How To Engage Your Audience and Convert Them Into Customers

The travel industry is almost contradictory in its nature.

On one hand, it is an enormous ever-growing market, which has doubled in value in just ten years, projected to generate £616 billion in 2019.

On the other hand, the service it provides is highly personal.

Travellers, now more than ever, look for unique, customised experiences, tailored to their needs.

This is becoming increasingly easy, with customers looking past packaged holidays, choosing to plan and book their holidays themselves.

Understanding this duality is crucial for today’s travel businesses to succeed.

Some have to be able to engage audiences on a personal level, on a huge scale.

This is the best way to convert your audience into paying customers.

With the market being as competitive and unforgiving as it is, there’s not a lot of margin for error.

Who are your Customers?

In order to attract and engage potential clients, you have to pinpoint their customer personas.

Assess your travel products and identify who they cater to. Are you offering experiences for adventurers, corporate travel, or  beach-resort deals for families?

There are no jack-of-all-trades travel arrangements and marketing needs to be tailored to your customer.

Personalisation is key and that requires clearly-defined buyer personas.

Fortunately, there are a lot of tools and guides that help with this important step.

It’s important to take a look at your website audience insights in Google Analytics to get an understanding of the location, demographics, activities and travel segmentation of your customers.

Understand the channels and devices your audience is using to access your business.

You should end up with a couple of personas that you can use to help guide your marketing, engagement and conversion strategies through digital channels.

Understanding your Customer’s Journey

The development of digital advertising channels has changed customer’s expectations.

Engaging visitors and acquiring customers is no longer about just being in the right place at the right time to influence their decision process.

Kantar’s study concluded that 50% of users find brand’s posts irrelevant to them.

Businesses who treat digital and online channels as another touch-point and a chance to swoop in and sell their product run the risk of further alienating an already tired audience.

It’s important to understand the customer’s decision journey end-to-end.

This process has four phases, each with its own challenges and opportunities.

Google calls them dreaming, planning, booking and experiencing micro-moments.

McKinley named them consideration, evaluation, conversion and post-purchase phases.

With the increased need for personalisation, especially in Travel & Leisure, it’s sensible to plan marketing strategies, activities and metrics for customers in each of these phases.

Let’s explore what they are and how travel companies can approach them in order to convert audiences into customers.

Consideration

At this time, travellers just have a general idea and a wish to travel.

They are still considering options, destinations and are open to suggestions.

They are not yet making decisions and shouldn’t be pressured into it.

Awareness is the name of the game here.

Any content the considering client sees should be memorable, inspiring, authentic and sincere.

Customise it with your consumer personas in mind.

Make your brand stand out.

Effective strategies include content marketing, to reach users who are in this initial consideration phase.

Engaging your audience and, eventually, boosting revenue, starts with offering value to your potential customers, at all stages of their booking journey.

Targeted blogs can reach people who are dreaming of their next adventure

It is also important to develop a strong social media presence.

To do that, we have to understand why people use social networks in the first place.

Consumers mainly use social networks to connect and converse, and to be entertained.

Value for consumers comes from getting what they want.

If they are looking for connections, conversations and entertainment, travel companies should strive to offer them exactly that.

Build emotional connections with your audience. Engage with them.

Humanise and introduce your company, initiate sincere and meaningful conversations.

Give inspiration.

  • Timing

Tourists in Britain book their holidays a month in advance (on average), but they start thinking about them a lot sooner.

It’s a good idea to start running awareness campaigns in from September onward, depending on your seasonality.

  • Define metrics

Choose statistics that can quantify and represent the success of your strategies for each phase of the consumer’s decision journey.

In the case of initial consideration, some useful metrics are engagement rate, direct, social and organic traffic, search conversion rate.

Pick those that work best with your strategy.

  • Devices

Consider the devices your customers use in different stages of their decision journey.

For example, they might be using mobile devices during the initial consideration, but switch to desktop when they decide to book.

Make sure the whole process is effectively targeted.

  • Platforms

Don’t have the same profile on all social platforms.

Utilise unique aspects of each network and make sure your content reaches its full potential.

Stand out with your visuals and raise awareness with unique solutions.

A great example of a content strategy done right is The Journal by Intrepid Travel.

When targeting travellers who are looking for unique and adventurous experiences, offer valuable and informational content, combined with a recognisable visual identity.

With 583K Facebook followers and 239K on Instagram and a very engaged audience, the approach of Intrepid seems to be working.

Evaluation and Conversion

What happens when the consumer chooses a destination?

The dream travel suddenly becomes a reality.

In the evaluation phase, audiences are no longer looking for ideas or inspiration.

They are searching for information:

  • Prices
  • Flights
  • Hotel availability
  • Holiday activities

In the conversion phase people compare information, make a decision and complete their purchase.

For a travel company, these phases are the opportunity to turn audiences into customers.

This is especially true for smaller businesses, as they usually don’t have the budget to compete with big brands’ awareness campaigns.

In the initial consideration phase, companies try to generate demand.

Now it’s time to focus on fulfilling that demand.

When a customer searches for travel products, it’s important for your company to be there with an offer.

Focusing on these micro-moments generates what you’re ultimately looking for: conversions.

Your targeting is crucial here.

We’ve talked about creating the customer persona. Utilise data you’ve gathered so far, and target your niche as precisely as you can.

Consider the channels you’ll use.

Non-branded search marketing, display re-marketing and e-mail marketing (newsletters) are recommended in the evaluation phase.

How re-marketing works

According to Google, when customers start planning the holiday, the most common searches include “hotels/car rentals/flights to destination”. Focusing on non-brand keywords enables you to show up in these searches.

E-mail marketing offers a lot of opportunities during the planning phase of the customer’s decision process.

According to MailChimp, an average 20% of only e-mails are opened, with a 2% click-through rate in the travel industry.

To maximise the effectiveness of your e-mail campaigns, try to provide value to your customers before they consider your offer.

Include tips, advice or coupon codes in your newsletters:

 

Carnival Cruise Line

Keep your e-mails short (or at least concise), to-the-point and include call-to-action prompts throughout your message.

When customers compare different products and narrow down their choices, they typically search for “[brand name] + [location].”

A sound branded SEO and SEM strategy will enable you to come up in these searches.

Metasearch presence is also becoming vital.

When customers compare different options, they typically use websites like TripAdvisor, Skyscanner or Kayak.

Being present in these searches is a fast way to become a part of your niche market.

Target customers that show interest in the products you can offer.

In order to measure the success, and possibly optimise your campaigns, defining important metrics is vital.

For demand fulfilment activities, some vital numbers are conversion rate, cost per conversion, revenue per conversion and margin.

Keep an eye out on your activities and their performance.

Don’t wait for things to start happening, change and optimise if you’re not getting the results you expect.

Another important nudge that can turn a viewer into a customer is the company’s availability for inquiries.

Businesses often forget this.

60% of customers who contact businesses on social media expect an answer within an hour and the same number would express their disappointment for the brand for not receiving a timely response.

Make sure you’re always available for customers. Beef up your customer service, where necessary.

Create FAQs, useful articles and posts that give advice on common questions, reducing the number of informational enquiries your sales team need to deal with.

Post-Purchase

The work is not complete when the customer completes a purchase.

The phase that happens after travellers book a holiday is perhaps the most important for travel companies.

Don’t let the reputation you’ve established through this whole process go to waste. Build on it.

The best marketing resource is a happy customer.

Stay in touch with them after they purchase your product. Get their feedback and understand their experience.

Personally contacting your customers will show them you care about them and increase their chances of returning to you.

We’ve talked about the need for personalisation: gather information from customers, what worked for them and what didn’t and incorporate it into your future offers.

Encourage your customers to create and post content.

Crowdsourcing your content will make your marketing more human, personal and valuable: perfect for the initial consideration phase.

Besides this, we can’t understate the importance of reviews.

83% of people booking holidays online say that reviews play a crucial role in their booking decision.

Your reputation on websites like TripAdvisor can essentially decide your revenue.

Make it easy for your customers to share their feedback and encourage them to do it with a prize if necessary.

Make sure to address all reviews, good or bad, on every online platform.

A well thought-out reply to a negative review can do more to encourage sales than a positive review ever could.

Show you appreciate your customers and you’re open to honest feedback.

Conclusion

Travel marketing is much more than just offering deals at peak times.

Successfully engaging your audience and acquiring business is a process.

It requires a deep understanding of the customer’s decision journey and the advertising techniques and strategies you can use in each of its phases.

Each part is important, as it influences what decisions customers make afterwards, and each journey is an opportunity for travel companies to attract further business.

In a vast market that Travel & Leisure is, the greatest asset you can have is understanding of your customer’s personal needs.

Equally, that is exactly what they expect from your business.

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Advice tailored to your website, and your resources is crucial to achieving the best possible ROI.

Get in touch with us today for a FREE, no-obligation website audit.

Top Tips for Improving your SEO in 2020

Business are ever more reliant on the internet to reach their target audience, from a sole trader to a large business, SEO is vitally important for any website to succeed.

Here is a bite-size breakdown of the key elements necessary to make SEO work for you:

Study Your Competitors Thoroughly to Understand the Niche

The first important step before you start creating content in a new niche, is to spend some time researching your active or potential competitors.

Identify the most prominent blogs, study the writing style and look at the most popular posts available and see if there’s jargon/style specific to the niche.

Select a Narrow Topic to Simplify Research

To build authority in any niche, you need to be specific and create well-researched and valuable content. The best thing to do is to select topics within your niche, analyse them, break them into further categories and create separate and unique posts on each.

Remember to ensure you focus on high search-volume keywords with in your page title and header.

Utilise Snapshots, Images, Videos and Infographics

To make your content look professional and trustworthy it’s a good idea to use snapshots and visuals throughout.

It will make your content more appealing and will help your readers have a better understanding of what you’re writing about.

Quote Experts to Develop Trust and Authority

To establish credibility, it can be useful to use quotes from respected people within your niche. This in turn will make your content trustworthy, by utilising their authority to enhance your content

There are several ways you can do this.

  • Locate popular blogs in your chosen niche using Google search
  • Find a quote from any popular and credible blog and refer to it in your own content
  • Search Amazon, Google Scholar, or look for the most popular books on the Kindle store related to your topic and use quotes with a credit to the author

Add Numbers, Data and Useful Information

Use numbers and dates in your content.

A study by Conductor concluded that headlines with numbers were significantly more eye-catching for social media users as compared to simple text headlines.

Write in a Friendly, but Authoritative Tone

If you speak with confidence and an authoritative tone, chances are people will take notice.

If you’re prepared to spend some time on research, to really understand the niche and grasp its potentials, you will soon be considered to be an authority within your niche.

The challenge is to deliver information in a confident manner to ensure that your readers trust your authority.

Team up With the Top Influencers of your Niche on Twitter

Use Twitter to your advantage, discover in real time about a new niche, connect with the people who set the trends and learn from them.

Engage with influencers within your field and use their knowledge to create high-quality content. Your audience will see your social relationships and the link with influential users on Twitter adds credibility to your brand.

Organise a Virtual Summit

Organise and host a virtual summit.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, virtual summits are online events where 10 to 20 or more experts share knowledge and tips on a very specific field using video calls on Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts or one of many communication platforms.

The summit is free for anyone to attend while it’s live. Once it’s over, people can pay to access the complete event.

This is one of the smartest way to gain authority in your field. It will allow you gather ideas that can be translated into high-quality blog content.

This well-established strategy has proven to be one of the most effective ways to boost your personal or brand image and offer you more knowledge than you can acquire from most other means.

They can send your email lists and connect you with potentially hundreds of experts and establish you as an authority.

Create Round Up Posts

Consider taking a specific problem and ask for feedback from as many experts as possible.

Your aim is to crowd-source quality content from other experts in that niche.

This may be answering a question, or their opinion on a specific topic. Check out a good example at www.igoski.co.uk/blog/archive/best-ski-blog

Make Your Site Attractive to Professional Bloggers

Bloggers are in constant search of ways to develop their online presence, either through building high-quality articles on authority sites that direct people to their blog, or through gaining exposure within a specific niche.

This is a win-win situation. Professional bloggers seek to create backlinks to their site to generate authority and traffic and your site becomes more recognised as a host of credible and authority content.

Ensuring that you invest in high-quality posts frequently is a sure-fire way to see positive results in your search results.

Ideas for interesting posts:

  • A DIY instruction post or step-by-step guide
  • A top ten list related to your niche
  • An interview with a successful person within your sector or an article about a success story

Remember: Frequent uploading of articles gives evidence to your visitors that your site is active. Quality articles with catchy titles may just make them stay a bit longer on your landing page or leave a comment. All of which doesn’t go un-noticed by search engines.

Check Your Site and E-mails Often

Another clue that your site is active is answering your visitors’ inquiries or comment with a “thank you” message or similar.

Something nice that shows you have seen the comments posted to your articles. That might seem a bit of a chore at first, but it’s essential as it gives your visitors a motive to return to your site as they feel part of your community.

Find the Balance in Keyword Density

There is no secret recipe for the ideal number of times a keyword should be used. The days of pages heavy packed with keywords showing up at the first pages of the results are long gone.

The internet has come on a long way since then and algorithms for relevancy are much more complicated.

Search engines compare documents with each other and understand which words form a natural and common combination and which don’t.

High repetition of keywords usually gets a red card, unless your site is highly trusted with strong a link profile and lots of reviews. In that scenario the situation might be a little more flexible.

Still, there are some general rules and tips you can follow when it comes to keyword density:

  • For searches inside the site, higher density is preferable
  • For searches on the web, for example, through a search engine, the general rule is less is more
  • High repetition of keywords in an aggressive way may increase the possibility of getting filtered
  • Use of variation with low repetition of the same keywords is ideal for boosting your rank, since your content will include different possible terms of a search. The possibility of getting filtered decreases.

SEO is NOT Only About Keywords

Domain age, site security and authority, anchor texts, usage data and locality are all factors that are taken into consideration by search engines.

How important are they? It depends on the search engine. It seems that each of the best-known search engines have developed their own unique algorithms. More specifically:

  • Search engines use a custom language system that allows them to ‘read’ the words and ‘understand’ them.
  • Some engines give more value to onsite factors whereas others give the most to offsite factors.
  • As a general rule, the title of the page is more important than the other content of the page.
  • The meta keyword tag seems to become less important for the majority of search engines.

EXTRA TIP:

Algorithms determine the relevancy, not only of your keywords, but also of the supporting text.

In order to obtain a stable ranking and be linked to a family of keywords, opt for a supporting text that keeps in line with the keywords and give your overall text a fine structure.

Talk To Us

Whilst your SEO performance is something which requires a hands-on approach, the best approach is to talk to the experts.

Advice tailored to your website, and your resources is crucial to achieving the best possible ROI from Google search.

Get in touch with us today for a FREE, no-obligation SEO Audit.

This will show your current performance and the potential opportunity through Google Search.

Social Media Marketing – All You Need to Know in 2020

With the rise of online booking and comparison sites, it had started to look like travel agents and tour operators might become totally redundant.

But this trend is slowing down and even reversing.

Customers have realised the value of travel businesses is in the guidance they offer, value for money through better supplier rates and better customer service.

The opportunity for growing your brand and selling to your customers is out there, but you need your name to be known in order to have a strong online presence.

Alongside SEO and paid adverts, the best way to do this is using interactive social media accounts.

The best part is that only around 20% of travel agents view social media as an essential channel to their business – so the window is open for you to lead the way and beat your competitors to the punch.

Are you one of those 20% that are hoping social media is just a fad or passing trend? Bad news.

There’s no sign of it slowing down and virtually all of your customers will be on one social platform or another.

There are 2.56 billion global mobile social media users, with 1 million new active mobile social users added every day in the first half of 2018.

Businesses can now engage, accurately measure and create two-way dialogues online.

Digital media isn’t new anymore, but its reach and potential continues to evolve rapidly and integrating social into your core business strategy will transform your digital efforts from an expense to an investment.

Why is Social Media Important?

First and foremost, it allows you to communicate with your customers in a different format than email marketing or websites. Because they can interact through sharing, liking or commenting, you can build and strengthen relationships.

It also allows you to establish yourself as a thought leader by publishing content, getting involved in discussions, commenting on news stories or trends and responding to customer queries.

This raises the brand profile of your agency or tour operator and brings in leads as people become aware of your company and its offerings, and grow to like you through interactions.

 

Social media is just one strategy that should be part of a wider marketing arsenal. It can be used alongside and interlinked with email campaigns, website and content creation, SEO and trade shows or face-to-face meetings.

In fact, integrating it within a multi-channel marketing strategy will allow it come into its own. Within your social media strategy you must also consider which platforms are the best fit for you and your services and whether they are well suited to your audience.

What Platforms Should You Use?

Each platform has its own community culture and posting protocols. Some favour images and video, others prefer long-form articles.

Some target Millenials with a short-attention span whilst they’re on the move, and others can engage older generations or those who may be browsing at work. Each platform has word, image size and video specifications and their algorithms favour some post types over others – so take this into account in your planning.

Facebook

This is probably the key platform to focus on if you are just starting out and have limited time and resources.

On Facebook you can secure fans, promote content, handle customer enquiries, advertise and interlink multiple social accounts once you’ve got them up and running.

It has the widest appeal in terms of age and affluence of user and allows you to post text, images, links and videos.

Facebook Ads allow you to target users based on their interest and behaviour. An effective combination. Also, you can upload your customer email database to target those people on Facebook with specific offers.

Learn about Facebook Ads 

Things you might post:

  • Enviable images of incredible and eye-catching destinations to inspire users to travel.
  • Share advice and top tips, either within the post by linking to an article you’ve recently written. This should be accompanied by an image or video to draw in attention.
  • Create a poll to engage users and find out more about your target community, both in terms of their demographics and their wants/needs.
  • Use Facebook ads to market your services, upcoming or current sales and boost brand awareness. Facebook harvests all sorts of data about its users, so you can really drill down into particular categories or niche audiences by age, gender, location, interests and topics they talk about with friends.

Twitter

Twitter is a lightning-speed social channel and really needs quantity as much as (if not more than) quality.

Whilst it’s great for getting up-to-the-second news and spotting trends, less than 25% of Twitter users are active, and you will have only a split second on the homepage of your followers.

However, with some good content and targeted ads, you can really make an impact and have a reach of tens of thousands off the back of a single message of 140 characters or less. Short and punchy with a hint of humour will work best.

Likes and shares propagate your post far beyond your network of direct followers.

Learn about Twitter Ads

Things you might post include:

  • Links to blog posts, infograhics or white papers to establish yourself as a knowledge source and get people to click through onto your page and then your website.
  • Promotional offers and sales updates with bright and bold images to cut through the Twitter ‘noise’. However these should be less than 20% of your tweets, with the rest focussing on conversation and interaction (rather than hard selling).
  • Images of holiday destinations or fun activities. Adding visuals boosts engagement by up to 313%.
  • Hashtags, hashtags and more hashtags. Including a few pertinent hashtags on each tweet make it 33% more likely to be retweeted.

Instagram

Photo-sharing app Instagram is the prime platform for engaging time-short Millenials with an epic narrative. Stunning photos of far-flung destinations or thrilling videos of various activities can get followers dreaming about destinations they hadn’t previously considered and inspire wanderlust.

48% of Instagram users rely on Instagram to find a new travel destination and will check locations and hotels to see what they’re signing up for.

A study by Schofields Insurance revealed that almost 40% of Millenials will choose their vacation based on how Instagrammable the destination is.

Learn about Instagram Ads

As a result, your posts should include:

  • High-quality and original images. Do not use stock photos but reposting followers’ holiday snaps and tagging them is a great method of engagement.
  • Images and clips from your staff’s own travels to highlight your brands investment in and passion for travel. Not only will it show that you love travelling as much as your followers, it demonstrates that you will be knowledgeable about those areas.
  • Quality but short videos. People scrolling through Instagram won’t stick around to watch lengthy videos, and will scroll straight past if it doesn’t buffer immediately.
  • Hashtags within image and video descriptions, and adding locations on posts. For the same reason as Twitter, it allows users to search by themes, topics and destinations and will extend your reach.

Pinterest

Pinterest is another visual platform that is well-suited to travel agents.

As the name suggests, it is a digital pin up board where you can post hundreds of images or various destinations, infographics, stills from videos, maps and so much more content that will appeal to your followers.

It can also be linked to your Facebook and Twitter to increase share-ability.

What sets Pinterest apart is that it is an aspirational planning site. Users don’t share their own pictures, they bookmark ones that help them to map out potential trips, activities, meals and even holiday outfits.

Learn about Pinterest Ads

LinkedIn

The final key platform is LinkedIn.

This social site is more geared towards professionals, and thus you’re more likely to post longer articles or blogs in a bid to establish yourself as a thought leader.

You might be looking to target working professionals that need a well-deserved break or business trip.

Learn about LinkedIn Ads

Things you might want to post:

  • Blog posts or articles about great two-week getaways or retreats where you can relax and unwind.
  • Articles about the benefits of taking a trip and impacts on productivity.
  • Enticing images that might encourage those scrolling on a break at work to take action and book a trip or weekend away.
  • A thought leadership piece commenting on marketing trends or looking forward to trendy destinations over the next six to twelve months.

Other platforms that you could look at, depending on your resources, are YouTube and Snapchat, although these are harder to project and monitor the effects of.

How Should You Be Using Social Media?

As a travel agent the social media possibilities are endless.

The main goal is to create an open conversation with your customers, involving them wherever possible, as well as becoming a part of of industry-wide conversations and jumping on trends.

Below are some of the key things you should be using your social media channels for.

  • Tracking what others are saying about you

Customers and suppliers that mention your brand or services are pretty much creating free PR for you – engage and involve them, and then re-share their posts.

  • Promoting sales, deals and upcoming events

Just started a 24-hour fare frenzy? Going to a trade show in the city where customers can come and have a chat? Tell your community of followers.

This can be in a text-based post, a photo on Instagram or a banner on your Facebook page.

  • Sharing your content

As soon as you write a blog post or article – put it on out on every social media channel you have.

Adjust the wording and change up accompanying banner images,but spread it far and wide.

  • Sharing others’ content

Just be clever with whose content you share. Avoid promoting articles or blogs from your competitors, as you’ll drive traffic back to their site.

Focus on news articles and trend pieces, to show that you’re up to date with what’s happening in the market, as well as top tips for travellers, plenty of photos/images, and generally anything that might inspire your consumer to book a holiday or activity.

And don’t forget that social is a two-way street with your customers. Almost 90% of travellers start talking about their trip on social media on the day they return (or before!) so share their stories and amplify your own messages at the same time.

Top Tips For Success On Social Media

Post Frequently

With such a busy work day and 100 tasks already on your list, this might not be want you wanted to hear, but you’ll need to post multiple times a day to try and cut through the noise.

On Twitter alone there are 350,000 posts per minute. As a result, you’ll need as many posts as you can put together on this platform – whether that’s sharing original content, doing a poll or contest, or retweeting others.

On Facebook and Instagram you can afford to be a bit more selective with several posts per week.

The aim of the game is to keep your brand in customers’ minds as they think about booking their next trip. In peak booking times or seasons, ramp up your efforts to remain a front-runner.

Time-Savvy

Although social media may be time-consuming, it doesn’t need to be an all-consuming second job. Once a week, pull together some content, news articles and images and schedule them to go out automatically.

There are plenty of free platforms to do this like Hootsuite and TweetDeck so just have a look and see what works for you.

Know Your Audience

If you’re trying to reach audiences across multiple geographies – you’ll need to post accordingly.

According to Hubspot, the best time to post on Facebook is 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday or 12:00–1:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you want to engage US or Asian customers, you’ll need posts throughout the day and night.

People often go on social on their way to and from school or work but for platforms like LinkedIn, you’ll want to target professionals on their lunchbreak or in a mid-afternoon lull.

Focus more time on the platforms where your target audience are. If your clients are typically 50 and over, Instagram isn’t the place for you.

If you’re pushing gap year trips, LinkedIn won’t bring much in the way of leads.

Use Visuals

A picture really is worth a thousand words, and a video even more.

We mentioned it before, but the point can’t be emphasised enough. Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.

Although video creation might sound like hard work, travel lends itself to visuals and these can be easily recorded and edited into short clips.

If you’re really feeling daring, try a Facebook or Instagram live from your next trade show, or interview an employee about top travel tips.

Tone Of Voice And Sense Of Personality

One reason that people will come to a travel agent or tour operator rather than booking trips themselves is the emotional connection,  and expert opinions on offer.

This needs to be reflected on your social channels – regardless of which platforms you opt for.

Convey a real passion and enthusiasm for travel and be relatable.

Showing your human side and your voice makes it easier for consumers to connect with you.

Twitter and Instagram are great platforms to  be humorous and playful and because you’re posting regularly, you can try out different things and see what works with your target audience.

Act Fast

Social media can be your best friend or your greatest enemy.

People are increasingly using social platforms in place of review websites or customer service phone lines. If a customer is praising you, your tours or your general service, respond to them and share their feedback.

71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.

That is word-of-mouth marketing at it’s absolute finest.

If a customer complains or comes to you with a query or problem, react quickly and politely and send them a private message to follow up over the phone. 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour.

Never turn social media into a forum for arguments or negative messages about other agencies and operators. As well as responding quickly to your customers, you need to react quickly to trends – usually in the form of hashtags.

Multiple Channels

As you find your feet and get the basics under wraps, expand into multiple social platforms and link them together.

Share content across them all, try out different post types and see what sticks.

Re-purposing the same content allows you to extend your reach to a wide range of customers and drive people towards your website or into your store.

Combining social media with an email campaign or as a follow up to face-to-face meeting helps build a longer lasting relationship with prospects and customers.

Win Business On Social Media

The digital area has created a nation of tech-savvy travellers who are used to a self-serve online world, full of comparison sites and price watch emails.

But play to your strengths with the below at-a-glance social media tips for travel agents and tour operators.

Social media marketing is a relatively inexpensive and effortless way to build brand recognition, disseminate content, win new clientele and retain existing customers.

  • Build up their bucket list

Show them new places and things that they didn’t even know existed until you put it on their radar, then follow this up with tips and trends posts to really get them engaged.

  • Keep them informed

Of the latest trends, of upcoming sales, of seasonal travel opportunities, of regional disasters or emergencies, and all the rest.

  • Be the one they trust

Customers will come to you rather than booking a trip through a faceless online company as there is less risk. Encourage them to ask questions and check others’ reviews on your Facebook page.

A positive online reputation is invaluable.

  • Offer them deals

A well-time social advert with the opportunity for a cut-price trip or activity for someone who is bored at work or stuck on a train in the rain will likely lead to a sale, or at the very least a conversation with your team.

And there you have it, the latest trends in social media and some top tips on how you can use them your advantage and harness the power of digital.

Social media marketing is a relatively inexpensive and effortless way to build brand recognition, disseminate content, win new clientele and retain existing customers.

Still got questions? Get in touch and we’ll help you decide the best strategy for your business.

Images credit:

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How Has SEO Changed in the last few years?

SEO has changed beyond recognition without any doubt over the past few years.

Indeed, today’s SEO bears no resemblance to what we used to call SEO just a decade ago.

Earlier it was possible for experienced SEO experts to manipulate the rankings of a search engine page result by knowing what to tweak on their website.

But this approach no longer works, and as a result, several of old-fashioned SEO agencies have ceased trading, or needed to drastically change their approach.

In this post, we will examine the main changes which the search engine optimisation process has undergone over the last couple of years and discuss each major change in detail.

Rise of Semantics

Semantics used to play only a marginal role in search engine algorithms just a few years ago.

All this has changed with the improvement of search engine algorithms and artificial intelligence on which search engines are increasingly reliant.

Nowadays, semantics play probably one of the most important roles in search engine results in pages and are largely responsible for the placement of a website/webpage on SERPs.

Earlier ‘Dentist London’ could have generated converting traffic from organic SEO, but today ‘affordable dentist in London’ will probably give you better quality traffic which will convert at a higher rate.

Google started changing its algorithm drastically with its Panda and Penguin updates in 2011 and 2012. But semantics rose to prominence after the Hummingbird update in 2013.

Content

In the earlier days of SEO, many people were sceptical of the claim that “Content is the King”.

However content has become increasingly important over the last few years and is an element which can make or break your SEO strategy.

Google and other search engines have repeatedly emphasised the importance of good quality, original content.  In fact, Google has also punished several websites for having duplicate or copied content via its several algorithmic updates.

We can safely say that good-quality, original content is the backbone of any well-planned SEO campaign as without having the original content you can’t go far in the world of SEO.

Link Building

Link building is an area which has perhaps changed beyond recognition over the last decade along with the SEO itself.

Gone are the days when just a few high-quality links could have got you ranked on SERPs, indeed today you will need much better links from relevant, high-quality sites to even think about a place on SERPs.

Earlier on you could have got your website ranked on SERPs with paid links, non-contextual links from forum posts, or spammy blog comments.

But in today’s changed scenario such practices often get a Google penalty and thus you must avoid anything which even remotely bears a resemblance to black hat link building tactics when it comes to link building as any such practice will do more harm than good.

Search engines have changed their focus on the quality and context of links and nowadays earned links from relevant, high-quality sites almost always beat links from non-relevant sites.

SEO veterans will remember that Google started this crackdown over shady link building practices with its Penguin update in 2012.

Rise of Social Media

Social Media didn’t even have a fraction of the influence it has today just a decade ago.

In pre-2010 days search engines rarely took the popularity of a website or a webpage on social media into account when calculating it’s rank on their result pages.

 

Things have changed dramatically since then as nowadays social media signals are incorporated in every major search engine’s algorithm and play a crucial role in establishing your SERP rankings.

Indeed, many businesses have started focusing more on social media channels and platforms as compared to search engine optimisation as if you can gain a foothold in social media then sooner or later search engines are going to rank your website for relevant searches.

Downfall of Link Schemes

Just a few years ago many people assumed that buying backlinks or participating in link schemes was all you need to do to rank on a search engine results page.

Google has conducted a crackdown on such tactics, and entire sites have vanished from SERPs due to poor quality or paid backlinks.

Since at least 2012, link schemes have been falling out of favour, and google penalties coupled with other factors have sounded the death bell for these tactics.

Today, using a link scheme is the perfect way to get your website penalised by search engines as they strongly disapprove of such schemes and your site may end up in the sandbox if Google discovers that you got your backlinks via shady practices.

PageRank

PageRank is perhaps the most famous algorithm used ever by Google as it was the first algorithm which was largely responsible for displaying results on search engine results pages.

Much has changed over the last few years, as PageRank is no longer the sole factor which can make or break your site rankings on SERPs.

Google has itself considered that they consider more than 200 attributes before generating a SERP for a query.

With the rise of artificial intelligence algorithms such as RankBrain, PageRank has lost its importance although it can’t be said that it’s no longer important.

User Experience

Search engines have been trying to serve relevant and good quality results to their users since the advent of the Internet. User experience has been a primary metric which has been in use for several years.

Users type their queries in search boxes to find an answer to their question and search engines satisfy this thirst for knowledge by delivering relevant answers to user’s queries in the form of search results.

User experience has been closely monitored by search engines since at least a decade, and Google has started paying even closer attention to metrics which tell about the user experience of a website or a webpage such as Bounce rate.

Google’s artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithm RankBrain takes into consideration the time spent on a site and page layout into consideration when displaying SERPs. So, it’s important to keep an eye on UX if you want to rank your site high on SERPs.

Death of Anchor Text

Anchor Text was the silver bullet of SEO just a few years ago.

But semantics and AI have changed it completely. Google dislikes the use of anchor text beyond a certain limit, and its algorithm can easily identify overuse of anchor text within a website’s backlinks.

Webmasters misusing anchor text for gaining high rankings in search engine result pages often wake up to discover that their sites have been penalised by Google and they have lost a majority of their traffic within an eyeblink.

Local SEO

Local SEO was just taking off a few years ago, but nowadays with almost every conceivable business listed on the internet, local SEO has become much more important.

Google and other search engines exist to fulfil a need of their users, and most often consumers use search engines to discover local shops, supermarkets, services and other businesses.

It just makes sense from the perspective of a search engine to show relevant results to users based on their reported location.

Google’s dominance in digital map space with it’s Google Maps makes it easy for Google to incorporate local businesses into relevant search engine results.

Mobile users have played a significant role in this transformation as mobile searches often report a user’s location which then allows Google to serve relevant local results to them for their query.

Google Updates and Penalties

A decade ago people were not even aware of what a Google update or penalty meant.

Things started to change after 2010 as Google released at least one major update each year starting with Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon etc.

The SEO community was surprised by the massive changes with which webmasters had to deal with after each major algorithmic update from Google.

These updates were mainly responsible for the changing landscape of SEO as after every single update millions of websites using outdated or spammy tactics were penalised, and it took years for them to recover their prior rankings on search engine result pages.

Decreasing Relevance of Keywords

Keywords were the frame of SEO in good old days which is no longer true.

Previously, SEO strategy was framed around Keywords and this started to change with the rise of semantics and artificial intelligence after the Hummingbird update in 2013.

Nowadays, Google’s artificial intelligence algorithm utilises the semantics and linguistics to deliver relevant results to a searcher.

Keywords are still important from the perspective of SEO, but they no longer enjoy the importance which they used to have just a few years ago.

Today, Google tries to decipher user intent behind a query and uses its artificial intelligence algorithms like RankBrain to serve results based on what AI thinks to be the intent or need behind a query.

Mobile Experience

There are billions of mobile devices connected to the internet today, and mobile searches officially surpassed desktop queries in 2015 in Google search.

Earlier on mobile SEO was seen just as an additional part of the wider SEO strategy, but nowadays it has become an outright necessity.

You will miss out on a lot of opportunity to reach mobile customers if you don’t optimise your site for mobile SEO.

With the rise of the mobile web, mobile experience has a completely new meaning.

In some developing countries, people use a mobile device such as a cheap smartphone as their only link to the Internet.

Google released its mobile-friendly update in 2015, which forced webmasters to consider mobile-friendliness of their site when planning their future SEO strategy.

Google further rolled out its mobile-first index which places an even greater emphasis on mobile experience and mobile friendliness of a site.

You can simply no longer overlook mobile users as mobile experience pretty much impacts your SERP rankings in a huge way.

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