There are many benefits of mass transit but riders avoid mass transit. How can transit agencies increase ridership through technology and marketing...
5 Advantages of a Single Platform for Transit Marketing
Successfully marketing transit agencies to potential new riders requires various communication streams. Learn more about simplifying this for your agency.
Transit agencies, large and small, must successfully market themselves to retain current riders and attract potential new riders. However, the challenge lies in finding a single platform that meets all the marketing needs of a modern transit agency. Today’s audience requires various communication streams to engage with a brand, including transit agencies.
At Station Four (S4), we are all about embracing the latest technology and expanding our website and application design knowledge. With powerful new platforms like eTransit, we provide agencies with a centralized dashboard tailored just for transit marketing. This single platform is capable of website design, email campaigns, social media engagement, user-friendly routes and schedules, fares and passes, and so much more. Hold on to your seats as we cruise through five key advantages of utilizing a single marketing platform for transit services.
Whether buying a car or riding a bus, consumers choose how to get around based on several factors. One of those factors is communication.
1. Consistent, Measurable Communications
The National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) identified three significant barriers that keep people from choosing to use a transit service, such as riding a bus or taking a train:
- The system doesn’t meet their needs.
- There is a knowledge gap.
- There is a perceptual stigma.
A knowledge gap exists when potential riders don’t know what transit services are available, where bus stops are located, how much fares and passes cost, how to purchase them quickly, and how frequently the buses stop.
Transit agencies attempt to cross this knowledge gap with effective, clear communication via websites, emails, social media, and other marketing efforts. However, when agencies have a website maintained by one company, another company handling email marketing campaigns, and a third vendor managing social media engagement, inevitably, the communication becomes inconsistent. Without access to all the data these different platforms generate, targeted communication is near impossible.
It also greatly strains transit agency personnel to oversee a measurable message. In order to target the audience, a transit agency needs data. Tailoring messaging allows the audience to be met where they are with accessible, relevant information. eTransit is a robust data collection tool that tracks audience engagement across their entire journey. These data-driven insights provide the actionable intel transit agencies need to operate most effectively.
2. User-Friendly Dashboard
In Jacksonville, Florida, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) had an outdated website with cumbersome pages for looking up bus routes and schedules. Then, S4 got involved. Even though the older website was not mobile compatible, S4 found that 80% of riders accessed the JTA website from their phones, making it frustrating to see where and when a bus was available.
A single platform provides a central dashboard that effortlessly links all relevant information for transit customers. From routes and schedules to fares and passes, a single platform can put all of this information into a user-friendly dashboard that is simple for the agency to maintain.
When the information is easy to maintain, it’s easier to communicate. If marketing efforts are diversified across various platforms, updating a route or communicating a bus schedule change must be chased down across all the platforms. Otherwise, a potential rider may get outdated and incorrect information. Worst case, when a potential rider gets erroneous information, their confidence in transit diminishes and they may become a detractor.
A single platform for transit marketing provides a better user experience, both internally and externally.
3. Reduced Training Time
Employees for transit agencies often must wear multiple hats. For every tool that is available, new employees must be trained in the tool to use it effectively. When a separate tool exists for email campaigns, a different tool is used for social media engagement, and a third tool for maintaining the website, marketing personnel must be trained in each platform. It is inefficient and expensive to require excessive training in order to communicate and market transit services.
Instead, a single platform like eTransit by S4 means less training to accomplish marketing tasks. Need to learn how to prepare an email campaign? Want to update the website to show how the transit service was recently in the news? Have a fun holiday greeting to share on social media? These can be learned and implemented from a single platform, making training far more efficient. It also means marketing teams have more time for engagement over yet another “lunch and learn.”
4. Increased Trust
All brands work to build trust with their audience in order to inspire a given action. Transit agencies are largely government entities, and must work within the confines of a fractured political system. Individual fiefdoms can occur and information siloed which results in a disservice to the audience, breeds distrust, and creates a communication void.
eTransit helps agencies take a more modern approach by communicating openly and transparently to a specific, targeted audience. When things change, there is already a systematic approach in place for continual engagement with the audience. This helps instill trust and confidence in the system. eTransit is that system for your agency.
According to RTAP, non-riders go through six stages on their way to becoming transit riders:
- Positive image
- Trial rider
- Transit rider
Starting with number one, unawareness, most transit agencies don’t even have a dedicated website. Instead, they are given a few pages on their city’s/municipality’s website. Those systems are purely content focused and not targeted at all to a transit agencies’ audience. Causing potential customers to dig through a municipal website just to find the information they need is inefficient and can degrade trust. At Station Four, we believe every transit agency should have a dedicated, feature-rich site, which is one of the most potent weapons eTransit brings to the table.
Potential riders also need to feel good about the transit service and they need to have trust in the brand itself. Because today’s audience gets information from a variety of sources (website, email, apps, social media), the brand must be targeted in an intuitive, digital-centric way that gently leads the audience through the sales funnel. Disjointed communication can wreak havoc on brand trust and identity. The audience who sees an email or a post from the transit agency that looks and feels vastly different from the website may, at best, be confused and, at worse, be turned off altogether.
A negative image can also spell brand distrust. The advantage of a single platform for marketing becomes clear—the transit agency creates a clear visual identity across digital platforms in order to build trust and maintain a positive image with potential customers.
5. New Customer Engagement
One of the challenges of every transit agency is how to increase ridership. How can a transit agency identify, market, and capture new riders? Our model for new customer acquisition is founded on following data-driven decision-making practices and reducing friction for new riders. Friction is any kind of barrier that stands in the way of your targeted audience finding what they need and moving forward with a desired action.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently awarded $13.1 million in grants to promote Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). These grants are great for spurring creative engagement such as the City of Austin providing micro transit demand response by offering convenient rides for fans to and from soccer matches. On-call public transportation like JTA’s ReadiRide program is another example to reduce friction for potential riders. As a form of last-mile competition to ride sharing, electric scooter rentals, and other threats to public transportation, the benefits of creative solutions like these are many, but how do you communicate this to the right audience? Data.
A single marketing platform helps your team capitalize on opportunities like this with a treasure trove of data-driven insights to help you reach the audience more effectively. eTransit focuses heavily on customer data collection and identity marketing contacts so that when major announcements are ready to be made (like an easy ride to and from the big game), it can be sent to the right people at the right time.
Get Started with the Single Platform For Transit Marketing
Whether it’s to communicate consistently, provide a user-friendly dashboard, reduce training time, build trust, or engage new customers more effectively, a single platform for marketing transit services makes sense. Contact Station Four today to see how advanced tools like eTransit can help catapult your agency to the forefront of the transit transformation.