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Essential Email Marketing for DMOs

 

Remember this movie? And the excitement of hearing that “You’ve got mail!” jingle? Those were the days…

It’s 1998. You’ve Got Mail is in theaters. Tom Hanks in his hey-day.

The internet is now available to the masses (with dial-up connection!) and email is EXCITING. You got 1, maybe 2 emails a week and it was almost always your mom or grandma writing you.

Email marketing has come a long way since then. Pretty much every business organization has, at the very least, an email subscriber list and a basic newsletter they send on a regular basis. 

The tools to help these businesses make the most of landing in a subscribers inbox have come a long way too. The options can be overwhelming.

Since we’ve worked in this space for years, and helped many clients with email marketing solutions, we’ve boiled the key focus areas down pretty well. For DMOs, here are our tips below.

Inspire

Pique curiosity during a traveler’s decision making window and inspire them year round with interesting and informative content. As a DMO, you are the ultimate expert on traveling in your region.

Email is a great way to deliver fun, catchy content at scale to an engaged audience. After all, they’ve already expressed interest in hearing from you. Now is your time to wow them with a professionally designed and expertly written email delivered straight to their inbox. Extra Pro Tip: Make your email stand out with an animated GIF, providing movement in an otherwise static environment.

Make it Personal

Many on your email list will get there from your website form. Make sure to collect as much as you can while balancing the fact that too long of a form will leave people wanting to bounce.

First things first: Collect their First Name! This allows you to speak directly with your subscribers, providing just a small touch of personalization can increase your open rates by 10-15%!

Besides knowing WHO your subscribers are, you can also learn what interests them about your destination, when they might visit, how they might visit (solo, group, with family, etc) and if they will need lodging. This seems like a lot – and it is – but with the power of email automation, you can provide engaging and relevant content to each of these segments with very little effort.

Visit Fort Collins collects lots of great info about their subscribers.

Be There for Them (while they’re… there)

Have a clue that a subscriber has booked a trip to your destination? Now what? Leave it up to fate to make sure they’re all set for a smooth, enjoyable trip? I don’t think so!

Automated campaigns can be sent before a subscribers trip begins with insider tips or an offer for an activity from one of your partners. Going one step further, deploy these messages as SMS messages to make sure you are being heard and communicate with your visitors while they are at your designation. Some email platforms have cross-channel functionality to deploy SMS messages to (like Tourism Engine™).

Get Them Talking

It’s been pretty much a one-sided conversion thus far, hasn’t it? You’ve given your subscribers a lot of (great) information, but haven’t heard a peep from them!

If you collected travel dates like we mentioned before, make sure to follow up with them to see how their trip went. Going one step further, ask them to share some of their favorite vacation memories on social media.

Ready to take the next step in creating a brilliant email marketing strategy for your destination? Contact us and let us know.

Marketing Opportunities for Tourism in 2018

 

The new year symbolizes opportunity, renewal, and a fresh start for many. This time of year, that means we’re assessing the digital landscape and helping clients seize the opportunities that arise from shifts in technology and consumer behavior. Below are a few things to know.

Social Media 

Prepare to delegate more budget to social media this year. The reasons:

  1. Organic impression share will continue to decline as social media platforms want more brands to “pay to play”. Paid media will be required for maintaining reach.
  2. Social media is becoming increasingly more vital to reaching travelers at all points in the funnel, from building awareness to the decisions they make once they arrive. More sophisticated strategies, consistency and measurement will be necessary to obtaining reach, engagement and conversion.

Key Opportunities

There are increasingly more opportunities to reach and engage with travelers and more targeting opportunities on social media to reach your ideal traveler, than anywhere else.

In 2018, Instagram and Pinterest are key platforms for reaching travelers in a visually appealing way and a thoughtful approach to expanding your presence on these platforms will be needed in 2018. Establish appropriate KPIs for each individual channel, track and measure performance. And don’t rule out Twitter just yet. Many are neglecting this channel, but it’s still a great way to communicate WITH your audience and be active in conversations around travel & your destination.

Tip: The visuals you choose for these platforms is just as important as the message. Make sure you develop a strong visual asset strategy in conjunction with a messaging strategy, & build an asset library with beautiful, attention-catching imagery you can choose from when crafting your posts.

SEO 

The ever-changing world of SEO continues to be a point of frustration for many. Ranking is hard, and you need to play the long game with SEO. You’ll also need to stay on top of the algorithm changes and adapt accordingly. SEO audits are recommended at least once per year, depending on the size of your site.  Often times an audit will uncover simple, actionable tactics for improving your rankings on search engines and give you some bigger, long-term goals to work towards. 

Key Opportunities

SERP features are continuing to rise. These are the knowledge graphs, featured snippets, top stories, shopping results you see in search results. They’re driving traffic away from organic listings because they provide quick, relevant information for the search. There are many opportunities for you to get ranked on any number of these features, helping drive traffic to your site. You may also want to test out an influencer or affiliate strategy to reach an audience you don’t normally reach organically. These tactics can also build quality backlinks to strategic website pages to help your rankings.

Email

Our inboxes are perpetually full, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on email marketing. There’s a few ways we can still stand out amongst the crowd.

Key Opportunities

Did you know that automated emails are 70.5% more likely to be opened? It’s because your emails are giving subscribers the information they want, when they want it. If better results aren’t enough, automation also saves you time and money. That’s why our Tourism Engine™ clients are so happy! :)

There’s so much valuable information we can collect from prospective travelers when they fill out a form, like date or season of potential travel, where they live (think drive market vs. fly market), and what activities they’re interested in. Having this information allows us to speak with travelers in a much more personal way. When we understand how and when a person is traveling, we can speak to them in a much more personal way and serve them content that’s valuable to their trip. And the ability to automate these personalized communications means more time for you to focus on other aspects of your business.

In addition to automation and personalization, you can leverage your email database to reach travelers on other channels too. Google AdWords Customer Match and Facebook Custom Audiences can fill the gaps and move customers further along the funnel when email can’t. 

These are just three opportunities for you to ponder as you shape your marketing strategy for the next year. Call or email us anytime for more insight and to see how we can support your efforts in 2018.

Attracting Tourists to Local Businesses

How local businesses can tap into the tourism economy.

Here’s to your success in reaching tourists!

Not a DMO or typical tourist attraction? You can still position your business in front of tourists! A few tactics are below.

Strong presence on social

  • Tourists are using social media more and more to find dining options on their vacations. Instagram allows users to save posts now, so that process begins at the time of booking. Help them get stoked on your brand and anticipate their arrival by:
    • Curating strong brand imagery
      • Cultivate a following and get them to save your posts!
      • Professional images help immensely.
    • Consistent efforts
      • Remember hashtags to gain visibility to the tourism audience
    • Coincides with blogging efforts
      • Push your blog content out on social, especially if your blog provides that “insider knowledge” travelers are looking for! Driving traffic to your blog will boost your SEO and if you have tracking installed properly, you can run retargeting campaigns on social or Google.

Programs with DMOs

    • Leads programs with Tourism Engine™
    • Email marketing/automated campaigns based on travel dates
      • Reach tourists while they’re here with relevant content
        • Summer tourists will want to see summer imagery & content around summer activities and elements of the outdoors
        • Winter tourists will have a much different experience and expect to see winter imagery and things to do indoors.

Blogging

    • Start a blog that showcases your expertise in the local tourism scene
      • Create stories around what to do in your town or city, involving your business when appropriate
        • Breweries can gain visibility with outdoor enthusiasts by creating great content around these activities.
        • Coffee shops can position themselves as a place for pre-activity fuel by developing content around this.
    • Leverage your blogging efforts by repurposing for social media and email marketing. Pushing your blog content out on social and email will drive traffic to the blog, helping gain visibility in search results. It’s full circle!

Why you should invest in visual content in 2018

What’s the ROI on Visual Content?

It’s a brand-building effort that requires more time than, say, a promotion or ad campaign. You won’t see the ROI immediately, but any good investment in brand will pay off immensely over time. I gathered some stats to support this argument for our clients (partners) who need to bring hard data to their board or decision makers.

I’ll lead off by saying that I think we all get it on some level. Our world is becoming increasingly more and more visual. Social media is highly influential in the purchasing-decision process. People use memes to communicate thoughts and ideas (don’t even get me started). We live in an era where people don’t have the time, patience, or brain capacity to read long articles, magazines, and newspapers, so we have to show up where they do spend time (the internet!) and give them content that’s meaningful and consumable.

Ponder over these stats (and take ‘em to your boss if you need to!):

  • 78% of consumers believe that companies focused on custom content are more trustworthy than companies who simply churn out generic content. When companies create custom content, their audience is more likely to believe that the company cares about the consumer’s time.

  • Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than we process words.

  • 60.8% of marketers said visuals are absolutely necessary to their 2017 marketing strategy (source)

  • 35.5% of marketers said they would spend more than ⅓ of their entire marketing budget on visual content in 2017. (source)
  • 94% more page views when content has relative images (source)

Storytelling through images should be a key marketing decision for your brand in 2018. Images make you feel something, and people would rather hear a great story (and hopefully, be part of that story) than be sold something. Let’s get started – we’re here to help!

AGENCY Tourism Marketing

Portland, OR | Bend, OR | Denver, CO

help@agencytourismmarketing.com