How Vertical Leap, Google, Bing & Trustpilot approach travel marketing to increase conversions
On the 26th of April, some Trusties (Trustpilot Employees) and I attended a Travel Seminar, where Vertical Leap, Google, Bing and Trustpilot, represented by our very own Ash Rama, joined forces to bring you the latest insights in the Travel Sector.
The event was hosted by Vertical Leap - a search marketing agency - and featured 5 industry experts who were there to give travel marketers effective solutions to increase conversions.
Here are the major takeaways and key stats of the event.
An intro to travel marketing and the travel industry
The travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries. Google’s Agency Development Manager, Joe McEntee, gave us an overview of the market in hard numbers.
Brexit And Travel
In 2017, 44% of holidaymakers are planning to take a beach holiday, whilst 52% are planning to take a city break.
26% of holidaymakers are very likely to visit a country they’ve never been to before, up from 18% last year and slightly more, 29%, will go on holiday to a new resort or city, up from 23% last year.
But with 26% of people planning to go on holiday abroad this year, can it be said that Brexit has negatively impacted British travelers? Well, 18% of the total holidaymaker population say the ‘leave’ result in the EU referendum has temporarily put them off booking a holiday and 20% are waiting for the Pound to regain its value before booking their next getaway.
Despite Brexit's impact, in 2017, both short and long hauls experienced year over year growth; by 6% and 10% respectively.
Leaving the EU seems like a big challenge but also a big opportunity for travel marketers. Staycations are becoming extremely popular and travel marketers should adapt accordingly.
Mobile And Video Are Taking Over
Travelers are now embracing mobile more and more.
How many of you have started a search on their mobile and finished it on another device? We’ve all done it. And Google knows it. Their research found that some of the biggest travel companies have, on average, 75% of their traffic coming from mobile.
With mobile searches growing significantly year over year, video is quickly becoming one of the best tools travel marketers can use. Did you know that the UK’s second largest search engine is Youtube? 69% of online data traffic this so far, was video traffic.
According to Google, people watch videos to be entertained (45%) and to relax (27%).
If you’re looking to engage with travelers, you need to make sure your video content falls under one of these three categories: Educate, Entertain, Inspire.
The Search User Journey
There are 5 different stages to the user journey: the first stage, the beginning, the consideration (upper funnel), the examination (lower funnel), and finally, the conversion. But how long does it take the average consumer to get from stage 1 to stage 5, and does it differ from one type of purchase or booking to the other?
Sarah Essa from Bing provided some very powerful insights that all travel marketers can use.
The average consumer looking at flights will spend about 20 days comparing prices and times, and will make 3 searches during that time. When it comes to hotels, people will make, on average, 11 searches over 26 days to find the perfect place for their holiday!
Car rental has a much shorter funnel, with the average consumer making 8 searches over 12 days.
Bing’s study proves how different audience behaviors can be depending on the type of research consumers are making, and what they are looking to book. Adapt your campaigns to your customers accordingly.
Travel marketing: Increasing Conversions With Search Marketing
The travel customer journey is long.
At the end of the journey, most people narrow their research down to 3 or 4 different options. So how do you stand out from other travel sites with your PPC ads?
Duncan Sills from Vertical Leap offered two ways to make the difference:
- Having search campaigns with high intent keywords
- Remarketing (explained below)
The issue is, we all have a limited PPC budget.
To spend it wisely, Duncan recommends listing and targeting your top converting search terms in your current search campaigns, and bidding mainly on these terms.
Adjust your bid according to your existing Google Analytics data. Look at the time of the day, the time of the week, the location, and the consumer’s on-site behavior. These are the most important considerations when it comes to PPC ads.
Don’t forget to take weather into consideration! Data shows that travel customers are more likely to purchase when it’s raining, but have you taken this into account when setting up your PPC campaigns?
Set up geo-targeting in the relevant campaigns and create a Google spreadsheet with your rules and bid adjustments. You can also use machine learning to make these adjustments more efficiently and precisely to be one step ahead of the competition.
These tips will help your ads stand out and increase conversions.
If you’re looking for other ways to get more traffic, remarketing is what you need.
A remarketing strategy (also known as retargeting, when specific to ads) is built on the fact that if have a pre-engaged audience, they’re more likely to purchase from you. They know more about you, and you know more about them. Pretty ideal, really.
To implement this into your current strategy, relevancy is key. You have to identify the different types of users: users looking at specific locations, users with specific availabilities, users who’ve already been in touch, and users who’ve started the booking process but haven’t finished it.
Understanding your audiences and their expectations will help you personalise your content and create different messages. These different categories can then be added to Google Analytics for future reports.
Don’t be afraid to use Youtube, as well as Twitter and trending hashtags! These are perfect platforms to create extra content that will then attract more traffic to your travel site.
Dynamic banners are always a great solution too. Once you’ve categorised your audience, personalise the banner content to target specific consumers depending on their needs: location (Paris, London, Rome), budget (£100), or availability (15-17 June).
Implementing a remarketing strategy will considerably increase your click-through and conversion rates!
With travel, there is no easy way to make sure visitors turn into customers. Conversions can take as little as 5 clicks or as many as 35.
According to SEO expert Chris Pitt from Vertical Leap, over 50% of all conversions within the travel industry included organic search, but that SEO was responsible for only 7% of last click conversions. Chris emphasized the point that within the travel industry at least, SEO was the most effective top of funnel activity for increasing conversions from all other sources - especially paid search - and that you need that organic interaction in order to later remarket to your visitors.
Chris Pitt recommended increasing Paid Search efforts and making sure your brand is SEO optimised for the following types of searches, because they’re more likely to transform your traffic into conversions:
“What to do in…”
“Where to eat in…”
“Last minute trip to…”, etc.
Too much data, too many places
There is an issue in marketing (especially SEO) -- there is too much data, in too many places, resulting in inefficient processes and overwhelmed marketing teams. The answer to these inefficiencies, according to Chris Pitt, is to implement machine learning and intelligent systems that are able to automate the repetitive processes that have to be completed, freeing marketers up to do the actual marketing work that will get results.
Online reviews are essential for brand reputation and customer confidence.
Ash Rama from Trustpilot explains: “Building trust throughout the funnel makes the difference. Reviews increase CTR, lower cart abandonment and significantly boost conversion rate.”
Did you know 92% of people now consult online reviews?
That's because 85% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 25% of them use technology to find suggestions from previous travelers.
So, are you ready to take over the Travel Industry?