​Why P&O Cruises chose personalised retargeting to attract customers

The cruise holiday company’s digital marketing manager reveals how dynamic creative, adaptive messaging and individualised ads can attract and retain the right customer base

P&O Cruises Australia has seen click-through rates on its website soar after adopting a more personalised retargeting ad strategy.

The cruise line’s digital marketing executive, Madeline Wong, told CMO the company’s decision to integrate new technology from Sizmek with its existing marketing strategy has resulted in higher customer engagement while also streamlining workflow tools.

Wong said the business problem P&O Cruises was looking to solve was to drive more sales via retargeting and increase return visits to the its website.

“Before using Sizmek, we were just showing our latest retail offer to customers via a very standardised banner,” she said. “But we wanted to be more personalised.”

In an effort to boost its ad performance, P&O deployed ad management firm Sizmek’s dynamic creative technology, which retargets consumers with more relevant content based on their previous actions on the company’s website.

Wong said the company recognised personalisation was one of the most powerful changes in digital marketing - and using different creatives could help improve response rates.

“We thought a dynamic solution that could fulfil that and be automated was the right move for a travel company with over 200 cruises departing each year,” she said.

“A lot of companies had set templates, but Sizmek also offered the ability to build our own creatives. Everything within our own creative is also dynamic. The Sizmek platform also offered a more streamlined workflow tool that displayed different messages and creative options to various audience groups.”

One of the biggest improvements P&O Cruises has seen on its website so far is increased click-through rates, Wong claimed.

“As you can imagine, by someone seeing a display banner that is more relevant to them, it increases the propensity for them to click,” she said. “We’ve seen a 60 per cent increase, which we think is fabulous. For us, it is about incremental increases on the board, but so far we have surpassed our initial expectations.”

Challenges in effective deployment

But successful implementation of new technology was not without its challenges. Wong said the company had three internal teams working on the deployment along with Sizmek, media provider, Mediacom, and back-end tech provider, 2DataFish.

“Setting up a dynamic feed took us about two months, and we had image hosting issues, we had to talk about what would happen if the XML feed goes down and what would be the backup,” she said. “Our creative guys also had to learn how to use the Sizkmek platform in order to build the banners for them to be creatively optimised. I also had to make sure everything was maintained.

“But I was very pleasantly surprised at how everyone came together and brought their expertise to find solutions on the go.”

Apart from Sizmek, Wong said P&O’s investment into Facebook advertising was also proving to be effective in attracting the right targeted customers.

“Everyone is jumping on the Facebook bandwagon, and we were a bit hesitant at first because travel is a high consideration product, it's not just a $20 top,” she said. “But we’ve seen some fantastic results and conversions and were pleasantly proved wrong. So we’re very happy with seeing the wins with Facebook and we’re now looking to pull through dynamic creative ads via the Facebook platform.

“It just shows that personalisation works, utilising technology, tagging and understanding where your audiences are, plus looking at all your Google Analytics data works.”

P&O has implemented the first phase of its new strategy. Phase two, which is yet to be implemented, will see the emphasis extend from retargeting into prospecting.

Read more about how other brands are improving their advertising strategy:

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