.
Infuse relevant special offers with a seasonal punch to engage with your client’s holiday spirit. You could send a holiday cards or e-cards containing a seasonal ‘gift’ or incentive to convert and add light-hearted seasonal calls to action to your messaging.
A well-timed holiday card or email from your airport wishing potential and existing customers a happy holiday, combined with a sale or special offer on your most popular service, is a good technique. You can also use the opportunity to thank your clients for their business or interest in the year so far and let them know what you can do for them in the New Year.
As with all B2C campaigns, consider your target demographic carefully. Different types of company will respond to different formats. While some may see a holiday email as a personal touch, others may prefer an old-fashioned card.
When designing your campaigns, include strong images, video, and holiday themed colour schemes to separate your emails from regular marketing messages and to stand out from any promotional material sent by your competitors. Using the templates in Rezcomm’s drag and drop editor, it’s easy to make visually stunning, on-brand email templates that can be adapted for different holidays and special occasions.
However, if it doesn’t feel appropriate, don’t feel obliged to sell. The holiday season is massively commercialised. While B2C companies benefit from pushing for extra sales in December, you might prefer to send out a simple email thanking your clients and wishing them a happy holiday season.
2. Bring seasonal sparkle to your social media
It’s pretty likely that during the holiday period your potential clients will have some time off, and that they’ll spend some of that time on social media. This gives your airport another chance to get any sales and special offers into the consciousness of your B2B contacts.
Use seasonal posts to draw people to your social media profiles and to win email sign-ups. The holidays are a great time to use storytelling to demonstrate the human side of your airport. You might want to share photos of your staff working to make holiday travel special, participating in charitable initiatives or decorating the office for Christmas. Consider creating a social media video greeting card to share with your followers. This all works towards putting a face to your product and building brand trust and engagement.
The content that makes up these seasonal posts can also be used as part of an email campaign. However, the beauty of posting elements of any campaign to social media is shareability. Link your email campaigns to social profiles so customers can easily share your holiday video, spreading positive news about your airport.
But, do remember to keep things professional. Your B2C prospects don’t need to see a fuzzy photo of the accounting department dancing round the photocopier at the office party. If you’ve used a formal tone throughout the year, stay consistent. This doesn’t mean you have to be boring or impersonal – quite the opposite – but when you add a face to the brand, do so in a professional, friendly way.
3. Optimise your online ads and update your company info
It’s difficult to overemphasise the importance of having correct company info on your search engine results, Google My Business and website. When simple details like name, address, phone number and holiday opening hours display in a uniform way across platforms, it helps to drive your airport’s search rankings. It also guarantees that customers are receiving the correct information.
It’s also worth adjusting your Adwords listings with seasonal keywords. Add phrases that will help your ads stand out. This also links any sales search terms with specific holiday terms that B2B customers may be searching for. Remember to keep the content of your ads relevant though. If you add too much holiday glitz it can cause the search engines to interpret the ad as spam and remove it.
Remember, no matter how strong your email campaigns are, if information and brand identity are inconsistent across platforms, customers will view your company as untrustworthy and slapdash.
It’s also worth sending an email to clients and customers containing useful information such as opening hours over the holiday season, or last order dates before Christmas. This is something they will appreciate you making the effort to do.
4. Engage with charity
More than a third of all charitable giving happens during the holidays. Why not help to highlight a local charitable cause in your airport’s email campaigns? This gives you a chance to share aspects of your brand ethos and to connect with your local community. You might decide to explain why you have chosen a particular charity or to run a goodwill campaign in which you match donations. Create an email to let your customers know about the charity, what you’re doing to help and how they can get involved. This email gives you another chance to highlight seasonal offers on products and services.
5. Share content that will help your clients
As your airport business grows, your experiences become potential content.
Create positive messages about your expertise, learning and development, and your planning for the year ahead. B2B customers want to see that your business is growing, that you have a healthy outlook and that you can overcome industry challenges. Share milestones, awards, good news and helpful advice.
6. Use festive photos
Liven up your email campaigns with festive images, gifs and designs. This is a good opportunity to personalise for international clients. For example, emails targeting customers in different countries can take different holiday traditions into account. Some may not appreciate a Christmas or Hanukkah email, but will respond to a ‘Happy Holidays’ message, a New Year greeting or a winter wonderland theme.
7. Don’t ‘send to all’
Following on from the point above, there is never an email campaign that is entirely suitable for your entire mailing list. Some are more risky than others, and this one could be seen as quite high risk. Consider aspects like culture and geographic region when sending a holiday themed email, and if the recipient would not find it appropriate, don’t send it.
8. Give a seasonal gift
Gifting is a common tradition during the holiday season. It can be an effective tactic in B2B email, where business relationships are key. Show your clients you appreciate them by offering a gift they can use in the New Year. This is a valuable way to improve customer retention.
Be creative. Give away an eBook, a content feature, an experience, a month’s free subscription or upgrade – something of value to your customer. For example, HubSpot can offer a link to its free #HolidayHub, a comprehensive resource for creative marketing ideas.
9. Don’t send seasonal emails at the last minute
Remember, it’s not just your office that is likely to close over the holiday period to allow staff some time off, your clients will be shutting down for Christmas too. If you send your seasonal emails on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, it’s very likely that they won’t be opened. Send any campaigns at least a week prior to the actual holiday to ensure your clients get the information while it’s still relevant and useful.
Rezcomm’s world-first combined omnichannel platform for airport sales, marketing and customer-centric analytics can help you build your airport’s long-term growth. We already partner with airports that serve a quarter of a billion passengers worldwide. If you want to ask the experts about optimising B2B relationships through email marketing, contact us for a chat today.