This sponsored post is produced by SessionM.
Spring Break season is here. Travelers are packed and ready, and wherever they’re headed, I can guarantee they all have one thing in common in their carry-on — their smartphone. Smartphones play a distinct role in a traveler’s life cycle from when they start daydreaming about a getaway, to the experience of the trip and how they remember and share their memories.
Snowbird or not, there’s a critical opportunity for brands to transform their customer experiences with the smartphone — wherever they go.
Mobile is no longer just a channel or a tactical checkbox in a digital marketing plan. Mobile gives businesses an ocean of data from all stages of a customer’s life cycle. When harvested and leveraged properly, mobile data can fuel dynamic customer experiences, generate revenue, improve customer retention, and reduce cost across an organization.
As we head into spring break season, here’s how brands, especially hotels and airlines, can become agile marketers and leverage mobile strategies to engage, win, and retain customers near and far — and keep a few souvenirs for themselves.
Identify your customer
Most existing channel infrastructure is siloed, working independently to create endless pools of untapped data for companies resulting in a generic, frustrating experience for customers. While many marketers dream of having a single view of their customers, they are living the nightmare of multiple views of their customers across multiple channels and systems.
A good example of this is a hotel group comprised of several properties requiring a separate login or profile for each one — e.g. Bob Smith, Robert Smith, and R. Smith appearing as three separate customers in a database, when in fact he’s really an individual customer who has stayed and transacted at multiple properties.
With the right technology and infrastructure, marketers can combine, de-duplicate, and operationalize the treasure trove of data now at their disposal to create an operational marketing profile in the cloud. A complete history of where guests have stayed, where they’ve eaten, or amenities they’ve enjoyed coupled with new moment-by-moment actions creates a dynamically-updated customer profile that can trigger any marketing system to respond, in real time.
It’s a win-win implementation — customers get a seamless experience with stored preferences across all properties, and brands get standardized, comprehensive profiles and analytics, instead of streams of unorganized data.
Think journey, not (just) destination
Smartphones blur the physical and digital world so the customer journey is no longer a straight shot on the path to purchase — it’s an ongoing experience that must be lead, as well as followed. Mobile gives marketers a way to capture real-time customer behaviors as they move through the world revealing optimal moments to both provide and extract value from customers.
The key to winning these mobile moments is having the right technology in place to ingest real-time customer data, and evaluate and react within milliseconds to deliver the most relevant, valuable customer experience.
When I arrive at the slopes for break, I’d like my resort app to let me easily purchase a lift ticket, view the shuttle map, make a reservation in the hotel restaurant, connect to social sharing, and send me a push notification if the temperature at the top of the mountain drops below zero. Directions to the closest Emergency Room might be smart too. You can never be too careful.
Rule#1: What happens on spring break doesn’t stay on spring break
Being able to ingest real-time data and trigger a specific message or experience is a must-have for agile marketers. Triggering an intelligent reaction requires a sophisticated rules engine that automates decisioning based on pre-configured logic — a series of “if-then” statements.
To maximize impact and relevancy, you must be able to evaluate real-time data against historical profile data, which gives a mobile moment context and meaning. When you harvest what customers are doing and map against what they have done properly, you can personalize an experience and influence what they do next.
Love margaritas? (Yeah, we know). Picture this: You’re at your hotel. You head to the gym for an afternoon workout to help rally for evening festivities. An hour after leaving the gym, you receive a push notification inviting you to the poolside bar for a free margarita. Best. Hotel. Ever. And who can have just one? Making sure that blissful experience travels with my profile (discretely) is key to making my next experience that much better.
Agile marketers leverage the power of mobile and fast data to deliver a customer experience that adds value, not just another marketing campaign designed to extract value. When implemented and executed correctly, both brands and customers benefit for a relationship that lasts way longer than a Spring Break fling.
Bill Clifford is Chief Revenue Officer at SessionM.
For more information on how smartphones are affecting the travel industry, check out SessionM’s Travel Industry Study: Planes, Trains & Mobile-First Marketing.
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