Why technology, training and content go hand-in-hand in Jetstar’s marketing transformation

Jetstar's chief marketing officer talks to CMO about the airline's digital marketing transformation, investment into a new martech stack, and why training is vital


The dire shortage of expertise around digital marketing, automation and personalisation has made it imperative for marketing leaders to promote learning first, and capability second, Jetstar’s CMO claims.

“Expertise in this space [digital marketing] is not an old thing; it’s 10 years at best and it changes so much every year,” Phil Wade told CMO during a recent interview to discuss the airline group’s marketing transformation plans.

“To run a digital marketing team, you must have a learning and training mindset, otherwise you’re in trouble. You can become archaic in two years. The speed of change in our space is so fast, it can be intimidating. We’re trying to take out the intimidation and enjoy the learning experience together.”

Like most brands going through digital marketing disruption, Jetstar is facing a big learning curve. Over the past 18 months, the airline has upped its investment into Oracle’s Marketing Cloud stack as part of a wider transformation plan aimed at improving its ability to interact and engage with customers on their terms.

Having originally started as a Responsys customer seven years ago, the group has since taken on Oracle’s conversion rate optimisation tool, Maxymiser, and data management platform (BlueKai DMP). Most recently, Jetstar rolled out Oracle’s push tool, a mobile add-on within the Responsys platform.

Wade said the drivers for marketing’s overhaul and technology spending fall into three pots. The first is a group-wide vision to improve customer experience by having technology and marketing capability that allows customers personal interactions with Jetstar at every touchpoints.

“Secondly, it’s to make sure we increase our ROI: Any information on a customer allows us to improve our marketing performance,” he said. “That reduces marketing costs, which allows us to reduce our fares, which is a key reason we exist as a company.”

The third motivator is to improve the effectiveness of communications. “In a world when people are bombarded by messaging in so many different spheres, what that tech stack allows us to do is talk to people in the right space,” Wade said.

“You can make sure customers only receive information when and how they want to.” 

Achieving the holy grail of personalisation

Wade is the first to admit Jetstar hasn’t reached the ideal state of customer experience engagement. But there’s an ongoing commitment to bringing the customer to the heart of business decision making. The first step has been getting the technology in place to deliver and automate.  

“We have developed capabilities that allow us to embark and be confident in the way we’re progressing on that journey,” Wade said. “I’m very confident our email channel is now fully developed, and we’re talking to individuals at the right time and place right through the end-to-end user journey. Our focus in the next 2-3 years is on how to make sure that level of executional perfection is consistent across both our retargeting, outreach, and acquisition activity.”  

This is where staff training is critical and vital. Wade noted marketing is becoming increasingly programmatic, targeted and digital. What he wants to avoid is a situation where only part of the team is digitally adept.

To address that, Jetstar’s approach is to upskill the whole team to be digital marketers. “What we don’t want to create is people running in different gears,” he said. “We need in-depth training and an understanding of the whole digital marketing stack in terms of its power, complexity and every component so we can maximise the investment we made.”

That’s being achieved through internal training, Jetstar’s relationship with Oracle and via media agency partner, GroupM.

 “I think you have an active choice on whether you restructure, or you train. We have gone down the training route and long term, I believe it’s the right way to go,” Wade continued.

What is also changing is the way teams operate. For one, projects and work now commonly involve cross-team collaboration across Asia-Pacific. Teams have also adopted an Agile working methodology.

In addition, Jetstar has implemented a ‘personal training program’, where everyone has a budget to invest in training they need, something Wade said the team picked up from the startup community. Across the top, there’s an emphasis on building the right culture to become a world-class digital marketing team.

“To do that, we’ve made a commitment together that we want to train and develop,” Wade said.  “More than anything, it’s that which holds us together. We’re learning and changing all the time.”

How marketing activities are changing

All of this is impacting marketing initiatives significantly, and Jetstar senior manager, group customer targeted marketing, Emma Roberts, cited a growing emphasis on marrying channel activities.

One recent milestone in Australia came off the back of implementing a DMP, allowing teams to unite email activity with display advertising. Having identified a disengaged customer segment within its email program, Jetstar switched channels and was able to talk to those individuals via display advertising as well. The result was between 7-70 per cent growth on incremental revenue and better engagement.

“It was a massive win for us, because our email customer base is incredibly valuable and it delivered great results,” Roberts said. She’s now working to add search marketing into the mix.

Jetstar is also implementing a dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) tool, gaining the capability to personalise display messaging.

Personalisation is already the norm across Jetstar’s email programs. One ongoing, trigger-based program which won the airline an award at the annual Oracle Markie Awards this year sees the company sending a suite of eight emails in seven languages post-booking. These are based on demographic as well as what an individual purchased within their itinerary.

“We treat our segments separately. So if it’s a family with children for example, we’ll give them more specific information to that side of their journey versus a business traveller,” Roberts explained. “Once you purchase a flight, you receive multiple emails that guide you through the journey until you fly.”

According to Roberts, the program delivered a 20 per cent ROI improvement on pre-launch results.

But arguably, more important was the impact on customer satisfaction. Being a low-cost carrier, Jetstar is often chosen by first-time flyers in Australia and Asia, making it imperative the brand provide reassurance at every stage of the journey, Wade said.

“This email program is important in terms of ROI, but intuitively, it’s also important for NPS [Net Promoter Score] and overall satisfaction around our airline,” he said. “It provides a security blanket around that first-time fly. As we expand across Asia-Pacific, it’s critical for our business to get that lens.”

Up next: What digital marketing transformation is doing to Jetstar's customer segmentation approach

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