Marketing, as we know it, has been rapidly evolving over the past number of years, and 2015 has been a year of significant change. The role of marketing has transitioned from an expense to an accountable revenue driver that is no longer just a data point on a report or a vehicle to fill the sales pipeline. What has been the catalyst for this change? The dramatic growth of engagement marketing, which has become an expected norm from both the consumer and brand perspective. The message of engaging customers on the right channels has been emphasized over the past year as a foundation for generating incremental revenue. However, engagement marketing is now recognized as a primary driver of a company’s forecasted revenues.
A recent report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Marketo, “The Rise of the Marketer Driving Engagement, Experience and Revenue” examines three trends identified as important and will help a company not leave money on the table.
- A broader view of customer experience, which is increasingly seen as a key to competitive advantage in every industry.
- Digital and data dominate investment. Technology investment illustrates both the dominance and fragmentation of digital channels.
- Marketing will increasingly be seen less as a cost and more as a source of revenue- requiring the next generation of marketers to aggressively seeking new skills
As we examine these trends and what they mean to travel companies, the impact of this change can best be stated by Raja Rajamannar, CMO of MasterCard. “Marketing has become a significant item on the P&L, so it is being challenged like never before.” Travel brands are poised to take advantage of this shift by embracing the fact that 81% of marketers (The Economist) agree: “We need to change the structure and design of our marketing organization to meet the needs of our business over the next three to five years.”
A Broader View of Customer Experience
“A positive customer experience across all touchpoints is increasingly seen as a company’s most valuable asset.” This statement referenced in the survey is spot on for the current direction of the travel and hospitality industry. Travelers today expect an exceptional brand experience at each stage of their trip from the moment they begin dreaming, during the experience and sharing after the fact.
Traditionally a traveler’s experience has been fragmented by numerous communications generated by different brands and multiple departments within each company. An individual can receive dozens of offers, confirmations, and recommendations from various sources. The delivery of these messages comes in different formats; email, websites, PDF’s and social media – often lacking any emotional connection to the traveler. With the responsibility of customer engagement being shared by multiple sources, there is no one entity taking responsibility for the entire experience during the lifecycle of consumer touchpoints. As Jamie Moldafsky, CMO, Wells Fargo states, “There is more of a need for the articulation of an integrated, holistic approach than before because there are myriad channels and contact points.”
The on-demand economy has created a traveling society that wants to be understood, wants offers and deals to be tailored, and do not want to be annoyed with irrelevant offerings and excessive, irritating, communication. This defines engagement marketing in its purest form and is best reflected in customer buying behavior, repeat purchases and virally sharing their experiences on social networks.
Travel brands are challenged to turn multiple offerings into an easy to understand engagement model. Business strategies need to incorporate cross-channel, cross-product, and cross-business integration while keeping a guest first attitude. It is crucial to know the channels preferred by the traveler and craft the appropriate communication based on the channel and the offering. An email campaign containing a coupon for a restaurant discount for an upcoming trip is not as useful or practical as a text message received at your location offering a special dining deal to you at your destination. With guests connected 24/7 and mobile becoming an important tool to enhance a traveler’s experience, it’s imperative that brands using these channels drive actionable results. So what is the best way to incorporate the best customer experience using the latest technology?
Digital and Data Dominate Investment
According to The Economist Survey, three of the four most widely cited investments are aimed at reaching customers through different channels: via social networks, on mobile devices and the old standby of e-mail. The fourth, analytics, is needed to knit together data from multiple channels into a coherent and actionable portrait of the consumer.
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