Inbound tourism & hospitality marketing is becoming increasingly important in the digital era. With a plethora of websites, blogs and social media platforms all offering content, you want to make sure potential customers are reading yours. By Louisa du Toit.
At the heart of inbound marketing is content that’s relevant, informative, helpful and valuable to your prospect during every phase of their buyer’s journey, from when they first google you to when they purchase your product or service and are converted into a customer.
Encouraging for inbound marketers in Zimbabwe are the statistics from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe’s third-quarter report, released in December 2017 and covering the period 1 July 2017 and 30 September 2017. It confirmed that consumption of data/internet services had increased by 39.1% and that all mobile operators had recorded increased data usage. Mobile Internet data usage more than doubled since the previous quarter.
However, inbound marketers still need to be savvy about creating content that doesn’t use excessive data or require people to be online for extended periods of time. We’ve looked at worldwide trends and identified the following trends that are relevant to Southern Africa in 2018:
1. Mobile first
Mobile must be top of mind for local campaigns. Writing or designing for mobile doesn’t mean opting for less, it just means being smarter about execution.
2. Mind the micro-moments
A micro-moment is when your prospect wants what they want, when and how they want it.
Be there — anticipate your prospect’s possible micro-moments and be there when they need help/information.
Be useful —provide a useful and memorable experience.
Be accountable — a seamless customer experience across all media and devices is what you should be striving for.
3. Organic is dead; paid is the answer
With algorithms changing often, organic posts on Facebook have a 2 – 6% chance of being seen and this is declining. Include Facebook-boosted posts and advertising in your campaigns to increase reach and get the message in front of the right audience. Also, don’t discount the value of putting advertising spend on the Google Display Network.
4. Moving away from gated content
Landing pages provide your prospects with content to move them along the buyer’s journey. This is a long-standing best practice. The assumption is if you give someone something valuable for free, like a marketing tool, they will give you their details. But consider that prospects may find it daunting to provide their details if they’re just starting to look for information.
Offer pillar content to your prospects instead of gated content
Pillar pages are surrounded by cluster content. The latter covers the topics on the pillar page in-depth and provides more context to the reader.
The visitor should readily access the pillar page but then has to submit an email address to access the cluster content. While you don’t receive their details in exchange initially, you’ll be increasing traffic, increasing shareability and heightening your brand perception.
Bringing this back to mobile
Say your prospect is on Facebook and wants to download your offer. Usually they would have to click
a link, be redirected to your landing page, fill in their details, and then go back to Facebook. Seems like
a lot of clicking.
With Facebook’s lead ads, navigating away from your page is eliminated and the prospect can fill in their details right there and then.
5. Good guest bloggers can increase your SEO
Blogs are essential in content marketing and considering that there are millions of posts published per day, they are among the best ways to drive traffic to your site and generate leads. Bringing in guest bloggers can increase your inbound organic traffic (this post is a typical example).
6. Long live long-form content
We’ve all written or commissioned those blog posts. You know the 500- to 1 000-word ramblings because a post has to go out. Yes, you need to blog consistently, but you also need to focus on relevant topics that serve a specific purpose. Quality always trumps quantity.
What about word count? HubSpot’s report indicates the “sweet spot” is between 2 250 to 2 500.
A lot of words, you say.
So you’ll need to plan and do your research thoroughly. Complement the content with relevant images, callouts, bullet points, and colour to improve readability.
7. Personalisation and smart content
Has your email campaign resulted in poor engagement? With marketing automation software, dynamic lists and cookies, you can send out targeted emails with relevant content based on the recipient’s demographics, online behaviour and recent engagement level.
8. AI and integrations
Usually, a prospect contacts a company via a form on their website. The details go to an employee who will then contact the prospect. However, the waiting time is simply too long for the average consumer. And this means no sale.
Because people want an immediate response (think micro-moments), implement a live-chat feature on your website — this speeds up the response time and keeps emails from getting lost in inboxes. Your prospect gets the fast reply they want in the moment and end the session satisfied.
There are some great live chat options available, both free and paid.
9. Interactive content — death to the e-book!
Good content must be at the heart of every inbound marketing campaign. But prospects are consuming content differently. Blogs, how-tos and guides still have their place in inbound marketing campaigns but prospects also want to be able to interact with your content — like it, share it, not simply leave a comment.
So when you think of content, think of video, animations (yes, GIFs too), useful tools (like mortgage calculators or marketing budget tools) and surveys.
10. Visual marketing
Most social platforms make it easy to share video content, but being data-intensive, remember to keep your videos short.
A HubSpot report has revealed the following:
- 4x as many consumers prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it.
- Using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%.
Keep these trends in mind for your inbound marketing campaigns in 2018 and watch out for others that will evolve as the year progresses.
About the Author: Louisa du Toit is a Senior Content Editor at Content Candy – a Certified HubSpot Agency partner, based in Johannesburg and opening an office in Harare soon.
Read more: Top 5 Hotel Tech Trends for 2018.