Amtrak's Darlene Abubakar on Reaching African-American and Hispanic Businesspeople
Gaining an edge on the competition while relaxing—it's the kind of concept that would appeal to any business traveler. But market research revealed to Amtrak that two particular segments might appreciate having the inside track on its speedy Acela Express trains more than others. So the passenger train line is targeting African-American and Hispanic prospects in its "My Track to Success" campaign.
Darlene Abubakar, Amtrak's director of national advertising, says the campaign that left the station on March 10 will arrive in multiple locations before ending its journey in the fall. Web placements, e-mail distributions and advertisements in print publications such as Black Enterprise magazine and Hispanic Business are expected to be just the ticket for increasing Acela's ridership.
From January-April, Abubakar shares, the e-mail component of the campaign pulled the following results: Among African-Americans targeted through a monthly e-blast, Amtrak delivered 784,247 impressions, saw 79,732 opens and realized a clickthrough rate of 0.46 percent. Among Hispanics receiving monthly e-newsletters, Amtrak delivered 2,394,611 impressions, netted 346,318 opens and recorded clickthrough rates ranging from 0.05 percent to 0.69 percent.
Target Marketing: What objective is Amtrak trying to achieve with this campaign?
Darlene Abubakar: Well, the objective with the campaign was using actual Acela Express riders, loyal riders who did volunteer. We're not paying them; [they] did volunteer to tell their stories. So our objective was to kind of use word-of-mouth. That appeal to let other potential riders know why our loyal Hispanic and African-American, in this case, businesspeople use Acela Express. And, basically, it was one of those [instances] of hearing it from someone, a personal message, as opposed to just strictly advertising.
TM: Is Amtrak's usual campaign strategy that of mass marketing?
DA: Yes. Well, we've always used a combination of print, primarily within the Northeast corridor. We're targeting, of course, business travelers, because this campaign did promote the Acela Express product. So, typically, we use business magazines targeting the Hispanic and African-American businessperson. And online, as well, and e-communications. We have not used newspaper, specifically, for the targeted segments for Hispanic and African-American [businesspeople].