In the current economic climate, marketing spend is, like any other spend, under close scrutiny. Increasingly a performance-oriented approach is required, so delivering tangible results shouldn’t be new to digital marketers. Even so they have their work cut out.
While making the most of social media or relying on data for knowing more about customers isn’t new, the exciting part is how it can be used to prove the value of digital marketing. EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta talks to Pascal Moyon, director, brand and digital marketing at Hertz, to find out more.
EFT: What would it take to operate outside of ROI performance metrics for digital channels?
PM: No marketing investment can be made unless they can justify a tangible impact on metrics acting as a minimum as premises to ROI. For instance, being able to demonstrate with facts and statistics that customers engaging in social media would have a greater propensity to purchase, higher loyalty or long-term value could be relevant.
Today, the industry is witnessing efforts pertaining to commercial propositions linking a social media indicator to sales. Companies are developing social media indices tracking sales quite accurately.
Harnessing conversations can help identify, themes, places (forum, blogs) and keywords related to a particular market. The data is then turned into targeted marketing actions: SEO templates, content plans, link building and Internet users engagement.
EFT: Can you share a recent initiative or campaign that shows the power of digital marketing?
PM: Well actually, I have used digital data to prove the value of digital marketing. I have customised Hitwise data by asking Hitwise to provide raw data in a slightly different way. By doing so I was able to create a map of the search market, highlighting the relative importance of pay-per-click and search engine optimisation, of both ‘brand’ and ‘generic’ search, and the share of each competitor in those fields.
Over the past 30 months I have studied data resulting from search engine marketing campaigns and have studied keywords in relation to others in the category. The data was not only used to understand return on investment and improve on search engine campaigns, but also on how this search-oriented traffic blended with other channels - like websites, banner ads and so on. So effectively, this data also contributed in multichannel online campaigns.
Another interesting example is a viral campaign we ran for the Advantage brand, where we generated 250,000 views for a 2.5k investment. The viral campaign is named The Keycopter. The movie was shown on YouTube, Dailymotion and so on. The initiative was about keeping your car hire keys safe. It was a trial, and even though the link with the brand was extremely subtle (a little too subtle!), we saw a massive surge (+100%) in traffic for what is a small site generating $3m a year (the site generating $3m is Advantage.com).
EFT: In the future, how do you envisage gaining an insight into the behaviour and preference of each digital customer that connects with your organisation?
PM: It is interesting in theory to know about the lifestyle from the customer outside of the interaction with the brand, in so far that some attributes could help you predict their behaviour. However, to predict my experience means that brands first need to get a number of basics right such as aligning pricing and availability with marketing spend, or leveraging the customer purchasing profile. This before going onto what could very likely be a fishing expedition to identify that people liking comedies and vanilla ice-cream have a 1.5% incremental chance to upgrade.
EFT: How do make the most of every digital interaction that your customer has with your brand?
PM: Helping the customer to achieve their goal via a good online experience is critical. This entails using all techniques (voice of the customer, session replay, online surveys and so on) to quickly improve this experience; as well as investing in informative and engaging content. The experience has to cover the full lifecycle from research to post-trip.
EFT: Is the travel industry really looking into making digital experience initiatives successful?
PM: Travel is an experience universe, like entertainment or movies for instance. This provides great opportunities for social interaction, with people keen to express their opinion and share their holiday experience. This is also a universe where the choice of destinations and/or accommodation is plentiful. In that context, companies like TripAdvisor or Booking.com have created a very strong proposition around user-generated content and reviews, providing the community with effective tools to make their choice.
Other techniques are using the sequence of transactions (for instance people book their flight, then the hotel, then their car) to target those customers who have booked a flight but not a car yet and send them an ad.
EFT: Which areas do you think are most important in digital marketing going forward?
PM: Having an effective customer experience in mobile and providing good and engaging content are both key. On the latter, being able to identify the key themes and questions which matter for Internet users, as well as the main forums is important to structure the engagement strategy effectively.
Analytics is also essential to constantly improve the performance by pinpointing the areas of focus and measuring the effectiveness of the actions.
EFT: Tracking the conversion funnel is complicated. How challenging is it to set up a back-end tracking infrastructure right from the beginning?
PM: The challenge is not that complicated, and technology is actually largely available. What is more difficult to get right is the strong business understanding necessary to drive the data capture strategy (which metrics, which key dimensions for both products and customer segments), and then being able to prioritise and identify the key insights. Thomas Cook has achieved this in a matter of three months. It has created a data dictionnary and implemented it, and this is what I am now doing again for Hertz.