Strategic Marketing

IP Tracking — The Brave New World Of Digital Marketing.

Today, almost every digital device we use has an IP address. What is an IP address? It stands for Internet Protocol Address and it’s what computers and other digital devices use to introduce themselves to each other. Think of it as a door knock that leads to an invitation to come in and enter. Computers, cell phones, cars, even your EZ-Pass tag has an IP address.

The good news for marketers is that once your IP address has connected with another address (i.e. you visit Amazon’s website) you have given permission to speak with one another, which means the party you’re visiting (i.e. Amazon) can then connect with you at a later time and send you information as well. This return information is usually in the form of a “cookie,” which contains encrypted data that remains on your computer or phone until you or some IT person deliberately removes it.

For business, this is a marketing boon, allowing companies to keep track of potential customers interested in their wares and services – all of which is be done automatically via IP tracking.

What information can you get from an IP address?

There are actually two kinds of IP addresses – static and dynamic. Static simply means you are using the same address over and over (i.e. your home computer or your personal smart phone). Dynamic means you are sharing an IP address with a number of customers within your Internet Service Providers (ISP) area. Sometimes public uses computers in a library or in an internet café will share a dynamic address.

Whether static or dynamic, the minute you visit a website the IP address you’re originating from can be captured. The website will keep a record of the time, date and data it collects from your address. A “cookie” will be sent to your computer for future reference.

Limited information is freely available the moment a connection is made. For example, because IP addresses come in batches representing certain global regions, a fair amount of geographical information is immediately known. Cross reference this information with other demographic information available and you can develop a composite profile of the visitor and the particular region they’re living in.

It can get personal… to a point.

If your company utilizes IP tracking software, you can gather quite a lot of pertinent information. The moment someone visits a website, IP tracking software identifies the IP address of the visitor and reports what pages they visited on your site, how long they stayed and whether they filled in any contact or registration forms. The “cookie” sent to their computer, phone or device will begin to track their preferences. The IP tracking software will start to compile data captured from the same IP address as he or she visits other websites, noting preferences such as shopping habits, reading preference and other interests.

Some IP Lead tracking software can collect information from both organic, as well as paid search platforms, such as Google AdWords, providing more customer data, which can assist your company in finding richer, more promising prospects.

All this information provides a detailed dossier of a prospect’s demographic, preferences, purchasing history and even psychographic information. The IP tracking software can also determine email addresses and phone numbers associated with the IP address as well.

Once captured, the information can be used to target online advertising on websites the prospect visits and/or send emails with sales information to prospects who are already predisposed to a particular company’s products or services.

IP tracking and the law.

Each country around the globe has its own privacy laws, which govern the use of personal information gathered over the internet. In the UK for example, there is a Data Protection Act, which regulates what is and is not a breach of privacy. In many countries in Europe, IP addresses can be considered personal data, so care should be taken by anyone doing international business and gathering prospect information over the internet overseas.

In the United States, on the other hand, there is no singular law that regulates the internet, but there are both state laws and federal regulations, which limit the kind of information you can gather on individuals.

On a federal level, the U.S. tends to regulate by sector (i.e. banking, finance, healthcare etc.) It goes without saying that personal health records cannot be gathered on individuals by nature of the HIPAA laws and financial privacy is protected by law in the U.S.

For general marketing purposes, however, the U.S. tends to be fairly liberal, with the exception of California, which has a strong consumer identity protection regulation (please consult States.pdf for specifics.)

As long as consumers visit legitimate websites, the information they pass along via IP Address is pretty much fair game, provided the data is not used to disparage the visiting prospects, or is used to sell illegal or illicit materials to them.

What a marketer cannot and should not do is try to reverse engineer the process by creating phishing schemes to capture personal information. This is the behavior of scammers and illegal businesses. IP tracking, on the other hand, is perfectly legal and very effective marketing and sales tool.

More and more business is conducted on the web.

The Wall Street Journal report in mid 2016 that 51% of purchases are now made online, the tide has obvious turned and consumers have embraced online buying. Just as significant, 90% of business-to-business transactions begin with a web search, making it easier than ever to identify potential prospects.

Given the current attitudes in the U.S. for capturing information and leads over the web, the case for utilizing IP tracking software or service is a smart marketing decision for any legitimate business from Macys to your local pizza parlor. As long as the system is not abused or used to cause harassment of any kind to individuals, the idea of IP tracking seems both prudent and reasonably ethical.

Programmatic Advertising. The 21st Century Marketing Trend, You Never Heard Of

Back in the day, marketers would spend weeks, sometimes months, deciding where to place their ad messages. They had armies of media researchers on the case, giving them statistical data about audiences for specific TV shows or magazines.  When decisions were finally made and it came time to buy, the marketer simply called upon a human in their ad agency’s media department to place an order for a 30 second spot on the evening news or a two-page spread in a news weekly.

Well folks, those days are as gone as dodo birds and piston-engine airliners. Today, many online display and banner ad placements are bid on and purchased in nanoseconds by robots (or to be more quaint about it, by computers) talking to each other. It’s called Programmatic Advertising. And its new to aviation marketing.

The good news? The robots don’t do lunch and the advertisers don’t have to pay for it. The bad news? It’s the fastest growth engine in the marketing game and many advertisers and their marketing agencies know as much about how it works as they do about ADS-B.

How prevalent is programmatic ad buying? According to Ad Week, “In 2015, $14.88 billion worth of U.S. ads, fully 55 percent of digital display ads, were purchased programmatically. In total, 52 percent of all non-search digital ad transactions were programmatic.”

What exactly is programmatic advertising and why should you care?

In case you’ve not been paying attention for the past twenty years, the marketing game has gone from macro to micro-targeting. Today’s target audience comes down to one individual checking out your website, or your competitor’s home page. In the blink of an eye, a program can access that web visitor and break him or her down to age, gender, buying habits, and interest level in your product − even whether the viewer’s desire to purchase is imminent.

If you’re looking for the secret ingredient in this process, it’s called Artificial Intelligence. By nature, it’s the stuff robots are made of. Artificial Intelligence spreads its wide net across the internet, eventually narrowing down users who fit the demographic and psychographic of your target. It’s not looking for lots of people. It’s looking for the right ones.

The program then passes the information on to the marketer’s computers or robots and asks if the marketer wants to bid on placing their display ad in front of the prospect. The marketer’s robot considers what the buying service robot has to provide about the prospect, and decides in a split second to bid or pass on the opportunity. If it’s a bid (and there should be no surprise here), the higher the bid, the better the chance of securing the space. This is called “Real-time bidding” and the whole process happens in less than the time it takes to form a thought.

Forbes has estimated RTB (Real-time bidding) “will accelerate at a rate of 59% compound annual rate through 2016, making it the fastest growing segment in digital advertising.”

Wait a second! People don’t buy from ads at first sight!

It’s true!  Just because you’re interested in a product, that doesn’t mean you’re going to buy it immediately. Still, if you’re part of a certain market segment, your interest level may be heightened and your buying predisposition is certainly greater. Most pilots would love to own a jet, but few can afford one, and those that can are usually not impulse buyers.

Why jump at a prospect if they’re not going to buy right now?

To answer this, let’s go back to Marketing 101 and talk about customer needs. We all need things for a multitude of personal reasons. When you’re in the buying mode, the need becomes more urgent. For example, if you’re looking for a new aviation headset, you’re probably a pilot, so you’re already set apart from the general population. If you’ve checked out a few manufacturers’ websites, compared prices on Sporty’s, Pilot Shop, Aircraft Spruce or even Amazon or EBay − the robots are watching your every move! They’re even watching the number of times you’ve checked these sites in the past. In other words, they’re sizing you up as a potential buyer. The more the algorithm sizes the customer up, the richer the information it passes on. Capturing that user at the moment he or she is on a particular site goes to the highest bidder.

Naturally, for high-ticket items like an aircraft purchase, your ad needs multiple exposures to make a sale. The good news for the advertiser (or the advertiser’s robot, to be precise) is that it is bidding on a prospect that has demonstrated a high interest in the advertiser’s product and is most likely ready to make a purchase.

Think about it. How many times have you opened your browser and found a display ad for a product you’ve been researching on the web? Too often, right? Well, you probably fit the profile a marketer is looking for and one which its marketing robots are on the lookout for.

Are there limitations to programmatic advertising?

While the robots are very good at keeping track of people surfing on their desktops, they have a bit of a problem capturing your every move when you’re using your cell phone. This is because cell phone cookies (little files about your usage left in your computer) are not as uniform or as robust as they are on larger computers. This limitation won’t be around long given the speed at which technology adjusts to marketplace roadblocks.

Brave New Marketing Worlds.

Programmatic Advertising is here to stay. Big marketers were early adaptors, but it seems the word is spreading to all marketers. The reasoning is simple. If the target prospect is a fertile find, the chances of turning a marketing message into a sale are greater. If more marketing messages create sales, your return on investment goes way up. That’s a win-win for everyone except those humans who used to be media buyers. Brave new world? Certainly, but we humans have a tendency to adapt.

Where are the Best Marketing Opportunities for 2016?

Aviation Marketing Trends

Here is our road map to the top aviation marketing trends for 2016

The start of a new year is a smart time to re-evaluate your aviation marketing strategy, looking back on what proved successful, but also forward to what new trends look promising. Some marketing trends play themselves out in a matter of months, while others stick around for years. Either way, you cannot afford to stick your head in the sand, like the proverbial ostrich, while your competition takes off and soars ahead. Trends are changing so quickly in the digital landscape that those who do not participate could find their wings clipped.

Many of the trends we highlighted within the last year are still going strong: mobile marketingsocial mediaintegrated marketing – so this year’s may look familiar. Visual marketing continues to be important as businesses fight for their share of fragmented attention spans. Mobile isn’t going anywhere (with a few new developments we’ll discuss), and businesses will keep producing useful content to provide more value to their customers.

Now let’s look at what’s new for 2016.

  1. Optimize for mobile

In case you haven’t noticed, many pilots have gone mobile. They take along iPads and iPhones into the cockpit, and if they’re not surfing on them for the latest flight conditions, they’re certainly utilizing flight apps like ForeFlight. It should be no surprise then that mobile has now officially become the dominant channel through which people access the internet. Mobile digital media time (51%) has now overtaken desktop at 42% according to eMarketer. That means aviation marketers that are not optimized for mobile viewing will be at a distinct disadvantage. This also will have an impact on . . .

  1. Location-Based Marketing Continues to Innovate

Mobile devices are the gateway to instant and effective marketing messages. Every consumer with a mobile device in hand is a target for messaging that is triggered by beacon technology. Retail and other “brick-and-mortar” businesses that have these beacons in place can detect when a customer is in close proximity and can then push timely, targeted messages to that customer. It’s a little “Big Brother is watching” and customers may be initially turned off by this privacy issue. However, as this mode of marketing becomes more prevalent and accepted by consumers, it offers businesses with physical locations some tremendous marketing advantages – like reminding a first officer in the pilot’s lounge that the FBO’s Pilot Shop is running a special promotion on headsets! 

  1. Context Behind the Content

Google is getting finicky about recognizing good content. It is not just about the keywords anymore – the context behind the words and the value to the consumer is more important. Well written web content will become a major driver in 2016. If you keep bringing pilots back to your site for information that matters to them, they’ll keep coming back to you as a source they can trust. Trust is priceless in the aviation marketing business because it’s an emotional trigger that reassures pilots and other aviation industry consumers that they’re dealing with people who know their business and understand their needs.

  1. Social Media Drives Search

Social media channels are now being used to drive search to a large degree. Google has started indexing social media content so it is more important than ever to make sure your business maintains an active profile across all channels. Today’s aviation professional also uses social media to conduct research within the platforms themselves, sometimes even bypassing Google altogether.

  1. Mobile Apps Keep Evolving

Mobile apps are still another mobile-friendly addition to increase your online presence. You can get a DUAT app for you phone and you can buy lots of other mobile apps from Sporty’s online. Google already includes content from apps in its search results and today’s aviation industry workers continue to download and access apps on a daily basis. More and more aviation businesses are seeing the value of creating customized apps for their client base, to generate customer loyalty and making transactions easier. Mobile app store revenues worldwide are projected to grow to $76.5 billion in 2017 according to Statista. This data points to a move from the mobile web to mobile apps, especially for ecommerce.

  1. Pop Ups Drive Conversion

New data shows that pop ups are an effective tool for driving email sign-ups with an enticing call to action. When used in the wrong context or for a hard sell, they can be annoying and intrusive. But when properly executed, pop-ups can work very well and furthermore can’t hurt. The more opportunities for email capture on your site, the better. We suggest you do your own testing and find out how it works for you.

  1. User-Generated Content (UGC) Will Surpass Branded Content

Using content created by customers of your brand adds a more native feel to your marketing. Many consumers, especially new Millennial pilots, look for user-generated content to help them make purchasing decisions. According to bazaarvoice, over half (51%) of Americans trust UGC more than other information on a company website (16%) or news articles about the company (14%) when looking for brand information. Make sure to put consumer opinions and images front and center on your website and social media channels.


In general, advancements in technology will bring aviation marketers closer than ever to their aviation consumer in 2016. The user experience will become ever more important in how aviators and all aviation professionals receive messaging and interact with brands. The technologies that make this possible will take center stage, helping those in the aviation marketplace tell more cohesive brand stories (and at the same time more personalized), everywhere their customers are. And thanks to today’s skeptical, connected consumer, those stories will have to be rooted in transparency and authenticity – your aviation customers will see through anything else as though it was as transparent as air.

Is Marketing to Pilots the Same as Marketing to Your Typical Consumer? Perhaps.


Marketers, even those in the Aviation business, always start with same questions: “who are we talking to and what does the target audience really want from the goods and services we’re making available to them?” Simple, right? Not quite. Considering pilots are humans as well, their wants and desires will be as complex and diverse as the many kinds of aircraft in the world.

If you’re looking for some clarity, however, you could turn to applied consumer psychology which has guided marketers for over one hundred years. For example, back in 1909, a very observant professor at the University of Chicago set out to study the consumer decision making process. His name was John Dewey and what he basically observed and later postulated has come to be known as cost-benefit analysis.

Let’s take a look at how Mr. Dewey’s theory stacks up when selling aviation supplies to pilots. Mr. Dewey’s thesis can be boiled down to 5 stages of buying.

First, the consumer considers the problem or need to be met: I have to navigate when flying long distances and a portable GPS could make navigation a lot easier than chasing VORs or looking for waypoints on a sectional.

Second, the consumer searches for information: those Garmin® people really know their stuff when it comes to GPS, but there are others that seem to do the job, too!.

Third, the consumer evaluates alternatives: I could just buy an iPad™, purchase ForeFlight™ and for less than the cost of the Garmin® have an all-purpose computer tablet as well as a navigation tool.

Fourth, the consumer decides makes a decision: all my flying buddies have Garmins and swear by them, I’m going to buy one, too.
Fifth, the consumer exhibits post-purchase behavior: I love the Garmin®; I’d recommend it to anyone, or I have buyer’s remorse and believe the iPad would have been a better choice.

All this seems pretty straight-forward, except it’s never quite as simple or as cleanly stated as above, especially in a digital age where consumers have massive amounts of information about products, product benefits, and product reviews at their internet fingertips.


To further assist us in this matter, we can turn of Abraham Maslow, the American psychology professor who gave us Maslow’s hierarchy of needs back in 1943. Here, for those of you who skipped marketing class, are the “cliff notes”. Dr. Maslow contends there are different need levels from basic survival to self-actualization. He further states that humans will not move to a higher need level until a lower, more basic need state is satisfied.

First level of need is basic survival: food, water, sleep … and if you’re a pilot, flying! (Please note that non-pilots will not recognize “flying” as a basic need, but that’s because, as any student pilot will tell you, non-fliers don’t know what they’re missing).

The second and next level of need is safety as in security, order and stability. For pilots, safety is the most critical of needs. There are hundreds of safety devises out there from parachute systems to hand-held radios to personal ELTs to … well … pick up a Sporty’s catalog and see for yourself!

To fill their need for safety some pilots will buy anything and everything from Night Vision to Collision Avoidance Systems to Satellite Weather to gizmos that track their oxygen levels. Safe to say this level can not only produce a feeling of safety but also the disquieting sensation of going broke. Marketers love the need for safety, it’s a safe bet there’s money to be made.

According to Dr. Maslow, the third need level is the need for “Love and Belonging”. This is where things can really get out of hand for consumers if they’re not careful. You might find the need to buy a Beechcraft Bonanza so you can become a card-carrying member of the Bonanza Club. Fortunately, there are less expensive ways to fulfill the need for belonging like joining the EAA, AOPA, NBAA, or the local flying Club.

A desire may grow at this stage to read everything aviation from Stick and Rudder to The Right Stuff. One may also discover a need to display Aviation Week, Flying, Plane and Pilot and other aviation related reading materials on the coffee table at home or on the desk at the office. At this stage it may also be necessary to stock up on all kinds of nifty accessories from monogrammed flight bags to Breitling watches.

The next need state is self-esteem. Aviation types are goal oriented by nature. Pilots in particular are always looking for the next step, the next challenge, the next way to conquer the sky. Their VFR rating leads to an IFR rating, IFR to Commercial, Commercial leads to ATP, ATP leads to … er… astronaut?

As long as they keep striving and growing, the sky really does seem to be the limit for pilots and for people who market to them.
At Flight Schools, the need for pilot self-esteem can be mighty lucrative. For companies who make airplanes, avionics and pilot supplies, it can be the goose that laid the golden egg.

That brings the aviation consumer who is a pilot to Dr. Maslow’s last need state: Self-Actualization. This is the stage at which the pilot has become everything he or she could possibly be. Many goals have been reached. The only goal left is the goal of going beyond being a pilot to becoming an aviator. People who reach this stage not only have thousands of hours in the air in all sorts of craft, they have self-sustaining knowledge.

Is this enlightened stage good for marketers? Maybe. Maybe not.

If you run into a person at this stage, don’t be surprised if they’re reluctant to buy anything from your catalog of aviation goodies. Why? Because these folks realize the only “stuff” they really need is a set of wings, their continuing desire to keep learning, a stick, a rudder, an engine, and an aviation map they can neatly fold into a rectangle on their lap.

Stay tuned folks! Next time we’ll see how all this marketing theory works on aviation consumers called airline passengers.

Felton, George, Advertising Concept and Copy, W.W. Norton & Company, 2006; ISBN:13-978-0-393-73159-0

How much should you budget for marketing?

Determining your marketing budget
Is your marketing budget enough to achieve your goals?

Many times when I talk to companies about their marketing, they’ll ask: “How much should we budget for marketing?”

It’s an important consideration, as most small aviation businesses don’t have large budgets to spread around.

My answer: “Spend the least amount needed to achieve your business goals.”

How much is that?

The best method I’ve found for determining your particular marketing budget is actually quite simple:

  1. First, identify your annual goal for revenue.
  2. Next, divide it by the average sales revenue each customer generates in a year (in other words, a customer’s annual value).
  3. Then, multiply that number by your CPS – Cost Per Sale – what you currently spend on advertising, internet marketing, public relations, promotional materials, etc., to close each lead.

That’s what you’ll need to budget to reach your target. The equation looks like this:

Marketing budget = (revenue goal ÷ average customer sales) x cost per sale

The key to making this equation work is to have accurate numbers for the average customer revenue and your CPS. So if you haven’t done so already, begin to track the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts religiously. Once you start tracking sales, you should be able to calculate how much money it takes to obtain each new customer.

Use this Budget/Tracking Chart to calculate how much money it costs to generate each lead and close each sale:

A. Current annual marketing expenses
B. Average number of leads generated per month
C. Average number of sales closed per month
D. Conversion ratio ( [C ÷ B] x 100 )
E. Cost per lead ( A ÷ [B x 12] )
F. Cost per sale ( A ÷ [C x 12] )

Understanding these numbers will get you off to a good start. However, there’s another important factor to consider: how to spend the dollars you’ve allotted for your budget.

Why Most Marketing Campaigns Fail

The most common reason why marketing campaigns fail is that they’re asked to do too big a job on too small a budget. Do you realistically have enough marketing dollars to ensure a good shot at achieving your objectives?

A great marketing plan may include a lot of tools and tactics, but to implement them effectively takes proper funding. Choose which ones you’ll use carefully. Just as it’s a mistake to spend too much on a single marketing tactic, it’s equally wasteful to attempt too many things superficially. It’s much smarter to select a few marketing tools that are cost-effective and demonstrate good results and concentrate your marketing dollars on these.

If you hit a ceiling in the amount you can afford to spend, it’s best to reassess your short-term and long-term goals, rather than expect an underfunded program to perform beyond reasonable expectations.

As an avid pilot, there’s an analogy I like to use: If you don’t fund your marketing budget sufficiently, it’s like trying to fly over the Atlantic Ocean with half a tank of fuel. You’re going to make some progress, but you won’t make it to your ultimate destination.

You may discover that carefully planned campaign with an adequate budget won’t get you across the Atlantic, but could instead get you to beautiful Bermuda. And that’s not half bad, is it?

If you could use help creating a smart marketing budget, contact us.

Photo by 401(K) 2013