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What: The internet offers seemingly infinite ways for consumers to research products and services before making a purchase. Aeromexico and Palace Resorts explain how they leverage key benefits of marketing automation to start a conversation and turn consumers’ digital research into online and offline sales.
Why it matters: No matter how much technology brands throw at marketing, excellent content, and the human factor count for a lot, especially when consumers are purchasing an experience and not just on price.

Consumers’ Digital Research Speaks Volumes

Palace Resorts is not just any resort. Its 10 oceanfront properties spread across Jamaica and Mexico on the Caribbean and the Pacific offer an all-inclusive vacation of a lifetime. That’s why consumers looking for an exceptional experience do a lot of digital research before making their purchases.

“We’re not a commodity you buy on a budget. So we talk a lot about our destinations,” Gerardo Garcia, Palace Resorts’ Vice President of Sales and Marketing in the USA, told Portada during a sit-down interview at Portada Miami. “We try to bring the customer into a conversation.”

Our core business is to run successful hotels, so we have to find the right people on the technology side.

Potential guests often visit 20 websites before booking. So, Palace Resorts has to be sure it has excellent content at each of those touch points so as to engage consumers and promote the brand. “People dedicate a lot of time to their process of buying a vacation. Their digital research process creates that inspirational moment,” Garcia told Portada.

Key Benefits of Marketing Automation: Balancing the Human Factor With Technology

Palace Resorts loves it when customers buy online, but a large percentage of its guests have lots of questions before booking. Thus, having a call center and live chat are key tools in the purchasing process.

Garcia’s marketing team includes 15 people dedicated solely to responding 24/7 to customers’ questions posted on social media or at Trip Advisor. “The more I learn about technology, the more I value the human factor,” Garcia said.

Gerardo Garcia (left) at Portada’s Travel Marketing Board’s Portada Miami Meeting

Working with third-party vendors is a critical part of Palace Resorts’ marketing strategy. Allowing vendors to manage technologyallows us to focus on our marketing strategies and find the right channel to launch that campaign. Our core business is to run successful hotels, so we have to find the right people on the technology side. Otherwise it becomes overwhelming,” Garcia explained.

Automated behavioral email is also one of the most important channels for communicating with existing customers. In addition to its CRM software tool Clever, Palace Resorts uses HubSpot to send emails based upon customers’ preferences.

 

 

A First for Aeromexico

Aeromexico is the first brand in Latin America to create a chatbot to respond to customers’ questions on WhatsApp. According to the airline’s Paola Camacho Stern, senior specialist co-brand partnerships, other brands are taking notice.

If customers don’t get the answers they need, the chatbot transfers them to Aeromexico’s call center. Ppersonnel there has actually been reduced thanks to the assistance of the chatbot.

In spite of the technology, the human factor remains a critical component for ticket sales since Aeromexico prides itself on the superior experience it provides travelers both in the air and on the ground.

We are using both traditional and online channels. Whenever I do a campaign, I try to do both of them.

“We have a lot of people that want to talk to a human being. What we are looking for is a balance. I don’t think the call center is going to disappear, but our digital will grow more until it finds a balance,” Stern said.

 

 

Communicating the Experience with Content

 

Aeromexico relies heavily on social media to communicate its brand and the airline’s experience. “We have very strong social media channels, a lot of followers. We are focusing on making people feel like we’re not just an airline but the best company to take them from one place to another,” Stern explained.

Paola Camacho Stern at Portada’s Travel Marketing Board’s Portada Miami Meeting

The airline buys paid advertising, and uploads videos on Facebook which is its “strongest” social media channel.

Traditional media, too, plays an especially important role in Latin America. It includes the use of radio, outdoor advertising print, the airline’s inflight magazine as well as advertising before feature films in cinemas.

Key benefits of marketing automation include email, and Aeromexico uses it to launch campaigns and promotions and tell customers about new routes. It does extensive a/b testing to find the best messaging. Aeromexico also segments its databases to personalize offers.

“We are using both traditional and online channels. Whenever I do a campaign, I try to do both of them. Traditional channels are more expensive. You need to find a mix. You can’t put everything in digital.”

 

What: A summary of the most relevant consumer insight research in the US, US Hispanic, and Latin American markets.
Why it matters: If you’re trying to keep up with the latest happenings, this is your one-stop shop.

  • A study from data analytics firm Consumer Intelligence has found that over 40% consumers say they would be put off applying to a bank that has technical issues. The research showed that technical problems such as security issues have led to consumers being more vigilant, with more than 45% saying that they have changed their behavior.

 

  • After surveying more than 4,000 European respondents about influencer marketing, a report by Bazaarvoice shows that consumers are tired of the repetitive nature of the content and decreasing quality of posts. According to the study, 63% of online audiences feel that influencer content has become “too materialistic” and “misrepresenting real life,” and 49% of consumers believe there’s a need for effective regulation to define stricter rules as well as best practices for content.

 

  • According to new data from Splitit87% of online shoppers will abandon their carts during the checkout process if it is too long or too complicated. In addition to abandoning their carts, 55% of consumers would never return to that retailer’s site. Cart abandonment rates hover at about 70% overall, and older shoppers are the least patience. 90% of those aged 55 and older would not complete a long or complicated checkout process, and only 7% would exit a lengthy checkout but return to the site later, compared to 12% of millennials.

 

  • Periscope has announced the findings of its research on consumer actions, attitudes, and behavior during Amazon Prime Day 2018.  The research, conducted in the US, UK, France, and Germany, found that consumers are spending more, on more items, and online shopping behavior continues to grow in sophistication. The survey of 3,000 consumers found over 80% awareness with the exception of France at just 63%. All countries reported that a mix of online and offline was their dominant way to shop but an average 16% stated they mostly shop online.

 

  • While chatbots and voice assistants are gradually being adopted by consumers, 65% of shoppers in the U.S. and Europe say they are either not very important or not at all important, based on a new survey conducted by Bazaarvoice. In the same vein, 61% of retailers say it is of no or minimal interest to shoppers. The study comprised an online survey of 2,000 adults the U.S., U.K., France and Germany, and 400 brand and retail clients.

 

  • PERQ has released new analysis of consumer call-to-action (CTA) data with key learnings for websites of brick and mortar businesses who sell (or lease) high-consideration, big-ticket items. The research, which looks closely at click-to-conversion behavior as well as the overall online experience, found 77% of car shoppers on dealership websites are actually at the beginning or middle of the process and are interested in tools that help them make a decision rather than immediately completing a purchase.

 

More and more people are using digital platforms to communicate, from Whatsapp and Telegram, to Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts. Last year, a new player joined the market: the chatbot, which is fast becoming an important interface for the user as well as a fundamental mode of interaction between companies and their customers. Portada’s digital media correspondent Pedro Labarta explains how chatbots should develop further.

In 2016, when chatbots –automated simulators of online conversations– were created, their use was mainly limited to basic elements of the user experience and direct conversation. In 2017, platforms are allowing chatbot designers to build richer interfaces within their content. Now, these automated conversations can be more effective, more visually attractive and easier to implement. What is needed is for this knowledge to be disseminated between brands and their users—first, to make the public more aware of the existence of chatbots; second, so that chatbots can be used more; and finally, that consumers get out of them what they need.

Creating a chatbot can amount to a US$  $100,000+ investment. But if it is developed correctly, it can translate into savings of an entire customer service department.

In 2017, platforms are allowing chatbot designers to build richer interfaces within their content.

As a user, I find that chatbots are not very efficient if they provide incorrect information. This means that brands need to adapt to the needs of this technology in order to make it work. Ultimately, its goal is to provide greater services and more productive workflows.

Chatbots’ objective is to provide better services and more productive workflows.

On the other hand, not everything becomes simpler through a conversation. Sometimes, as users, we simply want to click on a button and choose an option. Or, better yet, get the information we need, when we need it—without having to ask for it. The exciting thing about chatbots is that they are now evolving to be able to do just that.

https://i0.wp.com/pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/616381560984481792/rbeDIPOL.jpg?resize=188%2C188&ssl=1
Phil Libin, former CEO of Evernote.

As Phil Libin, former CEO of software company Evernote, said: “Start with building a great product, and then think: what can I do now to present it in a way that wasn’t possible before because the technology did not exist?”

Google, for example, has greatly improved its personal assistant. Its chatbot already distinguishes the language you speak and can follow commands through your mobile phone, whether it’s listening to music, sending an email or opening a game, among many other activities.

Cloud-based software company Slack has already developed an application programming interface (API) that allows different bots to interact with the app to make users’ lives much easier, and able to interact with them.

Payment platform KIK has developed a bot that allows users to make payments. The global transactions value of this development has been estimated at more than $3 billion, once people start using it on a regular basis beginning in 2018.

Facebook Messenger will now allow you to search for a specific song and play it from the same platform on your smartphone, as announced last week at the company’s F8 event. Facebook estimates that more than 800 million people will be using this platform by the end of 2017.

Facebook estimates that more than 800 million people will be using chatbots by the end of 2017.

This year will also see advances in other chatbot capabilities, such as improved search, interactivity, and the ability to manipulate user experience and monetization. Last but not least is advertising. We will have to find the spaces necessary to interact with our future clients through third parties.