Mobile Innovators: Q&A with Wego’s Mark Reilly

By: Kahuna | November 19, 2015 | Mobile Innovators Series
Wego Mobile Innovators Series

In this installment of our Mobile Innovator Series, we’re happy to share an interview with Mark Reilly, VP of user engagement & CRM at Wego, the leading travel search site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East.

Why is mobile engagement important to Wego?

At the top level, we want to make sure Wego users are getting the most value they can out of our service. Wego is increasingly being used on mobile, so, of course, mobile engagement is a major focus for us.

From a business perspective, mobile acquisition costs are increasing, so it’s important for us to get the most ROI by having engaged users. Those rising acquisition costs also mean we want to focus on re-engaging our existing users by getting them back into the apps and nudging them toward monetization events.

Wego offers a powerful meta search for flights and hotels and our business model is based on referral traffic to booking sites, which internally we call “hand-offs.” People use Wego in a lot of different ways, as some just use it for research and informational purposes. But for those truly interested in booking, mobile engagement helps to guide users further down the funnel.

What are some of the main challenges you’ve had with reaching your customers on mobile?

One constant challenge everybody has to live with is that we’re limited in our reach based on who has opted-in to push notifications. This has proven to be an extremely effective channel and it’s always a concern when you don’t really have full control over it—Apple and Google have far more control over this than we ever will.

Push notifications are also evolving and now can include interactive elements and multimedia. It’s too early to know exactly where that’s going and how that’s going to impact the market. I can see a visual push notification being more compelling but I can also see it being more intrusive, too. I also think the idea of actionable notifications will soon cause a major shift in user behavior and the way we leverage this channel in particular.

At Wego, we optimize variables that we can control. Our push notification opt-in rate is high and we aim to keep it that way. The best way to do this is by constantly challenging yourself and asking, “What is worthy of a push notification?”

Are we delivering value with each push notification? What is “value” anyways? You can have internal guidelines but if we’re not constantly in touch with our users and running ideas by them, we run the risk of disconnecting from the end user.

How do you strategize for delivering a delightful omnichannel experience?

It starts from having a strategy you believe in. You have to do the research and have the data to understand your customer journey. Map out that journey in a visual format to give you a solid understanding of the goals of your omnichannel experience.

It’s not just about the funnel though, as you have to make sure you ask yourself, “How does each message enhance the customer experience?” Once you have that answer, you dig into the tactics of how to map which message to which channel, along which point in the customer journey.

It’s also thinking about how each channel can augment the overall experience. For example, a big part of our business is cross-selling hotels to those who have searched flights. We might send somebody a push notification saying “There are hotels available in Bangkok” to pique their interest and get them searching. A follow-up email can provide more detailed information about hotels they’ve searched in order to nudge them down the conversion path.

What advice would you offer for mobile marketers trying to reach modern users?

It’s somewhat of a cliche to talk about how fast the marketing space is moving but mobile is moving 10X faster. If you’re not on the cusp of what’s happening, you’re next to irrelevant. My best piece of advice would be to learn by doing—I know, it’s easier said than done. But the mobile marketing space is craving talent and getting started is simpler than ever.

Beyond that, I’d say soak in as much information as you can. Read everything on the topic, attend conferences, network with all the interesting people doing innovative things in the mobile space. Go to forums and just absorb as much as you can.

Finally, don’t be afraid to fail. We’re doing things that people haven’t done before, so you’re bound to hit mistakes. Fail fast, live and breathe data, and learn from your mistakes.

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