Jetting towards brand loyalty
Campaign: Thai Airways International’s 50th anniversary
Client: Thai Airways International
Since the 1960s, Thai Airways International has been developing a brand that extends the warm hospitality of Thailand to its customer base of discerning global travellers – a customer base spanning 36 countries on five continents. From its home in Bangkok, Thai Airways International flies to more than 70 destinations worldwide, including 13 major cities in Europe and the UK, more than 40 cities in Asia and 11 domestic destinations in Thailand. Every week, Thai Airways International operates 46 nonstop flights between Bangkok and Australia. By the time it celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, the business was supporting a growing database of more than 100,000 Australian travellers.
For a global brand that prides itself on specialised hospitality and customer focus, this database presented Thai Airways International with an opportunity to build brand loyalty in a competitive global marketplace. In a retail climate where connecting with customers is less about pushing messages and more about one-on-one engagement, a high level of personalisation in communication is essential. With a growing number of Australians to build and maintain relationships with, Thai Airways International decided it was time to raise its customer focus to a new level and embrace an email marketing strategy more geared towards personal engagement. Adopting a more multi-channel, highly targeted strategy was the best way to create more meaningful conversations that would, of course, drive revenue.
Recognising the need to better connect with customers, build brand value, increase loyalty and ultimately improve sales, Thai Airways International began its search for the right solution. This meant finding a multi-channel marketing platform that would revolutionise the way it communicated with Australian leisure and business travellers. “With new routes and opportunities opening up all the time, and an ever-expanding Australian customer base, we needed to be communicating clearly across multiple channels,” says Korakot Chatasingha, Thai Airways International’s general manager for Australia. “Working in such a dynamic, fast-paced sector like travel with drastic changes in customer behaviour and communication, it’s essential for us to have the right tools in place to engage with our customers.” Thai Airways International realised it needed a first-rate, email, multi-channel marketing automation solution that would not only fulfil its desire to better connect with its database, but also meet the demands of an expanding and dynamic travel industry. The new technology needed to be flexible enough to allow for rapid changes in customer behaviour, and be able to manage a variety of email marketing and multi-channel campaigns, now and into the future.
It was in its hunt for a solution with the flexibility, functionality and finesse to meet its high expectations that Thai Airways International discovered Silverpop, a leading provider of online engagement marketing services. “At Silverpop we focus on building great relationships with our clients, so we can really understand their business and provide the best possible solution,” says Jeff Clark, managing director of Silverpop APAC (Asia Pacific). Silverpop’s unique offering to Thai Airways International was Engage – a digital platform developed by Silverpop to create high-level, multichannel marketing campaigns capable of engaging millions of customers, driving sales and automating online marketing. Engage hands the power over to customers, who can shape a company’s marketing by providing personal information and preferences that then feed into the company’s database. By entering information into a web form landing page, customers choose the content they want, how often they want to receive it and in the format they prefer. The resulting communications are more relevant to the customers and help the business develop a more personal, more meaningful relationship with Aussie travellers.
What really attracted Thai Airways International to the Engage platform was its ability to support communication across multiple channels. This capability would allow the business to fully realise the potential of its strong customer base over time by delivering relevant, multichannel marketing campaigns. With this in mind, Silverpop’s APAC team worked with Thai Airways International on its 50th anniversary campaign – a campaign designed to update contact details, gather demographic information and collect the email preferences of its existing Australian database. Through this, Thai Airways International would then be in a much better place to deliver personal and effective communications to its customers via relevant, timely emails.
During the 50th anniversary campaign, Thai Airways International created a multifaceted campaign using Silverpop emails, specialised landing pages and its share-to-social tools. Thai Airways International sent out an email to its Aussie customers, giving them a chance to win a free trip for two to a select European city. Through the email, Thai Airways International led customers to a pre-populated web form and used the free trip promotion to encourage them to update their information, and provide some additional demographic and email preference information in the process. The response among travellers was overwhelming. So, with all this new data in hand, Thai Airways International worked with Silverpop to develop a series of email templates that made it easy to start sending more relevant emails to subscribers – all based on personal preferences and newly obtained demographic information. “Implementing the Engage platform was an approach that – in contrast to traditional brand and direct marketing strategies -allowed Thai Airways International’s customers to shape the company’s marketing,” says Silverpop’s Jeff Clark.
Thai Airways International now uses the templates and the Engage platform to promote current specials, new travel destinations and routes. A great example is the ‘fare special’ emails it sends out to relevant customers, promoting offers running in the travel time-frame they highlighted in their campaign web form.
To further boost opens and click-throughs, Thai Airways International uses Silverpop’s Send Time Optimisation feature for its ongoing emails. This nifty tool uses past data to send emails to customers right when they’re most likely to be browsing through their inbox – a clever and highly tailored tactic that can have a significant effect on the success of an email campaign.
In a nutshell: 61 percent open rate from the 50th anniversary campaign emails, one in five contacts updated their information and preferences, and 1.5 million Facebook impressions were gained from social sharing links.
The Thai Airways International 50th anniversary program proved that an engaging and enticing email will drive results. With an open rate of 61 percent, the 50th anniversary campaign resulted in one in five contacts updating their information, providing more details about themselves and updating their preferences. The social-sharing links within that very first email drove more than 1.5 million Facebook impressions, leading to thousands of new contacts signing up for Thai Airways International’s email marketing campaign.
Now, working with a strong database loaded with detailed information on customer preferences and demographics, Thai Airways International’s current emails are targeted, relevant and have an average open rate of 40 percent – an impressive increase over the Australian industry standard of 16 to 24 percent.