Aviation Marketing: Using social media to gain customer insight

Blog_81_Using social media to gain customer insight

Good social monitoring brings about actionable engagement strategies

Social media offers an unadulterated view of issues and opinions that shape brand preference

When developing strategic communication plans for companies in the aviation industry, I always want to know what’s going on in the customer’s mind. Customer insight can be attained via several channels using different tactics. For example, insights can be gained from:

  • Focus groups
  • Questionnaires
  • Surveys
  • One-on-one interviews
  • Social listening

Several of the above-mentioned tactics have been the staple for customer research for many years with documented pros and cons associated with each tactic.

Social listening is a relatively new tactic that relies on monitoring social media channels. Mining the channels brings forth an abundance of customers’ opinions and conversations about your brand and information about competitors.

Good social monitoring brings about actionable engagement strategies

Social monitoring goes beyond Facebook “likes” or Twitter “followers.”  It provides an interpretation of the online conversation and how it relates to the purchase intent of customers interested in your brand. Think of it as an early warning system about product functionality, advertising messaging, and emotional connection which provides the ability to course correct marketing strategies before experiencing a decline in sales.

Forrester Research estimates that $1.6 billion will be spent this year on social brand tracking. For that investment, savvy airlines and aviation manufacturers will have a front row seat for ascertaining the tone of the conversation, what the interest levels are for  their brand, and what brand perceptions are being formed in the customer’s mind.

What social monitoring brings to the table

Customer Insight – helps aviation companies ascertain purchasing intent, triggers for purchasing behavior, and specific communities in which to focus resources.

Brand Insight – aligns Key Performance Indexes (KPI) to understand how awareness, perception, and brand consideration are formed.

Category Insight – helps companies determine how to capitalize on opportunities in specific business segments.

Social listening platforms

It takes two to have a conversation.  Blogs, websites, Facebook pages, Pinterest boards, and tweets invite customers to express themselves to you and to each other. These are global conversations about brand loyalty, customer frustrations, and service shortcomings that can identify areas for improvement.

Making sense of the conversations

Depending on the size of the company and resources available, social monitoring can be very simple or highly structured.  There are several online providers that can supply you with platforms and dashboards incorporating a host of tools to acquire and categorize the conversations, bringing statistical significance to the information for actionable implementation.

Social media monitoring tools (paid):

A comparision of the above tools can be downloaded at pr2020.com

Additional articles that may be on interest on this topic:

Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

10 reasons why social marketing efforts fail

 3 ways social media can help build your brand

photo credit: afagen via photopin cc

Aviation Marketing: How to use #hashtags effectively

Hashtags provide short cut links to events, people and businesses.
Hashtags provide short cut links to events, people and businesses.

Knowing how and when to use hashtags can increase brand adoption

Lynne Serafinn, author of The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, wrote an article on how and when to use hashtags on Twitter and Facebook. Below is my interpretation for aviation marketers.

The aviation industry is slowly coming around to using social marketing as an inbound channel to build brand loyalty, provide customer service and convert new customers. While some in the aviation industry are still wishing that social media would go away, the facts state undeniably that it is here to stay. Twitter and Facebook have over 1.5 billion users on their social media platforms. Twitter has pioneered the use of hashtags and Facebook recently adopted hashtag linking protocol.

What are hashtags? What do they mean? How do you use them? Why should I care?

A hashtag is a word or term that is preceded by a ‘hash sign’, i.e. #. There can be no spaces between the hashtag and the word/term, and there can be no spaces in between words if you are using a term. Hashtags are not case sensitive; however, using upper and lower case can make them easier for your followers to read and identify.

When you put together a tag like this, #aviationmkting, it automatically creates a hyperlink that people can click. When they click on the hyperlink, they will find all the most recent Tweets or Facebook posts that have used that hashtag. Basically, putting a # sign in front of anything will turn it into a clickable link.

How hashtags are used:

 Follow current trends – Perhaps the most common use of hashtags is to follow information about a current story or event. For example, clicking on the link #Asiana will bring you to tweets and article posts about the airline incident and the summer intern’s short-lived job at the NTSB.

Find like-minded people – Hashtags can not only help you find topics of interest, but people of interest too. While some hashtags are on ‘trending’ topics, others are on long-term topics of interest. Using #aviationweek will display a range of the top 20 tweets of people that are using the hashtag in connection with their content or business.

Brand identity/content – Not all hashtags are about ‘things’ or events. If your product or service relates to the aviation industry, you should consider creating a hashtag that identifies your brand. Boeing has branded the hashtag #boeing where you can view their tweets as well as photos and other content about Boeing aircraft.

Hashtags provide shortcut  links to events, people, and businesses. Learning the correct way to use them improves your social marketing presence and increases brand awareness.

To read Lynne Serafinn’s full post “5 Ways to Use Hashtags” on Twitter or Facebook. click on the following link

photo credit: uwgb admissions via photopin cc
 

Aviation Marketing: Finding your voice

A brand story requires a social point of view

A brand story requires a social point of view

Defining your values improves your brand story

Aviation companies that are practitioners of people-to-people marketing spend their marketing capital wisely by defining their position and understanding their point of differentiation. This due diligence leads to delivering key messages in clear concise terms that are easily understood by the constituents with whom they wish to do business.

Digital platforms from Twitter to You Tube to email have empowered companies in the aviation industry with the ability to become their own publishers and broadcasters. Early adopters of social marketing embraced the idea of self-publishing as a means to reduce advertising costs. As social marketing platforms matured, content migrated from a low cost replacement for a traditional advertising channel to conveying a larger story through the brand’s good deeds.

Orchestrating your brand story may sound like an easy task; however staring at a blank sheet of paper quickly brings home the reality that the brand story requires a social point of view. By this I mean, what are your company values and how are they contributing to the betterment of the aviation industry?

Developing a social point of view

The mission of any company is to make a profit from goods and services produced and sold. However, in the social marketing landscape, pure profit motive needs to be combined with the idea that products and services produced also make the world a better place to live.

Proactively listening to customer concerns posted on social media platforms provides the insight necessary to develop strategic social messages that resonate with customer’s values and concerns.

For example, in the biofuel market, Shell Global has an Environment and Society section on their corporate website. Content features their pioneering efforts on making ethanol from Brazilian sugarcane. Blending this biofuel with standard petrol can reduce CO2 emissions by 70% when compared to standard petrol.

Michelin is another example. Their aircraft tires produced using NZG (Near Zero Growth) technology reduces the tires’ weight and increases longevity, resulting in a tire structure that is more impact and damage resistant. The reduction in weight contributes to fuel savings while increasing passenger and freight capacity.

Brand values are derived from the social culture of the company. Companies that do well by their customers also do well for themselves.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Should your brand be aligned with a moral cause?

Why aviation brands need emotional engagement

Marketing excellence requires focus and clear positioning

Aviation Marketing: 7 social marketing trends for airlines

Blog_77_irlines are embracing people-to-people marketing

Airlines are embracing people-to-people marketing

“The State of Airline Marketing,” published by Airtrends.com and SimpliFlying, takes a global look at innovative social marketing using case studies. The report identifies trends such as experiental, location-based, co-creation and social loyalty incentives. Below is my interpretation of their report with focus on people-to-people marketing trends.

1. EXPERIENTAL – Traditional branding tactics are becoming increasingly less effective when trying to reach a jaded flying public. Heretofore, “consumers,” once viewed as a target audience or demographic are now viewed as customers. This shift in perspective requires a people-to-people marketing approach as airlines are turning to the brand experience to capture the attention and imagination of people interested in their service offering.

2. SOCIAL CARE – Today’s traveler is connected to his or her social networks via a smart phone or tablet. These mobile devices provide a conduit for praise or bashing when frustrated with a product or service that does not meet expectations. It is important for airlines to tackle the problem at the place where it occurs, building goodwill and turning a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate.

3. ON LOCATION – Aviation brands want to interact with customers no matter the location. From QR codes at taxi stops to scavenger hunts using twitter hashtags, airlines are increasingly “going to the customer.” This location effort puts a human quality to the corporate brand.

4. BACK TO REALITY – To connect with the customer, airlines are seeking and using user-generated content to open a window into the interworking of airline operations and the logistics involved with travel.

5. CROWDSOURCING – Airlines are using crowdsourcing to determine the priorities of the customer. Good ideas are not the exclusive domain of the airline. Customer ideas are being incorporated into variety of product innovations, loyalty rewards, and tablet applications.

6. VIRAL VIDEOS – Airlines are learning to be their own media outlets. Those that demonstrate creativity in their marketing are being rewarded with millions of views on social channels, thus reducing the cost of bought media.

7. SOCIAL LOYALTY & GAMIFICATION
Airlines are tapping into location-based services to track loyalty in terms of repeat visits as well as social advocacy. By offering real-world rewards to fans and followers who promote their brand online, airlines add an element of gamification to their marketing.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

How mobile application development drives people-to-people marketing

Defining your brand personality

3 ways social media can help build your brand

To download a copy of “The State of Airline Marketing” click here.

To learn more about SimpliFlying click here.

To lean more about Airtrends.com click here.

5 reasons why aviation manufacturers need to embrace people-to-people marketing

The connected customer gathers information from a multitude of online sources before coming to the final purchasing decision

The connected customer gathers information from a multitude of online sources before coming to the final purchasing decision.

The connected customer spends more time on social media than with watching television, listening to radio, or reading a newspaper. Cloud-connected smart phones, tablets, and laptops are the predominant tools of the connected customer. They absorb information from many different sources and share their experiences with followers on social networks. Aviation manufacturers that do not shift their marketing tactics are endangering their brand and flirting with obsolescence.

Aviation marketing is changing. Yesterday’s target audiences are now communities of constituencies that share information across digital platforms. Here are 5 reasons why aviation marketers need to embrace people-to-people marketing:

1. Traditional advertising is a one-way conversation

Traditional advertising is great for building brand awareness. However, it cannot create the conduit for immediate engagement or offer additional content at the click of a mouse or tap of the screen. The connected customer wants the option of a two-way conversation.

2. An integrated model of online and offline channels are necessary to hold the connected customer’s attention during the considered purchase process

A strategic approach to integrating online media with traditional print media placement offers the manufacturer the opportunity for extending the engagement during a prolonged sales cycle. Banner ads across different digital media channels, coupled with guides and E-books, provide brand stickiness with authoritative content and data collection from interested parties.

3. The traditional sales funnel has been replaced with the customer decision journey

Traditional B-to-B sales and marketing is based on a linear approach of selling to accounts. This approach loses sight of the importance of trigger events, internally or externally driven, that kick starts the decision journey in the first place. At first the prospective buyer may either be unaware or unconcerned, but then something happens (the trigger event) to raise their awareness of an issue they need to deal with – and the online search for a solution gets underway.

The connected customer’s decision journey is circular with four potential areas where marketers can win or lose: initial consideration, active evaluation, closure through purchase, and post-purchase. During each of these phases manufacturers can be added or subtracted for consideration.

4. Savvy aviation manufacturers have increased their social marketing budgets

There has been a massive shift in the adoption of mobile devices. Apple’s CEO Tim Cooke summed up the tablet adoption.

“Through the last quarter <Q1 2012>, I should say, which is just 2 years after we shipped the initial iPad, we’ve sold 67 million. And to put that in some context, it took us 24 years to sell that many Macs and 5 years for that many iPods and over 3 years for that many iPhones.”

By 2015 there will be 7.4 billion wireless compatible devices on the market (ABIResearch). This where the connected customer lives and aviation manufacturers should consider investing a minimum of at least 15% of marketing funds to online channels.

5. Aviation marketers that adopt social marketing get better customer insight that leads to better decision-making

Analytics obtained from social marketing provide a wealth of information about the connected customer’s decision-making process and behavior. This information can drive product development and smarter product marketing.

Translation:  if you’re not where your customers are, connected to them and tuned into their purchasing behavior, you’re going to lose business and inflict damage on your brand.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why people-to-people marketing is replacing business-to-business in the aviation industry

Dynamic customers require quality content

Designing a social marketing strategy for aviation marketing

Aviation Marketing: Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

Blog_74_Sweet_Spot

Sharing your experience with the aviation community opens the door for creating a brand preference.

Darron Rowse, founder and editor of ProBlogger Tips, published an article showing new bloggers what they should blog about. While reading the article, I realized a parallel to what aviation marketers should be doing with their online advertising and social marketing efforts. Below is my interpretation of the article as it relates to aviation marketers creating content for their social marketing efforts.

People-to-people marketing is about creating a preference for your brand that eclipses feature and function and achieves an emotional connection.

A majority of aviation manufacturers are hardware driven – innovation comes from incremental upgrades by engineering. So the question becomes: how can engineering-driven manufacturers make the jump beyond feature and function to creating an emotional connection to their brands?

Content drives the emotional connection, and the sweet spot for dialogue is between “what you know” and “what the customer wants to know.” To hit this area, review your expertise as it pertains to specific outcomes of product or service usage.

In addition to content, it is essential to implement the correct social marketing engagement tactics.

In certain instances, public social platforms act as the lubricant for interaction due to the sheer number of like-minded people congregating in and sharing the same space. However, there are a multitude of private social platforms serving the needs of the aviation community that can be monitored for opportunities to join in the discussion and provide answers to specific questions or issues members have posted.

For example, a review of the NBAA maintenance form reveals hundreds of opportunities for OEMs and component and system manufacturers to step up with authoritative information.  The sharing of information gleaned from years of experience creates the emotional connection with flight department and maintenance personnel, enabling them to troubleshoot and solve everyday problems associated with different aircraft and avionics systems.

Additional articles you may find of interest on the topic:

Aviation Marketing: How to start a sustainable blog

Aviation Marketing: Social marketing begins the correct strategy

Aviation Marketing: 14 social media channels for content distribution

To connect with Darren Rowse on Twitter, click here

Aviation Marketing: How to engineer a social marketing strategy

How to engineer a social marketing strategySocial marketing is not free – it requires time, money, and resources

Social marketing is an all-encompassing term that covers very specific strategies and tactics designed to engage customers and prospects. When considering the addition of social marketing into the marketing mix, it’s best to review current marketing strategy and determine where social marketing will have the greatest impact.

Aviation marketers that step into social marketing are really making a decision to become their own content producers. Implementing a successful social marketing program requires time, money, and dedicated resources. Without these, the effort will be shortlived and short on results.

Where to start

Social marketing strategy development starts with the answers to the following questions:

  • What are the goals for the social marketing program?
  • How will social marketing integrate the existing marketing program?
  • Who will lead the social marketing efforts?
  • What resources are available to ensure success?
  • How will social marketing ROI be measured?

The answers to the above questions will form the foundation of your social marketing strategy.

Below are a list of goals that can be used as thought starters when defining the goals for the program:

  • Increase the number of prospects on the sales funnel
  • Influence decision makers in an informational, non-selling manner
  • Add an interactive component to the website
  • Position executives and technical talent as experts in their field
  • Create product evangelists that recommend product or service offerings

How will social marketing integrate into the existing marketing program?

To have a holistic marketing program, a balance of outbound and inbound strategies and tactics need to be orchestrated. Relying solely on a blog to generate leads is not a good idea. However, integrating a blog on the website may be a good idea to feature technical talent, thought leadership, or respond to customer questions and comments.

Who will lead the social marketing efforts?

Social marketing cannot be relegated to the summer intern or administrative assistant. Having a Facebook page and Twitter account does not make one a social marketing expert.

Having a champion in the executive suite provides the focus, incentive, and resources to assure that quality content is being produced and tactical execution followed through.

What resources are available to ensure success?

Depending on the social marketing tactic, one may need writers, video producers, coders, designers, and/or digital media planners. Few aviation manufacturers have this type of talent on staff.  Selecting a firm that has access to this talent can provide the necessary resources to keep the program moving and cost in line.

How will social marketing ROI be measured?

Everything digital can be measured. It’s important to realize the role that social marketing plays in the overall marketing mix. Consider the customer touchpoints in the sales cycle and where social marketing can influence the sales process. A purchase inquiry may come through an email campaign, but where was the customer influenced that started the research process leading up to the purchasing inquiry?

Additional articles that may be of interest:

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

Why aviation marketers struggle with digital marketing integration

Aviation Marketing: 3 ways social media can help build your brand