Nicolas van Bekkum

Nicolas van Bekkum

Nicolas van Bekkum is Commercial Director of FarmCamps and is responsible for sales, marketing and ICT. FarmCamps is a Dutch travel organization, providing luxurious glamping holidays at Dutch farms.

The first question is about the main KPI’s for growing your brand. What are these for FarmCamps?
Nicolas is clear on that: “More satisfied customers! Everything else, such as brand awareness, brand health, etc., is of course important. It’s correlated with the goal of gaining more satisfied customers.”

 

What are the main ingredients or drivers for growth that you apply in your business?
Nicolas mentions three important elements: having good propositions, making sure your customers can identify with the brand, and making customers feel good. “We are focused on trying to exceed customer expectations,” says Nicolas.

This year’s central theme is the role of media and brand growth. Nicolas defines media as everything we use to gather information — TV, magazines, media channels, social media, etc. “We refer to them as our distribution channels. We don’t want to be dependent on one specific channel, so basically, all channels are equally important and [are] evaluated differently,” according to Nicolas. When he thinks about media as drivers for growth, TV comes to mind first. Among members of FarmCamps’ target audience, says Nicolas, TV generates greater loyalty than most online channels.

 

Are FarmCamps’ media investments focused on short or long-term goals?
Nicolas: “Both! We use the Google-model ‘see, think, do, care’ for our communication. People on top of the funnel (see) are approached differently, with different media, than people who are orienting for a holiday (think) or about to book one of our holidays (do). We know when most of our target audience would book a holiday and make sure that we’re visible on TV around that period. After that, we try to convert these contact moments. In a nutshell, we primarily use traditional media for long-term goals, and for short-term, [we use] primarily online media.”

Within FarmCamps, Nicolas is also the primary decision-maker for media planning and buying. Nicolas: “After planning the media, I go to channel experts to carry out the plans and how to monitor them. Measuring and monitoring the success of the media is done in detail, and the KPI’s differ per channel. Everything that is directly measurable is evaluated by ROI, and from there, we look at impressions, CTR and engagement. With TV, we look at uplift on the website in brand-related channels. Our KPI, satisfaction, is measured in surveys [at] different moments — for instance when in contact with the client in our call center, or the day after the holiday.”

How do you measure the analytics, what research tools do you use, and who is your partner?
FarmCamps works with a lot of different tools to analyze data and set up campaigns, from Google Analytics to Active Campaign. The company also has a good collaboration with Storm Digital, from whom it hires specialists for specific channels.

Nicolas adds: “We do a lot with insights, and maybe it is a bit off-topic, but for instance, we anonymously monitor the weather conditions of all of our visitors. We link this to the message in our advertising. We also use the weather forecast to know when it’s a perfect time to convert web visitors and change our message to conversion-related content instead of just communicating the concept.”

The decision on what is the best media mix depends mainly on historical data, but FarmCamps is testing a lot of new channels as well. “If we see that a certain approach for a channel works (e.g., better than forecasted), we invest more budget and time in it. We have a very broad mix, because we don’t want to be dependent on one channel. If something doesn’t work out, we change our strategy/game plan.”

“Our main focus is to implement new marketing automation tools, which will be applied at the beginning of 2019.”

“We have a very high client retention rate of 25%, and obviously 75% new clients every year. They both have a specific pattern. With this new tool, we can respond even better, with different messages at different times. High relevancy is key. For example, we don’t show remarketing messages right after someone is visiting a website, but with a delay of one day or two days. That seems to work. We actually see a 40% increase in conversion rate.”

And what are the roles of different agencies with regard to media?
Nicolas: “I’m not a specialist, but a generalist. So we work with several partners. The strategy comes primarily from us. We are in the lead. But we hire specialists who are the best in their areas of expertise.”

What is your opinion on the possible impacts of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, from your brand’s perspective?
“We check every technological development to see how it can be useful for us and how it can be adapted. We automate processes but still use the human brain. There’s a lot possible with data, but not everything. We strongly believe in personal communication. In essence, it’s all about understanding your client and product and having a clear, recognizable style in all of your communication.”

When asked for his opinions on high vs. low-reach media, Nicolas says, “Obviously, it differs per product. For us as a niche product, low-reach media can be very successful. It’s not about high or low reach; it’s about relevant reach. I’m not looking for 30 million impressions, but 30 million relevant impressions. It’s about specific targeting and making sure you reach a relevant audience.”

And do you think you can have high-reach campaigns with digital-only?
“It is possible, but I don’t think it will be very effective or relevant for us, due to the fact that there are too many distractions for people online.”

Finally, do customer journey insights have an impact on your media choices? And if so, in what way?
“Yes, they have. Depending on where a customer is in the journey, they receive different media from us. Some media are just not suited for converting, branding purposes, or to inform.