Originally featured on Skift.com
Where traditional advertising methods fall short, content marketing picks up the slack. Learn the trends with our exclusive new eBook,“A Marketer’s Guide to Creating and Distributing Content That Travelers Love”.
Customers are becoming increasingly wise to conventional advertising methods. They’ve learned to filter out marketing messages delivered through long-established channels such as television, radio and direct mail. To remedy this, savvy marketers are turning to content marketing—the practice of creating informative and educational content their potential customers want to read. And the immensely popular tactic is being leveraged by brands on a large scale—particularly within the travel industry.
Content marketing is all about providing customers with entertaining and useful information, regardless of whether they have purchased from you or not. The subject matter could be as simple as an inspiring photo of a destination, or it could be something more complex, like a guide to the top tourist attractions in a given city. Whatever the topic, the goal is always the same: to build long-lasting and meaningful relationships with your audience.
Taking a content-based approach to travel marketing has been so impactful that as of 2014, 86 percent of business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers are using some form of content marketing. So now that we have a pretty convincing case as to why content marketing is such a worthwhile strategy for travel brands to embrace, only one question remains: how do you create content that travelers actually want to read?
Here are four simple steps to help you create and distribute awe-inspiring podcasts, extraordinary eBooks and visionary videos that your travel customers will love.
1. Create content around the buyer journey
Do you have a handle on every step of your customers’ journey, from the moment they’re inspired to travel right through to writing their post-vacation review? There’s no denying that a traveler’s journey is particularly convoluted—research has shown that travelers planning their next trip visit 22 different sites over an average of 9.5 sessions before booking. To help guide your customers through this process, it’s important to create content that’s specially tailored to each stage in the buyer journey.
In the travel industry, the funnel can be broken down into four distinct stages: inspiration, research and discovery, booking and preference, and lastly, retention. This allows you to create helpful content designed to cater to your customers’ needs throughout each and every step of their purchasing journey.
2. Be your customer's hero
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if businesses focused not on their products in marketing, but instead on the informational needs of the customer? At its core, content marketing is all about answering the questions of your potential customers—often before they even know they want to ask them. This means that in order to execute a truly effective travel content marketing strategy, marketers need to make it a priority to understand their customers’ problems and pain points, and create content that answers their questions and concerns. The content needs to inform, instruct, advise, explain or entertain.
3. A picture is worth a thousand words
In this day and age, visual storytelling has become an essential component to any successful content marketing strategy and can be especially powerful when applied to industries that lend themselves to particularly well to visuals—travel being one of them. Visual storytelling allows brands to promote their products or services without having to tell people about them.
By leveraging the power of compelling visuals, brands are able to evoke emotions and a meaningful response from customers better and faster than with just simple text. So next time you’re writing that blog post, ask yourself: would this work better as an infographic? Or maybe a meme? The possibilities are endless.
4. So you’ve created killer content. Now what?
We now know that content marketing is the best way to connect with travelers and nurture long-lasting relationships, and we know how to create compelling content that your customers will want to read. But without a distribution strategy, your content won’t reach your audience. The most successful distribution plans incorporate a blend of owned, earned and paid strategies. As you prepare to share your content, assess your goals and your budget to determine which channels are likely to have the most impact for you brand.
Owned media channels are, as the name suggests, those that you directly own—such as your content hub or social accounts. Earned media is any publicity you haven’t paid for that’s owned and created by a third party (research has shown that earned media is the most trusted source of information). Finally, paid media offers guaranteed placement across a number of platforms, and includes strategies like paid search, retargeting and paid social ads.
A growing paid distribution tactic that travel brands are embracing is that of native advertising—the practice of reaching target audiences with branded or sponsored content. As more brands invest in producing value-adding content, they’re seeking non-interruptive distribution strategies to reach consumers with. Native advertising is emerging as a channel to accomplish just that, because the fundamental premise of native is to seamlessly integrate sponsored messages in a user’s experience.
The travel industry is in a state of metamorphosis thanks to the widespread adoption of content marketing. And if brands want to succeed, it’s clear that they’ll have to adapt—fast. Travel companies have to listen to their customers and ensure they have a positive experience with them from start to finish, and content marketing offers a powerful and effective way of doing just that.
Want to learn more about how to leverage the power of content marketing to grab your travel customers’ attention? Download our free eBook, “A Marketer’s Guide to Creating and Distributing Content Travelers Love”.