EasyJet: Use Digital Advertising to create great offline moments
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of EasyJet? Less than a decade ago the answer to that question would without any doubt have been: Cheap flights! Today, many things are different. EasyJet has worked hard on finding a unique position in the growing aviation market for so-called discount airlines – not least to make everything around air-travel just as easy as the company’s name promises. We have talked to EasyJet’s Marketing Manager Borja Lozano.
Define a unique segment
“We are quite honest in the way we approach things. This transparency makes it much easier for us to improve things and make the improvements very apparent to our customers. Back in the days, we had quite some challenges with delays and our flight guests found it a hassle to check-in, board, etc. So as part of our repositioning strategy we had to work on these issues. Now, we are one of the most precise airlines in Europe, we fly to primarily airports only, and the check-in procedure is close to 100% online and mobile.”
EasyJet’s journey started 18 years ago (1995) when the British entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou created EasyJet as a consequence of new airline regulations and the growing impact of the Internet. Even though aviation is as offline a business as it can be, EasyJet was digital right from the start. Digital is part of EasyJet’s DNA.
“We used to be very price focused. At one point, the competition got harder and the price focus had some potential negative consequences. It’s evident that price has been a vital part of our success, but its not the whole story. Working from a digital platform we wanted to expand and build a loyal customer base. Consequently, we started targeting a segment that no one within this market seemed interested in.”
EasyJet found that a range of the 400 mio. annual visitors on their website don’t enter the webpage with a specific destination in mind. Instead, they explore options.
“That was vital for our advertising focus. We went from being price and destination focused to talk about inspiration and connecting people. Our promise to the audience is to get more out of life! So when we talk about a specific destination – Rome, Milan or Copenhagen – we talk about what you can do there. We inspire.”
Inspire your customers
Traditional airline websites are not designed to stimulate browsing – neither was EasyJet’s. Consequently, EasyJet introduced the ‘Inspire Me’-function on their website. Basically you just enter your current location and estimated budget – then you get a map of Europe with suggested destinations and price tags. If you want, you can add further parameters (one-trip, weekend, specific periods etc.). In the digital sphere, when you have 400 mio. annual visitors on your website all tweaks that meet customer needs and help them deciding on a purchase have vast impact on your revenue.
“What is interesting is that this target group is neither defined to age, gender, income or other classic demographic parameters. It’s a group of people who feel that Europe is their playground. It’s a spirit, a state of mind. If there’s something interesting going on in London, well, then they book a flight and go there to check it out. Furthermore, with all these social media that connects people all around the world inspire people to go visit each other. We ensure that you don’t need to be a rockstar or businessman to do these things. We create great offline moments for our customers. In our current campaign we call them ‘Generation Jet’.”
Targeting and testing
As a highly digital company – 99% of EasyJet’s sales comes from their website – there’s a variety of tools to target the consumers and to make it easier and smoother for the audience to purchase the ticket, plan the journey, and go on the actual trip. With 60 mio. annual passengers you have quite a pond of existing customers to fish in using email marketing. The past years, EasyJet has increased their focus intensively on improving their targeting of the audience. For instance they send tailor made offers to customers based on their previous travels.
“In all our marketing and advertising elements we work on improving our targeting. That also goes for our SEO initiatives as wells as our presence on social media. Regarding the latter, we currently find it relatively easy to engage people but hard to convert this engagement into business. But above all we are very, very good at testing everything. We test new methods, processes and campaigns in small scale and then make major rollouts when something seems to work. And we share experiences between all units and countries. That said, we are very aware of that not all elements can be implemented 1:1 in all countries. Something that works in Belgium might not have same impact on the Danish audience.”
The app – more than a sales channel
Mobile is also a big area for EasyJet. The EasyJet apps are downloaded 100.000 times every 10 days, and the revenue from smartphone bookings are increasing. But the app is not just a sales channel.
“Flight travel should be smooth and we sincerely want to make everything around the flight as smooth as possible for our customers. Our app is a vital element in that strategy. You can book your flight, you can monitor your flight, you can check-in, you can use your app as boarding card. We constantly work on the app. But above all, EasyJet has to be a very active brand. We want to be a part of people’s entire journey. And that’s, by the way, the reason we offer more things on the website.”
One of the latest steps in the on-going work with the app is to create direct communication from the ground personnel in the airport to the flight guests – for instance in situations with schedule changes.
So, what is the future of Digital Advertising for EasyJet and for the aviation business in general?
“First of all, it’s important to understand that advertising and marketing is about your message and your offerings in the market – not the technology or media. Our promise in the market is and will be different than our competitors. But to be more specific about what comes, I expect video to become much more common as a communication tool in our market as it connects quite well to the product we offer. Better ways of measuring behaviour within the audience is also an important aspect. And there’s still room for improvements on social media – as said, we can easily engage people but it’s blurry if and how we succeed in converting this engagement into business.”