Travel content marketing across the funnel: Moving from IF to HOW
Here we go again: yet more nagging about SEO and keeping up to date with the almighty G’s latest industry-wrecking whims? Well, almost but not quite – hopefully.
Like you I’ve had more than my fill of-well meaning SEO advice. Yes yes, we all know that “quality content is key” and that cheap links are now more toxic than crack (but still just as addictive).
We’re regularly told that SEO is dead, dying or fast becoming impossible for anyone smaller than TripAdvisor-sized titans.
And along with all those horror stories about algorithm updates and ranking penalties you could be forgiven for giving up entirely and throwing your stretched marketing budget at Adwords (which is exactly what I see many smaller companies doing – much to the detriment of the wider online ecosystem).
A little over a year ago I contributed an article to this very site on the changing landscape of search marketing which identified a number of risks and opportunities that online travel brands faced in light of Google’s increasingly aggressive stance against link building and other “manipulative” SEO techniques.
A year in SEO is a very long time indeed and since then yet more algorithm updates have left “content” centre stage and all alone as the last legitimate approach to SEO.
But as a commenter on my previous article robustly pointed out:
“Investing in content’ is so bleedin’ obvious as to be completely unhelpful.”
Well, he had a point. Even back then the question wasn’t really if but how we should be looking at the role of “content” in the online marketing mix.
But unfortunately that is largely where the debate has stalled, with plenty of talk on vague platitudes but very little in the way of practical, tangible approaches to integrating content into online marketing strategy.
I think the reason for this could be that the rise of “content” is actually part of a much bigger evolutionary shift in the way that online marketing works.
It’s not that we don’t get content, it’s that we don’t really see the bigger picture, where previously siloed channels and approaches like SEO, PPC, social media, and email are being subsumed into one singular, integrated whole.
In this view of digital marketing, each channel interacts with the other through the entire marketing funnel to create a vast web of experiences and engagement opportunities for your target audiences at various stages of the purchase process.
In this way channels and activities contribute to others in capturing prospects and guiding them further down the funnel until the point of conversion, lead or booking and then further onwards into an on-going relationship with your brand.
This is a profoundly different view to many established techniques, which still rely on contractors and outsourcers to build links, churn out content and “manage” social media profiles on your behalf.
But this new approach needs more than that. It demands a sense of brand, of narrative, of passion and expertise. It requires us to proactively think about what our audiences need and how we can deliver it to them.
And it requires us to think about our activities in terms of creating experiences and relationships, not exclusively about wringing the most leads possible from each channel.
It’s within this view that the previously vague idea of “content” gains some meaning.
Content isn’t a channel or approach in its own right, it is the raw ingredient to all of the above. It’s the fuel that powers your brand’s online performance, and the better fuel you have the higher you’ll fly.
That still sounds quite nebulous, I know. So the following graphic is my attempt to sketch out what the online marketing funnel could look like from a content perspective:[Click image for larger version]
This is by no means intended as a blueprint, each brand will have its unique configuration and by and large, smaller brands will be less active further up the funnel.
The intention is simply to offer an overview of how content strategy could work in practice. It’d be good to hear about some other brands’ configurations in the comments.
NB2: Please feel free to embed this graphic onto your own site, using the following code:
<p><center><img src=”http://ianditravelmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/converged-media-travel-funnel.jpg” width=”670″> <br/>The role of converged media in the travel marketing funnel from <a href=”http://ianditravelmedia.com/”>I&I Travel Media</a></center></p>
Special Nodes is the byline under which Tnooz publishes articles by guest authors from around the industry.