A variety of common “I want” scenarios result in micro-moments during which customers take steps or make decisions on the fly, typically on a smartphone. The traditional customer journey is fractured into dozens or hundreds of real-time, intent-driven moments. Airline brands that best address these micro-moments will earn relevance, loyalty, and ultimately, the customer.

How can airlines be present for customers in every moment?

  • Use technology, content, and engagement to deliver the perfect experience by leveraging contextual signals
  • Optimize across the customer journey. Help consumers move seamlessly across screens and channels. Once logged in, take the user directly to the product that was last viewed in the other device
  • Measure every moment so you don’t under-serve customers while dealing with measurement gaps. For example, ROI may not be measurable yet for certain moments. Use estimates.

This blog post deals with the last point: Measuring micro-moments.

What is Flight Search Initiation?

In airline eCommerce, the metric Flight Search Initiation (FSI) is used to measure how many people initiate a flight search upon arriving on the site through search or another medium. This metric serves as a KPI especially on mobile, where users are often not ready to book a flight but are browsing destinations and deals in preparation for a future booking. This type of user will likely execute a transaction at a later date and, frequently, on a different device. (We categorized this type of user as “Research Traffic” in another blog post).

Without measuring FSI, you may think your mobile campaigns are not working if the conversion rate (for mobile) is zero. On the other hand, by measuring FSI, mobile campaigns show positive results as you can see how the airline is present in those micro-moments (research phase pre-flight booking) for its customer.

Measure FSI in Google Analytics

Funnel Visualization Report

You may be familiar with the Funnel Visualization report in Google Analytics (GA). It shows how many visitors go to each step and how many leave the funnel. FSI can be measured in the funnel conversion rate by counting sessions from users that went from the Book a Flight page to the Flights Results page. This concept can also be applied to measuring conversion rate from a specific type of page: users that arrived to Route and Destination pages and then moved forward to the Flights Results page.

FSI Funnel Visualization Report in Google Analytics - EveryMundo

Device Report

While you can segment goal metrics such as goal completions, starts and values in GA, you cannot segment the Funnel Visualization report. Essentially, you cannot see how mobile users navigate through the funnel. However, you can see the conversion rate for the goal completion specified by device when you select Audience > Mobile > Overview

FSI Device Report - segmentation by device - EveryMundo

The traditional GA Goal funnel report shows:

  1. Number of visits to each step in the funnel
  2. The percentage of visits that continued to the next step
  3. Where exiting visits went

Though within the device report you cannot see the funnel conversion rate from Book a Flight page to Flights Results page, you will see the percentage of visits that resulted in a conversion to the goal and segmentation by device.

Custom Report using Horizontal Segmentable Funnels

Another option for airlines to calculate their FSI by device is to create a custom report using horizontal segmentable funnels.

FSI Horizontal Segmentable Funnels Custom Report - EveryMundo

This type of report will look like a funnel flipped on its side. The values in blue represent the visits to each step, and values outlined in orange represent the exit rate between the Book a Flight page and Flight Results page.

When you download the report, you can calculate FSI by dividing Goal Completions by Goal Starts. The results in this case would be:

Device Category FSI
desktop 94.0%
mobile 83.3%
tablet 90.8%
All Devices 92.9%

Remember that it is common for numbers not to match up exactly between standard and custom reports for accounts that have a high number of page views.

How to Set Up a Horizontal Segmentable Funnel

The funnel contains a single step, which is the Goal URL for the preceding URL.

Create the Goal

Choose a custom goal and set up the Flights Results page as your destination page, and the Book a  Flight page as step 1 of the funnel.

Create the Custom Report

To set up the report, use five different metrics: Starts, Conversion Rate, Completions, Abandonments, and Abandonment Rate. Make sure you add the device dimension to the report if you want to see FSI by device type.

  • The Starts metric is the number of visits in which the preceding URL to the Goal URL (Book a Flight page) was visited at least once.
  • The Completions metric is the number of visits in which the Goal URL (Flights Results page) was visited at least once.
  • The Conversion Rate metric is the FSI.
  • The Abandonments metric is the number of exits of the Book a Flight page.
  • The Abandonment rate metric is the exit rate of the Book a Flight page.

Using Custom Segments

Another approach on how to measure FSI is using Custom Segments by applying conditions and sequences. Similar to the Custom Report methodology, Custom Segments will measure visits for each defined step during the user’s session.

Measure how many sessions included the Book a Flight Page

In the custom segment include a specific hostname, landing page or URL structure. Additional segments can be applied, such as, traffic sources (ppc) or technology (devices), if needed.

FSI Measure sessions in Book Flights page - EveryMundo

Measure how many sessions initiated a Flight Search

Create another Custom Segment using sequences to measure the number of sessions that started in the Book a Flight page and are followed by the Flight Results page. It is recommended to include all additional segments such as traffic sources or devices used in the first Custom Segment.

These two segments can be applied to measure FSI in different reports within GA to evaluate impact on different levels or channels. For example, you can look at FSI in a campaign, ad group or even keyword level in the AdWords view to measure how CPC efforts are driving a flight search. Select Acquisition > AdWords > Campaigns.

Upon applying these two segments in the campaign level within the AdWords report, we can calculate the FSI. Notice that campaign 3 has a higher FSI of 84% compared to the rest. FSI was calculated dividing the number of sessions from “Book Flights Page > Search Flights Page” (865 sessions) by “Book Flights Page” (1,025 sessions). Even though this campaign may not be contributing to mobile transactions on a last-click attribution basis, raising bids to drive more traffic could drive sales through other channels or devices in the near future.

FSI Sessions initiated in Flight Search - EveryMundo

Case Study

A growth-oriented airline started using airTRFX® as a landing page solution for paid search efforts. airTRFX® is a tool developed by EveryMundo that delivers a high-performance landing page for every destination and route, in any language and country targeted by the airline. Leveraging dynamic, fare-based and conversion oriented content, airTRFX® drove higher FSI compared to previous landing pages.

This airline sent brand traffic on mobile to the airTRFX® hub page and non-brand travel queries to their respective airTRFX® unique and optimized pages for every route and destination. As a result, there was an increase of 7.8% in FSI for branded searches and 9.6% for non-branded searches on mobile.

Campaign Type Previous FSI airTRFX® FSI Δ
Brand 56.7% 61.2% +7.8%
Non Brand 72.5% 79.5% +9.6%

This airline saw an improvement in FSI by implementing airTRFX® as a landing page solution, especially on mobile. As overall conversion rate increased, a greater portion of the budget was allocated to mobile, since it was clear that mobile campaigns were answering user search queries better than before.

Closing Thoughts

Using FSI to track micro-conversions allows airlines to get a better insight into the conversion path of the users and how they are interacting with the airline brand across different devices and platforms. FSI tracking helps close a measurement gap that leaves marketers otherwise wondering if their campaigns are working, especially on mobile. Airlines that track micro-conversions, such as FSI, become better conversion optimizers.

Ultimately, the goal for airlines is to achieve more macro-conversions (sales). But the path to macro-conversions consists of multiple micro-conversions. Airlines that optimize their mobile paid efforts by looking at FSI will ultimately enhance the macro-conversion rate. To optimize for micro-conversions means to also enhance the conversion power of the site as a whole by improving the landing page experience.


[avatar user=”Alfonso” size=”thumbnail” link=”https://twitter.com/ponchrt” target=”_blank”]Alfonso Ramirez[/avatar]

[avatar user=”Katharina” size=”thumbnail” link=”https://twitter.com/bigdatakatha” target=”_blank”]Katharina Warzel[/avatar]