Optimising for conversion rather than driving traffic volume must be travel firms’ main priority to make their marketing budgets sweat.
Paul Holdgate, the newly-recruited head of digital at Brighton-based agency CWTdigital told the first Bright On Travel event this week that travel has been too focused on last click.
The half-day conference was organised by CWTdigital to coincide with the annual month-long Brighton Digital Festival and supported by Travolution as media partner.
Holdgate said: “Google has made it absolutely clear through its two latest updates that will no longer tolerate any spammy links or content.
“What I propose is you stop chasing the algorithm and develop a consumer-centric approach.
“Take a step back and map out the customer journey – think about every stage from that first inspirational content point.
“Travel is so competitive we tend to focus on the last click, but what we need to do is sow the seed earlier.
“Your consumer wants content served to them through the right medium, the right platform and at the right time in their journey. Central to this approach is personalisation.”
Holdgate, who previously worked for Tui Travel’s specialist division, said websites should be respected in the same way by online retailers as shopfronts on the high street.
He suggested firms ban talking about offline versus online marketing and hone in on the targets and customers they need to be profitable.
At Tui, while driving traffic was important, optimising conversions was the key focus as marketing funds were tight and it was important to make them work hard.
“Rather than just focus on driving quality traffic, let’s get the percentage conversion right up and this will impact directly on your bottom line targets.
“Do not waste the opportunity, patch up the holes,” said Holdgate.
Delegates were advised to put user testing at the heart of their businesses, and apply analytics to understand what does and does not work.
“Back up findings from analytics and expert review and also expose the opportunities that you would never have thought about,” he said.
Companies should also continually involve product and marketing teams in a feedback loop to prioritise those products that drive most revenue, Holdgate added.
“Is conversion rate optimisation the new search engine optimisation? For me it’s the same thing. Have the right content and tone and you will have happy customers and please Google.”