MARKETER INTERVIEW: Volaris’ Ricardo Rivera on How Digital Marketing Should Be Reflected in a Company’s Organization

Volaris, the low-cost Mexican airline that has an important presence in the U.S. Hispanic market, is one of the pioneers in Mexican online marketing. Approximately 60% of Volaris’ sales are done through online channels, a very high ratio for the Mexican and U.S. Hispanic market where it mostly targets Spanish-dominant  Hispanics. Ricardo Rivera, Head of Marketing, Volaris (watch Video in Spanish), one of the major brand marketers participating at #PortadaLat in Miami on June 8-9, spoke to Portada about what he has  learned in digital marketing and social marketing so far and what he recommends  companies to do to keep up with the latest  trends.

Interview conducted  by Ximena Cassab

Portada: How do you combine advertising with editorial content in social media?

Ricardo Rivera Alaniz_BW_100x100RR: “There are many points that help us keep balanced. The first one is the geotargeting of the messages. 85 per cent of our followers are actually interested in our sales promotions, and 54 per cent of them are only interested in the sales promotion. So it doesn’t feel intrusive to publish our special offers. What will feel intrusive is to publish offers that aren’t relevant to our followers. We can not ignore that people are looking for fares that make you travel, and that’s what we provide them.  On the other hand, there are some topics  that generate more engagement, and we are looking for them all the time. One example is social responsibility. People react very positive to this information and it also generates a lot of engagement. We have also found it very effective to talk about recommendations to travel for less money. People appreciate it.”

We have to get rid of the media manager who only compares media, and start having the one who analyzes performance.

Portada: Talking about geotargeting, in what ways do you segment your customer base?
RR: “Now, thanks to global pages, we have the possibility to conduct  a more segmented management of our audience. We need to do this to be more relevant. Our followers speak different languages; even those who speak Spanish don’t use the same expressions. We need managers responsible for each country and region so that our messages sound natural. We do not deal with the complexity of personalization. I am not worried about this. What we need to have very clear are the engagement success measures and the conversions of this into sales. As long as this is working out well, the complexity will be welcome.”

Portada: Is it more risky to adopt a generalist approach?
RR: “It is much more risky because you take the chance of being less relevant, by speaking in a language or a tone that isn’t used or won’t be understood in a certain country or region. You lose punch of what we call “reactvertising”; what is happening now in this country or in this city. You can’t lose real time advertising.”

Portada: With the development of digital marketing, what structural changes do the companies need?
RR: “We need a performance manager. Many industries today have media managers but this should end. They need someone who can measure each of the advertising channels with precision. We have to get rid of the media manager who only compare media, and start having managers  who analyze performance. The ideal professional for this would be a highly specialized mathematician, someone with curiosity regarding digital matters. We also need an engagement manager, who is in charge of social media, content strategy, sponsors. All this must be put together in the same channel, and with the main goal of generating engagement. This person should be a strategic thinker. It is easy to get lost, this is why you need someone with a market strategy, brand-building strategy, and customer understanding point of view. This way, you will be able to generate engagement with a cause. The challenge here is to manage a hybrid model between in-house and out-of house resources. These managers must have clarity about how their business works so that they can communicate their needs to an external expert agency.”

I recommend a hybrid model, where you keep the most strategic areas covered inside the company, and outsource those things where the agency will do a better job.

Portada: How do you choose the best agency?
RR: “There is no absolute recipe.To choose the right one, you have to pay attention to two things: the car and the driver. There are people who have amazing platforms but don’t know how to use it, and can’t even explain to you how it really works. Sometimes it is better to choose someone who might doesn’t have the newest technology but who is an expert in the subject and gives you an excellent customer service.”

Portada: What should any company take into notice when entering the Latin-American market?
RR: “The Latin-American market needs very simple messages. Irony, for example, doesn’t really work here. You might use it in a couple of twits but not in a whole campaign. People won’t understand nor like it. We are very simple.Also, the penetration of social media is still very low. There are places where Twitter doesn’t even exist. I would recommend having a very strong Facebook strategy if you want to enter this market; the other networks are still developing. And if you are trying to sell by e-commerce, take into notice that people here use their desktop computer at work most of the time. They will use smartphones to stay informed, but the final sale will be made on the computer and during working hours.”

Watch the below VIDEO (in Spanish), with Ricardo Rivera, Marketing Director of Volaris, taken at #PortadaMx this week.