How do you expect your brand to be the holiday tour provider, hotel, recreation activity or travel retailer of choice when you’re bombarding your audience with irrelevant marketing messages that interrupt their day? Online Travel customers, like any other, want real value, Return on Attention and personalised content, but so many brands still fail to deliver.
If, like Silverbean, you believe in a bigger and better approach to smart marketing in the travel sector, read on…
The Consumer Journey
On the path to considered purchase, your audience will encounter your brand many times using the channels below. We’re not saying exactly eight impressions or website visits will lead to purchase; it may be more, or sometimes less, but adopting a healthy spread of digital marketing tactics will keep you top-of-mind in a competitive marketplace.
As an end consumer yourself, you know there is a fine line between brands writing useful, relevant content or showing ads with a special offer you just cannot afford to miss, and the more annoying interruption marketing that wasn’t worth the milliseconds you spent looking at it.
So, with the above customer journey in mind, here are some top tips to not bore the life out of your target audience, nor bombard them to the point they won’t purchase from you.
The aim of the display game is to introduce your target audience to your brand on relevant sites at the right time. This can be a resource-consuming skill to master, but showing your ad alongside useful and relevant articles adds trust to your brand, even if it’s the first time your audience have heard of you.
It’s an oldie and a goodie, but still a relevant example of when display ads go wrong – this unfortunate Holland America Line impression happened because of contextual targeting.
Brands feel the backlash more than the website it’s displayed on, or Google’s algorithm, but we’re still left to question is this ad useful or does it add value to the customer journey?
As this is a research/news site, perhaps it would be better to promote top ten lists, cruise packing guides or best cruise destination articles in the ad, instead of just another sale?
Going slightly off-piste from paid marketing, social channels have been the making and breaking of brands in the last decade.
This classic example of “shy bairns get nowt” saw a bold Facebook user try their luck with one of the UK’s biggest holiday providers, who just happened to share their name.
The shares and likes alone show how one small post puts the power to the consumer, but the reaction of Thomas Cook UK (the brand) was just shameless!
There’s better ways to run along with the joke and engage with your active social audience, and plugging a link to your homepage isn’t one of them – poor Thomas Cook (the human) didn’t even get a direct link to weekend breaks in Paris.
But still, when one brand fails, the other recoups the publicity… Good job, LowCostHolidays.com!
Generic Paid Search
The blessing of Paid Search is that it does a fantastic job of directing quality and often purchase-ready traffic to your website to generate that all-importing last-click conversion. However, there is a huge opportunity for brands to maximise click-assisted conversions by promoting onsite content and blog articles, right from the search results page.
You may argue that this is nothing new when you glance at research queries and the number of advertisers bidding on these phrases. However, 3 / 4 destination URLs in this example alone direct the user to hard sell hotel listings and price comparison sites.
Now compare those results to the organic listings. What’s the difference? All organic results are genuine guides, and not linking to a single hotel or trying to push prices and book now, book now, book now landing pages!
Special mention goes to Expedia, whose URL links to a pocket guide to 5* hotels in Berlin, as well as heavily promoting bookings too, of course! It’s all in the execution.
When you have one chance to grab the recipient’s attention with a snazzy subject line, their usual open reward is travel deals, sales and promotions – and good ones at that. But campaign success is only defined by how much budget they have in their bank balance and if they’re in the frame of mind to book a holiday right there and then.
However, email is a great way to encourage genuine website engagement after your fans have entrusted the brand with their email address – use it wisely, and only send them useful things.
If you’re sick of “best guides to…”, “how to pack for…..” and “top 10 attractions in….” articles, then take a leaf out of Lonely Planet’s book and turn the idea on its head!
Moving away from the traditional blog article, referral traffic can come in all shapes and sizes.
Our favourite methods in recent years are infographics and videos, which are both examples of the ‘content marketing’ buzzword that’s been floating around the industry for the last few years.
Playing on the viral, interesting, weird and funny ways to encourage content sharing, videos give a great insight into a brand’s tone of voice and communicates to their audience in a more audio/visual manner. Plus, needless to say, they’re so easily shareable.
Take it from us, the more obscure the topic, the more curious viewers you’ll get!
If you want any further help maximising your brand awareness online, adding real value to your customers’ day and creating memorable marketing (for all the right reasons), then get in touch!
You can view our latest case study for the online travel sector here, and a number of exclusive Silverbean insights about customer-centricity and return on attention right here. There’s also an awesome post on mobile for online travel brands, which you can read right here.