When it comes to effective marketing strategies, the range of suggestions out there is vast. If you’re looking for ways to grow your travel company’s customer base, convert more traffic into leads and boost your brand image, your best approach is to follow tried and tested advice.
We’ve worked with everything from large, luxury tour providers to small travel businesses who are just starting out in the industry. Our expertise uses a range of tactics to help our clients drive more bookings and enquiries, and we have had clients featured in popular publications such as Lonely Planet, National Geographic, and Travel and Leisure.
Here’s what we’ve learned from marketing more than 50 companies in the travel industry over the past decade, along with actionable recommendations that you can include in your marketing efforts.
Optimise content with keyword research
Keyword research is a significant part of SEO that can make a massive difference to the amount of organic traffic coming to your site, as well as boosting reach and increasing bookings. You can use keyword research to find popular phrases to inspire blog content, as well as optimising all of your landing page copy so that your website ranks for as many relevant keyword phrases as possible.
By using a keyword research tool (like Ahrefs or SEMrush), you can put together a bank of phrases that are related to your company’s offering, helping you to know what potential customers are searching for and giving you key phrases to optimise your content with. Remember to consider the search intent behind each phrase and that more specific phrases are best, as the audience searching for these phrases will be more likely to engage with your website and offering instead of just browsing through.
An easy SEO action that can make a big difference to your website’s ranking is to optimise the titles and meta descriptions of all your landing pages so that they include keyword phrases. You want to try and include a relevant keyword in each page title and several in every meta description, which will indicate that your content is relevant and attract more visits. Try to make these additions sound as natural and human as possible.
Start basic link building
Link building is a tricky topic when it comes to SEO because — whilst it can massively improve your site’s performance in search engines — it can also hinder it as well. Basic link building can be done by anyone with a good grasp of the concept, but it’s important to follow white hat SEO guidance to avoid any repercussions.
Having high-quality links from other websites to yours is not only a good way to gain more traffic from other places on the web, but it is also a way to rank more highly on search engines. One straightforward strategy for good link building is just to create high-quality content that other people will want to read, refer to and share. Sharing the content you produce across all of your company’s channels will maximise the reach that it gets and increase your chances of earning a link from someone else.
You can also get other users or websites to link back to you by encouraging reviews. Friends and co-workers or contacts in the travel industry can also be a good place to start building links from, potentially in return for putting a link of theirs somewhere on your own site or profiles.
Target the buyer journey
If you’re well-versed in marketing techniques, then you’re already acquainted with the buyer funnel, which can also be used to inform content marketing. The best way to drive traffic with your content is to ensure that everything you produce works as part of this journey and leads your audience towards making a purchase.
When making a content plan, use the key stages of awareness, consideration and decision to inform the topics you cover.
At the awareness stage, you want to create content that is going to appeal to your target audience’s interests and make them aware of your company and what you offer. When your audience has reached the consideration stage, you want your content to sell the benefits of your company and establish you as a valuable and trusted source. And finally, when a decision has been made, you should also produce content that is relevant to your target audience once they have become a customer, to keep them engaged.
Vary your content format
Variety is key when it comes to making sure that your audience is continually engaged with and excited by the content that your company produces. But varying the format of your content marketing material doesn’t mean having to create new pieces for every idea. It’s much more efficient to decide on one format for a piece of content and then recycle that content into several different formats suitable for a range of platforms.
For example, the transcript of a video or podcast interview can be used to write a blog post, eBook or social media post, and quotes or key pieces of data can become infographics and highlights of an email marketing newsletter.
Varying the content format you use in your marketing strategy is also beneficial as it ensures that you’re not putting all of the emphasis on a single piece of content to drive more traffic.
Make the most of automation
If you’re using email marketing as a key part of your marketing strategy (and you really should), automation is one of the best ways to make this process as efficient as possible. Once you’ve identified subgroups of subscribers and set up targeted emails for each of these demographics, automation does the rest of the job for you, which saves you time and allows you to create specialised email pathways for your customers.
An automated email pathway creates a series of emails that are sent to those who opt-in, personalising the email content based on what brought them to your site in the first place and what they interact with after that. Tailoring the emails they receive will drive much more engagement and traffic through what you send out, making your customers feel more connected and improving the likelihood they’ll book through your company.
Write email content that tells stories
Whilst the main reason behind using email marketing is to convert more customers, if this is at the forefront of everything you send out, your subscribers aren’t going to stick around for long. You want your emails to focus on delivering meaningful and valuable content to your audience, and the best technique to do just that is to tell stories with your content.
You don’t need to be the world’s best writer to create engaging and emotive email content. Instead, you just need to focus on painting a picture, establishing a personal tone and offering advice and insight that is genuinely interesting and valuable.
Having a human edge to your emails will help people resonate with them and help you to build trust. A lot of email marketing looks corporate and faceless, so the travel industry is in desperate need of some humanisation.
Target platforms your audience uses
If you don’t know what social media channels and platforms your audience is using, you’re going to end up using your efforts in the wrong places. Before embarking on any social media marketing, analyse existing customer data to work out where your target audience is spending their time, and focus your efforts on these platforms.
If you are promoting B2B getaways, then LinkedIn might be your best bet. If you’re focusing more on consumer breaks, Instagram or Facebook are the platforms for you.
Different social media platforms have different demographics, so it can also be useful to make sure that the content you’re putting out on these sites is targeting the users who are going to be seeing it. You might be sharing travel inspiration through both Facebook and Instagram, but the groups who use these platforms tend to be looking for different things, so the content you share should reflect this.
Keep testing your strategies
If you have no historical data from past paid social media campaigns, then you should see your first campaigns as data gathering exercises. After each one, you should be pulling as much data from your campaigns as possible to see what worked and what didn’t, then using this data to inform your next attempts.
A lot of platforms offer fantastic reporting suites which allow you to analyse campaign performance at a granular level, so your first stop should always be the reports. They will help you gather insightful data and identify what worked well and what fell a little flat with your audience. It’s a good idea to spread your efforts across multiple social media platforms at the beginning to test which has the most impact, as this gives you the best range of data and ensures that a lot of resources aren’t wasted if a campaign flops.
To summarise, here are the eight best actions you can take to develop and grow your travel business, based on our tried and tested experience in the industry:
- Use keyword research to optimise your title tags and meta descriptions, as well as informing your blog content
- Try basic link building to boost your site’s visibility
- Create content that targets every stage of the buyer journey
- Vary the format of the content you produce for maximum value
- Use automation to take your email marketing campaigns to the next level
- Tell stories in your email marketing content to boost engagement
- Target the social media platforms that you know your customers are using
- Keep testing and refining your social media strategy
If you have any questions about marketing your travel business successfully, please feel free to reach out to our team at SEO Travel.