United’s Online Marketing Strategy: A Case Study

What is an Online Marketing Strategy (OMS)?

An OMS is a strategic plan designed to generate profitable business through the Internet. It typically covers the following areas:

  • marketing and advertising
  • acquisition and retention
  • customer experience
  • product management
  • goals, objectives and metrics
  • IT strategy
  • social media and digital marketing
  • competitive analysis
  • e-commerce

Why do companies need an OMS?

This is a question I get asked a lot. Let me explain.

The digital world is changing the game for companies of all sizes. According to Statista, 75% of the world’s population now use the Internet, and this number is predicted to grow to over 90% by 2020.

With more people using the Internet than ever before, digital platforms provide a level of customer engagement that was unheard of just a few years ago.

This is great news for companies, as engagement with consumers through digital marketing channels provides a fantastic opportunity to identify key metrics and benchmarks for success.

If you’re looking to better understand how to develop an online marketing strategy, read on.

The Evolution of Online Marketing

In 2015, TikTok was valued at US$50 billion and had over 500 million daily active users. In comparison, TikTok’s biggest rival, Instagram, was valued at US$10 billion and had over 300 million daily active users at the time.

It’s safe to say that TikTok — and other platforms like it — have completely redefined the way we will experience entertainment, as well as communication and marketing. Here are some of the ways that digital marketing has evolved due to the popularity of TikTok and other social media platforms:

1. Microblogging

In the past, if you wanted to share something with the world, you would have posted an article to your blog and hoped that your readers would share it. Today, with the rise of TikTok and other microblogging platforms, anyone can share content directly to their audience. This concept of “going viral” on TikTok, which was first introduced to the world in 2015, fundamentally changed the way marketers will approach communicating with potential customers.

2. Authentic Video Content

The rise of TikTok and other social media platforms has caused an explosion in the amount of video content being shared on sites like Instagram and YouTube. This trend has made its way into marketing and advertising as brands use video content to connect with potential customers, inspire action, and establish credibility. In fact, HubSpot writes that video is the most effective way to market a brand or product, and they cite studies showing that people are 85% more likely to purchase a product or service after viewing a video of that product or service.

The key takeaway from this evolution is that videos provide a unique opportunity to engage with viewers. In the past, people may have scrolled through blogs or watched commercials to get information. Now, they may spend as much as 10 minutes to an hour a day just watching and engaging with video content. The choice is theirs.

As a marketer, developing video content for your company is a great strategy because it allows you to target a specific audience and engage with them on a personal level. Not only that, but you can also incorporate the content into other platforms like blogs and social media sites to expand your reach even further.

3. Live Videos

With video content comes live videos. Live videos allow users to engage with brands while the video is being recorded, usually using a smartphone camera. This feature makes it much easier for individuals to find the content they’re interested in and to connect with brands, companies, and organizations through live videos.

HubSpot lists live videos as one of the essentials of a digital marketing strategy, writing that businesses can use live videos to their advantage by interacting with customers and establishing trust and credibility. They continue, “In a world full of trolls and Internet bullies, live videos give consumers the confidence that the person speaking to them is a real human being and not a machine or a fake.”

According to HubSpot, live video content provides a number of advantages to businesses, including the following:

  • Increased engagement
  • Improved SEO
  • Established consumer trust
  • Differentiated content for different platforms
  • Established digital marketing metrics (e.g., views, shares, and comments)
  • Established online communities (e.g., around topics, products, and services)

The importance of SEO when developing an online marketing strategy, especially for larger businesses, cannot be overstated. As more people use the Internet to search for products and services, SEO ensures that their search engine results are relevant and include highly-rated businesses that are determined to provide good quality service.

4. Product Demonstrations & Walkthroughs

Whether you’re pitching a new product to a potential customer, or you just want to show them how your product works in practice, product demonstrations & walkthroughs are a great way to engage with users, build trust, and drive sales.

While videos provide a unique opportunity to engage with customers, product demonstrations give you the chance to show off your product in action, demonstrating its features and how they work. This approach is far more effective than simply describing the product’s features, as users can clearly see and feel the benefits.

There are two essential components to any successful product demonstration or walkthrough: narration and graphics. Good narrators will establish credibility and provide helpful information while avoiding over-stating the importance of the information being provided. Furthermore, the voice and language used by the narrator should match the demographic of the intended audience. In the case of a walkthrough, using an illustration or a mock-up of the product being demonstrated can help users better understand what is being described. For example, if you’re describing the features of an iPad, you might use an illustration of an iPad to better understand what you’re talking about.

The key takeaway from this is that users have the attention span of a goldfish, so keeping your content short, snappy, and easy to understand will help you engage with your audience and build trust. Don’t forget, however, that not all short content is created equal. Quality matters, so you’ll want to choose your videos carefully and make sure that they are:

  • High-quality
  • Creative
  • Bold
  • Engaging
  • Short
  • To the point
  • A good fit for SEO
  • Consistent
  • And most importantly, relevant
  • To the problem being addressed

The Rise of Voice-First

With the explosive growth of social media and the internet, companies must adapt to this new environment or risk being overwhelmed. To keep up with the growing demand, many businesses, including United, have adopted a more conversational tone in their marketing and advertising. According to HubSpot, businesses can use different platforms — from blogs to YouTube to Quora — to establish credibility, engage with customers, and grow their business.

United Airlines, for example, uses a blog to share information about their in-flight products, promotions, and upcoming flights. However, they don’t use a typical blog. Instead, the airline uses the medium to allow customers to ask questions and engage with the brand. The airline uses a mixture of SEO and content strategy to ensure that their blog posts appear on the first page of search results for important keywords and that they’re noticed by potential customers.

The key takeaway from this is that if you’re not equipped to capture and analyze the data, you’ll never know if what you’re doing actually works. Fortunately, Google Analytics, a free tool that tracks web traffic and conversion, makes it easy to see the results of your efforts. With just a few clicks, you can pinpoint which campaigns are performing well and which ones might need some improvement.

The Evolving Role of Marketing

The marketing department at United has evolved into a digital marketing team that creates content for different platforms, tracks performance, and adjusts strategy as needed. The role of marketing, as it relates to online marketing, will continue to evolve as marketing and technology become more intertwined.