First Published 18th January, 2021
Businesses are redesigning experiences by reimagining their offering or interactions for a contactless world.
How about engaging in person and counting on the same in the marketing mix?
Talking about the “live channel”, US-based Elite Marketing Group’ CEO, Brad Horowitz says this channel “in counter intuitive fashion, has never been more important”.
“With the overwhelming influx of marketing and advertising into digital, social, print, TV and radio/ podcasts during the pandemic, the live channel offers an even greater way of standing out amongst competition. Customers are out in the live channel despite lower traffic and traffic to different locations. As marketers we need to adjust to these new locations whilst not forgetting about traditional venues. Less traffic actually compounds the positive effects of live marketing; deeper engagement through an opportunity for a conversation. These effects lead to greater penetration, conversion and usage,” Horowitz told Ai’s Ritesh Gupta in an interview.
Can you cite examples of how the live channel can pave way for travel brands to acquire and retain customers?
Brad Horowitz: Engaging with live customers allows for a conversation; live customer service. Our representatives, often referred to as Brand Ambassadors, Product Specialists or Consumer Engagement Specialists have the ability to cater the conversation to each and every customer. Custom messaging increases sales and drives retention in every marketing channel. This Pandemic has been the most drastic event in our lifetime; disrupting loyalty and creating new customer opportunities. For example, airlines are losing customers to lower cost carriers and non-travel while on the flip side encountering new customers. The live channel provides the platform to speak with customers, determine what type of current and future traveler they are and will be and to offer them the appropriate product.
How should travel marketers approach the “live” channel in their marketing mix today?
Brad Horowitz: They should have a smaller presence at traditional locations, such as airports, hotels and car rental locations. At the same time travel marketers should look to supplement these traditional locations with others that are benefitting from the pandemic such as supermarkets, home improvement centers, gas stations and more.
At both of these locations travel marketers should have a multi-tiered approach in order to reach new customers and loyal ones. Additionally this approach needs to lead with customer appreciation rather than sales.
Can you share any recent live channel-related campaign and it’s metric in the travel sector?
Brad Horowitz: Throughout the Pandemic, we have been able to establish promotions that reward customers at supermarkets, in parking lots and through street teams. Using Elite devices we have acquired customers for brands, loyalty applications and collected their data securely and safely. Safe touchscreens and contactless solutions like QR codes have been quickly adopted by customers. Instant approvals and rewards along with repeat visits and rewards for loyalty have helped to generate customers and fuel retention. Penetration rates are consistently above 15% with conversion and activation above 75% across a myriad of brands and products.
How can brands can capitalize on meaningful interactions via the live channel?
Brad Horowitz: The live channel inherently delivers deeper engagements than other channels. By addressing the current climate and marketing accordingly, we can deliver even deeper interactions. This includes but is not limited to a safe experience for consumers and one with messaging and rewards that are relevant to the circumstances.
How can the live channel make the impact of a message or any objective even bigger when combined with digital, social, radio and TV strategies?
Any marketing effort is improved in efficacy by remaining consistent through multiple touchpoints. If marketers engage with a customer in person and through other channels such as digital, social, email etc. that message will resonate greater. Ultimately we want to walk customers through a consistent story and reward them for each touchpoint that they travel through. If you can gamify the experience…..even better!
What would be your recommendations – do’s and don’ts – in terms of what to expect and how to budget for the live channel?
Brad Horowitz: Do’s would include the use of hybrid budget, which includes upfront investment and commission to the agency you are working with. The upfront funds need to be invested in a compliance program that ensures a safe experience. The commission would reward performance as well as compliance, so that the marketer and the agency are sharing in the investment and success. By mitigating some of the investment through this hybrid structure, you can ramp up and down as the program progresses. Additionally, I would say it is important to measure the quality of a customer. The live channel produces high quality customers. Repeat usage, overall spend, LTV are equally if not more important than CPA, KPI etc. A sales system should be in place that rewards quality in addition to volume.
How do you expect the live channel to shape up in 2021?
Brad Horowitz: I know that some brands are already planning to enter by second quarter. These brands are currently working on a Covid Response Plan for their go to market strategies and in production of physical sets and kiosks. These early movers will see the instant results ramp up fast. Customers are eager, which will be reflected in strong gradual growth in travel with minor setbacks to be expected along the way. Will you let other brands win over your loyal customers? Will you miss out on new customers who are browsing for the first time in years? As long as you market safely and appropriately you can capitalize on this environment whilst maintaining and even improving brand image.
Elite Marketing Group had won the Champions Edition of Ai’s Virtual Lions´ Den competition in December 2020.