As I’m traveling home on a sunny Sunday morning in London (I know, right?!?), the Virgin Atlantic brand experience has just reminded me of a critical point for digital marketers. So often, we become so wrapped up in our own channel that we forget the bigger customer mission. Sure, we’re good at improving our own KPIs, but are we living and breathing the brand – and do we spend time thinking about aligning with a subscriber’s in-store purchases or the call center script? Probably not, but I can tell you the upside of doing so is huge for your brand.
So let me set the scene. I’m flying from London’s Gatwick, and I walk up to the Clubhouse check-in desk. The first words out of the agent’s mouth: “Oh, you’re one of our new favorite Delta friends.” Taken by itself, this would be an incredible nod to a new partnership, and likely something the staff was trained for. Understanding I have a choice between Delta flights and code shares on Virgin Atlantic, this is a beautifully subtle reminder that my credentials on Delta also get me an elevated Virgin Atlantic experience.
Secondly, I’m told they’re celebrating 30 years flying – and this is where the epic commitment of both brand and marketing come together. It starts with balloons, banners and incredible-looking red velvet cupcakes with 30 in the icing. As I sit down, I begin to see more and more subtle proof-points.
The music playing is exclusively of the ‘80s vintage (Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator’ at this precise moment). I then do a triple-take and realize every female staff has crimped hair and side ponytail as if this is an ad for Ford’s all-new 1984 Mustang. The entire experience is brilliantly created, managed and coordinated.
The critical piece here is Virgin understands it’s selling a commodity (travel in little aluminum tubes), and it’s set out to clearly differentiate itself with a brand all about fun and experience. To that end, it’s willing to infuse every moment of the experience with that same uniquely British cheekiness. In fact, my in-flight leader on the way over was referred to simply as “The Dutchess.”
This should serve as a strong reminder to us digital marketers. Brands absolutely matter, and they don’t exist in one single channel. How, when and why we communicate with our customers via email should be influenced by the rest of our organization’s marketing strategies. Taking the time to add a couple campaigns per quarter aimed at tightening cross-channel alignment might be a really good use of your time over the next couple months.
Reinforcing your customer’s successful buying experiences via email – even if the transaction took place by phone or at retail – is an excellent way to ensure you remain top-of-mind for the next transaction. Most of us, after all, are selling commoditized items, and I’d bet many marketers would be pleasantly surprised by how a great post-purchase campaign drives additional revenue.
So here’s to 30 more years, Virgin Atlantic. Stay fun!
1) Ebook: “15 Post-Purchase Emails That Build Loyalty and Drive Revenue”
2) Blog: “Gary Vaynerchuk’s Social Playbook: Context Wins, Jab Often and NEVER Cross-Post”
3) Blog: “Personalizing Content on Every Channel”