Digital Marketing in the Travel Industry
A great salesperson isn’t someone who forces you to bend to their sales strategy, instead it’s someone who identifies your need for a service and give you a reason to beg for it. Blanket, obscure phone calls to customers or persistently demanding responses on sales are some of the most common mistakes any salesperson can make. The same holds true of digital marketing and online selling strategies. People search online for interesting or entertaining stories, not for brands’ sales pitches.
In the travel industry, tourists are tired of endless advertising for airlines, hotels, or travel agencies. Business travellers want the most efficient booking and travel process possible for their needs, while holidaymakers want to be excited and inspired about their plans for upcoming vacations. The challenge for brands is then to offer the right content, and engage with customers as experts, rather than selling to them as brands.
Digital Marketing Strategies.
Digital marketing strategies of brands, including travel companies, need to reflect what people truly want, not just what promotes the brand: it has to be driven from what’s missing in the industry, as well as improving what’s already there. To take a few examples of key digital marketing strands:
According to a recent study conducted by online ad network Chitika, a number 1 position in Google receives 33% of search traffic. Gone are the days when you can just buy your way into the top position. There are a number of factors to consider while displaying results: search history, location, previously visited sites etc., the position within rankings varies on different frameworks. Search engine’s rankings can be shifted to reflect these different qualifiers.
It is important to get into the top 5 search results for any company’s investment in SEO practices, which can be challenging with the ever increasing competition. A good content marketing strategy is the need of the hour, with targeted content shown to relevant audiences which maximizes a brand’s reach.
Understanding key trends in language, keywords and hashtags are important for a good SEO or an online advertising strategy. Analysing the industries social media activity can in identifying these keywords and phrases. For example identifying popular hashtags can help in implementation of SEO and PPC.
Web, social, and mobile technologies have helped people connect to an unstaunchable flow of information. People themselves have become conduits for information sharing. With the amount of content and data being shared everyday on the rise, it is important to utilise it for maximum potential. An effective content marketing strategy must be about what the customer wants, and not simply what you want to tell the customer. For example, travel companies want to know what the trending holiday destinations and activities are, to tap into customer trends.
Understanding segments of consumers using social data can help brands to identify trending posts, tweets, images, and videos. Brands can integrate these into their marketing communication activities, thereby leveraging the reach and also shifting from being less of a shouting brand and more of a personal brand.
Word Of Mouth
Customers don’t simply believe or trust brands value anymore. Validation and authority can only come through the spreading of a message through others, using their association with a product or service to give gravitas to your brand. A strong word-of-mouth digital strategy needs to identify the right people, with reach and influence in the right areas, to act as brand ambassadors, either on an official basis (sponsorship) or unofficial (spreading the message). This indemnifies the products or service to the audience from a seemingly outside source.
By identifying influencers in the market, the brand can try and target these people and reward them to become brand ambassadors. This not only increases the credibility of the brand, but also increase the reach and helps to spread the word.
Introducing Interest Segments
So, how can we inform all these strategies more organically? How can we find the right words to buy in PPC strategy without guessing what they should be? How can we find content without searching for it in the first place?
By analysing people active in social media, rather than the messages and media they are sharing, we can identify coherent interest segments: these are active social audiences with shared interests, such as ‘golf’, ‘literature’, ‘sustainability’, ‘colleges and universities’ and so on.
Through the Crimson Hexagon ForSight platform, these segments can be accessed and investigated for trends, such as media being shared, influencers, and demographics of people within the segment.
Therefore, without searching for a specific word or phrase, and without having to guess what’s happening among consumers without a marketing roadmap, we can identify the key trends, and use them to inform our digital marketing strategies in an organic way.
Examples from Travel Industry Segment Analysis and findings
Pulling from our travel industry example, some interesting segments may be ‘Business Travel’, ‘Hotels & Resorts’, ‘Travel with Kids’’ and more. There may also, of course, be other segments less directly aligned with the industry that could provide key insights (for example, a segment relating to a specific destination, like the example above, would be highly relevant to an operator offering travel to that location).
For example in the business travel segment, the most popular and common keywords can be found in the form of hashtags. Some generic hashtags include #businesstravel and #biztravel. People also have a strong interest in fashion, holidays and dining. The segment seems to discuss technology news, and like to share videos about their travel destinations.
However in the ‘travel with kids’ segment there is a clear change in pattern. There is a common interest in vacations, cruise and holidays. It is also interesting to see that this community of people have an affinity towards current affairs: perhaps engaging with the general news agenda as part of content marketing would be prudent to appeal to this market.
For Hotels & Resorts, the most popular media mostly consists of promotional messages (at least allowing for visibility of competitor branding and market trends in promotional messaging). There is also a significant usage of visual content through Instagram, where most of the photos are either food or a holiday spot. Some of the top influencers in this segment are brands including @fourseasons, @verynetwork and @lemanour. And the most influential individual is Tony Cronin (@ da_buzz).
The examples above may prove highly informative to a travel brand. They may help to bring the customers closer to the brand through understanding them better. Perhaps more importantly, however, these insights can be truly actionable.
If brands want to start informing their digital marketing strategies to resonate effectively with customers, they need to draw their inspiration from those customers. Brands need to listen to what’s going on among users in the market, whether travel or any other industry, and galvanize actions from those trends to develop an organic, customer-focussed digital content and communications plan. It’s a guaranteed business draw to convey digital marketing campaigns from the hearts of the consumers. Social analysis helps you do it better than ever before.