Virgin Airlines - A Digital Marketing Campaign

Dear Mrs. Sebastian,

RBI would like to thank you for choosing me as your Digital Marketing Campaign Supervisor (DMCS). From our first meeting together, I understand that your company has recently doubled its fleet, and is looking to revamp its digital marketing campaign to help fill the seats. I’m aware that my background as an MSU graduate and carrier of a New Media Driver’s License was the determining factor in choosing me for this position, and I am happy to report that this was your first step in the right direction of accomplishing your goals. I am very excited to begin working with you to increase brand awareness, and ultimately sales, in your campaign to take over the reigns as the largest airline in the world.

Your President, Sir Richard Branson, was once quoted, “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts”. This is what we intend to do in this campaign. Selecting me as your new DMCS has its advantages, as I am pre-equipped with a New Media Driver’s License, and the knowledge of how to execute a flawless digital marketing campaign. I plan to do this in a multi-stage format utilizing everything I learned from my Advertising 420 class. At the conclusion of our last meeting, I asked you to pick up 2 books to use as resources throughout this campaign; Google This (Cole/Mehraban) and The New Rules of Marketing & PR (D.M. Scott). Throughout this campaign, I will be dropping resources that can be found within these two books, so please pay attention as the resources I use will be pertinent to the success of this campaign. So without further ado, let’s begin!

Stage 1 – Social Media Channels and Usage

We will begin stage one by locating and identifying which of the social media channels you are currently involved in, and seeking out any channels (if any) you might not be involved with. In my research, I’ve found the following Social Media sites with pages in your company’s name (links included):

As I presume you are aware, the preceding list incorporates all of the currently popular social media sites to date. You will note that the last 3 on the list, while not entirely social media, are still relevant to your campaign, and must be monitored and managed to maintain an effective digital marketing campaign. Online presence is everything, and a positive image is reflective of your company’s online personality. At this time, I do not have any recommendations for any new channels to become involved in, however, based on some of my research, it appears as though Virgin Atlantic’s social media representation is not linear with you goal of becoming the largest airline, thus the first issue we must solve.

Stage 1 Analysis and Recommendation:

According to FanPageList.com and Skift.com, Virgin Atlantic, while still ahead of Delta Airlines, currently is only ranked 4th in total Klout score. With 248,490 Facebook followers (ranked 53rd among other airlines), and 198,924 Twitter followers (ranked 27th among other airlines) we clearly have our work cut out for us in regards to promotion. Your presence is there, you’ve got the voice; you just need followers.

Your presence in social media is recognized. Virgin Atlantic is represented on every social media site that matters, and will continue to build its presence with every relevant social media site that surfaces. This is not the issue. The problem we face is reach. Virgin Atlantic NEEDS MORE FOLLOWERS. Therefore, as the first act of this campaign, our goal is to promote all of our social media sites whenever possible; in advertisements, on the airline, and in the airports themselves. We need to offer incentives to both your customers AND your employees to increase the social media traffic. With over 9,000 employees, and between 5 and 6 million passengers a year, these are our prime targets when increasing our social media prominence.

VAFA

Stage 1 Book Resources:

Stage 2 – Building Your Blog

Social media will only get you so far. It’s the quickest medium for which to convey easy to read and comprehend material, breaking news, etc. Blogging requires MUCH more effort, and is intended to reach the customers that have researched, and more importantly CHOSEN your airline over all the others. Your blog may perhaps be what might sway certain customers toward your airline. My first step in conducting this stage 2 research was obviously identifying and analyzing your current blog found here. Spoiler Alert: I was not disappointed in what I found.

Flying

Flying in the Face of Ordinary. These are the first words that appear on the front of your blog-site. The intent is clear; Virgin Atlantic is the airline that redefines flying through creativity and innovation. Scrolling down, you have a navigator which directs me to exactly what I want to read about. The articles range from where I should go, what I should eat when I get there, what I should do after I’m done eating, where I should stay, who I should meet, how I should look; all coupled with a little hint of who I should fly with to get there.

Stage 2 Analysis and Recommendation:

In the case of your blog, I truly feel that you are putting your best foot forward. I feel that you are currently doing everything necessary when it comes to maintaining and presenting a corporate blog. Its appeal reaches vacationers, consumers, and business professionals alike. I’ve found specific articles on your blog reaching out to all of the target markets. As our campaign matures, our goal will be to integrate this blog within our social media channels, in hopes that traffic to the blog site will be a direct effect of increased social media followers.

Stage 2 Book Resources:

Stage 3 – Search Engine Optimization

In the next 6 months we need to fill these seats or face the music. Fortunately for us, we’ve got the biggest travel holidays of the year right around the corner. While our main focus is to promote your airline through every social media channel available, the key factor we cannot forget is the power of Google. Yes; Google. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years coming up, not to mention the winter months for those families who just need a break from the cold, and those end of the year business meetings, we’re in prime position to take the travel market by storm. Our goal MUST be to make sure that each and every man, woman, and child with somewhere to be, get’s there courtesy of Virgin Airlines. How do we do that? SEO’s. In the coming months, men and women across the globe are going to be searching for flights to get home for the holidays, or wherever their travels may take them. So how do we use this to our advantage? We monitor, track, and execute based on any and all travel searches from Albuquerque to Zurich. Anytime the word flight is searched, we need to be the first thing our future customers see. When they do, they need to know 2 things. Can they trust us, and are we affordable. The answer must be yes.

Stage 3 – Analysis and Recommendation:

In a nutshell, Virgin Airlines has to start monitoring searches immediately. You need to be keeping track of the top travel searches, and making sure that everything that is being searched is well represented in all facets of your online presence.

Stage 3 Book Resources:

Stage 4 – Pinterest (Pique their Interests)

As noted earlier, the good news is that Virgin Airlines has a Pinterest page. The bad news is that you are not utilizing it to its full potential. From what I’ve seen on your page, is nice. It’s got some pretty pictures, and interesting boards, but you are not giving the people what they really want. FREE TRIPS. Virgin Airlines is vying to be the new LARGEST airline in the world. An airline this large can afford to give away a free round trip for 4 at LEAST once a quarter. How do you do this? Pinterest Contests.

Stage 4 Analyses and Recommendation:

Pinterest continues to grow each and every day. One thing that is certain is that as long as Pinterest is growing, Pinterest contests will remain competitive. Therefore, as part of Stage 4, Virgin Airlines will be starting a quarterly Dream Vacation Giveaway. The rules are as follows. On the first of every quarter, you will create a new board titled My Dream Vacation (Quarter_Year). There will be a few requirements, which will help out stage 1 as well. You will be required to like Virgin Airlines Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and +1 us on Google+. Once these are done the first time, they will not need to be done again. You will then have to share or promote our respective pages on said social media sites. If you are not already following VA on Pinterest, that will be a requirement as well. Now that all the social media requirements are taken care of, it’s time to start pinning. You will be required to pin pictures of your dream vacation to your board, using the hashtag #VADreamVacation. The more pictures you pin, the better your chance to win. At the end of the quarter, you must share your board with Virgin Airlines page, and one winner will be selected. The winner will receive 4 round trip tickets to their destination, for a 4 day 5 night stay at participating hotels in the area, in addition to $5,000 spending money. The contest will restart on the first day of each new quarter. The end results of this will be an increase of awareness to our airline via customer participation in the contest. Our hope is that people will see their friends involved in the contest, and join in themselves; creating multiple likes and followers for our facebook and twitter pages.

Stage 4 Book Resources:

Stage 5 – AdWords

Alright, it’s time to go back to Google. Remember back in stage 3 when we were monitoring searches, and incorporating those searches into our websites? Well now we’re going to advertise to our customers directly via their searches. Google AdWords is a tool that helps up digitally market our product to those who are actively, and/or indirectly searching for a service that we can provide them. Again, with the holiday season coming up, it is our best shot to market Virgin Airlines to all of those people searching for affordable and convenient flights to their holiday destinations.

Stage 5 Analysis and Recommendations:

AdwordsI believe it to be pertinent to invest in a 6 month Google AdWords campaign to help spread the word to our existing and future customers. We need to invest in the advertisement of Virgin Airlines to all of those in search of flights around the globe. After logging into Google Adwords, using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, I’ve found the highest searched keywords when it comes to airline travel. It would be wise to invest a monthly budget of anywhere between $2,500 and $5,000 using Google AdWords for the next 6 months. If results appear promising, perhaps we increase the budget accordingly. Using the keywords outlined in the image provided, I feel our success in targeting the appropriate markets will dramatically increase.

Stage 5 Book Resources:

Stage 6 – Social Media & PR

The final stage in the first half of this 6 month Digital Marketing Campaign involves the presentation and representation of your relationship to your customers through social media. If you hope to one day be the largest airline in the world, all of that begins with the customer. Social media pages are often times misconstrued as a one way media channel through which customers can subscribe to their favorite brands, find out what they’ve got to say, and that’s where the communication stops. In order to build a relationship, the customer must be heard. That is where we must start. I've included a commercial I've found from Virgin Airlines which I found inspiring. It commemorates 25 years of service, and I felt this may have really been a helpful tool in developing lasting relationships with your customers.

Stage 6 Analysis and Recommendations:

I’ve noticed from your Facebook page that you already post quite a bit. This is good. It gives your customers the idea that you are always running, 24/7. I’ve also noticed however that while your fans have the ability to post on your page, all I ever see are posts from you, with comments from the fans. This needs to be changed. The customer needs to have freedom to post their own thoughts, photos, etc about your brand for the rest of the world to see. You’re concerned that a disgruntled customer might post something negative about your company? Now we are on the same page. This is exactly what needs to happen. Your customers need to see the good and the bad. They need to see how you react to a negative situation, so that if any customer has any doubts, they know they can trust you to fix the problem. This is what I want from your PR Department. In order to maintain a positive customer relationship, there can be no secrets, just results.

Stage 6 Book Resources:

Conclusion

This is just a brief overview of my 6 stage process for the first half of this campaign. Our goal should be to meet the wants and needs of every man, woman, and child that needs to fly from point A to point B, and to do so as afordably and as conveniently as possible. Every decision we make will not appeal to every market, that is why each stage requires us to manipulate the variables to suit as many customers as possible, and to make adjustments along the way to ensure that we reach all potential markets. As we will be working closely together over the next 6 months to make Virgin Airlines the most talked about Airline on the planet, you will have my full support and cooperation, as well as my expertise and experience to help you accomplish the goals we’ve set out to achieve today. Again, I look forward to working with you over the next 6 months, and thank you again for the opportunity. Our campaign begins now.

PlaneTo a new beginning,

Paul Cleaveland

Digital Marketing Campaign Supervisor

Cleavela@msu.edu