When it comes to winning new customers, it’s crucial to consider digital, says Anthony Rawlins, founder of marketing agency Digital Visitor. “It’s the most effective method for reaching the audience you want. It’s also trackable, measurable and cost-effective,” he said, speaking at the recent TTG New to Touring and Adventure Festival.
Here, we distil Rawlins’ top tips for attracting an audience to touring and adventure product digitally.
While travel agents might initially think their baby boomer clients aren’t particularly digitally savvy, they need to think again, says Rawlins.
“Baby boomers [aged 55-73] now consume a lot of their media digitally and are used to technology and technological change,” he explains, so it’s important to consider their behaviour and needs when creating touring and adventure content for your website.
Rawlins adds there are also often preconceptions about millennial clients, which need to be dispelled.
“Millennials are aged 23 to 38 and shouldn’t be confused with Generation Z [22 and under],” he says. “Millennials towards the top end of the age bracket are now your family audience.”
To appeal to the family market, online is “by far and away” the best advertising channel, says Rawlins, second only to TV advertising, which is far more expensive.
He adds touring and adventure product can suit myriad demographics, from Baby Boomers and Generation X (aged 39-54) to Generation Z, and that marketing should be planned and targeted accordingly.
Now you’ve established your audience, it’s crucial to get your marketing positioning right and to shout about your USPs, advises Rawlins, adding: “This will help you resonate with the best customers for you.”
It’s also important to create valuable content for audiences on your website, based around customers’ interests. Rawlins believes content should roughly be kept to the “70/20/10 rule” – with original, fun and informative content making up 70% of online content; shared or user-generated content accounting for 20%; and promoted content taking up about 10%.
Touring and adventure content should be published on a variety of different online channels to appeal to different demographics, from blogs to social media and third-party sites.
According to Rawlins, the top three digital activities to consider are pay per click, social media advertising and email marketing. These should account for 80% of your marketing spend:
Pay per click (PPC): is essentially advertisements on search engines such as Google, explains Rawlins. Search engine advertising “is the only channel with true intent” he adds, as customers will have typed in specific search criteria, with targeted adverts and search results coming up based on that criteria. More than 5.6 billion searches take place on Google each day, and the search engine “provides its adverts based on quality and relevance, so this area is made for conversion” he explains.
Not only does it offer customers a better user experience by serving up relevant content, PPC can also deliver “serious ROI”, says Rawlins. “If you put a pound in, you can get £200 worth of sales back, so it’s going to generate more revenue for you.”
If you’re thinking about investing in PPC, Rawlins suggests seeking out the help of an expert first.
“PPC is highly technical, so it’s important to invest in that expertise.” He also recommended that agents consider investing in PPC on Bing, as reportedly 10% of consumers still use it for search.
Social advertising: While it doesn’t have the same user intent as PPC, Rawlins praises social advertising for its “second-to-none, granular targeting abilities” and for reaching “an engaged audience”. He encourages agents and travel companies to focus primarily on Facebook and Instagram to promote touring and adventure content, and to use strong, engaging imagery to appeal to customers. Since Facebook owns Instagram, it’s also easy to run campaigns across both channels.
While social advertising can bring significant growth in conversions, it is also starting to deliver around four times the amount of ROI too. With almost 2.5 billion people currently using social media worldwide, social is certainly a channel worth investing in, says Rawlins.
Email marketing: This channel offers “direct, organic communication”, according to Rawlins. Travel also boasts excellent industry open and click rates – the open rate is around 20%, click rate is 2.9% and the unsubscribe rate is low at 0.28%.
Rawlins says that other advantages include a “reach that far exceeds any social media” and the ability to segment data. With 67% of today’s emails read on mobile, it’s important to ensure that any email marketing also looks good on a phone, he adds.
Retargeting is a helpful way of finding sales that could have been lost, and can deliver 20 times the ROI – higher than both display advertising and PPC, says Rawlins.
Get people talking about your brand by using user-generated content online to boost trust and attract new clients, he suggests. “Ask people to upload their experiences on to your website. Make sure you collect, share and respond to any reviews. Testimonial content increases engagement and brand trust, and drives direct sales.”
Finally, ensure you have a simple, effective system in place for client referrals. “Think about incentives you can offer clients, such as branded gifts, prizes or vouchers offering money off their next trip,” advises Rawlins. “Word of mouth is a prolific form of marketing – make sure you maximise it.”