In part 3 of our articles on Google Semantic Search for the travel and tourism industry, we take you through the practical steps to help create your content marketing plan and be well on the way to being presented in a user search for travel inspiration during the dreaming, planning and booking stages of travel planning.
It is important to understand that 58% of leisure travel begins with a search on the internet by people looking for ideas and inspiration. A content marketing plan is an efficient way of getting to your potential customers. Mounting research evidence suggests that for most businesses this is more efficient and effective than the brochure print run that many of us are still wedded to.
Here are the insights to action steps you should take to be on your way to a winning content marketing strategy and action plan.
1. Do your market research and know your target customer(s) intimately, know as much as you possibly can about them and their travel and personal interests. If you are in business, there is no excuse in not doing this bit. Be specific including demographics, attitudes and behaviours.
2. Be clear about your USP. Identify a list of problems your business is designed to solve. This should include emotional benefits like…stress, not enough time with the family at home, not enough time to yourself, ‘I need to see more of Australia’. It will also mean you should consider functional benefits like 2 bedroom family rooms, walk into town, walk to attractions, walk to the beach.
3. List a range of experiences, products or services that connect to your business in a variety of ways. If you sell accommodation in a regional town you may want to have content that covers restaurants close by, tour operators, information on drives, things to do for kids in wet weather, what is in the next town – the list goes on. Create a list of frequently asked questions and create a content calendar around these. This is really helpful in ensuring you have a chance to be included in the knowledge graph.
For example a regional hotel, might want to promote the local regional agriculture show coming up - city folk might want to show their kids where milk comes from, or a couple interested in the paddock to plate movement might enjoy it.
You might want to provide a link with information about karaoke night at the local pub, or publish a copy of the menu. Where are the closest restaurants? You might want to post an article that your RTO created for their blog about the top 5 festivals in the region. Potential customers don’t know what they don’t know, it is up to you to help them. Emotionally, it tells the customer you are helpful and that there is a lot to do.
4. Create your own content mission statement. What are you going to deliver, is it helpful and resourceful information?
5. Decide what the outcome or call to action should be? Perhaps you want potential customers to visit your website. Or you may want them to subscribe to your newsletter so that you can nurture your leads to travel. Make it clear what you want them to do …
6. Start creating content. Content should be created on a regular basis, be kept fresh and regularly shared. To ensure you do this, create a content calendar each month. As a tourism business, you have a chance to plan for content around all types of activities, seasons and events. Your success will depend on the quality of the content and whether or not you have something to say that your target audience is interested in.
Make sure you know what where your potential customers interests lie and ensure you can answer any questions they have through your content. Consider now you will be a story teller.
7. Share content. Share your content on your social media platforms. This sends all important ‘social signals’ to Google. So even if you have been inactive on your blog or website, by sharing your content, sharing other content and being active on social media is still picked up by Google.
If your site content doesn’t appear on social media sites, Google may consider it to be of low value. The same can be said for engagement. If people are not likely to engage with your content, Google will question the quality.
Types of Content to Consider
There are 2 types of content, evergreen and seasonal. Evergreen stays the same, seasonal as it suggests, may change with time. The content you create should take these styles into account. Outputs could include (but not limited to):
1. Blogs. Blogs are a great way to show and describe your product or service with words and images to inspire.
You may or may not be a writer and you may want to look at outsourcing your editorial ideas to a professional writer. It is not as cost prohibitive as you think and costs to keep a fresh well oiled blog alive is akin to a few brochure print runs in your year. Maybe it is time to consider where you place your marketing budget.
2. Videos. You can create your own videos on your camera or phone. You can create fantastic videos from your photo’s with companies like Stupeflix.
3. Images. Visualisation is where it all starts. Great photo’s engage and create desire and are more likely to lead to purchase. Photo’s need to evoke an emotion and connect with your potential customers. When we think about holidays, we place ourselves there, whether it be at your hotel or the beach close by.
Think and amazing photo’s. That is, if you own a standard hotel for example, it might be good to show photo’s of things other than the room.
Go through and curate all of your awesome images you have on your website and hard drive. Then post your photo’s on a regular basis to your website, blog, social media.
4. Google+ posts. Google+ indexible by Google, just like a blog post on a website, so consider this when you are writing on your Google+ page. Don’t just share the photo, but write a few words describing it.
5. Surveys. Surveys and market research are a great way to engage with your customers or potential customers. (If you are a mytravelresearch.com member, check out our survey templates.)
6. E-brochure. A great way to visually share what you do. If you already have a paper brochure the work is done… If you are moving away from brochures, then producing an e-brochure is straightforward.
7. Infographics. Great for business to business content creation
It is really important, to ensure you post your content everywhere, but it is important in the semantic web not to constantly ‘flog your own horse’. That is, you need to talk about other aspects that may be directly and indirectly related to your business. As with creating your content, you should use your social network profiles to promote and link to content that will further add value to what you do.
So now, hopefully we have given you enough to keep you busy for a while and at the very least, provide some direction for future marketing planning for your tourism business or destination. The future opportunities lay with optimising your web presence for semantic search and in creating truly helpful content to your potential customers.
Also, feel free to join our Google+ community for the travel and tourism industry.
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She also runs a well respected seniors travel blog, http://www.newyoungtravel.com.au.
Bronwyn is also the published author of Seniors Travel Tips, a global travel guide for seniors.