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.

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.

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