As we’re closing out the first quarter of 2015 (that went by fast, didn’t it?), let’s take a look at what’s currently working in content marketing, and where things are going.
A Forbes.com article by Jayson DeMers outlined the most critical current content marketing trends – ones that you should be aware of and put into practice to avoid being left behind. I’ll list each here, then detail how it could apply to your travel marketing strategies.
1.) Content creation is the first step – you also need distribution
What good is content when you don’t let people know about it? Or if you do, then you might have to revisit how you’re letting them know. You’ll need to accomplish this with optimizing for search, social and mobile, build relationships with branded publications and influencers in travel, as DeMers writes. Travel marketers can do this by hiring SEO experts and content marketing specialists, and making connections with those essential organizations and individuals.
2.) Content and social media marketing become interdependent
This one is a no-brainer for social-savvy companies, but the one part you may not be aware of is having paid social media advertising, like Facebook ads or sponsored tweets on Twitter. DeMers points out that these social channels will not only promote content, but also provide a gateway for lead-generation and signups for more premium content. As a travel company, you can’t afford NOT to be on social media, But if you are new to the game, start out small. If you find that much of your business is coming through social – with click-throughs on posts and high interactions with customers and fans – then try some paid ads.
3.) Native advertising is still something to pay attention to
This is basically content integrated with advertising, so it’s almost as if you don’t know you’re being advertised to. They come in the form of branded and sponsored content. A common example of this type of content marketing is tourism bureaus’ advertorials in many high-end travel magazines such as Conde Nast Traveler. There were some concerns that this trend was going away, but it’s definitely here to stay for travel marketing.
4.) Companies that get on board with content marketing will be rewarded with higher search engine rankings
Yep, another no-brainer here, but it’s not just a matter of throwing a blog and a few articles up on your website. You’ll need to come up with a strategy that involves what DeMers calls “high-quality, long-from content…with many social media likes and shares…” as well as pay attention to SEO. This process will involve more about keyword research, indexing, meta tagging and other techie areas. What does this mean for you, the travel marketer? Pay attention to regular posting of articles, blog entries, visuals and user-generated content that’s thorough, useful and properly tagged with strong keywords.
5.) Guest blogging’s rep will make a comeback
This trend won’t apply so much if you don’t have writers guest-blogging on your site. Google’s Matt Cutts created a mini-Armageddon last year by saying that guest posting was “dead,” it was basically to weed out those who were just using it as a link-building strategy or marketing your own articles. But just know that guest posting as it’s perceived now is all a matter of creating quality content for your site. So if you’ve had guest bloggers before, welcome them back and bring new ones in.
6.) Marketers will devote more budget dollars to content marketing
While DeMers pointed out how B2B marketers will increase their content marketing budgets this year, B2C companies also plan to follow suit. This increase in content includes blog posts, articles, videos, case studies and white papers/free reports. Distribution of this content, both paid and earned, is an equally important focus. In your travel marketing plans, consider spending more for content creation by hiring those who can help create and disseminate the information you want to share with your audience.
7.) Content in email marketing will become more sophisticated
Yes, everyone is sick of spam and emails that promise big but don’t deliver. DeMers reports that on the whole, email marketing is less effective now than it was four or five years ago. The solution is to “create relevant, compelling email content that…[people] will actually want to read and engage with.” In travel marketing, this is slightly easier to accomplish than in more staid business. You can include enticing videos and still photography, which always generates more interest and click rates. Be sure to optimize this visual content materials with specific highly searchable keywords to get your content more readily available and read.
What kind of content strategies have you used most effectively this year so far? Share your thoughts below!