What Makes a Successful Travel Website in 2017? .

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Know your niche.

Travel brands have to recognise that holidays have been commoditised and consumers are overwhelmed with choice. For a travel brand to be successful it needs to add value to the product or service for the consumer - so being clear about your proposition and understanding your audience is essential. Trying to be all things to all people isn’t good enough anymore.

Sell – not just promote

Travel brands (and by that I probably mean tour operators) need to stop just competing on price as this will only lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ on price. By being a specialist you can sell and add value. A travel agent used to be the high-street generalist and they would help you refine your choice. In that agents, you would have a specialist who knew the country, the resort, maybe had even stayed in the hotel you were looking at. So now Google is a consumer’s travel agent. It’s the generalist and if you are not careful you could be trying to sell to someone who is ‘lost’. Fortunately, most consumers know even if they typed ‘skiing holiday’ in to Google they’d still get too broad a result so they would probably use a more refined search phrase before exploring Google’s ‘suggestions’. A successful brand ‘sells’ to the consumer who knows what they want and has a strategy to increase that desire.

Focus your marketing

So brands need to focus on their best converting audiences and choose where they spend their marketing budget wisely. Most brands have sales funnels that are propped up with considerable funds spent on Google Adwords campaigns. We work with brands to try and move away from this strategy and create highly targeted digital strategies that target segments of their customers based on their specific interest or where they are in the buying journey.

Retarget - Get more from what you’ve got

Too many brands spend too much money trying to fill the top of their sales funnel by driving lots of new traffic to their website. This is fine if you are new to the market but quite often bands already have an abundance of relevant traffic on their site that leaves ‘empty handed’. Typically, we see conversion rates of less than 1% and quite frankly this is most brand’s biggest opportunity for improvement. By re-advertising to people who have been to your website before (or retargeting as it is commonly known) you can push them further down the conversion funnel and drive down cost per acquisition and improve retention. Even the cost of broad terms on Google Adwords can be reduced by targeting only this audience.

Reduce the friction

The best online experiences are the ones that are a joy to use - booking a holiday is meant to be enjoyable! The whole digital experience has to be as friction-free as possible with advertising, website, social and email experiences providing a joined-up customer journey. From a customers perspective each of these channels are still an interaction with the same brands so they cannot be treated as silos. When a user engages with all your digital channels you should be using the huge amount of explicit and implicit data that is being captured to personalise their experience by treating them differently. In particular brands need to treat their existing and previous customers with the respect they deserve – nobody likes to be sent an offer for something they have recently bought but it happens all the time.

Talk their language

If you truly understand your audience this should come easily. Brands aimed at 18-24 year olds versus the over 50s have to adapt accordingly. Not only do they need to be using the digital (and offline) channels that their target audience uses e.g. Instagram (this is where the kids hang out) versus Facebook (this is where mum and dad are) but they also have to  talk to them in a tone of voice that shows empathy and connects with them. Don’t sell or preach, engage them in a two-way conversation, ask their opinions and show you care.

If you would like to talk to us about how we can develop and deliver a class leading website for your brand, please get in touch.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
Paul Stephen
Paul Stephen
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
With over 25 years in marketing, Paul is one of the UK's leading experts on digital marketing. He oversees the agency and often lectures and consults within the industry on digital and marketing related subjects and has a particular interest and skills in the travel and tourism sectors.

Paul operates nationally and internationally, helping brands to think outside the traditional horizontal and vertical channels and transform their business with creative multi-channel marketing and digital re-invention.
Paul Stephen

Paul Stephen

04 Apr 2017 - 6 minute read
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