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Interviews with a Marketer: Dirk Kelly

Cunard logoOver the years we’ve worked with and for some pretty interesting and impressive marketers. Most of our experience is in the b2b space, but we have also worked with large b2c brands and those SME captains working their magic with much smaller budgets.

The one thing they all share is the ability to perform in the marketing stakes, whether the goal is building brand awareness, generating sales leads, developing new products, or other. They all have some valuable experiences and skill sets we’d like to tap into.

Consequently we’re going to be asking these marketers to share their knowledge with a series of ‘Interviews with a Marketer’ blog posts. We’ll be asking a handful of short questions covering strategy, tactics, measurement / ROI and of course that all important area of social media.

We’re kicking off the series below with Dirk Kelly, Customer Relationship Marketing Manager for Cunard. Dirk’s marketing career ranges from the travel sector, to financial services, sports and home ware and he’s been in the business for over 12 years. We’re confident he has some serious value to add. He also works for one of the great global travel brands.

Enjoy and please add your comments and questions below.

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

Dirk Kelly, Customer Relationship Marketing Manager, Cunard Line, Travel sector.

2. What are the key marketing challenges you’re facing over the next 12 months?

With our new vessel, Queen Elizabeth, which entered service in October 2010 we have the challenge of filling an extra 36% of capacity in a touch economic climate. Key for us therefore over the next 12 months is getting the right level of newcomers into the business while ensuring our existing guests rebook in sufficient volume early to maintain yields and brand values.

As an international brand with passengers sourced from four keys markets – UK, North America, Germany and Australia – changes in oil prices, political unrest etc. adversely affect our business model and thus the challenge is to keep nimble so if things change we can adapt to fill our ships.

3. What marketing tactics have been most effective for you in the last 12 months?

Our traditional marketing tactics such as Advertising and DM are still where we invest the vast majority of our marketing spend and continue to produce the greatest return on investment. However we have seen some great results through email, PPC, SEO and with our social media channels.

We recently sponsored an area at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show with early indications that this has been successful and met our objectives.

All in all we still largely operate within traditional means, but with the new marketing tactics increasingly coming to the fore. Already next year we will be investing more in PPC and SEO than ever before. Competitions also work well for us.

However if we could launch a new ship every year we would. Nothing compares to the PR and airtime (both tv and radio) that we get worldwide when a new Cunard Queen enters service!

4. What metrics have you been using to measure the success of your marketing campaigns?

We use a whole suite of metrics to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns. We’re a B2C company and we’re fortunate to get all of our customers’ data, allowing us to track and attribute results to the correct channel.

Direct Mail: We use a variety depending on the campaign – booking conversion to numbers mailed, revenue, £ ROI, %ROI, number of voyages featured vs. £ ROI from each voyage.

Email: Cost per booking, booking conversion to numbers emailed, revenue, open rate, click rate and click to open rates.

Brand Website: Total visits, unique visits, time on site, conversion rate (direct bookings) and lead generation.

SEO: Cost per click, cost per lead, cost per acquisition, click through rate, conversion rate (direct bookings).

Advertising: Cost per booking, cost per lead, cost per acquisition and number of brochure requests.

Social Media: number of likes, followers and watchers, number of times we were mentioned in posts and the number of people who would see that, number of tweets we were mentioned in, number of our tweets that were seen and retweeted, clicks to links, number of bookings and revenue generated.

5. How has your marketing strategy evolved with the advent of new social media tools such as twitter and facebook?

As a business we have fully embraced the new world of social media and have a dedicated full time resource managing our social media strategy across all platforms – blog, facebook, twitter and YouTube.

We fully believe in letting our guests and newcomers talk to us when, where and how they want. Over the last few years more time and investment has been put into social media and our strategy has changed according to developments in the social media space, in some instances feeding off the traditional marketing we are doing and vice versa.

For example recently we have held interactive voyages where our social media executive and some key bloggers travelled on board a voyage. We asked our followers to dictate what they did on board and they reported back via blog post updates during the journey. This was spectacularly successful for us in terms of content, interaction and number of likes and followers, but we also utilised the content in our emails, DM and loyalty magazine with successful results.

6. Are you planning on using any new marketing technologies in the next 12 months?

We aim to be more customer centric in our approach to communicating with our database. As such in the next few months we will be implementing a new database that covers all Carnival UK brands (P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Cunard Line and Ocean Village) into a single customer view.

A result of this is that we are purchasing SmartFocus to plug into our new CRM system to drive our communications strategy. We hope this will get us to a place where we are talking to our guests and providing them with the information they want, when they want it, that is relevant and personalised. We expect this to translate to improvements in both acquisition and retention metrics.

This new technology enable us to capture a great wealth of customer data in one place, providing us with a greater understanding our guests and the ability to improve the targeting of our marketing campaigns. It has been a four year project and only now coming to fruition.

7. What are the key elements of a strong agency client relationship?

Trust and open and honest communications.

  • http://www.teamaguilar.com/scripps-ranch-real-estate.html Alex Aguilar

    I loved his idea of “interactive voyages” where they invite bloggers and social media bigwigs to go on a cruise and live-blog about it. That is a genius move which, unsurprisingly, worked out well for them. This is one of those simple yet brilliant ideas that make you go: “wish I thought of that”.

  • http://www.cleanserevolution.com Andrew

    What a nice interview! It’s full of interesting ideas!

  • http://www.cleanserevolution.com Andrew

    Thanks a lot for sharing with us some of the greatest ideas I’ve heard lately.

  • http://www.ebcworldwide.com/ Afya Karida

    Dirk has shared some good ideas here for other marketers. The information about online marketing strategy is really beneficial in today’s world of business.