Every two years, all the world's aviation and aerospace press, manufacturers, and major buyers gather at the Paris Air Show.
For Rolls-Royce, this June's show was the most important marketing, sales and media relations event of the year. The marketing communications department was under a lot of pressure to do an extraordinarily good job.
The team worried that the one-two punch of terrorism threats and SARs fears meant that many regular attendees might not be able to come. If press, prospects and customers can not attend your biggest show, what do you do?
Internet Manager Camilla Leonelli decided she would do her best to bring the show to the desktops of everyone who could not make it. CAMPAIGN
Rolls-Royce's main Web site has almost 8,000 pages, it is massive. "The difficulty is, if you want information in a nutshell, you might have to look in many places on the site," notes Leonelli.
Creating a microsite for the show made sense, the marketing team could promote it as something special and visitors would find everything they needed in one easy-to-surf place.
Plus, Leonelli figured it might help promote use of the main corporate site. "The microsite encapsulates content on the front end, and guides you out to the PLC [corporate] site through an easier route. Once the microsite disappears from view after the show, at least people are left with an 'Ah, I know where that is. I was guided to it by the Paris show site.'"
She started the development process by making sure she was invited to all related show planning meetings from January onwards, especially those involving stand design and marketing communications.
"The microsite goal was complete synergy in all ways rather than being built as an add-on at the very last minute."
As the various product line marketing teams hammered out how they would use the stand to promote a variety of products and services, their decisions helped clarify the site's navigation.
As the communications teams planned major press announcements, photo ops, and video-ed events for the show, Leonelli made sure the site had specific spots for all the resulting content to be placed.
o Daily highlights from the show in text, photo & video
o Links to key press releases
o A show map so reporters could find their way to the booth
o Specs details for key products being promoted.
As the stand team finalized their design and the video/flash presentations that would be playing on screens at the stand, Leonelli coordinated with them to make sure the same images appeared on her microsite's home page.
Leonelli knew reporters and customers from all over the world would view the site using very different computers and net access. Although the site had plenty of high-end bells and whistles, she designed for the lowest-common denominator:
o Every main page had to load quickly at 56k
o Visitors had a choice of text, photos and/or videos
o Design was compatible with versions 4.0 of both Netscape and IE which about 20% of the main site's visitors still used.
The site launched a couple of weeks before the show with content for reporters who needed background information for stories. (Many reporters prep and write their stories before a show starts, and then add on newsy frills at the last minute.)
The site was promoted in press releases, emailed notes to important media and customers, and at the show itself. Leonelli also put a link to the show site on the home page of the corporate site.
She waited a full month after the show before she took down that prominent home page link so reporters filing stories with longer lead times (such as monthly magazines) would be able to get everything they needed.
After that, she made sure the microsite would remain on the company's servers indefinitely, and that it showed up when visitors looked for it via either internal site search or
external search engines.
"Although that microsite is now a snapshot in time and will no longer be updated, it's still a useful reference tool."
The average microsite visitor viewed more than 25 pages per visit during July and almost 10-pages per visit in August (after the show was well over).
To put this into perspective, Rolls-Royce's main corporate site averaged about 1.5 pages viewed per visitor during both months. For example, the data for July 2003 was:
Show microsite: 5,492 visitors (non-unique)
Main site: 285,647 visitors (non-unique)
We derive two lessons from this: The first being that a well-done show microsite can generate extraordinary interest from the press and customers. The second being that simpler "encapsulated" home page design may lead to many more pageviews than a home page with a zillion links.
Leonelli notes that about 10% of show microsite visitors dug so deep that they ended up going over on links to the main corporate site. The most popular areas were the media center and civil and defense aerospace.
Currently Leonelli's in the middle of a revamp of the entire corporate site, and she is relying on her design for the Paris microsite as an inspiration for the whole thing. It is a huge project and may take a while. "Compared to the main site," she warns, "designing Paris was a doddle."
Rolls-Royce Paris Air Show Microsite:
Rolls-Royce main site: