Content marketing is a lot like skateboarding a long curve (called carving). In both cases you need to take the long view, yet be agile enough to flow with every curve thrown at you. You need patience. Most importantly, you need a plan.
When it comes to your travel business, a documented content marketing strategy keeps you balanced and rolling in the right direction.
Let’s start off with a definition and some revealing statistics. What is content marketing? Simply, it’s the use of original, relevant, and valuable content to attract customers to your business.
How’s it working for those who practice it? Turns out that results are encouraging. Sixty-three percent of B2C businesses that use content marketing made greater strides to success in 2017, according to a MarketingProfs/Content Marketing Institute annual survey.
But here’s the kicker….
The same report also found that only 40% of B2C businesses (37% of B2B businesses) surveyed have a documented content marketing strategy. Only 40% reported they have a clear idea of what an effective content strategy plan looks like. Not surprisingly, only 35% said they have an extremely/very effective strategy.
Imagine what those businesses without a content marketing strategy could do if they had a documented plan, much less an effective plan? Needless to say, the importance of creating a content marketing strategy for your travel business can’t be overstated.
So let’s take a closer look at some basics and how to carve a path to success like a savvy skateboarder.
Benefits of Content Marketing Strategy
Why have a content marketing strategy, especially a documented one? A plan spelled out in black and white helps give your travel business a solid foundation to build on over the long term. It’s what drives your content marketing. And as any marketing professional knows, you’re more likely to achieve your goals when you have a detailed written plan.
When you’re guided by a content marketing strategy, your business stands to benefit from increased:
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
What’s the secret to planning a winning strategy? If you’re a new travel business or are finally ready to document your plan, here’s a content marketing strategy 7-point checklist to help you.
1. Know your story
When PBS released the The Power of Myth in 1988 it became one of the most popular series in the history of public television. I happened to watch a re-broadcast of the series in the mid-1990s and was captivated by mythologist Joseph Campbell’s storytelling.
Flash-forward to the same profound affect his philosophy about the hero’s journey has had on content marketing. Every business story can be described in terms of a hero’s journey. Here’s the short story version of that journey:
A protagonist (you, the travel entrepreneur, for example) goes on an adventure (starts a travel business) and meets challenges (marketing and sales demands). Along the way, you have ups and downs and even overcome challenges at sometimes overwhelming odds (hugely successful campaign despite being a new kid on the block). A transformation happens because of these experiences (you gain greater insights into your business and audiences, your business grows). You get the idea.
Besides your mission statement and core values, your business story is one of the most important aspects of your business.
Your story is what makes your business unique. It reveals the soul and personality of your business. Strong and consistent storytelling defines your brand and helps audiences identify with your business. How well are you telling (and selling) your business story?
2. Set your goals
Obviously, if you don’t set goals for your content marketing you won’t know where you’re headed or how to effectively measure the results. The big question you should ask yourself first is why do you want to produce content?
Do you want to close more sales? Develop brand awareness? Become a thought leader? One of them? All of them? It’s okay to have multiple goals. The caveat is that all your content marketing goals should support your business goals. Create long-term and short-term goals that follow the time-tested SMART formula.
Use these 10 steps to define your marketing goals as a guide.
3. Identify your audience
Who are your buyers and what’s a persona? To target and attract the customers you want, create buyer personas. These are profiles of your ideal customer based on actual data and your own educated guesses. It’s something you’ll want to review on a seasonal basis at least.
Buyer personas can be broken down into four broad areas that include demographic, psychographic, behavioural, and environmental factors. Gather characteristics like age group, gender, and values. Add brands they identify with, sites they visit online, where they live, and payment methods they use.
Do you know what your prospects and customers really want? Get up close and personal with them to dig for other data:
Ask them how you can best solve their pain points.
Find out what kinds of questions they’re asking on your blog or social media.
Explore what kind of content they want and what channels they are using the most.
Read this series about how to better understand them using Google Analytics.
4. Audit your content
Take a step back here and look at the content you’ve already created (before you create more). How effective has it been? What kind of content do you need to really drive traffic and sales?
When it comes to SEO, most web traffic comes from organic search engine results. It’s important to assess current performance (searchability) based on meta information like keywords, title tags, descriptions, and elements like optimized images for example. For content marketing, make a list of all your content – text, photos, and video. Then analyze how well it engages your audiences, shareability on social media, accuracy, and other factors.
With shifting algorithms, audiences, and constant content production, an audit should be performed at least once or more a year.
5. Create your content
Now you’re ready to create some awesome targeted content. Don’t forget: above all, your content must align with your content marketing goals and be relevant to your audiences. Given that, you can craft content to fit four broad types that will help boost your traffic and engagement:
Make Them Smile
Content that entertains helps humanize your brand. It doesn’t have to be laugh-out-loud-funny but something that’ll show them you do have a sense of humour, too.•
Make Them Think
Give your readers content that informs and educates. After all, that’s what your audiences want to help them solve their problem. It can also position you as a trusted authority in the travel industry.
Appeal to Their Heart
Connecting with your audiences emotionally with inspiring content like personal stories can deepen the tie between your brand and your audiences.
Content that converts always closes with a motivating call to action. They’ll get valuable travel tips or an itinerary when you ask them to subscribe to your e-newsletter or download a travel guide.
To really grab and keep your audience’s attention, try these content creation tips (infographic).
6. Choose Your Channels
What’s the frequency, Kenneth? Stumped? So was Dan Rather. This is where you figure out which content marketing channels you’ll use to distribute your content so the right people get to see it.
Of course, you might already know what channels seem to be performing well for you based on your content audit. But here’s a quick overview of channel distribution tools that you can experiment with to find what mix works best for you:
These are properties that you literally own and have most control over in terms of content and SEO i.e. website, blog, e-newsletter, social media profiles.
Just like it says, this is distribution that you pay for i.e. pay-per-click (PPC) ads on search engines and social media, native advertising (also known as branded content). They should direct audiences to your owned media.
This content marketing tactic is also known as word-of-mouth or publicity. Earned media can be generated in several ways i.e. by a news article, published interview, or third-party review, that build credibility and trust in your brand.
7. Schedule your content
Before you publish your valuable, shareable, and relevant content, there’s one more key step in your strategy: a content editorial calendar. An editorial calendar will keep your content production on track. It will also help ensure a flow of content on a consistent basis. That’s what builds reliability in the eyes of your readers.
A content calendar is often set up using a spreadsheet. Use it to help you schedule blog and social media posts, articles, and other content. It’s essential for listing an inventory of keywords you will create content with.
You can add content ideas as they come up or get story ideas using Google Trends and Google Suggestions. Build themes around news, popular holidays, or events important to the travel industry.
Content Marketing Success Stories
And last but not least of all, here’s where to go for more comprehensive tips and trends to help you become a content marketing success story:
A potent content marketing strategy takes time, diligence, and patience.
Knowing your business story, audience, goals and channels – supported by an editorial calendar and frequent audits – will build a solid foundation. To create your best content strategy plan, follow the latest content marketing trends and learn from other brands’ successful campaigns.
And when you do it right, you too can gracefully carve your way around mountains (but be ready for the unexpected!)
What’s Your Next Move?
Find out more about how you can drive traffic and convert more leads with my SEO content writing services. Contact me to write your content or request more information. Let’s talk!
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