This article was written by Carla Vianna via Volx | View this article in its original location
You’re posting on Instagram, sharing blog posts on your website, and experimenting with ads on Facebook — yet there’s no real strategy behind it all.
If it sometimes feels like you’re throwing spaghetti on the wall just to see what sticks, you might need to take another look at your social media strategy.
You just spent half your marketing budget on digital channels like social media and search engines — but you have no idea how to measure their success. Does this sound familiar?
In this guide, you’ll learn how to form the best marketing strategy for adventure tourism brands.
Whether you’re confused about which channels to focus on or what metrics to track for your ongoing campaigns, this post will make you feel a lot more confident about your marketing plan.
What’s a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is a comprehensive business plan to promote your business, attract customers, and grow your revenue. For tour operators, this includes developing a brand and advertising on the right channels.
Every marketing strategy for adventure tourism brands should cover the 4 Ps:
- Product: You should have a clear understanding of the product (your tours or attractions), how it serves your customers, and what makes it unique.
- Price: Your pricing should be carefully calculated, taking company revenue and market prices into consideration.
- Place: Identify where your guests can book your tours or attractions.
- Promotion: Determine the channels you’ll use to promote your adventure tours.
Most adventure travel brands use a combination of digital marketing strategies like social media and paid search advertisements to bring in more website bookings.
Is your marketing strategy effective?
All your marketing efforts may fall flat if you don’t know how to measure them. You should identify your key performance indicators (KPIs), or success metrics, for every campaign you launch.
Your KPIs will depend on the marketing channel you’re prompting your tours on, and the result you’re hoping to achieve.
Here are seven ways you can evaluate your marketing strategy:
- Unique visitors: Is your website traffic going up? Unique visitors is a Google Analytics metric that refers to the number of people that visit your site during a given period of time. It’s a more accurate representation than page views since each visitor is only counted once. In other words, this metric can tell you whether you’re marketing strategy is effective in bringing new guests to your site.
- Page views: Your page views refer to the total number of individual pages your website visitors have viewed. If your page views are higher than your unique visitors, this means that your guests are clicking on more than one page on your site. This is a good indication that your guests are enjoying the content on your website.
- Search engine traffic: You can also check how much of your web traffic is coming from Google. This metric specifically measures how well your SEO and paid search ads are performing.
- Conversion rate: The percentage of visitors who take a specific action like signing up for your newsletter or booking a tour. This is a key metric to measure the overall effectiveness of your email opt-in and website content — both of which should be encouraging visitors to take an action.
- Social media followers and engagement: Are your social media accounts growing? Are your followers liking and commenting on your posts? Are they tagging you in user-generated content? Are they converting? These are key indicators to watch for a social media campaign.
- Online bookings: If you’ve built a robust digital marketing strategy to drive more bookings through your website, you should be tracking your bookings over time and the channels they’re coming from.
- ROI: Keep an eye on the gains and costs of your marketing investments. Look at revenue reports to see if your marketing strategy is not only bringing in more bookings but also making your business more profitable.
What are the key variables of an effective marketing strategy?
There are several factors to consider when building your marketing strategy. From your audience to your marketing budget, here are six key variables to keep in mind:
Knowing your audience is key to building an effective marketing strategy. When you understand your guests, you’re able to create campaigns that directly appeal to them. Every business should know what makes your customers excited, what doubts they might have, and what channels they use to get their information.
Here are a couple of questions to keep in mind when thinking about your audience:
- Have you created customer/buyer personas yet?
- Do you know where your audience is hanging out?
- Have you dug into your audience data on social media or Google Analytics to better understand their demographics?
Part of knowing your audience is identifying where your guests go for information. Today, most travelers begin their trip research on Google. Many also find inspiration through photos on Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. Adventure tour operators should focus on the marketing channels their guests use most.
Consider the following questions:
- Have you tried asking your guests how they found your company?
- Did you take a look at the platforms your competitors are active on?
- Have you looked at your booking software insights to see where most bookings are coming from?
Your budget will determine the channels you market your tours on. Content marketing, social media initiatives, and email campaigns are three cost-effective marketing strategies that tour operators can get started with.
Think about the following:
- Are you a new company that needs to get your name out there, or do you already have an established audience?
- How much has your business grown over the past year?
- How much of your revenue do you feel comfortable spending on marketing efforts?
Some marketing tactics like paid search marketing can generate results right away. You pay to rank on the first page of Google for specific search terms, which increases your site visibility and, hopefully, conversions right away. SEO (search engine marketing), on the other hand, is the process of organically ranking in the top 10 results on Google. It generates long-term results rather than immediate exposure. Most tour operators benefit from using a combination of both.
- Is your current marketing strategy costing you more time and money than necessary?
- Could spending more time on SEO now bring you more future bookings?
Take your destination’s tourism seasons into consideration when planning marketing campaigns. Your promotions will likely vary depending on guest demand, holidays, and the seasons.
Ask yourself the following:
- When could you benefit from more bookings?
- How much of your marketing budget should you set aside for those slow periods?
- How can you make up for the lost revenue from discounted tours throughout the rest of the year?
How established is your brand? Well-known travel brands can leverage their reputation to produce unique marketing campaigns that directly appeal to their customers. If your brand has many social media followers, for example, you would push that marketing channel more than others.
Consider the following:
- Do your customers walk away from your tours remembering your brand?
- Could your customers recognize your brand if they ran into one of your tour groups?
- What are your customers saying about you on social media?
Key marketing strategies for adventure tourism brands
Ready to improve your marketing? Travel tour operators should use a combination of strategies to create a solid marketing plan that sells.
- Know your audience: Your marketing plan will depend on the type of guest you want to attract to your tours. Experiment with different messaging and visuals to find out what makes them excited.
- Optimize your website: Make sure there are calls-to-action on your site that entice guests to book and that the customer experience to be seamless.
- Zero in on your branding: Use social media to engage with past customers and make new guests familiar with your brand.
- Develop an SEO strategy: Search engines account for about 55% of all traffic for travel and tourism websites. You can leverage SEO by creating a section on your website for a blog, where you write about topics in your niche.
- Experiment with paid search: Use a combination of SEO and paid search tactics to market to travelers that are specifically searching for the experiences you’re offering.
- Partner with your local tourism board: Find out if your company fits within one of their upcoming campaigns.
- Sell your experiences on OTAs: Make your company visible to the millions of users that book through online travel agencies like Expedia.
- Target customers at the right time: Target travelers who are already traveling in your destination through Facebook’s targeting features.
- Start an email list: Email marketing is a cost-effective way to build a relationship with your customers, upsell your tours, turn one-time guests into repeat customers, and build guest loyalty.
- Leverage guest reviews: Showcase reviews on your website and even use them in your marketing campaigns to influence potential customers to make their final booking.
- Claim your business on Google My Business: Your Google business listing includes your contact information, hours, and other essential information.
How to get repeat bookings by marketing to past guests
Think about a time you became loyal to a brand. It could be a shoe brand or an airline, but the reasons that drove you to buy from them repeatedly are likely the same.
You connected with the brand and what they stand for. You enjoyed the customer service, and you loved the product or service. Overall, your customer experience was a pleasant and memorable one.
How can you repeat this with your own customers?
You can start by establishing a clear brand both on and offline. Social media lets you use images, videos, and captions to personify your brand, which makes it easier to connect with customers.
For example, you use an app, like Fotaflo, to capture and share user-generated photos and videos of happy guests on social media. You can also use these photos and videos in personalized email campaigns throughout the year.
This brings us to another tactic – email marketing.
One of the simplest things you can do is ask guests to leave a review on Tripadvisor or your website.
In addition, if you are using digital waivers, like Xola Waivers, you likely have all of your guests’ email addresses, names, birthdays, and ages. You can add this information into your CRM or email marketing software, like Mailchimp. You can then send personalized birthday campaigns to all guests on their birthday — a simple yet memorable gesture.
However, all of these loyalty marketing efforts won’t get the job done if your customer experience is lacking. Make sure your tour is everything you promised the customer it would be.
In conclusion, your marketing strategy is the blueprint you’ll follow to promote and grow your business.
You may use several different tactics to get there, including a combination of SEO, email, and social media marketing. Whichever channels you choose, make sure to set and measure your KPIs as you go.
If your goal is to increase website traffic, for example, track your website’s unique visitors and page views. And always track your bookings and the revenue they’re generating compared to the amount you’re spending on marketing.
You should focus on the platforms that bring you the highest ROI.