Goibibo is one of the leading travel aggregators in India. Goibibo’s mobile app has constantly ranked number one under the travel category, in India. The company’s hotel booking volumes grew by 5x in 2015 – out of which 70% bookings were made through the Goibibo mobile app.
Goibibo is part of the ibibo Group which also owns India’s No. 1 online bus ticketing platform – redBus.in. In addition to that, the ibibo Group has also launched a carpooling app, ibibo Ryde. It’s a subsidiary of the multinational media company Naspers.
A large number of people who use online travel agencies (OTAs) – do a few searches on the site and leave – without making a booking or clicking on any of the search results. Broadly, this is a set of users who have shown interest making a purchase but haven’t made a transaction yet.
The Marketing Team at Goibibo wanted to engage these ‘search abandoners’ with hyper-personalized communication, aimed at retaining them and eventually making a purchase.
The term search abandonment is usually used in the context of search engines (i.e web search abandonment or SERP abandonment). However, in the context of online travel agencies (OTAs), search abandonment/ booking abandonment refers to a user behavior wherein a transaction is not performed (post doing a search) within a specified time frame.
A study conducted by Google reveals – 69% of leisure travellers worry that they’re not finding the best price or making the best decision.
Most OTA users are found to be in a dilemma induced by the infinite choices and undifferentiated offerings presented by the travel industry. Generally, OTA users abandon search for a combination of the following reasons –
- Dissatisfied with the search results
- Looking for lower prices
- Doing research
- Complicated checkout process
- Technical issue
- Casually keeping a tab on prices to book later
- No flights on Preferred time of travel
- No flights by preferred airline
In an industry flooded with undifferentiated offerings and too many service providers, delivering customer delight to brand agnostic and price-sensitive buyers becomes a priority.
Further, online travel agencies have offerings in high involvement categories (e.g. honeymoon packages, family vacations) and low involvement categories (e.g. flight tickets, weekend getaway trips). While the low involvement categories contribute greatly to total transactions, they are not as profitable as the high involvement categories.
As a retention marketer for OTA, the biggest challenge we face is reaching the user at the right time over the channel of their preference. – Soyinka, Retention Marketer @ Goibibo
The customer engagement strategy for both the categories is different. For instance, customer engagement happens over a long period of time when dealing with high involvement offerings.
But for low involvement offerings, customer engagement happens over a short period of time. This is one of the reasons why the communication in such cases requires high responsiveness to user behavior, or in other words, needs to be hyper-personalized.
Using the user’s first name in the subject line or body copy is the most basic form of email personalization. Hyper-personalized emails take a basic email to the next level. It uses behavioral data and user profile data to dynamically change the email’s content for each user.
Sounds like a daunting task, right? However, with WebEngage Personalization Engine, hyper-personalising at a large scale became a piece of cake for Goibibo.
Delivering hyper personalization at a large scale with the WebEngage Journey Designer
In the travel industry, email as a channel influences customers as the last interaction before a purchase. Likewise, Goibibo intended to increase the effectiveness of emails by personalizing them, using the WebEngage Journey Designer. Here’s how they went about it –
The WebEngage Journey Designer is a drag-and-drop tool which allows marketers to create a custom user journey/ workflow using Triggers, Actions, Conditions and Flow Controls. [click image to enlarge]
The Journey begins when a user makes a search. A window of 30 minutes has been created within which the user is expected to make a purchase. If that condition is not fulfilled, then an email is triggered – containing details based on the user’s behavioral history.
However, before the search abandonment email is sent to the user, the WebEngage Platform will check for the following conditions, as per the Journey created –
- Has the user provided a valid email address?
If no, then since the user can’t be reached via email, the user is made to exit the journey.
- Has the user already received a flight search abandonment email for another search result, made previously?
If yes, then that particular user will be drop out of the Journey. In simple terms, no email will be sent as we do not want to bombard a user with emails corresponding to each search made by them.
Here’s what a hyper-personalized email would look like for a user who did a search for flights from Mumbai to Delhi –
But that’s not all that you can do with the WebEngage Journey Designer. Along with hyper-personalizing communication for each user, marketers can also run a multivariate test on which copy would work best for their campaign. Here’s what Goibibo did –
As a result of Goibobo’s effective copy and with help from the WebEngage Journey Designer, they experienced a growth of 11% in their search abandonment user conversion rate!
As per the statistics collected at each stage of the Journey, 55k users booked their tickets within the the first 30 minutes of searching for a flight.
Further, 6K booking abandoners were converted after they received fully individualized, triggered in real-time booking recovery emails.
The sheer volume of transactions translated into a few millions of additional revenue for Goibibo!