Marketing Strategy

So Long, Farewell, and 3 Online Marketing Lessons I’ve Found While Travel Planning

By Megan Marrs June 22, 2012 Posted In: Marketing Strategy Comments: 5

Well WordStream fans, I have some bittersweet news—I’ll be leaving WordStream soon to spend time in Europe.

Megan goodbyeIt’s been such a joy to work here and be part of our mega-marketing team.

Normally a year isn’t all that long, but in startup years it’s a decent chunk of time. I started at WordStream during its haywire adolescent stage, and have had the unique opportunity to be here as it has come into its own and really begun to thrive.

Blogging and discussing the latest online marketing happenings with you guys has been awesome. While I’ll miss WordStream immensely, I’m excited about my travels and what’s next.

Now dry those tears, this isn’t the end! I’ll be spending a couple weeks in Italy teaching a bed & breakfast some SEO basics, so I’ll continue blogging here from time to time so I can share how things progress and what we are learning. (P.S. if you live someplace awesome and need some help, I’m working for lodging!)

3 Online Marketing Lessons I’ve Learned While Travel Planning

As my last post in the WordStream office, I thought I’d share with you guys some of the online marketing lessons I’ve glimpsed through planning and researching my trip.

1. Keywords Don’t Always Cut it: When Strong Communities Are Essential 

Planning a trip can require quite a bit of research depending on what you want to do and how much you want to plan ahead. Traveling is one of the few times in which you usually can’t get all the information you need with a quick Google search. Too many variables exist—not just destination, but what you intend to do on your trip. Are you a solo traveler? Traveling with young kids? Are you after beaches or museums? Are you traveling on the cheap or staying in upscale hotels? Different situations will require different approaches.

This is why forums are great for travel research. Well-seasoned travelers often love to share their experiences and advice. I’ve spent a good chunk of time on TravelBlog asking for advice and reading past threads dealing with the same issues I’m grappling with.

At least for me, a big aspect of travel forums is simply comfort and affirmation—visiting a new place, especially a foreign country, can be daunting. It’s good to know that others have gone before you and will go after you.

In situations like this, community and user engagement are key. Even the most colorful infographics and sophisticated studies aren’t quite as reassuring as someone in the same boat as you. Consider your ideal audience, their needs, and how reliant your business is on forming a community. Could you be that reassuring friend for your users?

2. Meeting in the Middle: Predict Your Audience’s Research Process

In planning my travels, sometimes all I know is that I want to get from point A to point B. Especially when traveling around different parts of Europe, I’m not always sure if I’ll take a plane, train, or automobile. That’s when I usually search something like “Madrid to Barcelona.” When I search a phrase like that, airline sites and train routes will pop up, but that’s too far along in the buying cycle for me—right now I just want to know what my options are and compare them. 

Take a look at this screen capture of my Google search “Madrid to Barcelona”:

Madrid to Barcelona travel results

It ends up being about who has the information I really want, explaining the different transportation options I have for getting to Barcelona from Madrid, and what I can expect in terms of price and length of travel time.

This is an ideal spot to be in as an advertiser, because you’ve caught a visitor before they take the next step by searching “plane tickets Barcelona to Madrid” or “train tickets Barcelona to Madrid,” etc. If you are a discount airline who flies this route, this is the perfect time to link to your Barcelona to Madrid flight routes. The key here is providing valuable information, coupled with your offer, one step earlier in the buying cycle.

3. Harnessing The Power of Online Reviews

Review sites are always valuable, but become even more vital in regards to traveling. With restaurant sites like Yelp, a user might visit a restaurant despite a negative review if the place is cheap enough, if friends still give it a thumbs up, or it’s nearby. There isn’t much at stake, so users are more likely to take a chance.

Visiting a foreign country, however, the risks are much higher. You also can’t always get word of mouth advice, so you are forced to put more weight into online opinions. Trip Advisor is basically the Bible of travel planning, and I’ve used it many-a-time to find the top recommended hostels or activities in the area.

Consider your own business and who would be looking for reviews of you and your competitors. If your key audience is likely to be anxious and needs extra reassurance, then you’ll want to focus even more energy on generating reviews of your business. You’ll also want to be extra sure you’re posting badges of trust and authority. 

 

That’s it for today folks. Thanks for all the swell times, and good luck as you continue your web marketing journey! Tally ho!

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Comments

Tuesday June 26, 2012

Rahman @ Travel Directory (not verified) Said:

Quite an insightful post. I appreciate it Megan.

Like you, I believe that social proofis a must-have before traveling to a destination I've never been to. Yet, it's not easy to rely on what others say.

For years, I've sold travel services online and realized that vereifiable testimonials are very helpful in attracting potential travelers' attention and trust. 

However, above all this, I've noticed that getting your site to the top of the search engine result pages in a natural position with natural titles, useful description (combined with call-to-action) is a very successful way of gainging people's attention and trust.

I know I've talked from the other side of the equation, but I hope it's helped.

Rahman Mehraby

TraveList Directory

 

 

Thursday July 05, 2012

James Gan (not verified) Said:

Wow, what a good article to share online marketing tactics through travel planning :)
Thanks

Monday July 09, 2012

Karl (not verified) Said:

Great tips about online marketing, its important people learn more about it. I do local SEO all day and i'm glad more people know about my profession. Keep it up please your doing good work.

Thursday September 20, 2012

Frederick Tappan (not verified) Said:

Hello Megan,

I really like how you wrote this post. I'm not much of a traveler but I like how you broke down the search results to find the relevant information that you needed. I also like how you used Jing to show us the break down as that is clever to me. I'm a wanna be internet marketer and I've learned a few thinks from your blog post. I can imagine that traveling far from home can be a bit scary so you needed to find helpful and trust worthy services. I agree online its the same thing as we all want to find trust worthy products and services from reputable websites.

Thanks for the great post and good luck in your future endevors.

Frederick Tappan

Monday December 31, 2012

Alphonso Jones (not verified) Said:

Hi Megan,

   Just found your post on the 3 Marketing Lessons and the break down with

the screen capture software that you used for this wordstream article. 

I am in network marketing myself and dream of traveling with my family soon. I have traveled

extensively in the Marine Corp but that is a business type of travel where you

don't get to sight see.  Anyways, some good insight on keywords and the buying process

while using online reviews.  I will use Trip Advisor from now on when traveling too.

Thank you,

           Alphonso Jones

          Neucopia

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