How a data-driven approach helped Finnair increase bookings by 31%

June 2019

Discover how Finnair’s data-driven marketing approach gave them a deeper understanding of customer behaviour and helped them to improve their online campaigns.

From research and planning to the final purchase decision, more people are choosing to go online for the entire customer journey. This shift has had a significant impact on the travel industry, with more people searching and shopping across touchpoints, making the customer journey increasingly complex. Finnair wanted to take a data-driven approach to gain a deeper understanding of customer behaviour and help improve its online campaigns.

Founded almost a century ago in 1923, Finnair may be one of the world’s oldest airlines, but it has kept afoot of the changing landscape by investing in digital across the entire organisation — with digital channels now accounting for approximately one quarter of the company’s sales.

A data-first digital strategy

With the support of Dagmar, the airline’s long term strategic marketing partner, Finnair began by creating a comprehensive data roadmap.

“In this fast paced and constantly changing environment, uncovering insights is not an easy task,” explains Antti Kallio, Dagmar’s Chief Business Officer, Data & Technology. “Digging into data can provide the insights needed to understand today’s complex customer journey.”

Centralised data provides insights, which gives brands the opportunity to understand and get closer to audiences with more relevant campaigns and messaging, giving them end-to-end control of their marketing as well as a way to easily and effectively measure results.

Finnair and Dagmar worked to implement a data-driven attribution model to gain a better understanding of the roles of each channel throughout the customer journey and make better decisions on channel-specific investments in terms of ROI.

The teams worked to integrate data from Campaign Manager, Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360 and Analytics 360, while seamlessly linking up its analytics and media buying with Google Marketing Platform. Google Marketing Platform is a powerful suite of integrated Google products that bridges the gap between online marketing and analytics tools to help brands discover new insights into their customers.

Thanks to this holistic approach, Finnair gained a deeper understanding of its existing customers throughout the entire customer journey — helping it to decipher what customers needed and where they needed it most. By combining rich analytics with interest and behavioral data, the airline was also able to discover new audiences similar to its existing high-value customers and direct these new prospects to the booking funnel. Ultimately this powerful data meant that Finnair and all of its agency partners could make better decisions on channel-specific investments to provide the highest ROI.

Landing results

The team had anticipated that the data-driven approach would help them understand their customers but were surprised at just how large an impact it had. Joni Tillström, Digital Marketing Manager at Finnair was certain that the data-driven approach would work but was pleasantly surprised at just how much of an impact it had.

“Even though the initial hypothesis was that consolidation and migrating to a data-driven attribution approach would have a significant, positive impact, the results exceeded our expectations,” explains Tillström

With the help of the new approach, the first half of 2018 saw impressive gains with a 125% Year-on-Year increase in flight searches. The initial response rate for advertising increased by 54%, indicating major improvements in ad relevancy and activation.

Total performance marketing activities drove 31% more bookings and a 44% better conversion rate. Media spend increased by just 1.3%, demonstrating the improved targeting and significant boost to ROAS.

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