Data Engineering

Using Data to Elevate the Customer Experience.






Data Engineering, Data Science, Marketing Services

The Story in 100 Words...

We worked with Flybe from 2012, with a shared focus on using data to continually improve the customer experience. At the core of our partnership, we helped them connect and integrate their operational and marketing data systems to create a unified view of every customer. This served as the platform for a true data-led strategy, with advanced insight, segmentation and personalisation combining to drive customer engagement and customer value across their digital channels.

Key Relationship Stats


Customers managed in data warehouse


Data variables used to drive personalisation in flagship campaigns


ROI from personalised campaigns

Relationship Highlights

Overhauling the Pre-flight Customer Journey

We helped Flybe use digital communications to continually improve the pre-flight customer journey, delivering best practice customer service and incremental revenue growth from ancillaries.

Personalisation that drives results

We transformed the way the airline used data to drive personalisation at scale, making campaigns easier to manage, doubling engagement rates, and seeing campaign results reach ROIs of over 80:1.

Optima Connect are original-thinking problem-solvers adept at handling complex data challenges. Together we were able to develop true, data-driven marketing strategies.”

Director, Customer Experience and Digital

Optima helped us offer personalised content to even more customers. We leveraged the power of our data to increase our targeted email campaigns volumes by 40% without extra build time.”

Director, Customer Experience and Digital

The Full Story

As an airline, Flybe had the benefit of clean customer data to work with. Using it to develop data-driven marketing programmes, however, required a connected view of customer behaviour and transactional data.

With over 9m customers on record and multiple data feeds from their partners and ad-hoc data capture, doing this effectively meant designing and building a dedicated marketing data warehouse to join-up booking and boarding information with marketing data.

This gave the marketing team a complete picture of each passenger, including customer segmentation, preferences, transaction and contact history. In turn, this surfaced countless opportunities to create a fully connected experience, and at a fraction of the cost of storing data in a CRM or ESP system.


Automating Personalisation at Scale

It can be frustrating for customers to receive an email promoting a low-cost flight, if it’s then difficult for them to find and book it at the advertised price. We solved this problem for Flybe by developing a script that ingested their IT team’s master pricing data – over 100k lines of complex JSON data – automatically transforming it into a useable format, and making it available to their email platform.

This revolutionised the airline’s ability to create and distribute personalised offers via email, crucially enabling them to include deep links to the precise flights being promoted to each customer. This ‘problem solved’ is typical of where our data engineers add value to real-world data problems.  

Flybe’s flagship ‘September Sale’ campaign was another example. A showcase for their winter schedule, this multi-part campaign aimed to drive incremental sales via email marketing. In total, we sent over four million behavioural-led emails to customers in seven days.

Driven by customers’ contact and transaction history, dynamic personalisation delivered the required level of precision which included managing over 500 campaign conditions and 131 creative variations. Open rates were +60% higher than the industry average and click-through rates were +200% higher. Significantly, this led to an ROI of over 80:1 in just seven days.  

Along with strong customer metrics, our automation also greatly enhanced efficiency. Before we’d put automation in place, each of the campaign’s email variants would have required manual cross-checking against the master pricing spreadsheet. After automating it, the marketing and trade teams had the confidence that the information was accurate and up-to-date, with no need to proof every version. Better efficiency and improved customer experience. Win-win.


Test and Learn Optimisation

Upgrading the customer experience is a long-term process,and a strong test and learn strategy sat at the core of our activity. Working closely with the marketing team, we tested every aspect of our digital communications. This included a rigorous programme of A/B testing to understand which subject lines and content worked best, where content should be placed, how long emails should be, how much copy emails should contain and, of course, using control cells to find out how much uplift our campaigns were generating.

Always designed to optimise response, this scientific test and learn methodology helped inform future selections and messaging while also changing the way Flybe tracked and reported campaign ROIs.


Overhauling the Pre-flight Customer Journey

The customer pre-flight journey for airline passengers can be long. People often book flights weeks or months in advance and, as such, there are many opportunities to use data to improve their experience. We worked with Flybe to map the full journey. This helped us identify seven key moments where marketing could have the greatest impact on customer experience, including booking complementary services, pre-flight preparation and customer feedback.

The strength of Flybe’s data architecture meant we could segment customers quickly and accurately, orchestrating the data to allow for even more precise and on-time messaging.  The results of this work included stronger commercial outcomes from up-sell activity, and a reduction in the operational costs associated with call centres and in-airport customer support.


Preference Centre

A sophisticated data-driven marketing programme acknowledges and responds to customer preferences. We helped Flybe develop a mature view of customer preferences, including observing transactions and website behaviours to build a picture of known preferences.

We took this one step further by building a preference centre that let customers choose how frequently they heard from us and to provide more information around what kind of content they were interested in receiving. This technology also allowed us to offer an ‘email holiday’ as an alternative to customers fully opting-out of communications.

This meant that Flybe retained more customers (on their terms) and gained valuable data with which to enhance their marketing communications programme further.


Reporting Portal

Connecting data and organising it into a single view is only valuable if it leads to insight that drives action. That’s why we built Flybe a reporting portal that gave marketing teams at-a-glance dashboards containing key metrics from their customer data. This allowed them to access important information about their customers without needing the technical skills to query the database.

We improved their dashboards continually over time, to include customer data metrics such as total customer volumes and contactable customers, including customer profiles and segment splits. Their dashboards also included digital performance data and a searchable archive of all email comms ever sent, including click through and open rates as well as revenue achieved. Importantly, the reporting portal also allowed Flybe’s marketing team to plan campaigns by finding customer counts (e.g. “how many business customers do we have living in Aberdeen that fly to London regularly?”) with all functionality updated daily and optimised for desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

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