Below are three key ways for DMOs to ensure that their most important marketing channels and content connect with travelers wherever they are in the travel planning funnel, on whatever device they’re using.
Utilize Responsive Design and Cross-Device Targeting
In today’s multi-device world, users want information and data in hand faster, and they want it curated to their wants and needs. So we need to continue to deliver inspiring travel content and user-friendly planning tools across all devices.
The number of available digital devices and platforms has exploded in recent years. As a result, today’s consumer is more connected than ever, with more access to and deeper engagement with content and brands. According to Ericsson’s overview of the global Internet market, 90% of U.S. households have three or more Internet-connected devices, just under half of households have five or more devices and nearly one-quarter use seven or more devices.
With these stats, we must ask ourselves: What kind of experience do we want potential visitors to have as they engage through the travel planning funnel? The obvious solution is a responsive or adaptive website to ensure your users are greeted with a positive browsing experience on any given device, at any given time. Having a separate mobile site can be a disconnect for the user if they have already experienced your content on a desktop or tablet.
This brings up the idea of personalizing the user experience across devices. Apple has what they call “Handoff” with their current operating system, which allows a user to begin a task on one device, then pick up where they left off on another Apple device. I’m an Apple user, so I call this genius. (Because, seriously, who likes to get interrupted in the middle of a task and then have to start over because they shut down their laptop or tablet, or the OS crashed and you didn’t save?)
The device continuity of this idea is one part of the thinking; the other side is using data and personalization technology to deliver custom messaging to your users. For example, if a user has visited your site before and spent time on dining pages, or has saved certain restaurant listings or features into a cart or shared them through a social platform, we know that they’re interested in culinary experiences. So next time they visit your site, why not serve them up content related to new restaurant openings or interviews with local celebrity chefs? If they return to your site again while in market, customize their experience again by delivering content about unique restaurants within their vicinity. Personalization results in greater engagement and lower bounce rates—not to mention happier travelers.
Create Inspirational Content Across All Mediums, Especially Video
Chances are you’ve known for years the value of “selling” your destination in print—through articles, photo essays, sponsored content and more. But this type of inspirational content is equally important online, and especially through video.
In fact, Diode Digital found that video promotion is 600% more effective than print and direct mail combined. They also found that, before reading any text, 60% of site visitors will watch a video if available.
According to the Video Marketing Survey and Business Trends Report released by ReelSEO, which incorporated feedback from more than 600 marketing respondents, 93% of marketers are using video in their campaigns and 84% are using video for website marketing. This doesn’t tell us that print is dead, but we need to be cohesive with the content we are delivering through both print and digital.
Video is important in both the inspiration and planning phases of the travel planning process, and is viewed on all devices—especially on mobile. According to Cisco, in five years video consumption will take up 85% of online traffic in the US. Now is the time to invest in video storytelling to ensure your marketing message is reaching travelers now and in the future.
Consider an App
Responsive design is the best way to ensure your online marketing moves with travelers across all devices, and delivers a seamless user experience on desktop, tablet and mobile. While we do not advocate having a separate mobile website, we do acknowledge that having an app (in addition to your responsive website) can be a smart marketing move for certain travel brands and destinations.
Mobile app development can lead to great results and user loyalty if it’s done correctly and delivers real value to your users. Apps are an especially good choice for destinations with high levels of repeat visitation and a strong local community who turn to the DMO for events information and fresh content about their city and/or state.
The key to entering the app strategy is learning your users’ expectations and, of course, your ability for ongoing app management. The days of simply creating an app and releasing it into app land are long gone; they require an ongoing commitment to new content on a regular basis. Apps can become an important part of your mobile strategy because they create a way for users to take stake in your destination; it’s their app on their device, not yours. When they open the app for the first time, they begin to shape the experience of your destination to become their destination, and they build a relationship with your destination through the app. It’s your job to make sure it’s a positive relationship by managing and updating the content within the app to continuously build the user loyalty that we crave.
The key takeaway from all of this is to build a thoughtful strategy when thinking about how you present your content across different devices and how it will be managed. It’s no longer a web strategy or a mobile strategy, it’s a digital marketing strategy that is continuously evolved by the wants and needs of your users.