If you haven’t already figured it out, here at Readz we believe that every business needs a content marketing strategy for audience engagement. And we’ve started to look at what that means for different industries. Last time around, we looked at the implications of Obamacare for content marketing in the healthcare sector. This time, the travel industry is in the spotlight. Even taking the recession into account, it’s a hugely valuable industry, accounting for 7% of US exports, 7.5 million jobs and about $1.4 trillion in 2011.
More importantly for content marketers, it’s an industry where consumers are always looking for information. To Readz, that adds up to a need for content marketing and we’re not the only ones to think so. It’s worth checking out the findings from a recent Skift report looks at Content Marketing Trends in the Travel Industry.
One interesting fact is that travel industry companies have been using content marketing long before the term existed. In-flight magazines, hotel and holiday brochures and publications like the Michelin and Frommer guides all aim to provide consumers with information that will be useful and lead them to make a purchase. But that’s no longer enough, which is perhaps why 45% of travel industry marketers plan to increase content marketing spend in the next year.
The report examined the kind of content marketers think consumers want. According to the research cited, marketers believe that travel industry marketing should primarily be visual to give travelers a sense of being there. The survey found that content customers used for some or all their trips included maps of accommodation and tourist attractions, as well as reviews, photos, social networking posts and videos both by users and professionals or companies. Interestingly, 53% of companies outsource the production of travel content marketing, and within this, getting content from fans is increasingly important because consumers trust the views of other consumers.
Other research from the report showed that within the travel industry, content production accounts for almost 12% of marketing budgets. Travel industry content marketers tend to focus on building customer relationships with the aim of generating leads and retaining loyal customers. They then analyze the response to content to figure out what customers look at during the buying cycle. Markers of content marketing success include (in descending order) web traffic, social media sharing, time spent on site, customer feedback and customer ranking.
Turning to content channels, the report cites a study that shows that after 20 months, content marketing is as efficient as paid search for lead generation, but far exceeds it (by 31 leads to 9 per $1,000 of spend) after three years. The best strategy is to use owned content, though lightly branded sponsored content that is clearly relevant to readers can also be used. However, the quickest growing content channel in the travel industry is social media, which 71% of marketers are using for content promotion.
The report gives some excellent examples of how major players in the travel industry are using blogs, sites, forums, lists, user generated content, social media and media partnerships to promote their brands. It concludes that effective content marketing for the travel industry must:
- focus on helping the consumers and building a relationship
- focus on a particular niche to build expertise
- keep sales pitches to a minimum
- produce content consistently
- ensure that they have two-way conversations with customers
- be transparent
The Content Marketing Institute agrees and provides some additional tips, taken from assessing the marketing strategies of some major travel industry brands. They suggest focusing on three different areas of the travelers journey: trip planning, en route and after the trip to build engagement.
It’s true that many travelers need information that’s immediately applicable to their trip. But even in the decision-making stage and after they have booked, most travelers will pick up guide books and articles on their destination. That’s why creating relevant long form content that provides in-depth destination and trip information is a no brainer for a travel industry marketer looking to provide relevant and valuable content to consumers.
But even more important than this is an appreciation of where and when consumers will be doing their research and reading that content, and what they’ll be using to do it. In 2013 and in the future, they will be using mobile devices: smartphones and tablets. And they will probably be sitting in front of the TV in the evening while they do their research.
That’s why travel industry marketers can’t afford to ignore the need to adapt both their sites and their long form content – heck, all their content – to the mobile connected consumer. Pretty soon, there won’t be any other kind of reader.