While we all dream of taking a spontaneous holiday, vacations aren’t typically something we decide on overnight. Instead, we spend time online daydreaming and researching destinations, activities, and itineraries. Since mid-March when our lives changed drastically, travelers have been researching vacations online as a form of entertainment. Now, after months of restrictions, they’re ready to head to the mountains, or the beach, or just about anywhere other than home.
Studies show that potential travelers go through an average of 45 digital touchpoints prior to deciding on a destination and placing their reservations. That means people aren’t likely to book a stay at one of your listings after just a single interaction with your vacation rental brand. The question is, how do you ensure that your business remains in front of travelers from their dreaming-of-a-vacation phase all the way through to the moment they click the “book now” button?
It starts with a well-rounded digital marketing strategy that touches travelers at different points in their journey. If your brand has an expertly-crafted digital presence, travelers who are searching the internet for vacation information will interact with one (or usually many more) of your digital marketing channels or campaigns prior to making their booking on your direct-booking website. The interactive path that a traveler takes on the way to booking with your brand is called an “assisted conversion” – meaning that several of your digital marketing tactics assisted their decision-making progress and, ultimately, led to their reservation.
Here’s an example. Our traveler (we’ll call her Lola) begins researching a vacation in the Outer Banks. A blog post from your website, featuring “Top take-out restaurants in OBX,” shows up in her organic search one evening. Lola clicks the article, then after reading, goes further into your website to look at a few properties, then turns off her laptop and goes to bed. At lunch four days later, as she’s scrolling through national news sites and watching YouTube videos, Lola sees an advertisement featuring a listing she viewed on your site the other evening. Her interest is piqued, and she clicks on the advertisement to view the listing again. That afternoon, Lola’s boss approves her time-off request and after work, she navigates directly to your site and books her vacation.
As you can see, many facets of your marketing efforts assisted in the conversion. It’s important that your marketing strategy puts your vacation rental brand in front of potential travelers — like Lola — in as many ways and as many times as possible, so that the traveler eventually makes a reservation with you.
So where should you start?
A solid SEO strategy is the first step to helping potential travelers find your brand online, and an important component of that strategy is posting relevant and up-to-date content on your website. Whether it’s a blog post on “The top ten things to do in your with your family on the Outer Banks” or a landing page featuring “The best OBX vacation rental properties for social distancing,” working with long-tail keywords can push your content up in organic search results and help showcase your website as a trusted local resource to travelers in that research phase.
Once a traveler has clicked into your website through an organic search, it’s time to reel them in further. Adding attention-grabbing website messaging can do the trick. Using a pop-up tool, you can encourage potential travelers to sign up for your newsletter or even offer them a time-sensitive promotion. Pop-ups are an easy way to build your contact list — once you have an email address, you can deploy email campaigns designed to turn that looker into a booker.
You can also target your website visitors through dynamic display advertising. We’ve all had the experience: you research a product online and then — almost like magic — suddenly you’re seeing ads for that product on every page you visit. Now, you can deploy the same strategy for your website visitors and follow them around the internet with ads featuring a listing they’ve viewed. It’s an effective strategy that keeps the vacation of their dreams, and your brand, top of mind.
A robust digital marketing strategy is key to converting travelers. Reviewing your assisted conversions not only illustrates the complicated path of the modern traveler’s journey, but more importantly, it can show you which of your strategies are doing the heavy lifting. If that email you sent last week doesn’t show up in any assisted conversions, it’s time to change up your message. If that limited-time-offer pop-up paved the way to multiple last-minute reservations, consider using the same strategy again in the future.
If you’re interested in learning about your assisted conversion metrics and crafting a digital marketing strategies that drive revenue, connect with our team.