Why Your Travel Business Blog Never Gets Any Likes
We’ve all been there.
You get this great idea for your travel business blog — you’ll write a ‘How to’ about keeping fit whilst traveling. You know what you’re talking about, so people will definitely read it, and you’ve found a few great images that will capture the eye of your target market.
It’s such a great blog idea, the post practically writes itself.
Four hours later, you hit “publish” and sit back to watch the likes, shares, and comments come rolling in. After all, who can resist your words of advice? This could even go viral.
In the morning, you jump out of bed, whip open the Mac and eagerly check your post…
And it looks something like this:
Can we agree that this blog post isn’t doing its job for your company?
Barely any likes, no shares, 1 comment — basically no engagement at all. In fact, the whole thing kind of feels like a waste of time right now.
Like I said… we’ve all been there before.
But it doesn’t have to feel like that.
A good travel business blog should be an asset to your business — driving new traffic to your site, capturing new leads, opening up possibilities for engagement and future interactions…
A well-written and properly promoted travel blog article shouldn’t look like the example above. It should look something like this:
If you’re trying to figure out why your blog post isn’t working like the one we created for Gamewatchers — and want to know how to get there — this is the post for you.
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Building an approach that works
A viral Facebook post is a terrific asset for your company, especially as a tool for building engagement with your audience and driving traffic to your website.
But as a marketing KPI, the engagement it gets (the likes, the shares, the comments) is really just a function of a high-performing article.
And that’s great — you want travel content that performs. But it’s just a small part of the content marketing puzzle.
Because the goal of a successful content marketing plan is to do more than entertain and engage your current customer base.
A good blog post should expand your reach beyond your dedicated customers and fan base — it should expose a wide audience of potential customers to your brand and what you have to offer.
And from there, it should function as a powerful lead-generating machine that turns followers into email subscribers you can nurture into paying customers who return again and again.
Doing that requires a two-pronged approach:
- Creating genuinely useful and valuable content that differentiates your unique voice in your niche. Content your target audience wants to read and share with their friends. Content that turns first-time visitors into repeat visitors who trust you to answer their questions and solve their problems.
- Developing a coherent content promotion strategy that gets the right eyes on your content and makes it easily discoverable by the people most likely to become paying customers.
If you do this successfully, you’ll soon begin driving thousands of qualified new leads to your website, where you can convert them to subscribers who can be gently guided along the path to purchase with targeted email marketing campaigns.
And I don’t just mean email marketing that aggressively promotes your tours / holidays / vacations, either. Because like your blog post, you email marketing should aim to be just as useful and valuable instead of just promoting holidays.
Do that, and you’ll finally see ROI from your content marketing budget.
A word about content that works…
As I mentioned, the first step in a successful post is creating valuable content — and before you jump in with both feet on an editorial calendar for new blog posts, let’s take a minute to talk about what “valuable” content is and isn’t.
I’ll start with what doesn’t belong on your company blog…
That personal story about your ski weekend in Chamonix? Post it on your personal blog or Facebook page or publish your selfie on Instagram.
It doesn’t work on your company blog because it really won’t interest or engage people who don’t already know you and your brand.
That travel award you won from an obscure trade journal? Email a write-up to your staff to boost morale, but leave it off the blog. Because the hard truth is: no-one cares outside your team.
That new product or tour you’re promoting? Keep it on your website product pages (optimised for search of course, just like your blog posts, so that people who are looking for that type of thing can find it easily enough).
Again, only readers who already know and love your brand are going to be interested — it won’t have the broad audience appeal a successful blog post demands.
Another look at that unloved article…
- From a purely Facebook perspective, this was posted on the Tuesday after a big holiday weekend, which is proven to be a terrible time to post. A company with over 250,000 followers should be hitting a high organic reach, but it’s totally missed the mark here.
- Visually, the hero image isn’t as compelling as some of the other posts this company has published and there isn’t much variety when it comes to images within the article — just a bunch of GIFs which take away focus from the text.
- The headline doesn’t hint at a target market or demographic, and isn’t descriptive enough to gain much traction.
- Readability is poor, it isn’t very easy to pick out the useful tips (there really are a couple of great bits of advice in there), and it seems to veer between trying to be a fun viral piece and offering useful tips/information, but misses the mark in both categories.
- In terms of driving organic search traffic to the blog, no SEO best practices were followed, so it wouldn’t surface for anyone searching for fitness or exercise tips on how to keep fit on holiday or while travelling.
- A cutesy title is nice, but it has no use when it comes to discoverability.
- With no image captions, the GIFs used don’t really add anything to this article when it comes to SEO.
- None of the sub-headers (H1, H2 tags) use keywords so even the weak title can’t be saved.
So by changing five basic elements, this post could have had much more impact, reached more people, had engagement, potentially sold a couple of vacations and essentially been a useful piece of content for everyone.
Here’s the only thing that belongs on your travel company’s blog —
Educational, interesting, inspiring and differentiated content that solves a problem, addresses a pain point, sparks emotion and sets your brand apart from others in your niche.
How to Create Differentiated Content that Engages Your Customers
In my experience with travel businesses, you can approach high-performing content in one of two ways:
- Educational content that solves a problem or answers a question for your readers, or
- Flashy, interactive, inspirational content that stirs up emotions in a way your audience can relate to.
Here’s an example of the first type, the educational / informational piece:
Bicycle Adventures’ Facebook posts usually register a fairly low level of engagement and interaction, but this post has over 700 likes and 250 shares.
It accomplishes several important objectives:
- It overcomes a pain point, showing customers and potential customers that preparing for a bike tour isn’t an all-consuming physical training marathon that will suck the joy out of their holiday before it even begins.
- It gives them useful information about physical fitness for bike tours in general and 50+ riders (the target demographic) in particular.
- It’s eminently readable and sharable, presented in a format that’s easily read and understood.
And here’s an example of the second type:
As you can see, this post generated over 2,100 likes, nearly 200 shares, and a string of positive comments.
Why does this post work so well?
- It stirs up desires in those who haven’t been to Tuscany but want to go — and it connects with the fond memories of those who have been and want to relive or share their experience.
- It’s visually appealing with plenty of interesting facts and attention-grabbing images.
- It highlights one of the most enticing aspects about a visit to Tuscany based on information we know about our target audience (they appreciate new food and wine experiences).
While the exact same content won’t work for every travel business, there are some key themes that are proven to work time and time again. Here’s what we do when we work with our customers:
- Identify a pain point or concern that keeps the target audience from pulling the trigger and booking a holiday or vacation. In the case of Bicycle Adventures, the goal was to overcome any lingering doubts that a mature traveler could participate in and enjoy a bike tour.
- Expand the target audience’s awareness or knowledge base about a subject related to the holiday that interests them. In the case of the Gamewatchers post at the start of the article, the goal was to educate potential customers about how beneficial safaris really are to both animal conservation efforts and the local economy.
- Trigger an emotional response connecting the target audience’s desires with the customer’s offering, as we did in the Invitation to Tuscany post.
When we uncover a topic that accomplishes one of these goals… well, the results speak for themselves.
But, of course, creating the right content is only the first step in that two-pronged approach I was just telling you about.
Getting the Right Eyes on Your Blog Post
Now I’m going to share the biggest non-secret “secret” about content promotion: targeted Facebook ads.
Before I go into detail here, though, I’m assuming you already have the basics in place for your content promotion — and this is something you should be doing with everything you publish on your travel business blog.
Every post, every time.
- Practice good SEO on your posts to encourage organic search traffic
- Push your post to your email subscribers, as described here
- Promote it organically on your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Look for opportunities to share on other relevant platforms (LinkedIn, Quora, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, StumbleUpon to name a few)
Assuming you’ve done all that, your next step should be paid promotion using Facebook — it’s truly the single largest opportunity for tour operators and travel agents in 2017.
Let’s face it — organic reach on Facebook is a thing of the past.
A recent study by Social@Ogilvy showed that organic reach on Facebook is just 6% for Pages with fewer than 25,000 fans and a shocking 2% for a Page with 500,000 or more fans.
Using those figures, if you’re a business with 10,000 fans, only about 600 people will see your post in their newsfeed without paid promotion. There’s no room for ROI with those stats.
Facebook ads give you a relatively inexpensive and pain-free way to reach new audiences. You can check out the stats for yourself — but here’s something that should really open your eyes:
- Facebook ads get 8.1x the click-through rate on desktop and 9.8x more on mobile devices.
And as an added bonus, Facebook delivers a wealth of third-party data from sources like Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon that you can mine to shape your other marketing efforts across other channels.
As a marketer, this is the kind of thing that should make your heart go pitter-pat.
Your 5-Minute Guide to Facebook Ads
If you’ve never used Facebook’s ad platform, it’s really quite simple to set up a campaign. Here’s a useful primer from Hubspot to get you started, but it basically comes down to:
- Choosing your objective — engagement, click to website, promote your page, that type of thing.
- Selecting your target audience — nailing down the demographics of the people you want to reach.
- Setting your budget — Facebook gives you full control over how much you want to spend and how you want to spend it.
- Establishing a schedule — continual or just at certain times on certain days of the week based on your target audience behavior.
- Creating the ad itself — you’ll get design recommendations based on your objective.
- Customizing your performance dashboard — the Ad Manager lets you select and track KPIs relevant to each particular campaign.
Putting It All Together…
What have we learned that you can put into practice today to make your blog posts work for your travel business?
- The right content really is the linchpin of a good content marketing strategy — look for ways to differentiate your offerings from those of your competitors by answering a question, solving a problem, or creating an emotional hook for your target audience.
- Good content is easily consumed and digested — scannable and packed with attention-grabbing images and graphics.
- Your work doesn’t end when you hit “publish.” A robust content promotion strategy ensures the right eyes find your content.
- Don’t overlook the low-hanging fruit in content promotion — SEO, your subscriber list, organic social media, niche platforms. Hit them all to get the best ROI from your content efforts.
- Embrace Facebook ads to expand your audience and increase lift from your content marketing efforts.
And remember, the 10x Travel team and I are always here to help you jumpstart your campaigns — and help you create the kind of content that delivers real results.
So if you want to find out how we could help your travel business get more bookings, let’s have a chat.
What content strategies have — or haven’t! — worked for your travel company? Let me know in the comments below.