How many of you know marketing is important to your business, but don’t have a huge budget to fund marketing activities? If this is you – all is not lost. You may have to work a little harder to move your business further, but a mix of online and offline marketing activities can help you. Whether you're an established agency or just getting started, marketing is immensely beneficial to anyone's success in the travel industry.
From social media and blogs to emails and paid advertising, marketing can get expensive fast. The good news is, there are ways to get your name out there without the big bucks. Here are a few tips that can help you get your message out to more people, even with a small marketing budget:
Optimize your social media channels
Make sure any page header images are reflective of your brand and are consistent across social media channels. Your clients and potential clients should see a sort of uniformity across any of your social media accounts whether its header images, profile images, bio's, usernames, or anything else.
Be sure that you have taken advantage of all ways to include your contact information to make it easy for potential clients to get in touch with you. There's nothing worse than a client coming across your page and wanting to get in touch, but not being able to. Add a link to your website or an email address to get the conversation started. Messenger free automation apps like ManyChat can help you automate and route incoming messages on platforms like Facebook, as well as build up your email list.
Integration with social media channels and other apps can help tremendously with automation and building a full profile of your potential client. Just make sure that any integrations you’ve set up actually work and the data goes where it's intended to go. For example, you can use Zapier to send Facebook leads to HubSpot's Free CRM tool and MailChimp (Check out this awesome social media automation guide from Zapier). Some other great social automation apps include MeetEdgar (which I haven't used personally, but I have heard great things!), Hootsuite, and Buffer.
Share great content often and stay engaged
You don’t have to be everything to everybody. Nor should you be! Start off by creating your buyer persona's (Check out this article on creating buyer personas) and hone in your messaging. Post frequently and consistently on every social platform you're on and make sure you're utilizing hashtags to get your brand discovered (especially on Instagram!). At the end of the day, you have to be consistent to drive brand awareness on such saturated platforms. If you are posting every now and then, it isn’t enough to build an engaged audience.
Share client testimonials, awesome photos from your latest travels, and anything that will get your followers excited to travel. Help them get inspired and asking questions in comment threads and DM's. At the end of the day, every sale starts with a conversation! All in all, remember to frequently post great quality content (and high-quality images!) that will draw your target audience in.
Engage with other pages through your brand page. Potential clients will notice that you are keeping up with current events, the latest industry happenings, the newest offers, etc. Respond to comments on your posts, DM's, and engage with your followers' posts, too! One of the best ways to get discovered on social media is simply by commenting on your target audience's posts!
Build your email listMost leads aren't ready to buy when they first engage with your business. That's why it's important to build your email list and continue the conversation about travel until they are ready to make a buying decision. Here are a few easy ways to build an email list:
- Ask your current contacts if they'd like to join your travel newsletter or email list.
- Start a blog and write about things your target audience is searching for. Make sure to add a subscribe form.
- Attend events that attract your target audience. You don't need a table/booth, simply walk around and talk to people! Remember, "A closed mouth doesn't get fed."
- Announce your newsletter on social media.
Engage your email list
Now that you've built a list of clients and potential clients you want to reach out to, engage that list! It does you no good having a ton of leads and not keeping in constant contact with them. Continue the conversation about travel via an email automation program. Check out easy-to-use programs like MailChimp or Constant Contact and set up your first welcome email automation series for new subscribers to get them familiar with your brand and what you can offer.
Make sure to segment your list by client preferences so you are sending the right message to the right audience (i.e. you don't want to be sending "Party in Panama City Beach this Spring Break" emails to elderly clients...unless they're into that kind of thing). Doing so will help you personalize your message and, in turn, drive better results.
Look for free (earned) PR opportunities
Content creators are always looking for a story or a contributor. Take advantage of these opportunities to get your name/business in front of more eyes!
Seek out opportunities to share your travel expertise and help writers from relevant publications. In return, writers will most likely mention your travel agency and link back to your website, which, in turn, equals more exposure for you and your agency. Everybody wins.
Create a marketing plan for the whole year. Plan how and when you'll promote certain trips. It'll save you a lot of stress when you know exactly what's on the calendar and what's coming up.
Ask yourself when your clients travel for your different trips. How far out in advance do they book? Once you have that information, begin marketing at least 3 months before your clients are likely to book.
Whether its social media posts, email blasts, or attending events, make sure your marketing content is relevant for that given time period. For example, start promoting holiday travel around August or September. There is no sense is promoting holiday plans in November or December, if most of your clients already have their holidays plans set.
Leverage your data
Regularly check your data! Email opens/clicks, social media likes, comments, growth, and google analytics will all give you insight into whether your marketing efforts are paying off. You need to know what is working for you and what isn't. It'll help you adjust your marketing plan accordingly. If you're new to analytics, check out Google Analytics for Beginners.
Start a referral program
This is an easy and effective way to start building your clientele. Word of mouth marketing is one of the most highly effective ways to grow your business. Have you ever done research on something and ended up going with a friend's recommendation? Exactly.
If you can, incentivize clients to refer your business. Offer them a discount on their next vacation or a gift card when they refer new clients to you that book a trip. As an added bonus, you can offer the referred client a little something for going with their friend's recommendation.
All in all, don’t let a limited marketing budget prevent you from growing your business. It can be done with limited funds as long as you are operating on a clear brand strategy and are committed to seeking opportunities and being consistent. The primary investment is your time and dedication. It's true, it will definitely take a lot of time and effort, but it will be well worth it in the end!