A Marketing Plan for Online Travel

The way we travel is evolving, and so is marketing around it. In a recent survey conducted by the Global Event Marketing Alliance, over half of the 1000 respondents said they plan to run ads online. In fact, 65% of Gen-Z and millennials prefer digital ads compared to 35% who prefer to see traditional ads. So if you’re looking to reach this audience, you’ll need to consider how to adapt your strategy to fit their behavior.

The Rise of Digital Ads

While social media has always been used by event marketers to gain visibility and reach a massive audience, the rise of digital ads provides even more opportunity.

E-commerce has enabled marketers to target audiences based on interests, demographics, and behaviors. The key takeaway: you can actually engage with your potential customers where they are, whether it’s social media or a fresh news site. This level of targeting provides a laser-like focus on your potential audience and lets you connect with them on a deeper level.

Additionally, the rise of digital ads means we are finally able to target the right audiences, regardless of where they are geographically. Thanks to location-based services like Google My Business and Facebook Ads, we can now offer prospective travelers the ability to discover events nearby. For instance, if you’re running an event in New York City, you can target nearby cities like Boston and Philadelphia for audience growth.

The Growth of Online Travel Shopping

Travel is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and the demand for travel-related content is only increasing. According to the Global Event Marketing Alliance, the travel industry is responsible for over 110 billion USD in annual revenue and supports over 1.2 million jobs worldwide. So whether you’re a solo traveler planning your next vacation or a business travel specialist looking to grow your events and revenues, you’ll need a strategy.

Tour operators and travel agencies are embracing the digital travel world and are using various digital marketing strategies to grow their businesses. In fact, over 70% of the respondents to the Global Event Marketing Alliance survey said they used digital marketing to attract customers, whereas just 20% used traditional marketing methods. This trend shows no signs of slowing down as 69% of respondents plan to expand their use of digital marketing in the next six months.

The Importance of SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a crucial role in driving online travel shoppers to your website. With over 40% of the respondents to the Global Event Marketing Alliance survey saying they use SEO, you’ll want to make sure you consider this channel when planning your digital marketing strategy. Specifically, you’ll want to focus on the following four areas:

1) Keywords

When it comes to SEO, your site’s keywords are perhaps the most important factor in how your site will perform in organic search results. Without good, relevant keywords, you’ll struggle to drive engagement and conversions. When planning content for your website, consider which keywords will be used to search for your articles and which will be incorporated into your titles. For example, if you are writing about vegan fashion, you might want to include the word ‘vegan’ in your keywords. Consider which phrases your target audience will use to search for content and make sure you include these in your plan. In the same way, you can also optimize your website for different locations via localized keywords, so if you are targeting the UK, you might want to include the word ‘United Kingdom’ in your keywords.

2) Content

Creating content is one of the key tasks in any SEO strategy. Like keywords, content is important because it provides value to the user. When a user finds value in your content, you’ve successfully placed a valuable asset in front of them. The goal is to create content that is both useful and attractive to the target audience. When we talk about SEO and content, we typically think about creating high-quality articles that are easily shareable. While this is certainly useful, it’s not what SEO is all about… at least not entirely.

SEO is about creating online value, something that draws organic traffic to your site. When planning your content for SEO, you need to make sure that the value you are providing is both useful and interesting to the user. For example, if you are creating a guide to Bangkok and you know that 90% of your target audience will be interested in traveling there, but the other 10% will be trying to avoid it due to allergies, you might want to create an article about how to travel comfortably in Bangkok.

3) User Interface (UI)

Your website’s user interface (UI) is essentially the way your website looks to the user. When someone lands on your site from a search engine, they will first click on an organic result, which will then take them to your blog article or landing page. From there, they will either stay on your site or click through to an external site. The experience of using your site, from the keywords all the way through to the landing page and beyond, needs to be smooth and seamless. Therefore, you should be considering the following four aspects of UI:

3.1) Content

As we mentioned earlier, content is important for SEO. So it follows that your content, from the landing page through to the blog article, needs to be of good quality. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure that each part of your content is interesting, engaging, and offers value to the user. As a general rule of thumb, make sure that each piece of content repays the value the user has invested in the process of finding the information they sought. If they land on a page and don’t feel like they gained value, they will quickly leave. Therefore, make sure to create a page that is both useful and interesting to the user.

3.2) Design

When someone lands on your website, they will first see the design of your site. So it follows that you want to make sure that your website’s design is both easy on the eye and functional. When someone clicks on an organic listing from a search engine, they will be taken to your site. From there, they will land on a page that serves two important purposes: 1) give the user information they are looking for and 2) make it easy for them to navigate. From the layout and the way content is presented, you want to make sure that the user has a good experience throughout their entire journey.

3.3) Credibility

Your site’s credibility is another important aspect of its user interface. When someone lands on your site, you want them to feel that you are a trustworthy source of information regarding your subject matter. Basically, you want to make sure that your site’s presence feels natural and not forced. One indication that you are a legitimate source is via your own experience or that of someone you know. If you can demonstrate your knowledge and experience in the field, it will make your site more credible. Additionally, make sure that you use a reputable brand name wherever possible.

3.4) Trust

Your site’s trustworthiness is yet another important aspect of its user interface. When someone lands on your site, you want them to feel that you have their best interests in mind. Basically, you want to make sure that your site is not a scam and that you will not ask them for money under false pretenses. Some signs that you are a trustworthy site include a privacy policy that protects their personal information, a clear indication of where they can find more information, and an overall sense that the site is legitimate.

A strong SEO strategy will go above and beyond creating informative and engaging content. Rather, it will strive to establish credibility, build trust, and make the most out of the online world.

Marketing Mixes And Multi-Channel Funnels

With one report every week on marketing measurement, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers. While it’s critical to have a clear picture of the entire marketing campaign’s performance, it’s also important to know which channels and marketing mixes worked best for obtaining the desired results.

The old saying ‘you need to try everything to find out what works’ rings particularly true in 2019 when it comes to marketing. With Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube all making their presence felt in the digital sphere, it can be difficult to assess which platform is best suited to your particular type of marketing campaign. If you want to find out how visitors discover your site, you will need to try multiple channels.

For better or worse, the digital landscape is dynamic and ever-changing. One day, you might be doing great on one channel and the next day, you could be struggling to gain any traction on another. What works best for one campaign might not be what you need for the next.