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5 Tips For More Engaging & Impactful Branded Travel Content

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5 Tips For More Engaging & Impactful Branded Travel Content


Branded content is a term that is thrown around quite a lot in marketing circles, but many people struggle to understand what it actually means.

It’s likely that you’ve come across and engaged with plenty of pieces of branded content before without realizing it, both as a consumer and in a professional context.

In the travel industry, in particular, branded content is frequently used as a way to appeal to certain customer demographics who prioritize the integrity and values of a brand over the specifics of their offering.

Branded content can take a wide variety of forms and approaches, which means that it can be tricky to figure out the best way to make the strategy work for you.

The struggle ends here.

What Is Branded Content?

Put simply, branded content is any piece of content that builds brand awareness by associating a company with the values it communicates.

To really understand where this approach comes from, you need to understand the context from which it emerged.

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Traditional advertising has the intention of selling a product or experience at its core. Whatever method is used to do this, it is often explicit enough that the customer is aware that they are actively being sold to.

Many of the techniques used in traditional marketing are very effective, but the consumer landscape has changed drastically over the last decade or so.

Potential customers are wise to the classic methods used to catch their attention and subtly manipulate their behavior, which has led to a distrust of brands who use obvious advertising methods to explicitly push what they are selling.

On top of this, what modern consumers want from the brands they support has also changed in recent years.

In fact, 83% of millennials, in particular, prefer to spend their money on products or experiences from businesses whose values align with their own, and actively seek out companies with missions or goals that they also support.

This is particularly relevant in the travel industry as it is in line with many customers’ concerns over the social or environmental impact of their holidays.

Instead of looking for the cheapest deals, many consumers now prioritize booking trips with brands that share their priorities when it comes to travel.

Branded content is the product of these key changes in the marketing landscape.

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To appeal to this new generation of consumers, and to avoid the distrust that comes with explicit methods of advertising, branded content focuses on creating all kinds of content that potential customers will enjoy and illustrates the values of a company, instead of its offering.

This could be videos, blog posts, publications, and podcasts that are produced by a brand but not directly related to its product or service.

Branded content taps into the topics that potential customers are interested in to catch their attention and then builds affinity by regularly sharing other engaging content so that the brand becomes synonymous with certain positive values or ideas.

The benefits of this approach are clear: Branded content strengthens brand image, which helps you to stand out from your competitors, improves recall, and increases the number of potential customers who hear about your brand.

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Targeting potential customers whose values align with your brand also means that conversion rates are higher and that you’re more likely to gain long-term customer loyalty.

Branded content is an inbound marketing strategy; it attracts new customers by focusing on creating an appealing brand image.

There’s a lot of overlap with other marketing techniques and formats, which makes it easy to integrate this approach into your existing marketing plan.

It should be noted that the term ‘branded content’ is now also used to refer to a kind of collaborative marketing approach on social media platforms such as Instagram, where a creator indicates that a post has been sponsored or inspired by a business partner.

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Influencer marketing can involve kinds of branded content, but in this article, we use the term to refer to the wider style of content creation.

How To Make Branded Content Work For Your Travel Business

Now, you understand what is meant by the term branded content and can see the benefits of adopting the approach for your travel brand, you might have been left wondering how to put these ideas into action.

1. Establish Your Values

Company values are a key part of establishing a unique brand image. They’re more than just your business goals and culture.

They dictate the kinds of travel experiences you offer, the way you approach your marketing content, the way you use your profits, and the kinds of consumers who support you.

At the heart of any branded content campaign should be what your company stands for and the impact you want to make in the travel world and beyond.

The whole point of this marketing approach is to highlight brand values that the audience will respond to, so you need to get this straight before you go any further.

If you already have a clear set of company values, fantastic. Identify the ones that you think your audience will relate to most, and go from there.

If you feel your values are lacking, think about issues or trends in the travel and tourism industry that you care about or feel that you could make a difference to.

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Cast the net wider and reflect on any social issues that you think your business could support or impact, and consider if there’s a way to work these into your values as well.

2. Identify Audience Interests

Understanding the audience you are marketing to is the backbone of any successful marketing scheme. Branded content is no different.

However, instead of just tapping into what your audience wants from a travel company, you need to dig deep and research into the interests and values of each demographic in your customer base.

Branded content works by catching the attention of potential customers who are going to want what your business offers, and building up a trusting relationship with them through the content you share.

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In order to grab this attention in the first place, you need to have a clear idea of what your target audience cares about.

This goes further than just understanding what kind of holidays they enjoy and what they seek to get out of travel experiences, although this is still quite useful.

You need to find out what other interests intersect or align with their identity as a consumer.

  • What kind of hobbies do they enjoy?
  • What other brands do they support?
  • What are their values?
  • What social issues do they care about?
  • What topics do they enjoy reading about in their free time?

Complete this research for each of the different groups that make up your target audience, the more segmented the better.

Then, identify the areas and topics that have some overlap with your brand, and start seeking branded content inspiration here.

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For example, say that you’re a travel brand that specializes in wellness holidays to tropical destinations.

Your target audience may have general interests in things like healthy eating, exercise, and mindfulness, and also care about their environmental impact on the planet, for example.

As a travel brand, it doesn’t make sense for you to share content offering health or nutrition advice, but you could create content that discusses sustainability in travel or the benefits of activities like yoga or meditation on mental wellness.

There doesn’t have to be an explicit travel focus on the branded content you create. As long as it aligns with your overall business values and benefits your brand image, it will attract the right kinds of customers.

3. Choose Popular Formats

A key part of ensuring success when it comes to branded content is choosing a format that your target audience is going to engage with.

There’s no point in spending a huge portion of your budget on an elaborate video marketing campaign if your target audience actually prefers to read content instead of watching it.

Alternately, if the majority of your customers enjoy social media content above all other formats, creating a print publication will get you nowhere.

Branded content makes a big impact because it genuinely engages and excites the people who see it, which prompts them to share and grow the content’s reach.

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If you’re not using a platform or a format that your audience is familiar with or want to share content on, you won’t get the desired impact.

Another feature of branded content is that it tends to respond to popular trends.

There’s no point in trying to create something relevant if your audience has already lost interest in the format you use. If you’re going to take inspiration from what’s popular, you need to ensure you act fast.

This is one of the simplest pieces of branded content marketing advice, but it’s an essential part to make the approach work for your travel brand.

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Do your research to make sure you’re creating something that potential customers will want to engage with, and then start brainstorming.

4. Create Immersive Content

Branded content seeks to catch people’s attention and make an impact, even if they’ve never interacted with your brand before.

Tapping into consumers’ emotions is one of the best ways to do this, which is why creating immersive branded content is such an effective approach.

Video and audio formats are particularly successful for travel brands, as they can immediately transport a potential customer to a new destination or experience.

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You shouldn’t use this tactic to promote your brand offering (or at least, not in this approach to marketing), but instead, focus on crafting an experience that is so engaging, it will stay in a consumer’s mind afterward.

The worlds of VR and augmented reality are opening up more possibilities than ever before when it comes to immersive content, but even if you don’t quite have the budget for such formats, you can still effectively hook your audience in an instant.

Consider audio content that speaks directly to the listener, visual-heavy social media posts that inspire instant wanderlust, and description-rich written content that your reader can’t help but get lost in.

5. Be Unique

There are plenty of instances in a marketing strategy where it pays to play it safe.

Branded content isn’t one of those.

This is definitely the time to do something quirky and creative that will get your brand noticed and your content shared.

A partnership with an unexpected brand on a series of social media posts? A response to a hot topic that clearly illustrates your stance on the matter? A venture into an unusual format, such as producing a music video?

The best examples of branded content are the ones that have gone viral, usually due to their unique or unexpected nature.

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Communicating your values is important, but you need to catch consumers’ attention first so that they actually listen to what you’re saying.

If there was ever a time to take a risk and try something new, this is it.

Conclusion

It’s possible that your travel business has already dipped its toe in the branded content waters, or you’ve been pursuing similar results with your marketing efforts without knowing the technical term for what you’re doing.

You might also be a total newcomer to this approach, in which case this article should have given you a good idea of the best ways to make branded content work for you in the travel sector.

The nature of branded content is likely to change over the coming years in response to fluctuating consumer interests and priorities, as well as the introduction of new marketing techniques.

What is unlikely to change however is the positive impact of promoting your brand by finding common ground with your target audience, leading to high levels of customer engagement, trust, and loyalty.

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Featured Image: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape

There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

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Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!
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As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

Read More On SEJ

Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

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So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

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Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

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AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

Read More On SEJ

Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

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The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

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Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock

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