Any marketer who doesn’t believe in constant improvement is simply living with his head in the clouds. Flexjet’s VP of global marketing Christopher Bero isn’t one of those marketers. Under Bero’s leadership, the private jet company, which offers services such as fractional ownership, showed the benefits of propelling forward when it relaunched its website in April.
Preparing for takeoff
The marketing team at Flexjet began discussing the site’s remodel in 2012, more than two years after the end of the Great Recession. The United States was continuing to show signs of recovery, and U.S. shoppers were starting to purchase more high-ticket items.
“As we were coming out of the recession, wealthy folks were starting to reengage and purchase not only luxury items but they were [also] starting to purchase bigger homes, bigger jets. The automotive industry was showing growth, as well,” Bero says. “At the time, we knew that our competition was pretty stiff.”
Flexjet needed to standout from the rest of the luxury market and present its services in a way that captivated the attention of its target audience: America’s top 1%. This goal, however, wasn’t going to be easy to achieve. Wealthy business travelers are always on the go and strapped for time. In fact, the average amount of time visitors were spending on Flexjet’s website was five minutes.
But this wasn’t the only audience that Flexjet’s marketers were trying to engage. They also wanted to appeal to their elite travelers’ support staff, who often do most of the booking, as well as aviation influencers such as consultants and lawyers.
Because all three of these audiences are business-oriented, Bero wanted to create a site that offers the specs and the details that they’re looking for, yet present the information in an innovative way. “We wanted to create a complex website,” Bero says, “but we wanted to present it in an intuitive, simple way—almost Apple-esque.”
The answer, he says, was to create a “virtual showroom”—one that included video, 3-D images, and other digital content that shows customers what it’s like to fly on one of Flexjet’s aircrafts.
This goal, however, presented even more challenges. For one, Flexjet’s old website didn’t resemble a virtual showroom at all. The site wasn’t responsive, Bero says, and the only visual appeal it had was a few images. Plus, the website was trying “to be everything to everyone,” he notes; so, the company would have to narrow its focus to appeal to its three target audiences.
“When you diversify your approach like that, it becomes difficult to have a straightforward message that ultimately communicates the look, feel, and tonality of the brand,” he says.
In addition, Flexjet couldn’t find the technology it needed to replicate the flying experience.
“Unlike a car where you can walk around it, take a few pictures, and show a 360 experience, this was not as possible with an aircraft just simply because of its size and complexity,” Bero explains. So, after researching digital companies that could help find a solution to the problem, Flexjet began working with The Enilon Group, a digital marketing agency. After a six-month development process, Flexjet launched its new site.
Spreading its content wings
That process included Flexjet narrowing its website’s focus down to three distinct category buttons: programs, jet collection, and service. Flexjet then used content to break down each category and explain brand benefits. For example, customers wanting to learn more about the jet collection can take a virtual tour of the planes and view the artisan interiors through 3-D images; customers hoping to get a better sense of Flexjet’s level of service can read about what it’s like to fly with the brand based on real customer stories.
Bero notes that this storytelling element plays off of the brand’s core value of maintaining strong relationships with its customers.
“Behind every relationship is a great story,” he says. “That’s how you build a relationship. So, we really wanted to present our brand as this story that would lead to an experience.”
Flexjet’s marketers are able to track how visitors engage with the content, too, such as how people enter the website and what pages they look at next. Analyzing the subsequent pages can help the team identify where visitors are in their three- to six-month customer journey and how the marketers can drive them to convert.
“Likely, the reason they came to our website was because they were curious or had a need for that first destination,” Bero says. “Wherever the second destination is, that page is really going to tell us what we need to focus on to close this sale.”
Elevating the initiative
To promote the new website, Flexjet’s marketers relied on PR, banner ads, event marketing, and direct mail video boxes—all of which included calls-to-action to visit its site.
Bero stressed the importance of ensuring that all of its targeted marketing was accurate because of the negative impact mistakes could have on potential future purchases. So, for instance, if a prospect received a direct mail piece with a misspelled name, that customer most likely wouldn’t trust Flexjet to get a catering order right or even fly to the right destination. “It’s very strategic, very precise,” Bero says, “and, ultimately, from a finesse standpoint, [it’s] making sure that you’re focusing on quality, not quantity.”
Within three weeks of relaunching the site, Flexjet saw a 16.47% increase in website visits and a 29.89% increase in average session duration time, compared to the three weeks leading up to the launch. The team also saw an 8.2% decrease in bounce rate during this time. In addition, the brand experienced a 27% increase in page views and a 22.77% increase in page views per session within 90 days of the relaunch. Plus, the company saw an 833% year-over-year increase in Web leads in May 2015.
That’s not to suggest that Flexjet’s marketers didn’t experience any turbulence during their journey. One main challenge the team faced was selling the redesign internally—especially considering that the old website had been fairly successful in getting people to book. However, after presenting his case, Bero won “tremendous” support from the rest of the organization. “Your hardest marketing campaign is always internally,” he says.
As for future improvements, Bero says that Flexjet’s marketers are looking to enhance the company’s internal owners’ site and launch a corresponding app in the coming months. After all, if there’s one thing Bero says he’s learned through this experience it’s that you can always improve.
“No matter how great you think your marketing elements, your service levels, or product [are], there’s always room for improvement—even if you’re at the top of the hill,” he says.
It looks like, for Flexjet, the sky is the limit.