On track to serve well over 100 million passengers in 2015 travelling on 1600 daily flights to 185 destinations, low-cost giant Ryanair has traditionally relied on the web, press ads and billboards to deliver its exclusively online bookings.
However in 2014, conscious of a need to improve its customer service and poor public image, as well as grow the business, the company saw that its best route lay in marketing directly to customers – leveraging the extensive data it was already collecting at point of sale. This included email address, transaction details and departure/destination airport, plus a whole host of other valuable profile information.
The appointment of Ryanair’s first chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs – previously marketing head at Tesco Ireland and Moneysupermarket.com – reflected the commitment of CEO Michael O’Leary to see the new, customer-focused strategy through.
Leveraging its internal digital resources, the airline started by finding the right software to take it where it wanted to be – and identifying the right external team to implement it.
At the heart of Ryanair’s preferred solution is the complete suite that makes up the Adobe Campaign marketing cloud. This includes Adobe Experience for content management, Adobe Site Catalyst for behaviour tracking and analytics, plus the Adobe Campaign marketing resource itself.
At the same time, the airline set about specifying a development roadmap to cover three key workstreams including a rebuild of the main website, alongside analytics and marketing. Once this was all in place, Ryanair went out to tender, initiating a process that led to the appointment of the Bench to handle the marketing stream implementation in June 2015.
“From our earliest contact with Bench (Peter and colleagues) we could see that they knew digital marketing inside out,” says Ryanair Head of CRM and Insights – Tim Wise. “The level and quality of their response, and willingness to explore areas of the implementation ignored by some other suppliers, convinced us they had the insight and adaptability to work with us.”
Given fairly fluid business requirements, an agile development approach has enabled the marketing implementation team to be proactive throughout. It has provided in-depth consultancy on the data structures needed, as well as defining the technology stack on which the solution is built.
The team’s role has since been pivotal to the wider digital transformation and customer engagement program that’s been executed in parallel with a more relaxed attitude to baggage, fewer hidden charges and a simplified booking procedure.
With the new website live from October, and the marketing platform on schedule to be campaign-ready by the end of November 2015, phase 1 came in on time and on budget. This will be followed by a subsequent phase focused on delivering service messages, as well as prioritising a roadmap for additional development in the first quarter of 2016.
Ryanair’s Tim Wise adds: “The marketing implementation team has proven that it can deliver everything it set out to – despite our project’s very challenging timeframe. With marketing systems firmly in place to start direct customer campaigns in time for Christmas and the New Year, its proactive thinking has already added considerable value to the initial objectives we wanted to achieve.”