Firms should stop blowing funds on increasingly expensive PPC campaigns and instead invest in building brands on social media, the second BrightOnTravel conference was told.
Serial industry entrepreneur Steve Endacott told delegates at this week’s event that today what customers think about a company is not determined by the brand itself.
He said in a multi-platform world brand is becoming more important as firms fight to attract the attention of customers, increasingly on mobile devices.
He said: “The one thing I think is most important is this word brand, and that’s where social media comes in because never before has it been easier to destroy a brand. The power of social media overwhelms the power of interruption advertising.
“In the future how your customers get the information is no longer just what you tell them through interruption marketing and that’s where social media makes a big impact.”
Although he suggested dropping PPC campaigns, Endacott warned against firms against turning off channels without understanding the wider impact.
“I was working with a major OTA recently and they did an experiment where they said look conversion on mobile is low, we’re going to turn it off. They lost 25% of their bookings.
“The fact is it’s so difficult to understand what is the customer journey and if you come out of one sector what impact that will have.
“On phones you pay the same click costs if they come on to your site for two minutes, one minute or two seconds so having that initial interaction with them is vitally important.
“So the one thing that you spend least on is your brand traffic. If people come directly to your brand it’s pence, if you advertise on PPC for “Majorca holidays” it’s pounds.
“Therefore brand and bringing people back to your brand in a multi-platform environment I think is becoming more and more important.
“Therefore, he who has the best brand has the lowest advertising costs because you can get people to come directly to your brand. That means unfortunately the big guys have a big advantage.”
Endacott said creating advocates among your customers was the most cost-effective way of building brand affinity and that this was where social media comes in.
“Take PPC budget you were going to blow and spend it on that. If you can get your customers recommending you and you deal with your customers quickly and effectively you are going to create powerful advocates. If you don’t you are going to get your arse kicked.”
He added: “The biggest thing we don’t do in travel is recommend.
“The problem with dynamic packaging is you’ve got thousands of flights and hotels and you’ve exactly the same as the next site and customers have visited 23 sites without making a booking and they’ve got data overload and it’s crap.
“How do we break through that? Use user reviews to make a recommendation. Shape what you are offering to cut out the search.
“The biggest problem we have is there’s no inspiration on any of our sites. You have to know what you want in order to use our tools.
“Do something wider to talk to your customer base rather than lecture or interruption marketing because interruption marketing is going to die.
“Social media if you use it right is so much better and more effective for talking to your customers.”