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Post-Pandemic Travel Marketing: What Now?



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The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

As borders reopen and travel resumes, the stakes to make up for the time and revenue lost in 2020 and 2021 have never been higher. For many travel and hospitality organizations, there’s no question about it – the 2022-23 season must be a success.

The good news is that hope is firmly on the horizon. US Travel’s latest data shows that, for the first time since the pandemic began, travel spending was above 2019 levels by 3%. While nearly 60% of US travelers note that rising gas prices will impact their upcoming travel decisions, more than a quarter plan to spend more money on vacations this summer than in 2019.

We still live in uncertain times, especially with increasing costs in almost every industry a big concern for consumers. But for travel and tourism brands, now is the time to push forward with recovery and work with customers who, after two long years, are looking to finally take a trip away from home.

Following many near-complete strategy and product pivots of 2020, there’s plenty that travel and tourism brands can be doing with their marketing to support their own long-term success.

Anticipating consumer needs and concerns

One of the biggest changes that many travel and tourism brands have seen over the past year is a longer consumer buying cycle. Where customers may have been ready to book a flight, hotel, or tour experience with very little research before 2020, that’s no longer the case.

Instead, customers are taking their time deciding whether or not travel is safe, affordable, and accessible for them and their families. This has ultimately led to lengthier waits for travel companies as customers move down the sales funnel.

But as a travel business, part of your role has always been to reassure customers that their experience will be what they’re looking for. The biggest difference now is in anticipating and responding to new fears that have arisen in the past two years around travel safety.

Educational tour company Context Travel has seen this attitude change firsthand, and found success through adjusting their marketing strategy accordingly.

“We’re getting in front of travelers much higher up the funnel to gain trust by creating and sharing compelling content for people who are just dipping their toes back into travel”, says Director of Marketing, Ali Murphy. “This is a big shift from pre-pandemic, when we focused our marketing efforts on capturing people who were ready to buy a tour.”

Acknowledging the fear

You’ve likely spent the majority of the past two years continually adjusting your marketing strategy — and now isn’t the time to stop. While there may be some trepidation from consumers around travel picking back up, tourism and hospitality brands must acknowledge and accept these fears rather than turning a blind eye to them. This is where you need to think like your customers and alter your search marketing approach.

What is the data telling you? Instead of looking for large group tours, are your customers more likely to be interested in smaller, private tours with just their family group? Or are outdoor-based activities becoming the most-viewed pages on your site?

These are also the pages on your site that you might want to consider prioritizing in an SEO refresh. Consider whether the consumer landscape matches existing messaging and keyword strategy. If not, now might be the right time to find some copy and content resources to give those pages a re-write more consistent with current strategy and offerings.

There’s a good chance that your customers will be prioritizing different aspects of their experience for the foreseeable future, so it’s up to you to meet those needs. Instead of backing away from marketing your products and services, promote private accommodation, outdoor adventures, and a more people-concious travel experience.

Embracing new opportunities in search

Going after a whole new set of experiences in your search strategy is one thing, but travel brands should also be keeping tabs on what new features in search itself can be leveraged for their benefit. Mobile-first marketing is on the rise and your travel brand needs to be front and center.

You may not immediately think of TikTok as part of your search marketing plan, but we’ve all seen YouTube videos and tweets appearing in search results over the years, and TikTok content is finally making its way into SERPs as well.

While social content should still be focused on your primary channel audiences (aka the people that are actually seeing the content on its intended platform), there are plenty of benefits to be gained if your content can rank in traditional search results. When you’re working on your social strategy and planning for new content creation, keep this in mind as you optimize your videos later on (or loop in your brand team to tackle this across silos!)

This is just as applicable for in-destination brands offering consumers dinner, a night out, or an activity, as it is the destination marketing organization (DMO) marketing the destination itself. Social-as-search allows brands and organizations to actually influence the discovery phase, not just the decision-making phase of the consumer buying journey.

According to a recent study from TikTok, 49% of its users use the platform for discovering something new, and are 1.5 times more likely to immediately go out and purchase what they have discovered compared to other platforms. The opportunity to rank for high intent keywords, especially driven around experiential and food/beverage activities, with consumer proof in places like TikTok is a virtually untapped opportunity for brands across the board.

For many tourism brands, these opportunities simply didn’t exist in a pre-pandemic world. Yet many of the biggest companies are still refraining from embracing them. To stay competitive and attract both US-based and overseas customers, now is the time to jump on these opportunities before everyone else.

Leveraging existing marketing channels for conversion

At this point, we should all know that marketing channels work best when we think of them as complementary, rather than silos. “Always-on” marketing means that customers have access to brands 24/7, every day of the year. Because of that, they’re interacting with brand content across multiple platforms — from ads, to social media, to search results, to emails.

Travel consumers have always been a multi-platform, multi-stage audience. But the lengthening of the sales process means that securing a conversion after several touch points has become even more difficult for this industry. If your travel or tourism brand wasn’t already working to leverage different channels at once, now is the time.

Search is certainly still a long game when it comes to digital marketing, but it’s also one of the most trusted avenues out there. When you’re working on new content that can benefit you in six to 12 months, go back to thinking about your customers’ fears and needs first. How can you answer those questions and concerns better than your competitors?

From there, echo that content across other platforms. While you wait for the SERPs to catch up, get in front of your audience with additional messaging, proof points, and content that amplifies why to buy, why to visit, and why to trust your brand (user generated content is a great avenue for this). Search is undoubtedly important, but it is not the only channel that your consumer base is going to interact with on their path to purchase. Think about each channel as a unique opportunity to engage your audience and where they might be in the buying and consideration cycle when they encounter it.

For example, if a consumer is searching for content related to “best things to do in Costa Rica”, and your brand is well-positioned to answer that question through search, it might also be worth trying to get that user to sign up for your newsletter with Costa Rica travel tips, follow you on social media for local restaurant recommendations, and retarget with ads to re-engage them later in the buying cycle. Treat search as an entry point — not the only point — of opportunity and build your other channels as amplifiers.

This concept of social-as-search is also a great way to familiarize your brand to consumers. Almost no space on TikTok is as saturated as travel, and yet one airline manages to stand out for terms like “rating airlines” and “european travel”: Air Baltic.

@airbaltic it do be like that 🥲 #airline #cabincrew #airBaltic #okayletsgo ♬ Okaaay lets go – Sarah Vilard

It’s not hard to see why. Their personality-driven content is relatable, humor-forward, and draws in viewers while educating consumers in the crowded low cost carrier space about their crew, destinations, and air frames.

Accepting changes within the travel industry as a whole

Instead of burying your head in the sand and thinking about the negative impacts, make travel industry changes part of your marketing campaigns. For instance, with non-refundable travel becoming a thing of the past, being more flexible with customers after they book isn’t going to land you more business. Letting them know their options ahead of time, though, can make you stand out. is a great example of this. Their 2021 “revenge travel” campaign perfectly highlighted their understanding of customer concerns around making reservations: that may need to be changed or canceled last-minute. Instead of assuming that they could return to a point of non-refundable travel, their marketing fully acknowledged these customer pain points and made their position clear (with obvious dramatic humor), and favorable, for consumers looking to travel with flexibility.

Customers are ready for travel, and brands that embrace this “moment” and make it memorable are prepared to win. Brands that are prepared to go the extra distance will win favor with eager consumers, and brands that are simply meeting expectations will be seen as doing the bare minimum. The opportunity is in the “memorable”.

“Experiences sell way more than [traditional] products. Even more so in the hospitality industry. There are hundreds of hotels selling the same plans and accommodations as we are. So what makes us so special? Added value. Feeling. Belonging. Unique experiences. The most loyal clients buy that ‘special something’ that a product makes them feel rather than the product itself,” saya Ella Bencosme, Sales & Marketing Coordinator for the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba.

This is also a good time to make your reviews work for you as a marketing tactic. Many of your prospective customers will be looking for reviews that call out some of these widespread industry changes, like flexible change policies, hygiene standards, general safety, linens and laundering, contact with other guests, and the ability to “go private”.

Whether you like it or not, how you respond matters and your audience is watching. Customer reviews have always been a fundamental part of the travel and hospitality industry, and this has only become of increased importance in recent years. Stay on top of reading and responding to your reviews, particularly from those who may not have had a good experience. If you need just one more reason to put stock in the user experience, think of the visibility that Google reviews, and OTAs like Expedia and Trip Advisor, have in the SERP.

Brand guarantees are not enough to satisfy consumers. Instead, hearing and reading recent first-hand accounts of travel experiences from customers just like themselves will continue to be a significant deciding factor for many people.

In conclusion

Tourism and hospitality have changed — probably forever. Travel expectations that the pandemic introduced will not be easily walked back. In a post-pandemic world, travel brands must adjust their marketing strategies to align with new consumer needs, expectations, and fears. Embracing and leveraging new forms of search marketing, while continuing to build a reputable and consistent brand in the eyes of travel-cautious consumers is the only way to succeed.

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader



The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

Introduce your processes: If you’ve streamlined a particular process, share it. It could be the solution someone else is looking for.

Jump on trends and news: If there’s a hot topic or emerging trend, offer your unique perspective.

Share industry insights: Attended a webinar or podcast that offered valuable insights. Summarize the key takeaways and how they can be applied.

Share your successes: Write about strategies that have worked exceptionally well for you. Your audience will appreciate the proven advice. For example, I shared the process I used to help a former client rank for a keyword with over 2.2 million monthly searches.

Question outdated strategies: If you see a strategy that’s losing steam, suggest alternatives based on your experience and data.

5. Establish communication channels (How)

Once you know who your audience is and what they want to hear, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. Here’s how:

Choose the right platforms: You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform. Pick two platforms where your audience hangs out and create content for that platform. For example, I’m active on LinkedIn and X because my target audience (SEOs, B2B SaaS, and marketers) is active on these platforms.

Repurpose content: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Consider repurposing your content on Quora, Reddit, or even in webinars and podcasts. This increases your reach and reinforces your message.

Follow Your audience: Go where your audience goes. If they’re active on X, that’s where you should be posting. If they frequent industry webinars, consider becoming a guest on these webinars.

Daily vs. In-depth content: Balance is key. Use social media for daily tips and insights, and reserve your blog for more comprehensive guides and articles.

Network with influencers: Your audience is likely following other experts in the field. Engaging with these influencers puts your content in front of a like-minded audience. I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily engaging with content on X and LinkedIn. This is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not a complete stranger when you DM privately.

6. Think of thought leadership as part of your content marketing efforts

As with other content efforts, thought leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrives when woven into a cohesive content marketing strategy. By aligning individual authority with your brand, you amplify the credibility of both.

Think of it as top-of-the-funnel content to:

  • Build awareness about your brand

  • Highlight the problems you solve

  • Demonstrate expertise by platforming experts within the company who deliver solutions

Consider the user journey. An individual enters at the top through a social media post, podcast, or blog post. Intrigued, they want to learn more about you and either search your name on Google or social media. If they like what they see, they might visit your website, and if the information fits their needs, they move from passive readers to active prospects in your sales pipeline.

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How to Increase Survey Completion Rate With 5 Top Tips



How to Increase Survey Completion Rate With 5 Top Tips

Collecting high-quality data is crucial to making strategic observations about your customers. Researchers have to consider the best ways to design their surveys and then how to increase survey completion, because it makes the data more reliable.

→ Free Download: 5 Customer Survey Templates [Access Now]

I’m going to explain how survey completion plays into the reliability of data. Then, we’ll get into how to calculate your survey completion rate versus the number of questions you ask. Finally, I’ll offer some tips to help you increase survey completion rates.

My goal is to make your data-driven decisions more accurate and effective. And just for fun, I’ll use cats in the examples because mine won’t stop walking across my keyboard.

Why Measure Survey Completion

Let’s set the scene: We’re inside a laboratory with a group of cat researchers. They’re wearing little white coats and goggles — and they desperately want to know what other cats think of various fish.

They’ve written up a 10-question survey and invited 100 cats from all socioeconomic rungs — rough and hungry alley cats all the way up to the ones that thrice daily enjoy their Fancy Feast from a crystal dish.

Now, survey completion rates are measured with two metrics: response rate and completion rate. Combining those metrics determines what percentage, out of all 100 cats, finished the entire survey. If all 100 give their full report on how delicious fish is, you’d achieve 100% survey completion and know that your information is as accurate as possible.

But the truth is, nobody achieves 100% survey completion, not even golden retrievers.

With this in mind, here’s how it plays out:

  • Let’s say 10 cats never show up for the survey because they were sleeping.
  • Of the 90 cats that started the survey, only 25 got through a few questions. Then, they wandered off to knock over drinks.
  • Thus, 90 cats gave some level of response, and 65 completed the survey (90 – 25 = 65).
  • Unfortunately, those 25 cats who only partially completed the survey had important opinions — they like salmon way more than any other fish.

The cat researchers achieved 72% survey completion (65 divided by 90), but their survey will not reflect the 25% of cats — a full quarter! — that vastly prefer salmon. (The other 65 cats had no statistically significant preference, by the way. They just wanted to eat whatever fish they saw.)

Now, the Kitty Committee reviews the research and decides, well, if they like any old fish they see, then offer the least expensive ones so they get the highest profit margin.

CatCorp, their competitors, ran the same survey; however, they offered all 100 participants their own glass of water to knock over — with a fish inside, even!

Only 10 of their 100 cats started, but did not finish the survey. And the same 10 lazy cats from the other survey didn’t show up to this one, either.

So, there were 90 respondents and 80 completed surveys. CatCorp achieved an 88% completion rate (80 divided by 90), which recorded that most cats don’t care, but some really want salmon. CatCorp made salmon available and enjoyed higher profits than the Kitty Committee.

So you see, the higher your survey completion rates, the more reliable your data is. From there, you can make solid, data-driven decisions that are more accurate and effective. That’s the goal.

We measure the completion rates to be able to say, “Here’s how sure we can feel that this information is accurate.”

And if there’s a Maine Coon tycoon looking to invest, will they be more likely to do business with a cat food company whose decision-making metrics are 72% accurate or 88%? I suppose it could depend on who’s serving salmon.

While math was not my strongest subject in school, I had the great opportunity to take several college-level research and statistics classes, and the software we used did the math for us. That’s why I used 100 cats — to keep the math easy so we could focus on the importance of building reliable data.

Now, we’re going to talk equations and use more realistic numbers. Here’s the formula:

Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.

So, we need to take the number of completed surveys and divide that by the number of people who responded to at least one of your survey questions. Even just one question answered qualifies them as a respondent (versus nonrespondent, i.e., the 10 lazy cats who never show up).

Now, you’re running an email survey for, let’s say, Patton Avenue Pet Company. We’ll guess that the email list has 5,000 unique addresses to contact. You send out your survey to all of them.

Your analytics data reports that 3,000 people responded to one or more of your survey questions. Then, 1,200 of those respondents actually completed the entire survey.

3,000/5000 = 0.6 = 60% — that’s your pool of survey respondents who answered at least one question. That sounds pretty good! But some of them didn’t finish the survey. You need to know the percentage of people who completed the entire survey. So here we go:

Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.

Completion rate = (1,200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%

Voila, 40% of your respondents did the entire survey.

Response Rate vs. Completion Rate

Okay, so we know why the completion rate matters and how we find the right number. But did you also hear the term response rate? They are completely different figures based on separate equations, and I’ll show them side by side to highlight the differences.

  • Completion Rate = # of Completed Surveys divided by # of Respondents
  • Response Rate = # of Respondents divided by Total # of surveys sent out

Here are examples using the same numbers from above:

Completion Rate = (1200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%

Response Rate = (3,000/5000) = 0.60 = 60%

So, they are different figures that describe different things:

  • Completion rate: The percentage of your respondents that completed the entire survey. As a result, it indicates how sure we are that the information we have is accurate.
  • Response rate: The percentage of people who responded in any way to our survey questions.

The follow-up question is: How can we make this number as high as possible in order to be closer to a truer and more complete data set from the population we surveyed?

There’s more to learn about response rates and how to bump them up as high as you can, but we’re going to keep trucking with completion rates!

What’s a good survey completion rate?

That is a heavily loaded question. People in our industry have to say, “It depends,” far more than anybody wants to hear it, but it depends. Sorry about that.

There are lots of factors at play, such as what kind of survey you’re doing, what industry you’re doing it in, if it’s an internal or external survey, the population or sample size, the confidence level you’d like to hit, the margin of error you’re willing to accept, etc.

But you can’t really get a high completion rate unless you increase response rates first.

So instead of focusing on what’s a good completion rate, I think it’s more important to understand what makes a good response rate. Aim high enough, and survey completions should follow.

I checked in with the Qualtrics community and found this discussion about survey response rates:

“Just wondering what are the average response rates we see for online B2B CX surveys? […]

Current response rates: 6%–8%… We are looking at boosting the response rates but would first like to understand what is the average.”

The best answer came from a government service provider that works with businesses. The poster notes that their service is free to use, so they get very high response rates.

“I would say around 30–40% response rates to transactional surveys,” they write. “Our annual pulse survey usually sits closer to 12%. I think the type of survey and how long it has been since you rendered services is a huge factor.”

Since this conversation, “Delighted” (the Qualtrics blog) reported some fresher data:

survey completion rate vs number of questions new data, qualtrics data

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The takeaway here is that response rates vary widely depending on the channel you use to reach respondents. On the upper end, the Qualtrics blog reports that customers had 85% response rates for employee email NPS surveys and 33% for email NPS surveys.

A good response rate, the blog writes, “ranges between 5% and 30%. An excellent response rate is 50% or higher.”

This echoes reports from Customer Thermometer, which marks a response rate of 50% or higher as excellent. Response rates between 5%-30% are much more typical, the report notes. High response rates are driven by a strong motivation to complete the survey or a personal relationship between the brand and the customer.

If your business does little person-to-person contact, you’re out of luck. Customer Thermometer says you should expect responses on the lower end of the scale. The same goes for surveys distributed from unknown senders, which typically yield the lowest level of responses.

According to SurveyMonkey, surveys where the sender has no prior relationship have response rates of 20% to 30% on the high end.

Whatever numbers you do get, keep making those efforts to bring response rates up. That way, you have a better chance of increasing your survey completion rate. How, you ask?

Tips to Increase Survey Completion

If you want to boost survey completions among your customers, try the following tips.

1. Keep your survey brief.

We shouldn’t cram lots of questions into one survey, even if it’s tempting. Sure, it’d be nice to have more data points, but random people will probably not hunker down for 100 questions when we catch them during their half-hour lunch break.

Keep it short. Pare it down in any way you can.

Survey completion rate versus number of questions is a correlative relationship — the more questions you ask, the fewer people will answer them all. If you have the budget to pay the respondents, it’s a different story — to a degree.

“If you’re paying for survey responses, you’re more likely to get completions of a decently-sized survey. You’ll just want to avoid survey lengths that might tire, confuse, or frustrate the user. You’ll want to aim for quality over quantity,” says Pamela Bump, Head of Content Growth at HubSpot.

2. Give your customers an incentive.

For instance, if they’re cats, you could give them a glass of water with a fish inside.

Offer incentives that make sense for your target audience. If they feel like they are being rewarded for giving their time, they will have more motivation to complete the survey.

This can even accomplish two things at once — if you offer promo codes, discounts on products, or free shipping, it encourages them to shop with you again.

3. Keep it smooth and easy.

Keep your survey easy to read. Simplifying your questions has at least two benefits: People will understand the question better and give you the information you need, and people won’t get confused or frustrated and just leave the survey.

4. Know your customers and how to meet them where they are.

Here’s an anecdote about understanding your customers and learning how best to meet them where they are.

Early on in her role, Pamela Bump, HubSpot’s Head of Content Growth, conducted a survey of HubSpot Blog readers to learn more about their expertise levels, interests, challenges, and opportunities. Once published, she shared the survey with the blog’s email subscribers and a top reader list she had developed, aiming to receive 150+ responses.

“When the 20-question survey was getting a low response rate, I realized that blog readers were on the blog to read — not to give feedback. I removed questions that wouldn’t serve actionable insights. When I reshared a shorter, 10-question survey, it passed 200 responses in one week,” Bump shares.

Tip 5. Gamify your survey.

Make it fun! Brands have started turning surveys into eye candy with entertaining interfaces so they’re enjoyable to interact with.

Your respondents could unlock micro incentives as they answer more questions. You can word your questions in a fun and exciting way so it feels more like a BuzzFeed quiz. Someone saw the opportunity to make surveys into entertainment, and your imagination — well, and your budget — is the limit!

Your Turn to Boost Survey Completion Rates

Now, it’s time to start surveying. Remember to keep your user at the heart of the experience. Value your respondents’ time, and they’re more likely to give you compelling information. Creating short, fun-to-take surveys can also boost your completion rates.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Take back your ROI by owning your data



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Other brands can copy your style, tone and strategy — but they can’t copy your data.

Your data is your competitive advantage in an environment where enterprises are working to grab market share by designing can’t-miss, always-on customer experiences. Your marketing tech stack enables those experiences. 

Join ActionIQ and Snowplow to learn the value of composing your stack – decoupling the data collection and activation layers to drive more intelligent targeting.

Register and attend “Maximizing Marketing ROI With a Composable Stack: Separating Reality from Fallacy,” presented by Snowplow and ActionIQ.

Click here to view more MarTech webinars.

About the author

Cynthia RamsaranCynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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