Pacific Western Transportation (PWT) is the largest privately-owned passenger transportation company in Canada, operating both coach travel providers Red Arrow and Ebus. The exit of a major competitor in mid-2018 presented an opportunity for PWT to expand their transport services in Alberta and B.C. Eager to pounce on this opportunity, PWT tasked LoKnow with leading their digital advertising campaign, with boosting ticket sales as their top priority.
Our goal here was to measure the revenue that would ultimately be generated from running an intelligent digital campaign, therefore it was important for us to develop an effective strategy—with a little data-creative flair, of course. In order to maximize our reach, we used a comprehensive blend of Harvest, Hyper and Social over the course of several months to promote PWT.
Phase 1 – Blazing a trail
To ensure that we captured the attention of the right audience, i.e. the competition’s customer base, the initial strategy was structured to be much broader in scope in order to raise the overall awareness of the routes and services provided by PWT, followed by converting the customers to PWT.
We started off by leveraging our data-driven Harvest technology to target PWT’s competitors and various other travel hubs in order to collect the data needed to create an audience to serve PWT ads to. We found that by targeting these types of locations, it would provide us with the best opportunity to reach the most relevant audience. The data was organized by geographic location, showing us that any device ID that appeared in different cities likely belonged to a traveller and potentially, a future PWT customer.
From the Harvested data, it was important for us to get a little creative with how the ads would be served to the audiences captured, therefore we developed three key personas for targeting: Student, Corporate, and Home, with considerations to which markets they were in as well. The creative was tailored to the personas with messaging that pertained to each for stronger ad relevancy and engagement. For example, highlighting the luxury and productivity afforded by Red Arrow to corporate clients, while the safety and affordability of Ebus was noted to budget-conscious students. Here, it was important to serve the right ads to the right people in order to capture their attention and hopefully—just hopefully—convert them over to PWT.
Critical to much of the campaign’s success in this initial phase was also being able to measure and optimize for the right metric. Click-Through-Rate (CTR), the common yardstick for digital campaigns, only serves to demonstrate ad interaction, and does not quite help us determine if the client’s goals (i.e. generating sales) are actually being met. So, how would we be able to measure whether this campaign was even working?
Phase 2 – New Year, New Goal
A true challenge presented itself here—a little daunting, a little technical. How would we track the sales on the Red Arrow and Ebus websites and attribute that directly to LoKnow’s advertising efforts?
In January 2019, with close cooperation and diligent efforts from both teams, and a firm goal established, significant adjustments were made to the campaign to fully optimize for ROAS, meaning that we could now track sales and see our marketing efforts blossom. Personas were augmented by 3rd-party audience data to tighten our focus on likely travelers, while budgets were reallocated and pooled to allow for more flexibility, putting more emphasis towards targeting people who were most likely to convert by purchasing tickets. Social was similarly modified to focus on conversions as well, where we could identify and target Facebook/Instagram users who were travellers and engaged shoppers most likely to purchase. We of course continued to use our persona data to ensure our messaging was on point!
In March 2019, LoKnow upgraded their ad serving platform, which now allowed seamless integration of website analytics and much finer tuning of targeting parameters. With more sophisticated tech, along with improvements to PWT’s websites, we were able to vastly improve data gathering and refine our ad campaign, bringing in, you guessed it, increased sales!
This campaign has been without a doubt one of our most intelligent and ever-evolving. Close cooperation with Pacific Western Transportation has led to continual advancement in tech, data access and robust metrics, which we use to create a better campaign overall. We never had specific benchmarks to beat, but PWT’s year-over-year sales are up across the board, and their persistently optimizing campaign will ensure the best possible return on their advertising dollar.
Since the beginning of our partnership, PWT has been very impressed with the results we’ve brought in. As we continue to develop our strong working relationship, we look forward to a long and prosperous road ahead.
A year’s worth of advertising was planned out, which is not the norm in this industry.
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