Felipe Smolka, Executive Vice President, Transformation, LeasePlan
In today’s fast-paced digital world, marketing teams are always looking for new ways to expand the reach of their brands, increase their user engagement and connect with their customers by launching the very best marketing campaigns by leveraging digital channels and technology.
Digital marketing requires a company to expand and build up on its behavior analysis and experimentation capabilities in order to connect with its target audience at the right time—a time when the message is both meaningful and relevant. That’s a whole new ball game for many companies.
For LeasePlan USA, a global leader in the fleet management industry, it meant going deeper and redefining our audience altogether. In the marketing discipline, it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting organizational hierarchy define target persons and priorities (and, consequently, marketing focus and campaigns).
For example, fleet management companies will often target most of their engagement communications to fleet managers—the individuals who are responsible for managing their company’s fleet. But by doing this, they miss the hundreds of thousands of drivers everyday who are consuming their services. By applying Design Thinking, an iterative problem-solving methodology, we’ve concluded that LeasePlan has a major opportunity to improve our relationship with drivers by putting them at the center of our engagement process, allowing us to reimagine our user engagement journeys. To make this happen, we needed to think beyond the fleet’s decision-makers and consider the frontline users—we needed to engage the single largest group of fleet management stakeholders we have: our drivers.
"By using digital marketing tools to add that “personal touch” of service—creating connections that are more relational than they are transactional—we’ll be able to enable our customers to run their business so we can run ours"
We began to take this organizational shift by transitioning into a digital marketing platform that would allow us to employ data to tailor our communications with drivers. Our goal is to use our data to anticipate our drivers’ needs—to satisfy their “what’s in it for me” questions.
Typically, digital marketing tools are used to increase brand and product awareness through buying campaigns. This type of external focus is necessary, of course, if a company expects to grow and expand its customer footprint. It’s no surprise then that the majority of our industry uses their digital marketing tools for acquisition. However, we’ve decided to expand our platform to include an engagement strategy that seeks to influence customer behavior by creating engagement and increasing user satisfaction. Digital marketing can achieve more for your company than product sales; you can use the mechanics of marketing to motivate behavioral change—like clicking a button, opening an email or improving a business process.
Think of it this way—whatever your company’s marketing strategy looks like, you’re likely trying to grow your customer portfolio. But what are you doing to maintain and engage the customers you already have? What are you doing to help them adopt the products and services you currently offer? What are you doing to let your customers know you’ll be there every step of the way—no matter what changes and technological advances your industry will face?
At LeasePlan, we’re using the same behavior analysis process for campaigning—finding the right time to connect with our audiences—and we’re using that data to trigger the best moments to engage with our customers so that, ultimately, we can control fleet costs while improving user satisfaction.
If our clients consent to share mileage data with us, we secure that data and use it to help our clients identify recurring patterns and trends. For example, if our fleet management data is telling me that you’ll be driving in the rain during rush hour, I may want to send you to safety training. If our data is telling me your vehicle will need an oil change in 100 miles, I may want to send you reminders along the way so that, together, we can take care of your vehicle and avoid further maintenance.
But digital marketing is (and should be) about more than email reminders. Digital marketing should be personal. That’s why we’ve introduced our customers to Elle, our virtual assistant, to be an on-the-go resource for our drivers. Elle even features voice recognition technology, so the communication goes both ways.
So whether we’re communicating with our customers via the MyLeasePlan app, Elle (our voice-enabled virtual assistant), text or email, we’re using our data and insights to deliver relevant, real-time messages to our drivers.
That’s what digital marketing automation is all about: timely touchpoints, better adoption and richer interactions with your customers—regardless of your industry.
I’m really passionate about this level of digital marketing, not just because of the technology but because of the ability we have in the fleet management industry to make direct, personalized connections with our drivers. This application of digital marketing will be a game-changer for us and the industry. We need to be meaningful and relevant to all of our stakeholders—whether they’re the decision-makers or those who (literally) are sitting in the driver’s seat. This strategy has already had major implications to the LeasePlan user experience because we’re able to engage with our customers with more frequency, more intentionality.
Truly, digital marketing should be a continuous cycle that follows Eric Ries’famous Lean Startup principle (build, measure, learn): engage your customers, give them a voice for feedback, improve your process and engage them again. By fusing marketing mechanics with process improvements, you’ll be able to create an exceptional user experience that satisfies your customers’ day-to-day needs.
Every brand needs to deliver value somehow, and by using digital marketing tools to add that “personal touch” of service—creating connections that are more relational than they are transactional—we’ll be able to enable our customers to run their business so we can run ours. It’s a win-win.