20 April 2017
Digital marketing is a huge industry - especially in the world of travel – and its influence is growing larger and larger each day. With digital travel content now accounting for 2.4 billion minutes of people’s lives every month, precise and insight-led digital marketing approaches are more important than ever.
Online purchases are rarely as simple as searching the web, clicking the first link and buying. Behind most online travel sales, there is an extensive and complex consumer path that begins months before the final booking. Using the latest industry data, we show you how to best capitalise on the average traveller’s digital path to purchase.
When beginning their online journey, most travel bookers visit an average of 8.8 travel-related websites a week. At this stage, over half of these prospective travellers are searching with multiple destinations still in mind. This early indecisiveness can be the optimal time to capture a consumer’s interest and stand out from your competition. But what are prospective travel customers looking for?
In a recent survey, most consumers said that, to help them narrow down their final destination choice, they consult online search engines as much as they rely on recommendations from friends and family. Because of this, an expertly-segmented PPC or SEO campaign can be particularly effective during the early stages of the digital purchase journey.
If you are an OTA or airline site, then it is important not to pigeon-hole yourselves at this early stage. During this time, customers are considering multiple destination options and that’s exactly what you should be offering them: choice.
Alternatively, if you are a travel company that specialises in one destination, such as a tourist board, this is the perfect time to position your location as the ideal travel hotspot. Use infographics and blog content to showcase the scenery, highlight the excursion opportunities and emphasise the cultural heritage. Not only do these help a confused traveller narrow down their options, but they also help you climb up natural search rankings, maximising brand reach.
Of course, no one is going to search directly for your brand if they’ve never heard of it so any online search campaigns should be combined with eye-catching press and OOH activity. Choose your ads wisely: when surveyed, 30% of online travel bookers said that advertising helped influence their decision when they were considering multiple destinations.
As customers begin to exhibit higher levels of intent and brand consideration, they become more specific in their searches, with hotel, resort and airline websites becoming the most popular source of travel research. Make sure that any marketing approaches that you adopt reflects this shift – customers are no longer feeling the market, they are now actively looking for specific services and deals.
It is also important to remember that, during this time, the average number of sites that online travel bookers visit almost doubles, reaching 16.2 a week. This surge in search volume also brings with it the danger of market oversaturation: data shows that consumers recall fewer ads as they advance down the purchase funnel, dropping by up to 65%.
To avoid being one of these numbers, it’s essential that you make your brand memorable and impactful for potential customers. Use innovative media that helps you stand out from the crowd, such as 360 video or virtual reality. Help your customer to envision themselves on the holiday of a lifetime and you will maximise interest in your brand.
Another way of enhancing ad recall is through retargeting. By repeatedly making your brand visible to consumers who have already expressed an interest in your services, you can reacquire customers who might otherwise have been lost.
Of course, retargeting should always be dynamic, flexible and rooted in data. For example, if a user previously looked at a destination in detail, then your displays should remind them of the USPs and cultural opportunities that this location has to offer. Likewise, if they dropped out during the final stages of booking, then a promotional offer or sale could be the final push towards making them convert.
Travel is a luxury and very few people book every aspect of their trip on a whim. When reaching the final stages of the purchase cycle, customers want reassurance that the money they are investing in their holiday will be money well spent.
Around this time, travel information sites, like TripAdvisor, reach their peak popularity as consumers flock to find reviews and advice from other holidaymakers. As a result, monitoring your online activity, especially social media, is crucial – reinforce trust in your brand and you will convert more sales.
Similarly, it is important for any end-of-the-funnel landing pages to emphasise your website’s efficiency and reliability. If you have any safety precautions – such as customer guarantees or ATOL/ABTA protection – this is the time to remind your customers. Make them feel safe, secure and reassured that they are making the right decision to book with you.
Ultimately, different consumer segments follow different paths when progressing down the purchase funnel and it is integral to keep this in mind while structuring a campaign. By doing so, your online campaigns will be perfectly positioned to turn a user who is “just looking” into a final booking.
Accord is an award-winning integrated marketing agency, with almost 30 years’ experience in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector. To learn more about our portfolio of services, including how we can optimise your digital marketing presence, get in touch today.