Delivering data-driven content marketing for the travel industry

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The travel industry is increasingly turning to content-led strategies to create and nurture relationships at all stages of the customer journey.

And it's paying off: a 2015 Aberdeen study showed 7.8x higher year-on-year traffic for content marketing leaders versus followers. Conversion rates are also 6x higher for content marketing adopters versus non-adopters.

Paid media opportunities for content marketing are now truly scalable with programmatic delivery of content through existing ad formats and native placements. As marketers shift from talking at customers to speaking with them, the time is ripe to use data and content to add value to the consumer's purchase journey by finding them at the most relevant time and tailoring the content to them so it is informative and engaging.

It is exciting to see the likes of Thomson and Marriott who are executing this across paid, owned and earned channels. This article will focus specifically on how brands can better activate their content utilising data across paid media channels.

Understand your audience, then shape your content and targeting

With the abundance of data available from social and paid media channels, the opportunity to uncover strong insights about your audience, in near real time, has never been greater. By understanding the primary travel-led concerns and motivations of your audiences you can quickly develop and adjust content to address these concerns.

In addition to tackling your audience's questions effectively, you should also use this information to shape audience targeting strategies and paid media activation of that content, finding defining moments in the consumer journey and matching the most relevant content to these audience behaviours.

Data allows you to listen and act: don’t just broadcast

Balance the message you would like to share with the needs and wants of your audience. Travel brands run the risk of using the content channel as another broadcast tactic, pushing use of their app or overly touting their offers. Be cautious not to alienate your audience.

Utilise the data-driven insights you uncover to create a balanced editorial strategy that weaves your key commercial messages with useful and valuable content that addresses consumer needs.

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Thomson's blog

Be relevant at all the stages of the consumer’s journey

Using data enables you to really match content with the consumer at pivotal touch points. Much like over-broadcasting, mismatching content at the wrong times will lead to consumers ignoring you.

For example, if you are building out content that elevates travel inspiration be sure you can activate those audiences at that stage of their journey, by looking at some of the behavioural triggers such as browsing travel photos, writing travel blogs or search terms around broader travel-related terms.    

Also, make sure the shape, structure and features of your content reflect the relevant point in the consumer’s journey. For example, consider travel inspiration as a period where consumers are looking for validation and affirmation of the travel desires. With that in mind is your content shareable? Is it rich in visual elements to capture the imagination? Paid media activation now allows for far more variety in content than in recent previous years so leverage these opportunities to make the content more relevant.

Go beyond where your audiences are to find what your audiences are doing

Naturally, context is a valuable part of your content strategy. Make sure you are aligning your paid content with relevant contextual environments such as travel comparison, OTA’s, and travel magazines.

Granular data access for audience targeting can help you reach those relevant consumers at other pivotal touch points. For example those sharing content with friends and family on social channels, those searching with specific search terms or consumers browsing hard to reach travel inspiration environments can be identified through more sophisticated audience targeting solutions and also found programmatically in other non-travel environments where the opportunity to deliver them paid content is available. 

Harness the power of the crowd

According to research undertaken by Edelman, 70% of global consumers say online consumer reviews are the second-most trusted form of advertising, and Trip Barometer uncovered that 93% of travellers said their booking decisions are impacted by online reviews.

User-generated content can be powerful. Consider how this impacts both content production and also existing traditional paid media strategies. Look at how you can marry this content with audiences engaging with review-led content to create stronger resonance with your brand.

Go further than the written word - 66% of all travellers watch videos online when researching

The plethora of paid media options available programmatically has increased significantly in the last few months. Leverage these to get a range of content in front of relevant audiences.

From video placements of various lengths and formats, to cinemagraph native formats to get engaging imagery in front of audiences, the possibilities to make the right content fit at the right stage have never been greater. With programmatic access to these formats now reaching meaningful scale, you can combine data and placement to truly get the most relevant content in front of the most relevant audiences.

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