TMW Unlimited

Core disciplines: CRM/Customer engagement, Digital



Virgin Trains is the most ambitious and modern train company in the UK.

Over the last four years, we have been helping the brand realise a new era of digital communications, moving it to a more relevant and holistic customer experience approach. 


We have set the vision and strategy and helped the business bring together their customer functions – website and apps, digital and social, CRM and loyalty and onboard customer experience – into one internal customer experience hub, aligning the team around a new vision to ‘make every journey amazing’ across all digital touchpoints..

This new strategy has five key components:

1. Advanced marketing technology

To deliver on this vision, we have helped Virgin Trains implement a sophisticated technology stack, powered by IBM. This enables us to deliver hyper-personalised messages across all digital touchpoints and provide an innovative customer experience capability that responds to customers’ needs and digital behaviours with greater agility. Next best action is determined by multiple data points and delivered in real-time at the point of customer interaction and in the most relevant channel. The resulting capability delivers a consistent and relevant experience for each customer at pre-booking, post-booking and in-travel.

2. A multi-channel approach 

We use a combination of multiple digital touchpoints to deliver a seamless experience and the most relevant messaging across digital advertising, social advertising and content (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), email, website personalisation, SMS and app push. We continually seek to introduce new digital channels and leverage new technologies to drive reach and engagement. For example, we have been integrating voice search via the Alexa app and utilising interactive outdoor media at Euston station for pre-departure comms.

3. Tailored digital acquisition activity underpinned by a smart use of data

Our contextually relevant digital display and social advertising targets people thinking of travelling by car or plane, or people actually in transit. We target people in the moment of their engagement with other modes of transport e.g. people who have visited motorway service stations or have logged into Wi-Fi at Edinburgh airport. And while they are in the middle of their trip planning online, on sites such as TripAdvisor and Skyscanner.

We also target people geographically, serving up relevant price offers for specific routes from their nearest Virgin Trains-serviced station. We use lookalike and third-party data via a DMP for programmatic and make heavy use of web analytics to drive retargeting in digital, social and email, which has had a significant impact on conversion rates. The tone of voice across all our digital touchpoints is always full of energy and has the unmistakable Virgin swagger.

4. Personalised contact strategies 

To ensure customers book again, it’s vital they have a high-quality travel experience, from start to finish. Our digital pre-departure programme is delivered across email, SMS and app push, and makes travelling with Virgin Trains simpler and more enjoyable. Fuelled by data and insight, all communications are completely personalised to a customer’s journey – by coach class, seat reservation information, onboard entertainment offering, destination content, live service status and even destination weather data – to make their journey run as smoothly as possible. Additional personalisation allows customers to select the frequency and type of information they’d like to receive in the run up to their journey.

To motivate and prompt customers to keep booking, we are relying less on email and more on website personalisation, SMS and digital retargeting. This includes the use of relevant loyalty incentives at key points to drive behaviour. One such example is using website personalisation to deliver tailored Nectar offers at the point of booking, whereby we can nudge customers to choose more distressed inventory in real time, therefore maximising yield for the business.

5. Optimisation and continuous improvement based on insight and performance  

Measurement, testing and optimisation plays a fundamental part in developing and implementing our digital marketing programmes. It ensures we’re using the best combination of targeting, messaging and creative elements to drive conversion to sale and incremental revenue increases across all of the assets we produce. We utilise Tableau dashboards for on-going real time reporting, programme and campaign benchmarking and testing results. Regular analytics steering meetings are held where the analytics and optimisation roadmap are discussed and prioritised to ensure the analysis delivered will drive most business impact.


  • 22% increase in incremental revenue
  • 17% increase in conversion to sale
  • 5% increase in first time bookers going on to re-book
  • 20% increase on NPS – up 5 points
  • 14% increase in marketable database
0Shares  Twitter   LinkedIn   Facebook   Google+   Send to a friend 

Users who viewed this page also looked at:

Interact with TMW Unlimited