It is an exciting year for the travel industry. Marketing budgets are healthy and tourism forecasts are promising. Forrester recently published a forecast report titled “US Interactive Marketing Forecast By Industry, 2009 To 2014”, which offers a few interesting statistics and projections:
- Travel providers are currently allocating 62% of their total interactive advertising budgets to search engine marketing.
- Within the Travel & Hospitality industry, travel firms will have the largest per-company interactive budgets (when compared to six other industries*).
- Within the interactive mix, search engines will continue to be the preferred advertising vehicle for travel providers.
Forrester estimates that Interactive Marketing will continue to grow at a 17% compound annual growth rate, nearing $55 billion by 2014. As competitive is the travel market today, clearly the fight for the online consumer will heat up in the years to come.
Fierce competition drives product pricing lower, which means you can rely less on consumer loyalty. With consumer attitudes leaning towards “the best price wins”, you cannot afford to miss on those visitors that are raising their hand and are craving for your attention.
We define ‘hand-raisers’, visitors that have completed a desired action on your website, whatever that action may be: signing-up to receive the latest travel deals, or downloading a destination brochure, or posting a hotel review – in short, they became engaged visitors.
So, what is the right measurement for visitor engagement? As analysts, we have a hard time agreeing on a standard way to measure visitor engagement. And for good reasons – the consumer participation in the online landscape is extremely varied, the technologies used to power the web are becoming more sophisticated by the day, and measurement standards are still being defined, to name just a few. Some analysts look at simple measures such as “time spent on site” and “bounce rates”. eMarketer recently published the following measures of engagement and their importance to senior marketers worldwide:
Others, such as Eric T. Peterson from Web Analytics Demystified, calculate engagement in a more comprehensive manner. His model takes in consideration indicators such as click-depth, recency, duration of visit, searches using branded keywords, feedback from visitors, and website interactions.
By completing the desired action on your website, visitors show a clear and immediate interest in what you have to offer. Your objective now is to convince them you are their best option.
Here are a few tactics you can use to grab ‘hand-raisers’:
1. Identify ‘hand-raisers’ through web analytics. Use a good web analytics program, tightly integrated with your website, to track and measure all your online marketing efforts and mediums, including:
- Paid search
- Organic Search
- Email marketing
- Online PR
2. Engage ‘hand-raisers' through email marketing. 'Hand-raising' is a first-level engagement and represents the start of your conversion process. From here on, you can use permission-based email marketing to follow-up on their action. What's more important, you use email marketing to establish a relationship and build trust and loyalty.
3. Convert ‘hand-raisers’ through promotional offers. Persuade your ‘hand-raisers’ to buy with the right offer to the right person at the right time – a targeted promotion to convince them you are their best option.
At a time when consumers are increasingly using the Internet to research their next destination, compare offers and choose the lowest fares, it is important for travel organizations to focus more on those targets that are easily reachable – ‘hand raisers’. With the right strategy and tools, you can identify, engage and convert them as soon as they raise their hand.
* When compared to: financial services; retail and wholesale trade; consumer products; media, entertainment, and publishing; manufacturing and high-tech; and business services.