Every month there seems to be more and more emphasis placed on mobile marketing from the likes of Google and Facebook, whether it’s an algorithm update or changes to design and user interface.

It’s obvious which direction the industry is heading in, and while most marketers are only just starting to sit up and take notice, mobile is already firmly in the driving seat for some industries. These brands really need to get on-board quickly and consider their mobile marketing strategies, otherwise they risk being left behind in the departure lounge.

If you haven’t guessed from the analogies, the travel industry in particular has seen significant mobile growth over the past few years. Take a look at some recent statistics:

Travel Mobile statistics

This is notable across Silverbean’s key travel clients, with organic traffic from mobile devices up by 18% overall during the first quarter of 2016 (Jan-Mar) compared to last year, while organic mobile conversions were up by 19%.

We don’t need to spell it out, but a solid mobile search strategy is integral to the success of any online marketing efforts.

Here are four key areas to help your travel brand get mobile:

Be there every step of the journey

Technology has made it possible for travellers to pick up their smartphones and look for inspiration and answers at any moment when planning, booking, and even travelling as part of a holiday or trip.

These moments and intent-driven searches are referred to as ‘micro-moments’ by Google and last year I put together a guide on identifying and incorporating these into a marketing strategy. For the travel industry, these moments can span months, starting as soon as your potential customer is motivated to think about their future plans, and ending after the trip or holiday is over.

Google and Luth Research identified more than 400 individual moments during a real-life travel purchase, 87% of which happened on mobile. This was just one person planning a trip to Disney World:

Google Travel Micro-moments

If your brand isn’t present for the key moments in these journeys, you will miss out on winning the hearts, minds, and money of any potential customers. Start by mapping the most common organic search journeys for your users and identify where you can meet their needs, and ultimately influence their decisions, with engaging and useful content. Read the full micro-moments blog post here for more guidance.

Provide a seamless experience

Travellers want a quick and hassle-free journey when they turn up at the airport or train station, and the same can be said about your website. Travel brands can’t afford to neglect user experience, especially when it comes to the checkout and booking process, making conversion rate optimisation essential to any strategy.

Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm, which came into effect over a year ago and was updated in May, considers user experience as part of its ranking factors, including bounce rate, time on site, and click-through rate (CTR). Ensuring your site is optimised for mobile devices, through responsive design or a separate site, is an absolute minimum of effective mobile marketing. Use Search Console to fix any mobile-friendly errors, such as touch elements that are too close together, and pay close attention to how users are engaging with your site’s content, ensuring there are no barriers preventing them from converting.

Top travel brands are already investing time and money into improving mobile user experience, including Ryanair who have used 36,000 developer hours to build a new platform that speeds up their booking process by 20% and uses customer data to provide useful information at the right time. According to the latest eTravel Benchmark results from eDigitalResearch, mobile experiences are now rated on a par with desktop for the first time ever, with both achieving an overall average score of 82%:

eTravel-UX

Address the need for speed

Speed is arguably the most important factor when it comes to both travelling and browsing the web on a mobile phone. Travellers are always looking for the fastest route to their destination, and users want to get the information they need as quickly as possible.

Again, site speed is one of the signals used by Google’s algorithm to rank pages, but more importantly, users will simply leave your site if it takes too long to load, typically more than three seconds.

Use the PageSpeed Insights tool to assess your site’s performance and task your development team with giving users the fastest experience possible, with Google pushing for mobile web pages to render in less than one second (good luck!) To get ahead of your competitors, take a look at Silverbean’s guide to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), a new open-source framework from Google that renders web pages to load almost instantly.

Google's PageSpeed Insights tool

Remember that any successful marketing efforts, whether it’s organic search, paid, affiliate, social or email, to drive visitors to your mobile site will be in vain if users are frustrated by loading speeds and leave before checking out or booking. Some quick technical tips to get you started:

  • Reduce the number and size of files that are downloaded when each page is loaded
  • Avoid using lots of images or videos, and use compression tools to optimise their size
  • Avoid heavy formats for your pages, especially Flash
  • Fix any render-blocking issues and avoid having JavaScript in the body of your code

Speak the customer’s language

With the growing range of virtual assistants available, such as Siri, Cortana, Google Now, Amazon Alexa and the new Google Home, more users are searching the web with their voices and becoming “conversational” with search engines, especially if they are on the go or travelling.

Google reported last week that 20% of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches, while usage rates have rapidly grown in recent months, according to a Search Engine Land survey.

Voice Search usage

This is potentially the most disruptive trend for the search industry, and travel brands should already be considering how their users speak and the intent behind their searches, especially since Google’s Hummingbird update. By understanding the user intent in search, it’ll help you to answer the questions that matter most to your customer when booking a trip, ensuring your mobile marketing ticks the right boxes.

As an example a user may type “Spain holiday deals”, but say “Show me the best deals for holidays in Spain”, which return completely different search results. Make sure to review your mobile site’s content and adapt the tone to be conversational, focusing on natural phrases and sentences, rather than keyphrases, and using “Who”, “Where”, “What” and “Why”. Read Layla’s blog post for more guidance on optimising content for mobile, here.

Finally, if you haven’t implemented Schema markup on your site yet, MAKE THIS A PRIORITY. Schema is a specific vocabulary of tags, or micro-data, that you can add to your HTML to help search engines understand the context and meaning of your content or pages. The more context, the easier it will be for Google to return your site in their Knowledge Graph or new Rich Cards for relevant voice searches; a key consideration for mobile marketing.

There are a number of mobile marketing considerations that I haven’t touched on in this post, such as app store optimisation and app indexing, but these four areas will certainly help your mobile strategy to take off and give potential customers the experience they are looking for. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch on Twitter, @Silverbean.

Psssst! Mobile marketing plays a huge part in Personalisation – the hot topic for all industries today, not just travel. Check out our handy guide to Personalisation right here: