Travellers use the Internet extensively to plan and organise their holidays. Latest international research shows that more than 80% of travellers do so, either through their mobile device or desktop. They are searching for accommodation, contact details, things to do and see once they arrive at a destination, and of course what they can purchase and book before they arrive.
Having a strong online presence through dedicated online marketing will help your business get found by these potential customers. But, unfortunately, having a website that you never update or monitor, a Facebook page that isn’t managed and no social media strategy is not enough.
Online marketing refers to the various techniques available to businesses to promote their products, services and brand online. At the core of online marketing is your website, but this is only part of the strategy, potential customers need to be able to find that website and you also need to actively engage with current and future customers online.
The following are the main avenues that make up online marketing:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Display advertising on third party websites (for example the ATDW)
- Travel-specific online distribution (Online Travel Agents – OTAs)
- Social media
- Email marketing
Having your own website is a crucial part of any marketing strategy, it should be considered as important as your brochure.
Your website should be enjoyable to visit and be updated regularly to attract repeat visitors. Effective websites should:
- Showcase your products and services;
- Include contact details; and
- Be interactive so that users can ask questions, give feedback and make bookings online.
How many times have you visited a web page and clicked straight off? What turned you off the site – too many colours, confusing navigation, ugly graphics, or just an unprofessional look? The following pages will give you some tips on how to make your website extraordinary!
The look and feel of your business should shine through every page. If your business doesn’t have its own distinct brand, then consider creating one and implement it in all your marketing. You want your website to be consistent with your branding and other marketing material. If you have a creative flair you can attempt to design a look and feel for your business yourself, but normally it is best to engage the services of a professional graphic designer.
To learn more about websites attend an eTourism workshop.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is “the process of improving the visibility of a web site or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid search results”.
When you search online, using for example Google, how often do you look at the second, third, fourth pages? Most people rarely look beyond the first page of results. In an ideal world you want your website to rank in this highly sought after space. This doesn’t happen automatically, it is a strategic process that is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Here are 10 basic SEO tips:
- Create page titles to clearly let the search engine ‘bots’ and customers know what the page is about.
- Write clear descriptions for each page, usually one paragraph. These descriptions are called ‘meta tags’.
- Name the URL of each page as if you were naming a file, for example - www.wesbite.com/section/name-of-page.htm
- Make your site easy to navigate by using things like ‘breadcrumb trails’, for example - Website > Section > Name of Page
- Make your content easy to read, friendly, and relevant. Using blogs will help you keep your content conversational and current.
- If your business is location based, get a free Google Map listing.
- If you have images on your website, give each image a descriptive file name that relates to your core business and the image.
- Link, internally and externally, to as many other sites as possible, such as likeminded businesses and listing pages.
- Take advantage of all the free webmaster tools offered by organisations such as Google. To access these go to the Google home page and click on ‘business solutions’.
- Analyse your website through free tools such as Google Analytics and use the data to continually upgrade your SEO.
To find out more about SEO attend the SEO/SEM and Google Analytics workshop.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
A Google algorithm determines how you rank in organic searches but you can also consider paid advertising (SEM). This is also known as PPC (pay per click) resulting in inclusion in paid results.
Pay per click (PPC) is a form of online marketing that involves setting up an online advertising campaign which will be displayed on search engine results pages and advertising networks such as websites and blogs. In Australia, the major PPC players are Google AdWords, Google Remarketing and Yahoo! Search Marketing.
To find out more about SEO attend the SEO/SEM and Google Analytics workshop.
Display Advertising on Third Party Websites
Displaying your product on third party website, such as westernaustralia.com, can generate mass exposure for your brand.
A quick way to get your website listed on as many sites as possible is through the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW).
The ATDW was formed in 2001 as a joint initiative of Tourism Australia and Government Tourism Organisations across Australia, including Tourism Western Australia. ATDW contains over 130 travel websites including Tourism Western Australia's consumer website www.westernaustralia.com and Tourism Australia's www.australia.com
The ATDW enables you to control and update your product details through just one central point, which in turn are reflected throughout the network of distributor websites. Your record will show:
- Direct links to your email and website
- Booking and contact details
- Promotion description
- Service description
- Digital images of your product
- PDF of your promotional brochure
- Detailed pricing information
- A Google Map location display
To find out more visit www.atdw.com.au
Travel-specific Online Distribution
Every tourism product, no matter how large or small, is sold through a multitude of different online and offline avenues. These are called distribution channels.
The main aim of every tourism business is to get more customers. A wide distribution network means your product will be found by more people, which should result in more bookings. Below are some of the more common distribution channels for Australian tourism product (some are bookable and others simply list your product):
- Visitor Centres (Bookeasy)
- Online Travel Agents (for example Expedia)
- Meta search sites (like Google Hotel Finder and TripAdvisor)
To find out more about online distribution attend the Online Distribution workshop.
Social media is a great way to market your business as it encourages interaction, for example:
- Your customers could take a photo at your business and then post it on their Facebook wall.
- Or, ’Check-in’ at your business on Facebook so that all their friends can see where they have been and what they have been up to.
- Customers can also recommend or criticise a business to their friends via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Your customers could be talking about you whether you like it or not. Can you afford not to join in?
Social Media Tips:
- Social media is about connecting, communicating and relationship building.
- Don’t SPAM your customers, sometimes less is more.
- Don’t spruik your wares; social media is not a tool for selling!
- Don’t try and tackle all social media at once, pick one or two things that are going to work and focus on those.
- The most popular platforms in Australia at the moment are Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
- Treat social media as a massive word of mouth marketing tool.
- Use the demographic and geographic tools of social media and hone in to your customers as much as you can.
- You don’t need to post something new and exciting every minute, once or twice a week is plenty.
To learn more about social media attend our range of Social Media workshops.
The unique thing about email marketing is that your loyal customers have asked you to market to them; they have openly given their permission. A proportion of your subscribers probably only signed up to receive a coupon or discount, but there are still going to be customers who are genuinely interested in what you have to say.
On average, it takes someone a third of a second to decide whether they are going to open an email, three seconds to see if there is something of interest, and 30 seconds to respond to the ‘call to action.’
Business owners think that they need to pull out every trick in the book to keep customers; but in actual fact, all it takes is an understanding and appreciation of who your customers are and what they want.
The two most common email marketing platforms are: