Mobile apps are the channel of choice for travellers, from the booking process to the journey itself - with the mobile boarding pass as the feature at the core of that experience. As a result, many (but not all!) airlines look to mobile when seeking to provide the best possible user experiences for their customers.

We work with several airlines, and in this post we thought we’d share a few examples of some real-world campaigns that used great experiences to deepen the brand/consumer relationship. In each case the focus is less on ‘advertising’ in the conventional sense, and more on solving a clearly defined problem in a new and innovative way - the right approach to contemporary multi-channel marketing.

1. Improving App Store Ratings

The Problem: App store ratings have a significant influence when it comes to getting customers into your app, so the higher the rating the better. But if you don’t take control of your app’s ratings process, you are simply relying on users at random to broadcast their opinion to the wider world. And unfortunately these users are often the rare ones who have had a bad flight experience, or lost luggage, or just like to complain. It just won’t occur to the vast majority of satisfied users to leave a good review - and your app store rating suffers as a result.

The Solution: Thankfully there is an easy way to boost your rating: ask people. And perhaps more importantly ask the right people, and only the right people, to leave a review.

Another Swrve customer, a major luxury airline, did exactly this. They targeted customers who had just had a ‘happy moment’  with an in-app message asking them to rate and review the app in the app store. Customers are more inclined to leave a review after they have completed a significant event, and especially if it is one that has put them in a good mood. In this case they asked customers who had just booked or upgraded a flight, with cash or miles - in other words those customers who were clearly getting value from the mobile experience..

If customers agreed to leave a rating, they were deep-linked to the relevant page on the app store; if not, they could be asked again at another time which may be more suitable to them. But most importantly, this request was only made to customers who had used the app successfully.

The Result: In just one month the airline saw a rating uplift from 2.3% to 4.6% in the Apple App Store. This was the combined result of an increase in reviews, and just as importantly, reviews from happy customers. An increase of that nature has a significant effect on both immediate app download numbers and future acquisition performance - all from just taking the time to ask the question.

In just one month the airline saw a rating uplift from 2.3% to 4.6% in the Apple App Store. 

2. Localization - Running Personalized Campaigns At International Scale

The Problem: The very nature of airlines, operating from country to country, means these businesses are characterized by large-scale international audiences. That means communicating in multiple different languages to users in multiple time zones. So put simply, if your messaging isn’t aware of that reality, and your business isn’t localizing campaigns to accommodate your customers’ language and time-zone requirements, your engagement and response rates will suffer.

The Solution: One way to tackle this problem is to create localized campaigns individually, but this means potentially a lot of extra work, and can quickly snowball to become tens, even hundreds, of campaigns.

The smarter way to do it is to take advantage of the fact that every smartphone user in the world sets a default language. Within a single campaign, simply create alternative text for each language you wish to support and match with the specified language on the phone at runtime.  

This applies to time zones as well: each customer’s phone will tell you their time zone setting. Use that information to ensure you won’t wake them up in the middle of the night with an untimely push notification. You can even set a push notification to be delivered at the optimal time for each specific user - the moment they are personally most likely to engage.

For example, a Swrve customer, one of the biggest international airlines, ran a push notification campaign to convert more flight bookings. They sent messages in 12 languages to all users that searched for a flight the previous day, but had abandoned their booking.

The Result: The airline saw an average engagement rate for this push notification campaign of 42% of the targeted audience across all languages. Impressively, this one campaign generated an extra 5000 views on flight offers, and directly resulted in over 100 more flight bookings through the app.

This one campaign generated an extra 5000 views on flight offers, and directly resulted in over 100 more flight bookings through the app.

3.  Reimagining Customer Satisfaction Surveys

The Problem: In the travel industry it’s vital to know what your customers think about your service, and the more feedback you get, the more you can fine-tune that service. The problem, simply stated, is getting customers to take part. This isn’t helped by the fact that surveys often take the form of an email that arrives 2 weeks late, ends up in a promotions folder, and isn’t really a high priority for the average passenger. As as a result, this method delivers very low response rates. That’s a problem, because low response rates usually mean incomplete or inaccurate information: only the cranks or recipients of terrible service tend to answer.

Thankfully there is a better way to do it - in-app surveys.

The Solution: One of our customers, a major low-cost airline, has reimagined how they can check in with their customers by using in-app surveys. They deliver a survey to passengers at the time when they are most likely to interact: as soon as their flight lands. More precisely, the survey is delivered at the perfect moment between when a user switches off flight mode and before the phone connects to a network (when the deluge of messages hit).

Surveys are pre-cached before the flight, and are delivered when passengers break a geofence at the destination airport. This triggers a personalized notification asking the passenger to rate their flight. If the passenger agrees to participation, the notification opens the app to a really quick, and easy to complete, star-based survey. In just a few seconds the airline is able to offer customers the chance to rate several aspects of their flight experience from boarding to range of food and drink.

The Result: The results are simply outstanding: after the first 3 months of the campaign, 300,000 customers had taken part in the survey, with 92% of customers rating that they were satisfied with their experience

More important was the comparison with the email alternative. Traditional email delivers a response rate of less than 1% (a lot less). In this native mobile campaign 42% of passengers engaged with the push notification, and 71% of those engaged users went on to complete the in-app survey. The result is meaningful, actionable data.

71% of those engaged users went on to complete the in-app survey