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How Expedia fuels shopping journey sales via mobile marketing automation

RANCHO MIRAGE, CA – An Expedia executive at the Mobile Shopping Summit 2015 claimed that mobile marketing automation enables the brand to personalize push notifications, emails and in-application messages, enhancing the shopping journey and driving additional sales.

During the “Innovation Spotlight: Delivering More Checkouts – Driving Mobile App Engagement and Results with Mobile Lifecycle Marketing” session, the executive discussed how Expedia ensures its engagement with consumers is targeted, relevant and of value to customers. As the days of standard email blasts to entire user bases get left behind, leveraging mobile marketing automation platforms is one way of fostering one-on-one interaction that ultimately will yield more sales as consumers find offers or deals that provide additive experiences to their travel journeys.

“With mobile, we have a unique opportunity we never had before to engage with our customers through this shopping journey,” said Tristan Krause, mobile product manager at Expedia, Bellevue, WA. “Overall, mobile marketing automation helps us align our brand and personalize users’ journeys with us.”

Marketing relevant add-ons
As consumers increasingly turn to booking travel on their mobile devices, online travel agents such as Expedia have a unique opportunity to drive further sales of transportation options, activities and accommodations by providing users with targeted offers during their purchasing experiences.

Expedia is able to create personalized campaigns, which entail marketing efforts such as in-app messages, push notifications and emails, by accurately capturing information including consumers’ destinations of choice, travel dates and loyalty membership status.

The brand then develops the campaigns to reflect trigger points, timing of messages and the targeted audience.

An example of this strategy is Expedia sending a potential travel itinerary to a family planning a Hawaiian vacation. If the customers spot a series of activities they would like to complete while on their trip, they may easily click through and purchase the packages within Expedia’s app or mobile site.

Sales of transportation can also be driven by marketing to executives traveling to conferences who may need a ride to and from the airport. Expedia is able to suggest a car rental, which the user may add onto his or her travel package.

The brand has teamed up with mobile marketing automation platform Leanplum to further ramp up the velocity of testing these types of personalized, sales-driven messages.

“We test every campaign and engagement touch point we have with customers,” Mr. Krause said.

This past June, Expedia boosted its mobile momentum with a series of new app features, including the ability to book rental cars, a “Book Now, Pay Later” functionality and a redesigned launch screen (see story).

Driving app usage
Offering a commerce-optimized mobile app experience is a crucial part of being a successful marketer. While mobile app usage has been on the rise, this year will see even greater amounts of adoption, meaning brands have a major opportunity to drive sales that cannot be fumbled.

Ensuring that consumers do not delete an app from their prime mobile real estate is also a top concern. According to Leanplum, three out of ten individuals use a mobile app only once after spending three minutes engaging with it.

“Mobile is the biggest shift in marketing technology that we’ve seen over a decade,” said Momchil Kyurkchiev, CEO and co-founder of Leanplum, San Francisco. “It’s very exciting to be a marketer in today’s age.

“There’s a lot of opportunity.”

There has also been a 25 percent drop in open rates for mass emails, proving that non-personalized blasts have lost their cachet with consumers.

Brands should be focusing on engaging in A/B testing to pinpoint the best channel for communicating with users. Customized messaging will always win out over general content that does not provide relevance.

“To me, the mobile device is the most personal device we own,” Mr. Kyurkchiev said. “The expectation for customers is that they will be communicating with brands and mobile apps in a very personalized way.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York