March 10, 2017
Travel Marketing Plan Pt 3: Creating Content With Context
This guide on creating content with context for your travel website is the third article in our series on inbound marketing plans for travel companies. You can find the first article on the travel buying journey here. The second article on how to create traveler marketing personas here.
Reading time: 5 minutes
What you’ll learn:
- Why your content isn’t working now
- What content with context is
- How to create content with context
- Examples of content with context
- How long a plan like this takes to produce results
We’ve alluded to this idea “content with context” in our earlier articles, but this article is designed to dive into it more.
Why your travel website content needs context
Did you know that 293,000 statuses are updated on Facebook every minute? Or 136,000 photos are uploaded in the same time frame?
If your strategy involves Twitter, it’s even worse: 6,000 new updates per second globally.
Blogs? There’s a huge supply/demand problem in the blogging/content world: namely, the supply (what people are producing) is going up, but the demand (people’s available time to read all of it) is staying the same -- or going down. (Plus, people predominantly find specific topic blogs through Google, and with search increasingly on mobile, there are fewer spots available on that highly-coveted Google Page 1 for search results. If your blog lands on Page 2, which it likely will, there’s less than an 8% chance it ever gets seen.)
We see this a lot in the travel world. Tour operators and travel agencies are aimless in their approach to creating content that ultimately serves their primary goal; getting leads.
After a few blog posts, they give up because they do not see the results they want. They move only to Facebook - which is perfect for getting likes and shares, but they’re still unsure if it works.
More importantly, they don't even know why it doesn't work.
Content with Context attempts to cut through this clutter.
At this stage in our series, we’ve discussed:
- Traveler personas
- Stages that a traveler goes through (aka the travel buying journey)
- Some key questions in each step (question mapping)
If you do your homework and know who you want to attract (traveler persona) and what their issues are, you already know what type of content to create to attract them; it’s content that helps, entertains and captivates your ideal traveler (aka persona).
I want to emphasize this again because it's insanely important for this strategy.
When you create content that helps, entertains and captivates your ideal traveler. You stop being the interruption they hate and start becoming the content they hate being interrupted from.
The general rule of content production is 80% helpful, interesting, entertaining and 20% promotional. That is what will change your game.
A simple way to think about creating content with context is to take the traveler persona’s goals & concerns for each stage of the travel buying journey and create an agenda of content that addresses those goals and concerns.
It’s as simple as that. Here’s a visual on what that looks like:
Creating content that tunes into your traveler's needs or desires is called “Content Mapping.” Which means creating content that your ideal traveler cares about for each stage of the travel buying journey.
Examples of Content Mapping?
Consider the “dream” phase of the travel buying journey. If the traveler persona with which we’re working covets adventure travel, then we need to reach her/him as they’re dreaming about an adventurous vacation. How do we do that? Some ideas of content could include:
- Pictures of far-flung destinations
- Articles on Staff picks of “hot” adventure travel destinations, including lesser-known ones
- A blog title like “The perfect adventure trips for Crossfitters.”
There can be a lot of confusion around the idea of what “content strategy” is, but honestly, you’re doing it right now. You know your target (the persona), and you know the stages they move through when evaluating the trip they want (the travel buying journey.) Now all you have to do is map content to those phases in a contextual way.
Consider the difference between “dream” and “plan.”
Let’s say this adventure-seeking persona is done dreaming and is ready to start planning.
Your research tells you that she (our persona) now needs to know more specifics about adventure-driven suppliers.
At this stage, she’s moving away from general inspiration and more towards the specific product in a destination. In this case, content you create to attract this persona might include the following:
- “The 10 Best Adventure Travel Suppliers of 2017”
- “Top 5 Ways Professional Travel Planners Gut-Check Their Current Adventure Options”
- “The best Adventure suppliers in Patagonia for Crossfitters” (assuming you sold Patagonia)
- Videos that review specific product, destinations or suppliers.
- A downloadable ebook of side-by-side comparisons of your top recommended adventure based suppliers
As you can see, once dreaming becomes planning, then, the context changes: now a would-be traveler wants specific advice and ideas on a specific product.
This helps to move her along towards booking (Stage 3). Once you move from planning to book, the context of the content will change again.
In the book phase, the content goals are much different. The channels you use to distribute that content is also much different. For example, instead of sending general top 10 articles (dream phase content) or product specific content (the plan phase) their needs are typically about value & offers. In this case, an email with a limited-time offer to try your travel planning service with an additional value-add or a discount via email, Facebook or a blog post may help them pull the trigger.
If you’ve been creating and attracting the right people to your earlier stages (Dream & Plan), you’re going to have a much better chance at converting a booking-stage traveler into a client with an offer. That’s why creating content for those earlier stages is so important.
Here's a visual of this process. Particularly pay attention to the section on what the travel company creates during each stage:
We discussed the not-so-smart content strategy, which is often called “post and pray.” You put together a lot of largely generic content and send it out to channels and email lists, and hope a few people contact you as a result.
We saw that with more and more digital noise, this usually fails to work. But we learned that by creating content with context, even if it seems narrower in focus, can often lead to much better results.
It can take 3-6 months for a real contextual content strategy to start to show results but the results are worth the effort as you’re not just in it for the conversions but the community and the qualified traffic that only producing contextual and relevant content can attain.
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