Is your website attracting customers or sending them away?

Is your website attracting customers or sending them away?

Interesting content, fresh design and a good user experience invite participation

More often than not aviation component manufacturer websites are more like electronic brochures than conduits for nurturing customer relationships.

Aviation marketers that practice people-to-people marketing create vibrant websites with a clear vision of what the site is charged with accomplishing and the appropriate strategies to get there.

Vision examples may include:

  • Customer portal to access account information and order placement
  • Configurator engine for designing and ordering custom components
  • News and announcement sections for public relations efforts
  • Blogging platform to increase social media presence
  • E-commerce site equipped to handle orders and monetary transactions
  • Investor information for acquiring interest from Private Equity and Institutional investors

Each of the aforementioned examples requires specific navigation, design, content and programming to provide a superior user experience.

Vibrant website are responsive, easy to maintain and update

WordPress is a popular open source programing language that is quick to learn, requires minimal coding experience and provides a platform for easy content updates.

Elite WordPress theme developers license their website designs to individuals and companies. Usually the site designs come complete with page templates, coding files and Photoshop files for custom page design. In addition, many sites now are designed to be fully responsive – meaning they will automatically display on desktop, tablet or smart phone without additional programming. This is becoming increasingly important as usage trends are predicting that mobile platforms – smart phones and web enabled tablets will be more popular than internet desktop use by 2015.

The key to taking a WordPress theme site and making it your own is having the availability to customize the following:

  • Color pallets
  • Backgrounds
  • Short codes for special features
  • Fonts
  • Banner graphics – slide, dissolve, etc.
  • Blog page templates
  • Page divider graphics
  • Multi-column page format

One excellent feature when posting to the news, announcement or blog pages is the capability to short link the page URL using Bitly or Google and post updates to your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages. The abbreviated post will link back to the site for a complete viewing of the release or article.

Another key feature is the comments section. This provides visitors and customers with an avenue to join in the conversation and start the relationship building process.

A word of caution about how different browsers may display the site content. Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox are pretty good about staying current with responsive website design. Microsoft Internet Explorer can be challenged to display correctly due to operating system version and configuration. It is best to trouble shoot the site on both PC and MAC and several mobile devices with different browsers to determine if corrective programing is need for proper site display.

A vibrant people-to-people marketing website contains your latest twitter feeds, pintrest postings, content about your industry, events you will be participating in, and links to your blogs and social media channels. It also visually tells customers and potential customers that your are active in social media and understand how to maximize the power of people-to-people marketing.

Additional articles on this topic you may find of interest.

How to build a connected brand

3 ways social media can help build your brand

How mobile application development drives people-to-people marketing

Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: Engaging employees in social media marketing

People-to-people marketing uses social media to build relationships.

People-to-people marketing uses social media to build relationships.

Social media provides insight into the customer’s brand experience

The website technorati.com has lunched a podcast series, “Social Brands & Influencers”. Technorati interviews top thought leaders and decision makers in the social media and marketing world. Liz Brown Bullock formally of Dell Computer and now CEO of the start up SASI provided her perspective on getting employees involved in social media marketing. Below is my interpretation for aviation marketers.

Imagine having an army of subject matter experts trained in social media. Now imagine unleashing your army in the marketplace, engaging with customers and building an emotional connection with your brand. Social media marketing is about listening to customer conversations, identifying what is really important, and reporting back to product development, engineering or marketing on what the customer really cares about. Content in context from your customers, providing deep insights that you would never get from a conversation in a focus group.

People-to-people marketing uses social media to build relationships

Everyday in your company there are hundreds of conversations taking place with customers that influence your brand perception. These conversations can originate from many groups within the company from sales, to marketing, to technical support. Knowing how to turn these conversations into relationships requires training employees in social media skills — listening, engaging, and relationship building.

The business case for social media selling

Taking social media to the next level within your company requires support from executive management. Social media is not the responsibility of any one group, but is most effective when all groups in your company recognize that all can contribute to representing your brand online.

Customers want to engage with subject matter experts. Having your content experts engage with a customer accomplishes several things:

  1. It can build a deeper relationship with the customer by providing the best information possible.
  2. It creates a two-way dialogue that builds brand loyalty through social selling.
  3. Deeper relationships result in brand loyalty providing a path for monetization.

Organize a library of content for customer consumption

Producing quality content is important, and distributing that content is equally important. Developing a content calendar for quick reference can speed up information retrieval, and when needed connect the customer with the content expert to answer their question.

A second approach is to develop an online library of curated content. Curated content can provide the validation of an engineering approach, business strategy or marketing trends from third party experts and influencers.

Additional articles on this topic you may find of interest.

Using social media to gain customer insight

Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

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

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

To follow Liz Brown Bullock on twitter click here. To hear the complete podcast click here.

photo credit: Dell’s Official Flickr Page via photopin cc.

Big brother and marketing ROI

Big brother is watching

Know where the line is between user privacy and data collection.

Digital ushered in the era of data collection.  For aviation marketers, digital offers big data and unlimited possibilities for ways to track advertising and marketing effectiveness. The “C” suite demanded accountability for marketing funds and data houses responded by monitoring and tracking click-throughs, websites visited, time on page, and time of day, basically offering a very specific connect-the-dots profile of our web usage. Cookies were placed on our machines without our permission and we naively accepted that corporations would do the right thing with our personal data. Big data houses claimed that did not track our names but tracked the IP addresses, as if there’s no correlation.

Unfortunately, it did not quite work out like we planned. Now we come to find out that data mining companies have been selling out web browsing habits to advertisers so they may offer up specific banner ads or offers based on our browsing profile, credit score, and brand preferences.

Web privacy groups lobbied for more transparency, and software providers responded with better and easier controls to track cookies that gathered our information. After all, it’s just one little pixel bobbing around in a sea of screens.

But now we’re discovering that the Federal Government also has an interest in our browsing habits, emails, phone calls, and everything else digital, and stores this content for connect-the-dots referencing. Should this surprise us? Of course not!

During all of the news coverage following this revelation the advertising community has been very quiet. In fact, it’s embarrassing that agency  holding companies, trade associations and digital advertising networks, have said almost nothing about data collection.

The advertising community probably has done more to promote behavioral targeting in the name of more effective advertising that any other group on the planet.

Which leads us to a very interesting internet privacy case of Harris vs. comScore’s  class action lawsuit. The suit centers on comScore’s practice of bundling its monitoring software into third party downloads such as free screen savers. The plaintiffs contend that comScore did not provide adequate notice that when the downloaded free third party software was installed, it also monitored the users’ email and browser habits and sent that information to comScore, which in turn sold it to advertisers.

You could look at this two ways; one being a fight for internet privacy, and the second  how comScore tried to monitor users’ internet habits and email without users’ consent.  Why is this a big deal? Because our personal data drives internet advertising. To put in a monetary context, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Internet Advertising revenues total $36.57 billion in 2012, a 15% increase over the previous year.

Now with mobile on the rise, geo-location tracking opens up even more real estate for internet privacy issues. Just think about the amount of information you are providing through apps and social networks every time you pick up your smart phone or tablet.

In conclusion, aviation marketers need to pay special attention to the privacy rights of their customers while balancing the perceived needs for more marketing ROI data.

Additional articles your may find of interest on this topic:

Determining Advertising Return On Investment (AROI) for Aviation Marketing

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

Aviation Marketing: Measuring Digital Display Advertising ROI

Aviation marketing: Why bother with branding?

Why bother with branding?

Our experiences, values, DNA makeup and beliefs drive our unconscious decision towards a specific brand

Our emotional connection with a brand is an unconscious decision

Product and service innovation in the aviation industry comes from improved features and functions. On the flight deck, it can be a chip-driven avionic component that replaces a mechanical legacy system, to the cabin, where passengers are plugged into inflight wireless connectivity while enjoying their lay-flat seats — these innovations are the result of engineering.

Aviation marketers have been indoctrinated with the belief that purchasing decisions, from components to airline tickets, are made on the rationalization of feature and function to support the purchasing decision.

If this is the case, why bother with branding? It would be simple enough to feature pricing for products and services on the manufacturers’ or airlines’ website and let the customer make the purchasing decision based on rationalization of their circumstances or required functions of the component. This type of thinking comes from conscious decision-making.

What about unconscious decision-making?

Our emotional connection to a brand is an unconscious decision. The connection comes from our life story. Our experiences, values, DNA makeup and beliefs drive our unconscious decision towards a specific brand. We use the conscious rationalization of feature and function to explain or justify our unconscious purchasing decision.

This leads us to the intersection of rational avenue and emotional boulevard and which approach to take when marketing aviation product and services.

Douglas Van Praet, author of Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower Marketing states, “while emotions overwhelmingly drive behaviors, it’s misguided to believe that thinking and feelings are somehow mutually exclusive. Emotion and logic are intertwined.”

Prat further states that, “Behavioral science is now telling us that we don’t really have ‘free will.’ We have ‘free won’t.’ We can give in to the visceral impulses that drive us or choose to apply the brakes of rational restraint. While we can’t choose our emotions because they originate unconsciously, we can choose our conscious response to our feelings. This is essentially what consciousness is–a series of critical reflections and interpretations about how we are feeling.”

All this is heady stuff but I feel it has merit. People-to-people marketing lives at the intersection of rational avenue and emotional boulevard. People-to-people marketing is about connecting with customers and creating an emotional preference for your brand. Yes, feature and function is important and helps with the rationalization of the purchasing decision, but social marketing platforms take this a step further with peer and product reviews, ratings, and comparative analysis.

Using an emotionally based marketing approach gives us a “persona” for storylines and a pallet with more colors for creating a brand story. This translates to a brand preference leading to increased revenues that keeps those rational types in the “C” suite happy.

Additional articles you find of interest on this topic:

Why aviation brands need emotional engagement

Emotional ties create strong brand loyalty

Don’t rule out emotional connections in the purchasing process

You can purchase Douglas Van Praet’s book on Amazon by clicking 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