The Dos and Don'ts for Marketing Your Travel Business Online
A strong presence on the web has never been more important. With Brits spending £133 billion online in 2016, the potential for businesses who trade via the internet is gigantic, with that figure set to grow again in 2017.
Although it is becoming easier for businesses to set up online and reach more customers, the web is still a very competitive place. Companies and travel brands without a strong online offering can be left behind quickly, especially if they don't have a robust digital marketing strategy that ensures a steady flow of both new and existing customers.
The rabbit hole can go very deep when it comes to internet marketing, so it pays to gain a simple understanding of some of the key strategies that businesses often deploy to stay one step ahead. Long term digital campaigns that will reach the far corner of the world are naturally expensive and complicated, with huge investment and teams of people ensuring that the message, brand or product has the correct image and is reaching the right buyers. For smaller businesses without international budgets however, there are still plenty of cost effective and attainable ways of improving exposure and most importantly customer conversion.
Search Engine Optimisation
Usually shorted to SEO, this important website function is what helps people to not only find a product or service via a search engine, but also boosts the page or website to the top of the rankings. It's a bit like a taxi company calling themselves AAA taxis to appear on the front page of the phone directory, except that to appear at the top of the search listings on a search engine ike Google, there need to be plenty of keywords on a website to do with the business. The more keywords and clicks, the more 'important' a site seems to search engine algorithms.
Hits can of course be bought by paying for a link to appear at the top of a search engine results page, but this can be very pricey indeed, especially if a site receives a lot of traffic from this solution.
Affiliate marketing is a clever way of gaining recognition through another website's traffic. By paying a partner site to embed a link to your site within their content, businesses can gain visitors who follow a picture, sentence or even a keyword. The links can be blatant, endorsing a particular product and making it clear where the link is taking them, whereas others can be a bit more subtle, helping the click to happen by intrigue or a phrase that might match the reader's interest. Some sites are built to support these types of links and will offer a reasonable price to share their traffic, but others can charge thousands of pounds for a simple one world link in an article that they know will be read by lots of people.
Investing in Apps
With 9 out of 10 adults in the UK now owning a smartphone, a lot of online purchases are made on the go. As phone screens are smaller, a traditional website without optimisation can be fiddly or hard to read. This problem is solved with an app, a dedicated piece of software that can be downloaded to a smart device, displaying products or services as well as ways to buy. International travel websites like Tripadvisor and Booking.com have fantastic apps which simplify booking accommodation and experiences. Similar companies offers their customers ways to stay connected when they are away from the computer. Their dedicated app is an example of how a complex web experience can be translated to a smartphone screen without losing any excitement or quality and it is available on multiple platforms including Android and iOS.
Although there are some off the shelf app builders that small companies can use to generate an app store presence, designing and building apps can be difficult and expensive, thanks to a huge demand for skilled coders who will build, test and maintain the app itself.
The massive potential of using social media to help businesses to sell is finally being tapped, with global social media advertising spend hitting $31 billion in 2016. Although getting pricey ads on sites like Facebook that actually work may be reserved for the bigger companies out there, this doesn't mean that smaller businesses can't get a piece of the action. Building a base of followers and fans may be a slow and steady process, but once your business is established then word of mouth and sharing is a free way of getting a product in front of new people. Maintaining a free Instagram page, Facebook page or Twitter account and updating regularly is an easy way to spread the word without having to break the bank.
Having a review section on your website for goods and services you offer is vital to ensure customers can book with confidence. One World 365 has hundreds of reviews from past participants, for example international tours reviews from global companies. You should also register your company on reputable websites like Trustpilot to allow past customers to leave feedback. This is a great way too build a reputation and increase an online presence.
Maintaining the dream
Getting to the top of the rankings and having a steady flow of new and repeat visitors buying from your site is achievable by using a mix of online marketing techniques, but maintaining and growing this stream is the hardest part of online marketing. Online customers are fickle and will follow the latest trending site or service, with new online campaigns popping up daily. As with any business marketing, evolving is the key to success and putting the customer's need first is the best way to do this. Keeping content and websites fresh, exciting and interesting is the toughest job, but having a good foundation built on basic practices like those listed will make this part of online marketing that little bit easier.