Online functionality is an important aspect of a successful business. The following electronic marketing plan describes the process of improving the website of Qatar Airways in order to increase customer loyalty, enhance performance, and diversify the company’s customer base.
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Qatar is a rapidly developing country in terms of online environment. The development of the web services is accompanied by the appropriate legislator framework, namely the telecommunications law (Telelaws, n.d.). The latest update to the law brought the legislation on par with that of the majority of developed countries. The regulations cover all the essential aspects of the online activity, including privacy and security.
In terms of technological proficiency, Qatar is among the leading countries in the Arab region in terms of Internet coverage, accessibility, and broadband size (GO-Gulf, 2015). The leading Internet providers are offering most of the services that are considered essential in the world. Numerous programs and initiatives ensure the availability of free access points in public places.
The statistics suggest a relatively uniform Internet usage between different demographics, with several exceptions. Men tend to use the Web approximately as often as women, but the elderly population is predictably less well-represented than the younger audience. Western expatriates are more likely to look for access than the native population, which makes English localization a necessity. Finally, access from mobile devices is more likely among younger demographics (GO-Gulf, 2015).
The current trend worldwide identifies the shift towards e-transactions and the use of informational technology in most spheres of business due to the increased performance, convenience, and security. Therefore, the adjustment of Qatar business practices towards the said direction is highly desirable.
Market Opportunity Analysis
Based on the environmental factors mentioned above, it is possible to assert high demand for providing the electronic services to the customers. The demand for online functionality is expected to increase with the growing internet presence in the country, and the experience of using services of companies from other markets. The potential profitability of the website improvement is high, primarily due to the low cost in comparison to the long-term effects such as customer loyalty and engagement. Moreover, the improvements offer an opportunity to utilize the company’s strengths, such as high degree of professional recognition and the number of destinations by introducing an additional level of consistency and convenience in using the services. Finally, it is absolutely essential for maintaining competitive advantage as Qatar Airways’ main competitors all use electronic functionality at least to some degree.
Level of Commitment
For Qatar Airlines, it would be reasonable to choose the enterprise level as a target for improvement, since the business processes are already largely automated and the customers already have a certain degree of control over operations and transactions. Business intelligence and e-commerce are thus the most viable areas of improvement.
The aviation industry traditionally targets a specific segment of the population, which is justified given the qualities of service and the pricing model. However, for the online segment, several additional target stakeholders can be identified. First, as was said above, younger population is better represented in the online environment. While some of them may not fit within the paying capacity and demand criteria posed by the firm, those who do can comprise a significant portion of the potential customers. Most of them are technology-savvy and price-conscious individuals that will seek the possibility to cut the cost of using company services (Hill, Hult, Wickramasekera, Liesch, & MacKenzie, 2017). Another emerging category of stakeholders is the people that are recently introduced to the online services and have little prior knowledge of the common website functions. These are mostly adults or senior adults. Their most important feature is the low likelihood of retention in the case of challenges faced during service usage. On the other hand, this audience segment is underserved across the Web, and it would be reasonable to facilitate its loyalty early in order to establish competitive advantage.
Cognitive and Attitude Goals
- Position a brand as accessible and friendly to new users
- Increase awareness of the benefits associated with online platform
- Communicate the importance of individual customer needs and desires
- Promote diversification of the audience through increased number of localization options
Transactive Behavior Goals
- Increase the number of daily visits of the web page
- Increase the number of service uses per customer
- Increase the number of uses of service related to loyalty program options
- Increase the incoming traffic from mobile devices
- Increase customer retention rate
- Decrease operational costs
- Increase accessibility of service
- Increase quality of platform functions
- Decrease employee training expenses
Marketing Mix Strategies
The suggested improvement is expected to target the customer segment, although the changes will only partially be apparent on the website. Therefore, the product can be characterized as a combination of functional enhancements such as interface adjustments with the operational upgrades, such as the incorporation of platform capable of pattern recognition in available data on customer choices. The improvements would not result in the increase in price for the customers (a common approach in the industry). On the other hand, it is possible to assert the increased awareness of the possibility of discounts, resulting in the net decrease of average cost per flight. The place of the suggested strategy is restricted to the company website, with the possible integration of its certain functions into relevant resources as a plugin. The promotion will exclude all sources outside the online environment. The analysis of traffic data can further improve the focus of advertising campaign.
Since the company is not an e-business firm and is firmly related to physical inventory, and the current version of the website is already above the average level of quality considering the industry standards, it is unlikely that the internal effort would suffice for improving the situation. Therefore, outsourcing the task to external party is the best option. At least a part of the features of the online service (e.g. ticket booking) is interconnected with the operational segment of the company, so a close supervision of the company’s technical department would be necessary. Such approach would introduce significant expenses and may slow down the pace of implementation because of the amount of coordination resulting from company’s supervision. However, such move is crucial for customer retention, identified as one of the objectives.
The operational aspect of the online platform can be upgraded through integration of the third-party analytical platform capable of pattern analysis and customer behavior modeling. This will greatly improve the reliability of the system, optimize resource use, and increase the precision of marketing moves in the long run. The site also needs to be modified in several ways. First, the visual imagery and design choices need to cover additional target audiences, such as the young and tech-savvy customers as well as the individuals newly introduced to the Web (Hill et al., 2017). The latter would also require the adjustments in the interface that would increase clarity and minimize the number of distractions in the form of irrelevant options. Finally, the awareness of repeated use benefits must be ensured through placement and combined with the information on discounts to appeal to price-conscious customers.
The promotion can be facilitated through integration of certain interactive online functions into partnering websites – for instance, the possibility to choose the basic options of ticket purchase directly on a tourism-related website, with subsequent redirection to the company website offering a complete set of adjustments.
Maintenance of the intended product would require at least partial involvement of the external specialists, so it is reasonable to limit the staffing to outsourcing at least at the initial stage, with the possibility of training company employees later in the course of the campaign.
The estimated size of the team necessary for the project is five to nine individuals, which is within the scope of an average contractor in the market. The estimated duration of the project of twelve to eighteen weeks The main expenses will result from outsourcing the development and adjustment of additional functions, the cost of analytical platform services, the marketing expenses, and the payment for maintenance for at least four months. The identified costs can be covered by the projected increase of customer base of 10% per months, which is within the realistic expectations of the project outcomes. Considering the likelihood of the better outcome and the long-term effect of customer retention rate, the investment is considered valid.
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- The relevant milestones for the project include:
- The increase in numbers of access from mobile devices in two months after the launch
- The increase of number of repeated uses by the customers in three months
- The decrease of time between user-initiated operations in one month
- The decrease of repeated searches with modified results in one month
Qatar Airways possesses a range of strengths that can be facilitated through online services. The suggested electronic marketing plan is expected to improve customer loyalty and add value by enhancing performance and accessibility and diversifying the company’s customer base.
GO-Gulf. (2015). Qatar’s digital landscape – statistics and trends. Web.
Hill, C., Hult, T., Wickramasekera, R., Liesch, P., & MacKenzie, K. (2017). Global business today: Asia-Pacific perspective (4th ed.). Sydney, NSW: McGraw-Hill Education.
Telelaws. (n.d.). The laws governing the ICT sector. Web.