Data Driving Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Marketing Says Senior Manager Martin

Dollar ThriftyAt last week’s Adobe Omniture Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group‘s Senior Manager, Marketing, Sandy Martin, presented her company’s marketing story in a panel titled “Put Cross Channel Behavior To Work: Building Conversions And Revenue.”

Martin discussed her company’s interactive marketing strategy and perspective with

Click below or scroll down: Is data driving Dollar Thrifty’s marketing?

SM:The data drives just about everything that we are doing.  We do a lot of work to acquire customers, and to get their reservations. However, we don’t receive the actual revenue until the customer actually picks up the car – an offline transaction. We’ll then take that revenue earned and send it back through for analysis to find out exactly how those campaigns performed. We are not just estimating; we’re actually looking at how much revenue a particular campaign drives. Examples: search terms to conversions on the website to online promotions and emails – we do this by tagging each one of those campaigns individually so that we tie revenue directly back.

What about branding?

Branding is a concern of ours, specifically since our focus is on interactive marketing at Dollar Thrifty. Generally speaking, we use interactive marketing so that we can optimize campaigns and make them more efficient every time. From a branding perspective that does lend some challenges, because we’re not out there in the mass media for everyone to see and know our brands just by running across an advertisement.  Specifically, because you can’t optimize these quickly and make them more efficient buys each time.

In our industry, the car rental business is commoditized. There’s not a lot of brand loyalty. We work to try and develop some brand loyalty by using rental behavior to trigger our marketing campaigns.

For example, in the emails, we’re trying to get potential customers to sign up for our emails – transactional and promotional emails – there’s branding work in there, too, plus an action that hopefully leads to a rental behavior we can capture. I think that when you see stats, such as fewer visitors to the site, that’s where you want to “up” your branding and focus on acquisitions.  We have that challenge.

We use data from our KPI reports to figure out new strategies to enhance the brand in the interactive channels, because we don’t have the extra budget to do more traditional advertising (such as TV). We make sure that we’re maximizing what we can do in any digital channel in which we’re running a campaign.

So, you don’t do any offline marketing?

As a nationwide effort, we do not do any kind of “traditional” advertising (TV advertising, newspaper or magazine). Some of our individual locations and business sales will do more print-type advertising.  However, the branding you see are from our storefronts, buses, and online through various travel channels.

How does the marketing budget break out?

I’m going to say the large majority of it is for paid search campaigns.  We are doing display advertising, which is where we’re doing a lot of testing focusing on re‑targeting.

Also, we have an email budget, which – from a budgeting perspective – is a lot less expensive than paid search and we still get a significant stream revenue out of these campaigns. Overall, email and paid search are our main focus. In 2011, we’re also going into display re-targeting, social and mobile channels and further optimizing all of our campaigns and the delivery medium.

What are you looking for with display ad retargeting? Are there any challenges with retargeting?

From a display perspective, we would like to see the same costs and revenue goals that we get from paid search campaigns. And that hasn’t been the case with traditional display campaigns, but with retargeting we’re getting closer. The more that we do segmented re‑targeting, the better return we get from it and the lower the cost to execute the campaigns.

And then, thinking about the creative side to it, is that a big challenge?

From a creative standpoint, we are challenged there because we are a service and not a product. We have a limited product set that doesn’t change frequently. We focus on brand messaging such as the “best rates guaranteed” and look to increase the customer engagement level through our products that help make their travel faster and easier.

Do you work with an agency, or are you the in‑house agency?

We have an agency that does all of our banner creation and insertions. It’s FKQ Advertising and Marketing.  They are a smaller agency, however very integrated into our marketing organization and have a vested interest in our well‑being and revenue that they can generate off of the campaigns.

Part of the agency’s responsibility is to present us with strategies, ideas, and offers of campaigns that we can execute to enhance our brands and to drive revenue. And then it’s our job to evaluate those out and figure out what works within our budgets.

By John Ebbert

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