We find many marketers, especially those creating strategies for what we call “considered purchases”, often struggle to create a more holistic view of a customer and their customer journey, making it more difficult for them to address their customer’s needs at every stage of the journey.

Approaching this is going to be complex at times, but it’s key for it to be fluid and simple for the customer to naturally follow.

This is where you can utilise performance marketing to raise brand awareness within the travel sector, while also addressing ROI in the correct way, so brand perception and engagement isn’t hindered along the journey.  It’s all about understanding the potential pitfalls, and solving them before they become an issue.

Here’s some advice from my experience in dealing with affiliate campaigns for niche travel brands.

Know your user. Optimise your data.

At Silverbean, we always encourage our clients to capture as much data as possible.

The more data you have available, the most insightful you can be in your user’s journey and their habits. The better you know your users, the better you can reach out to them.

A niche travel brand usually attracts a different kind of customer. These customers know what they want, how they want it and above all, they require an attentive service. To meet their needs to the highest possible standard, data is your best friend.

We regularly carry out audits of the parameters available in analytics reports and we also encourage our clients to pass as many parameters as possible within the pixel, captured from the confirmation page.  For more information on how data can catapult your affiliate campaign performance, check out my colleague Scott’s great post on Enhanced Ecommerce.

Loyalty vs. New Users

Most of loyalty schemes are free to join and they offer rewards and extras to their users, making loyalty an appealing choice for travellers, especially if they travel for business purposes.

The user journey in this case can sometimes skip the Research and Evaluation stages, as the users will choose the comfort and commodity against lower prices or exploring new options.

While loyalty schemes are key in the travel and the wider travel sector, we often get asked how brands can actually go about attracting new customers through these methods.

It’s certainly a challenging task. We tend to run competitions through bloggers to collect user data first. We also get creative with B2B solutions and partner up with sportswear and outdoor clothing brands to endorse each other’s products.

Often, it’s about challenging the travellers to diversify their user journey.

Travel Bloggers

The travel sector, and especially the niche travel sector, isn’t like the retail industry. When it comes to retail specifically, users tend to find out more information about the products they wish to purchase from influencers online. Reviews are really influential and valuable to the most attentive users.

Unfortunately, there’s a hurdle here. How can you secure these influencer reviews when your budget for gifting is super tight? After all, any blogger worth their salt is unlikely to be willing to review a brand or their trips, without experiencing the actual adventure themselves. It’s a matter of integrity, which we totally respect.

In general, affiliate companies can be very good to work with, but it often depends on the ethos of the company itself. I think a lot of bloggers make the mistake of joining every single accommodation affiliate they can find and end up selling out on their brand to push luxury hotels across their blogs (as these net them the biggest commission) which their audience could never afford – I, on principle, do not promote anything I wouldn’t pay for myself but it can be a hard line to walk when trying to monetise a site’ – The Broke Backpacker

But, with a network of influencers across the globe, we have found a way:

We are actively working on building an exacting map of travel bloggers which it will allows us to follow them around the globe and keep up to speed with their adventures. Knowing where the bloggers are helps the gifting process, as we will be able to offer a trip nearby to their location so they can experience and review the product. This minimises expense for the brand, whilst providing bloggers with a niche experience they can share with their audience in a way that respects the integrity of their blog. Win-win!

We’ll have more results of this method to share with you in due course – so watch this space!

Furthermore, as Dan Webb covered in his travel affiliate marketing post a while back, there are alternatives to gifting that will allow the influencer to create unique content that both resonates with their audience, and shows off the brand in the best light.

Objectives over ROI

Overall in the digital marketing industry, there are various ways to promote a brand and expose it to the wider users. If you solely focus on ROI, you will miss out on long term achievements.

Every type of campaign has a different objective and naturally, a different way to measure their effectiveness. If you run a flash sale, the ROI will most likely be your goal as you will have specific revenue target to hit. On the other hand, if you push some content live – your objective will most likely revolve around brand awareness, achieving results over a longer time-period.

The best approach – needless to say – always has your end goal in mind.

If you want to find out more about planning your affiliate strategy in the travel sector you can read more here, or simply drop us a line with the scope of your problems and objectives. We’d love to share our insight and potentially solve your travel affiliate marketing headaches.