Category Archives for Marketing Strategies

Building Links smart guy

5 SMART Ways To Build Back Links and Improve SEO

Building Back Links the RIGHT Way While Keeping Google Happy

Building Links smart guy

Answering the Age of Question of “How Do I Build Back Links Without Going Black Hat?”…

(Guest Post by Felix Tarcomnicu )

 

Despite the tighter regulations imposed by search giants ( particularly Google ), on the use of back links, building those links remains a valuable strategy in generating organic inbound traffic.

The truth of the matter is there are ways and means to develop back links that will conform to Google’s guidelines and still yield productive results for your SEO efforts.

Here are five smart ways to build back links and improve SEO:

 

  1. Create a dynamic blog

 

Everyone in SEO has probably bled the term “Great Content” dry. Ever since Google introduced its search engine directives related to a change in its algorithm, the need for great content has been at the forefront of SEO.

 

There is no doubt creating great content will help generate back links. If people love what they read and see value and relevance in the content, they will share or re-distribute it. But in order to maximize your blog, it must be kept active or dynamic.

 

  • Include an RSS Feed in your blog page. An RSS Feed makes distribution and sharing easier.
  • Connect with other bloggers. When you link with other bloggers, they may return the favor. But be wary of the reputation and authenticity of the blogger.
  • Implement newsjacking. Newsjacking or the process of reporting on breaking news establishes the freshness of your content. This will drive your content up the search rankings.

 

  1. Explore your creativity

 

It’s not just about creating great content. You should look beyond your comfort zone and explore other ways to keep the interest going.

 

The best content should be relevant, engaging and addresses a specific concern of the audience. Often, a single piece will not be enough. Explore your creativity by adapting techniques to keep content fully charged.

 

  • Create case studies. If your content covers work with current or previous clients, use your experience to present case studies. These have the same effect as testimonials in that theories are applied to real world situations. Make sure to get the consent of your clientele.
  • Use Infographics. An Infographic is a visual representation of the data or information relayed in your content. Infographics contribute to making content reader-friendly and thus, share-worthy.
  • Create visual content. People are generally visual. When they read information, they often translate these into imagery. Consider utilizing unique forms of visuals such as cartoons, tables, graphs or even memes. The latter have branded memes juvenile but you cannot discount its ability to create viral content.

 

  1. Deliver content via Webinars

 

We’ve often read SEO professionals recommend webinars as an effective way for link building but how does it work?

 

Keep in mind these tips when conceptualizing your webinar:

 

  • Remember that people attend webinars to find resolution to an issue or concern. Make sure your content provides actionable plans and links to available resources.
  • Use your website to host the information and description of the webinar. This way, people will share that they will go to your website.
  • Have relevant internal links available for attendees to review before the webinar.
  • Have the sign up list, download and listen pages embedded on your website. This is the best way to capture social signals and back links.
  • Always have the social sharing apps available on the download webinar page.
  • Whenever you mention a resource, the related resource link must be featured.
  • Always shoe courtesy to the attendees and inform them when a copy of the webinar will be available.

 

  1. Develop strategic partnerships

 

In order to encourage organic back linking, you must consistently reach out to related resources or potential affiliates. In a way you are networking with people and communities that see value in developing strategic partnerships.

 

  • Research on your industry and identify the companies or businesses that are most congruent to your purpose. You might be surprised on the number of companies that would want to link to your blog especially for specific content.
  • Request for product or service reviews from other companies or businesses. A product or service review will not only succeed in building organic back links but provide you with valuable industry feedback on your performance.
  • Research on websites that have mentioned your business. Then contact them and work out a link building arrangement.
  1. Go old school

 

Who says that going the traditional route is obsolete in the digital world? Traditional networking may be inefficient but it still has redeeming values.

 

For one, leg work gets you involved and engaged directly with your prospective market. Second, greater connectivity is established when content is directly handheld. I am referring to newspapers, books, magazines and newsletters.

 

Even though the use of paper has been labeled “non-green” and financially inefficient, it still made content resonate louder and clearer than digital methods. You can merge old school tactics with digital techniques to build good quality back links to your website.

 

  • Contact news sites and pitch ideas for great compelling articles. In traditional marketing, you hired a PR Manager to contact news papers and find a content editor to propose an article or write up. In the digital age, it is pretty much the same thing. A news site will ask you to buy ad space or you can connect with the content manager and pitch an idea that may interest him. If the content manager agrees buys your pitch the news site will mention your website and thus generate back links.
  • Host an event and invite reputable bloggers, writers and the most widely recognized names in your industry. Some innovative online marketers even assemble an in-house marketing team to distribute “gift” to the special attendees to ensure favorable participation. A well-run campaign to support your event should generate enough buzz to encourage more back linking activities.

 

These are just a few of the best actionable ideas to help you attract organic link building to your website.

 

The bottom-line is to be creative with your approach and find new avenues to get your content found. In the virtual world, there are no boundaries. There will always be opportunities to expand your reach and coverage.

 

Author bio
Felix Tarcomnicu works with the SEO Tool Monitor Backlinks. He is the author of the popular article “How To Rank High In Google”. You can connect with Felix on Twitter.
RipCurrent Event pic glitter

5 Ways To Promote an Event Online Without Going Broke

RipCurrent Event pic glitter

Promote An Event Without Breaking the Bank

Lots of great events but without a budget to promote?

Don’t worry, use what you have!

By Laura Andrews

Chances are- if you build your business by attracting guests OFFLINE as well as on, you’ve at one point or another spent time looking for ways to promote an event (events?) on a budget. Look no further! The following five tactics on how to promote an event online will help you promote, promote, promote… and save, save, save.

 

1) Utilize social media

Yes this is quite a broad bullet point, but that’s good. That means there are many different ways to use social media to your advantage.

 

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Add your event to your company or organization’s Facebook page, or your own personal page, and post it for all to see. Invite fans.
  • Use a specifically crafted Twitter and Instagram hashtag to promote your event. Use this for pre-promotional posts, during the event and in follow-up and thank you posts.
  • Set up a group on LinkedIn and invite people.
  • Purchase Facebook ads. There is a small cost here, but with these ads being relatively cheap it would be a great opportunity to spread the word about your event past your current fan base.
  • Host a Google hangout or Skype meet-up with your speakers prior to event
  • If your event includes a ticket price for attendees offer them a discount code online as the event gets closer. Even offering $5 off can sway someone to come to your event and to share the coupon code online with their friends.
  • Don’t forget your friends! Reach out to vendors, event partners, speakers, etc. and ask them to share and retweet your content on their social media pages.

 

2) Step up your email marketing

Already have a current e-mail distribution list set up? Great, reach out to those people and let them know about your upcoming event. Don’t have a list yet? No problem. You can purchase a list from a third-party for a small amount of money or use this event as a way to grow your list for future uses. Include ways for your guests to sign up during the event to be on the list and make sure you grab their email addresses during the registration process! You can even include an opt-in box before they check out online.

 

If you are promoting a reoccurring event, don’t forget to email past attendees with details and even a coupon code to get them to become regulars.

 

3) Make it easy for visitors to share your event info

We all like easy right? So do your potential attendees. Don’t forget to include a ‘Register Now’ button on your website or event landing page and social sharing buttons as well.

 

If your event is set up for online ticketing give your attendees an option to share that they’re going to your event on all social media channels. Allowing their friends to see your event info will only help spread that word-of-mouth quickly!

 

 

4) Tease us!

Give potential attendees a small taste of what your event is going to be like. Tease them! Distribute YouTube videos of speakers, event highlights, past event pictures, etc. prior to event. Show potential attendees what they are going to miss if they don’t come to your event.

 

Utilize your social media channels as well and post event information, photos, and videos as teasers. If the event is more than one day, post throughout the event to continue to market.

 

Remember: Don’t give it all away at once, but a little here and there never hurt anyone!

 

5) Do some good ole fashioned blogging

You know all that content you’re pushing on social media and all of those teasers you’ve dutifully crafted? Keep using that content and create blog posts along the way. Write blog posts on your website leading up to the event highlighting the speakers and activities. If possible, get speakers or people associated with the event (partners or vendors) to blog as well and share content with them across their marketing channels.

 

Ready to sell out your event and not break the bank? Take these tips above and you’re on the path to event success!

 

Event Marketing is a great way to get some to make your customers really feel like they are part of your brand. Though it’s one of the most expensive ways to build your audience, it’s also – dollar for dollar- proven to be one of the best ways to make big strides…if you know what you are doing! If you’re looking for more ways to make the most out of your marketing program (and avoiding some of the costly or time-sucking pitfalls ), why not subscribe to the RipList? 

The RipList is an occasional email chock full of ACTIONABLE marketing strategies and hacks that will help you and your company reach more target customers more often.  It’s all about things you can do yourself today! 

Interested in giving the RipList a spin? Start receiving it free by subscribing in the orange box to your right!

 

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3 Crazy Simple Steps to Partnership Marketing that Pays off

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Partnership Marketing: Cross Promotion that makes sense for everyone involved

“Strategic Partnerships”.  It’s one of those terms that corporate folks throw out in the same breath as “Drinking the Kool-Aid” or *sigh* “Giving 110%”. When it’s actually used in the correct context, it’s a powerful concept. When it’s used the way MOST people use it (which is- of course-  as a way to try to impress other people who use the term “Open the Kimono”), it’s an obvious cry for attention. Let’s be one of the people who gets it right!

For example, I have spoken with other marketing companies who forge partnerships with sales coaches, and hoteliers that have strategic alliances with boat rental companies. In each partnership, they both target the same (or at least very similar) audiences, but they sell complimentary products or services that don’t compete with each other. When they partner up, they can not only bring each other very qualified leads, but also super-serve their clients by bringing them trusted partners to serve them well. It’s win-win (which is another one of those cliches, I know.)

This all might seem pretty simple and elementary, but surprisingly few companies actually take advantage of what is essentially a very easy way to slash  your promotional workload, and that’s a shame because most of the companies who do commit to “Partnership Marketing”…and who make sure that they hold up their part of the partnership, tend to have a noticeable jump in their business!

Today I want to share 3 VERY easy steps to starting your own Partnership Marketing Program in the next 2 weeks.

1. Make a list of 6 services (other than your own) that your customers are likely to need.

If you are a business coach, chances are that your clients also need accountants. If you are a restaurant that caters to tourists, obviously hotels would count. If you build and install custom cabinets, a local company that installs back splashes would make a great partner. Don’t over think this- just write down 6 services that “make sense” and won’t compete directly with you for spend. Don’t think of any more than 6 at this point or it will turn into a black hole that sucks up way too much time and energy. 6 gives you all you will need to start, and by the time we finish this process, you’re going to cut that six down anyways.

2.  “Assign” 1 business nearby for each category, preferably one that either  YOU know, or that your clients have recommended.

Chances are – assuming you aren’t a brand new start up at least- that you already know people who either own or work at companies that fit into at least a couple of your 6 categories. Are they the kinds of people/companies that you would be proud to recommend to your clients? Have your own clients ever mentioned a great experience with them? If so, put their name next to the category that fits.

If you DON’T have an “in” or at least a recommendation from a client about any of the 6 categories, then go ahead and delete that category. When it’s all said and done, we only want to build 1 or 2 partnerships at a time anyways!

I can already hear you asking “Then why did you have me come up with 6 categories? You’re wasting my time pal!”. Hold up friends, I promise you- I wasn’t wasting your time! We come up with 6 so that we have a few options and don’t just jump directly in with the first company or two that we think of. The whole point of this is to partner with businesses that could make great partners for both our companies, and for our clients- not necessarily to partner with the first business that come to mind based simply on convenience.

3.  Buy no more than 3 cups of coffee.

Hopefully you have whittled your list down to no more than 3 (and no less than 2) businesses that a.) sell to the same clients you do without competing with your business, b.) are located in the same geographic area as your business, and c.) make you feel safe in recommending them to your clients. Here’s where you make a small investment that can end up paying off in dividends: Reach out to each of those businesses (either to the owners or the head of marketing depending on how that business is structure and who you have access to) and offer to buy them a cup of coffee. To sweeten the deal and make it worth their time, tell them that you are looking for a partner that you can refer your own clients to and that you’d like to discuss. Chances are, that alone will be enough to get the appointment.

When you meet to discuss forming a mutually beneficial relationship, discuss what each business can bring to the table – not just for each other, but also for your client.  Go over in detail what each of you would get out of the relationship, and set some concrete rules as to what each company can and can not do. If all is agreed, set up a monthly (if not bi-weekly) meeting to go plan the next month’s activities and to analyze the results of the last month.

And WHY are these other businesses going to go to all the trouble to build a cross promotional relationship with you? What do they get out of the deal that will make them see things your way?

Referrals are obviously the most obvious benefit of Partnership Marketing of course, but there are other ways Partnership Marketing is so very much worth the time and effort!

  • It extends the reach of each of the businesses : even though both companies make a lot of sense for the same customer base, many of those customers may not have even realized that they could use those services. Partnership Marketing is a great way to expose clients to helpful goods and services that they may otherwise have never heard of.
  • Partnership Marketing allows the businesses involved to save marketing budget by teaming up to split costs (or even eliminate the need for certain marketing/advertising efforts).
  • Businesses who engage in Partnership Marketing have the ability to grow their own marketing efforts past what they’d be able to accomplish on their own, regardless of how much money they might be willing to invest!

“That’s great Ryan, I get it- I need to embrace Partnership Marketing- but what sorts of things can I do right now to get started? You promised me 3 things I can do to get started, but so far you’ve only given me 3 things I can do to set up the partnership- where’s the good stuff that starts driving more business?”

You like ACTIONABLE tips. I respect that.  Here’s three things you can do to start getting results:

1. Guest Post on each other’s website:

Not only is this a great way to build cross promotion between your brands, but it also helps grow each of your individual websites (more pages to index means more Google Juice) and puts valuable content on your page- very possibly content that you might not have thought of yourself!

2. “Spiff” each other’s customers:

The classic example of this is McDonald’s and their Happy Meal toys. A toy company (or a movie, or TV show, or…) partners with the fast food giant and provides a toy to include in the Happy  Meal. McDonald’s benefits when more kids have to get a Happy Meal to grab the toy (and I can already hear all the health bloggers getting ready to explode…bear with me though guys, I’m just making a point), and the company who has provided the toy for that run of Happy Meals get’s the brand recognition that they want. Now, in a TRUE strategic partnership, both parties would provide a way for their partner to “spiff” their clients by providing a little taste of your business when they serve their clients.

3. Co-Sponsor events: 

This is one that holds a near and dear place in my heart. Obviously event sponsorships tend to be pricey- especially when those sponsorships come with a table or a booth at the event. Split the cost of the booth with your new cross promotion partner and not only will you save some serious bucks, but you’ll instantly build a bridge between your two businesses in the eyes of your (potential) customers!

So if you and your business haven’t started building your own Partnership Marketing relationships yet, get moving! Besides the community you will build…besides the money you will save…besides the new leads you will receive, there are so many ways you will win when you combine your strengths to “share the wealth”, and that’s a cliche that’s just too true to be upset about!

 

Partnership Marketing is a great way to get some quick and consistent wins with your marketing, but as with anything that relies on multiple partners, it’s not always as simple as it can be. If you’re looking for more ways to make the most out of your marketing program (and avoiding some of the costly or time-sucking pitfalls ), why not subscribe to the RipList? 

The RipList is an occasional email chock full of ACTIONABLE marketing strategies and hacks that will help you and your company reach more target customers more often.  It’s all about things you can do yourself today! 

Interested in giving the RipList a spin? Start receiving it free by subscribing in the orange box to your right!

 

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3 Easy Steps for Marketing Your Loyalty Program

Making sure your loyalty program is creating loyal customers

 By Laura Andrews

RipCurrent Loyalty program thank you image

Loyalty programs are twofold. They are a great way to keep your customers engaged and at the same time, a great way to acquire customer information.

 

So why use one?

Here’s why. With a loyalty program you can:

  • Acquire new customers and increase your customer base
  • Increase how much a customer spends overall by offering discounts on new products to try
  • Increase customer retention by helping them feel involved and invested in your brand
  • Give customers incentives to purchase more expensive products
  • Reconnect lapse customers to your brand by offering incentives to lure them back to your brand

 

Now that we all agree that loyalty programs are great in acquiring and retaining customers (right?), let’s talk about marketing. Here are three actionable steps that you can do to market your loyalty program right now.

 

1) Create a message of relevance

The perceived value of a reward is more important than the actual percentage or dollar reward. Let’s think about that. That means that customers care more about the value they feel they are getting than the actual dollar amount off or coupon. Remember to make sure you’re offering something of real value to your customer and you’ll help ensure customer loyalty.

 

2) Thank your customer

Who doesn’t love getting a thank you? Your customers certainly do. Thank them by offering a discount, coupon or additional perk that they can only get because they are your customer. This can be done through e-mail marketing or social media. Use the marketing channels where your company frequently interacts with your customers.

 

3) Move your customer from brand to product

Your customer might love your brand but still not purchase your product. As frustrating as that sounds, it happens all of the time. Think about how much you may drool over that expensive new watch, shoe or piece of technology but you still don’t purchase it. If your customers are loyal to your brand, give them incentives to try your products. Give them samples or coupons to try your product and then ask for their feedback. Make them feel like a part of the process and involved in your brand. They’ll keep coming back.

 

A loyalty program should make your customers feel like VIP members in an exclusive club. Customer want to feel special and companies have the power to do that.

 

loyalty programs are fantastic ways to build…well…Loyalty! Getting it right isn’t always easy though. If you’re looking for more ways to make the most out of your marketing program (and avoiding some of the costly or time-sucking pitfalls ), why not subscribe to the RipList? 

The RipList is an occasional email chock full of ACTIONABLE marketing strategies and hacks that will help you and your company reach more target customers more often.  It’s all about things you can do yourself today! 

Interested in giving the RipList a spin? Start receiving it free by subscribing in the orange box to your right!

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Marketing Automation Strategies for Long Sales Cycles

Long Sales Cycles Killing Momentum?

Marketing Automation Strategies Will Keep Things Fresh…

 

One of the biggest challenges facing Travel/Tourism/Hospitality Industry businesses in today’s online-driven world isn’t simply getting the attention of travelers- it’s about KEEPING that attention when those travelers are still in the research and comparison phase.

Pay-Per-Click, banner ads, media buys, and traditional mailers are great ways to score wins with direct response offers assuming that a traveler is ready to buy/book and that your timing is right, but none of them will do you much good if the buying action is anything less than immediate.

That’s what attracted me to Content Marketing and Lead Nurturing to begin with. I’ve been involved with marketing since I began my “real job” career, and there are very few industries with longer sales cycles than marketing services. Being both the guy that created the product and the guy who had to sell it, I spent years running myself ragged trying to attract qualified leads and keep them engaged long enough to convert into paying customers while still being responsible for the day to day responsibilities of properly servicing existing clients. There had to be some way to keep leads engaged through longer sales cycles, but – at the time- the tools and philosophies just didn’t seem to be there.

Content Marketing – especially when combined with a strategically sound Lead Nurturing program has been the key for me, and I believe it can be the key for you too, but the trick is to do it right. I spent years trying different things before I found a winning formula- hopefully (assuming you haven’t started yet)- my blood, sweat, and tears can save you a little ramp up time in your business!

 

 

RipCurrent Content Marketing Capture the Lead

Step 1: You Gotta Get ’em Before You Can Keep ‘Em- Now, maybe this is a little obvious, but you can’t KEEP people engaged until they have become engaged to begin with, and that begins with them simply becoming aware of you. In today’s world, that primarily happens in one of four ways for businesses in the travel and tourism industry: Through word-of-mouth (powerful but not scalable), by having people actually see you/your business while they are doing something else such as driving by your signage (VERY not scalable), by having them come across your listing on aggregation sites like Kayak and Expedia… during which time your businesses is presented on the same screen as your competitors while you each fight to be cheaper than each other (do I really need to go into why this isn’t ideal?), and by being found online when potential customers are already looking for a company that can do what your company does.

The fact is, word of mouth is too important to just ignore, but for the most part, being found online is the best, most controllable, and most scalable way to draw awareness (and ultimately engagement), and  so that’s what we’re going to focus on.

There are literally dozens of ways you can draw awareness to your travel or tourism business online, from social media, to pay-per-click advertising, to affiliate marketing, and good ol’ SEO, but for our money, Content Marketing provides the most bang for your buck.

At RipCurrent, we like to say that Content Marketing isn’t complicated, but it does require effort. If you want to start driving more people to your website today (rather than waiting to be found on those travel aggregator sites that take a huge cut of your revenue), the best thing you can do is to starting writing good content today.

To begin with, don’t worry about it being mind-bendingly awesome if you aren’t a natural writer or marketer. To begin with, just write, but make sure that you write about your customers and not about you. You can get our free Persona Builder Template here which will help you super target who your best client/audience really is, and I bet that- assuming you are open minded while putting it together- you will learn that they aren’t exactly who you were assuming!

If you run a hotel in Myrtle Beach, write about what makes Myrtle Beach different than Panama Beach. Write about the best ways to stretch a buck during a family vacation on the Grand Strand. Write about the 5 best Myrtle Beach golf courses for people just learning the sport. Write, write, write, and make sure that you focus on providing information that people want instead of just pitching sales at readers. The more content you have on your site, the more the search engines will see you as an authority figure, and the more that people searching for information will find you BEFORE they are ready to make a buying decision. Put all of your articles and a dedicated blog page that is easy to find from your home page menu, and add 1 or 2 tags to each post that will help readers segment what the piece is about.

As time goes by of course, you should definitely focus more on making the quality of everything piece of content that you create awesome, and chances are that this will start to happen on it’s own with experience.

Note: If you just aren’t a writer and need help writing marketing content, we can take care of that for you- just let us know!

Step 2: Give Them A Reason To Introduce Themselves- Once people find you, you need some sort of way to capture a few important pieces of information: A first name and an email address. As time goes by, you want to pick up a few other pieces of information from them of course (last names, locations,  and their interests are particularly helpful), but start simple by concentrating on the email address and first name.

Make sure that your blog page has a few features before you post any content: “Social Sharing” buttons (for people to share your content with their own Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Pinterest networks), and an easy to find contact form are the bare minimum, and if you REALLY want to have visitors to your site self-identify themselves, offer them a premium piece of content that they can download for the price of giving you their email address!

Ideas for premium content that would appeal to someone researching their next vacation could include vacation planning guides, budgeting templates, access to special events, or  novelty maps that call out points of interest located nearby your location.

If you decide to invest the time and resources in creating a premium piece of content (or a “lead magnet” as they are often called), make sure that each article on your blog calls attention to your lead magnet and always include a visible call to action directing people to sign up to receive  this premium (as well as to become registered on your email list). You’ll find that a great lead magnet combined with plenty of relevant blog content will start to drive more and more targeted visitors to your site quickly, and that a well designed call to action will begin building your email list just as quickly.

If you decide that now is not the time to invest in a nice lead magnet, then instead make sure that you end each blog post with a call to action directing readers to sign up for updates, vacation planning tips, and of course special offers by filling out the contact form you previously created.

Remember, the goal is only to get an email address and first name at this stage. The more information you ask for in this point, the less likely people are to give you ANY information. Be patient.

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You can either build a good contact form on your own (or with plugins …on WordPress, we like “Ninja Forms“) or with email focused automation services like Aweber or the powerful new Autopilot service, which makes designing and automating your follow up simple and easy. You can even go with “freemium” services like MailChimp if you want to stick with “free”, and to different degrees, all of those will all give you the added bonus of helping you to track/segment your subscribers, as well as to help automate the follow up process. You can also use “Marketing Automation” softwares like HubSpot or Infusionsoft to build this process into an even more robust system of automated triggers, analytics, and sequences. These services tend to require a more hefty investment, though they are powerful tools if you know how to get the most out of them.

ripcurrent content marketing technicalStep 3: Be Ready -On a Technical Level- to To Follow Up- This is where those Autoresponders and Marketing Automation tools I mentioned above become so important.

Is it possible to keep up regular touches with your prospective customers on your own? Yes. Is it likely to happen with the level of care and consistency that is required? Not a chance.

The fact of the matter is that- no matter how good our intentions may be- most of us are just too busy to keep up with everything that comes at us each day, and when you are looking to keep potential customers engaged throughout the entire Awareness/Engagement/Consideration/Decision/Action process, you can’t afford to be inconsistent.

A lot of people start and stop in their email marketing efforts because they aren’t seeing results quick enough to keep their interest. They either collect email addresses and then never do anything with them, they use them for monthly SPAM-shout-outs (that’s where you send EVERYONE on your list the same sales message once a month as the entirely of your email marketing program), or they send their follow-ups so inconsistently that people lose interest and stop paying attention.

With a good back-end email system installed on your site,  you can segment which subscriber signed up on which  page (and that will give you a good idea of what their interest are!), you can make sure that they automatically receive consistent emails based on the date that they initially signed up, and you can make sure that the messaging they receive is actually based on the things that they care about as opposed to trying to fit all of your subscribers into one big box (or worse, trying to manually respond to everyone on a consistent level, which will almost certainly never happen).

By automating the process, you ensure that the people you worked so hard to attract will continue to feel the love from you, even when you are too busy to reach out to them personally. Likewise, nearly every good Automation/Autoresponder service offers some fantastic analytics tools that will help you see who has opened your emails, when they opened them, if they forwarded them to someone else, and

Step 4: Leave a Trail to Bring Them Back Again and Again- If your website is the finely tuned automobile that get’s your business to your Ripcurrent content marketing services lead nurturingintended destination, and if autoresponders and marketing automation are the engine that provides the power behind the scenes, then content is the fuel. Now is the stage where you put some high quality gas in the tank!

 

Using the research you already did on your True Best Audience way back in Step 1, speed up production of blog posts and articles that will speak to the same audience that was attracted to your original content once you start seeing your traffic increasing. The increase in traffic will verify whether or not you are on target, so once you see that spike, put the pedal to the metal!

For instance, if your best traffic generating article was a guide to identifying all of the tropical flowers on the island where your hotel is located, maybe you then write a series of 4-8 blog posts about specific plants, or how to take high-quality still life photos of colorful vegetation with your cellphone, or maybe a piece about which flowers bloom during each month of the year. Try to publish 1-2 posts a week over the next month, and once a week, send your email list a quick teaser and link to the article via your Lead Nurturing system. The idea is two fold- it gives you an excuse to consistently remain top-of-mind, and secondly it should bring people back to your website once again where you have yet another chance to convert them into a customer. This brings us to Step 5…

ripcurrent content marketing easy to buyStep 5: Make it Easy for Them to Make the Purchase- This should be a no-brainer, but just in case I’ll say it anyways: Make sure that there is a clear and easy path for your customer to actually make a purchase, no matter where they are on your site! Most hotels have some sort of booking software/theme/plugin on their websites that allow customers to check dates and rates before making a purchase. If this doesn’t appear on each page of your site, fix that STAT. If you are in a different sort of business however…let’s say maybe a fishing charter service, a Segway tour, a Museum, or a golf course, you still need to have some way for your target client to make a purchase then and there! There are plenty of companies who make software that integrates with website to allow customers to book services.

At the very minimum, you need a “Book Now” or “Make a Reservation” button of some sort prominently displayed on every page of your site that takes guests to a page where you can sell your service while they are ready to buy. I’ve seen simple pages set up through PayPal that will suffice in a pinch.

The most important thing to remember is that the more roadblocks (or clicks) that you put between your client and a final purchase, the less likely they are to make it through to the purchase. Likewise, don’t ask them for any information that you don’t absolutely have to. The closer you can get to “one-click-purchasing”, the better off you will be, and the happier your soon to be guests will be as well!

Step 6 (POST sale): Keep the Tank Full-

I’m always blown away by how many people fall down on this one…

What is the EASIEST, CHEAPEST, and MOST PREDICTABLE business to get? The business you already have! Yet, for a multitude of reasons (with “I ran out of time” being the most often cited), we tend to be pretty lax on showing our customers the love AFTER they have made a purchase. That’s like spending all day fishing, and the moment you finally land a bite, you let go of the rod to do a little victory dance while the (probably very confused) fish makes off with your gear. Why would you put all that effort into building up a new relationship only to let the weeds start growing after the first sale? Keep those customers engaged! A good marketing strategy includes a plan for the follow up, and -honestly- it’s probably the easiest part of the plan to follow.

Pre-stock your email autoresponder or marketing automation program with at least four post-visit emails, and have the first one set to automatically send 4 days after the date of the client’s departure date, the next one automatically sending 1 week later, and the next two at the 1 month and 2 month post-departure dates. Our suggested content is as follows:

4 Days Post Departure Email: You are still fresh in the minds, so don’t club them with a heavy sales message! A simple thank you message combined with a request for feedback on their experience (and an easy link to a survey is the best way to do it- you can set one up for free at www.surveymonkey.com ) is all you the messaging you need on this first email. Of course you should add a nice image of your establishment to the header of the email that will link back to your website (just in case they are ready to book again!), and button links to your social media pages at the bottom. That’s it.

  • If they take the survey, segment the responses into two categories: Favorable and Unfavorable. Regardless of whether the feedback on their experience is good or bad, learn what you can from it!
  • For the people who respond with negative feedback, reach out to them personally to show them you care about their opinions, and do everything (with in reason) it takes to resolve their displeasure. It’s far better that you handle their complaints now before they become public and you have to deal with the repercussions of negative online peer reviews.
  • For the people who respond with positive feedback however, take a moment to personally thank them for their feedback.  If they seem agreeable, ask if they will leave a quick review on sites like Yelp and/or TripAdvisor. This is a great way to start adding some great online social proof!

11 Days Post Departure Email: This email is the first reminder that you are looking forward to their next stay. Messaging should remain light and non-invasive. A short list of upcoming events, a link to a photo gallery of recent events, and a quick (ie- non-“salesy”) note that you look forward to serving them again in the near future will bring you back to top of mind without coming across as pushy or insincere. For the people who aren’t already subscribed to your email newletter list, ask them to to jump on board, but don’t automatically add them without asking or without permission. Even if they have already stayed with you, that’s still a no no.

 

30 Days Post Departure Email: By 30 days out, the chances that your guest’s life has “returned to normal” is pretty high. Work, family life, and all the other daily responsibilities have most likely crept back up. As such, a short message about how you are are there to help them unwind again just as soon as they are ready could very well be timely. Add a special promotion to the email offering them a discount if they book a return visit within the next 6 months. Don’t be pushy about the promotion- this is more about the long game and keeping them interested.

60 Days Post Departure Email: When you get to the 60 days out period, I suggest going more promotional, but focus on exclusivity. A V.I.P. discount, an invitation to an exclusive “members only” reception, a 2-for-1 tour, bonus points for your loyalty program (you DO have a loyalty program, right?) or a significant upgrade are good options. Give them another reason to sign up for your email newsletter list if they haven’t already done so, and end with a call to action.

Of course, it goes without saying that you want to make sure you stay in front of your clients and potential clients as often as you can without becoming a pest, but that can be a fine line. We’ve found from our own experience that once every 30 days tends to be “safe”, though once every 2 weeks is never bad when you have something genuinely helpful to share. The key is to automate as much on the back end as you can. Yes, there is an argument to make that automated reach-outs lose a big part of the personal touch, but most people/companies will never be able to stay consistent on their own, much less have the discipline to measure and track results.

 

 

Marketing Automation is an invaluable tool in your utility belt, but if used incorrectly, it can be equally dangerous. If you’re looking for more ways to make the most out of your marketing program (and avoiding some of the costly or time-sucking pitfalls ), why not subscribe to the RipList? 

The RipList is an occasional email chock full of ACTIONABLE marketing strategies and hacks that will help you and your company reach more target customers more often.  It’s all about things you can do yourself today! 

Interested in giving the RipList a spin? Start receiving it free by subscribing in the orange box to your right!

 

Free Generational Travel Marketing Ebook from RIpCurrent Content Marketing Services

Mobile Marketing in the Travel Industry, 2016

Marketing Your Travel Business

the Mobile Marketing Way

The Screens May Be Small, But the Benefits Are HUGE!

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Not a week goes by where someone doesn’t ask us about Mobile. It seems like it’s the #1 priority for business owners and managers these days, though ironically, most of them are completely unaware of why it’s really so important!

So, for all the people who have been asking “how do I do mobile marketing for my business?” …especially for those of you who are marketing travel and tourism businesses like hotels, attractions, and rentals, we wanted to put together a quick guide to mobile marketing for travel businesses!

 

So, you’re thinking about taking the plunge and going Mobile with your travel business. Excellent news- kudos for getting into the game! With more and more travelers not only booking their travel plans- but also researching them on their mobile devices, businesses that aren’t making mobile a huge priority are starting to look like dinosaurs…assuming anyone can find them online to begin with!

Being mobile friendly isn’t necessarily difficult, but it can be time consuming, complicated, and confusing if it’s not your “native language”. The key is to stick with what has been proven to work best, and not getting too bogged down in terms and toys you don’t really understand.  Here are a few things we suggest you keep in mind when you make the mobile plunge:

1. Responsive websites make mobile travel marketing easier, (and are really the bare minimum that you can do)- Remember just a few years back when everyone was told that they needed to not only build and maintain an amazing website if they wanted to be taken seriously, but suddenly they had to build a SECOND site specifically set up for mobile? I remember trying to figure out how I was going to go back to my boss at the time and convince him to make the time/money investment in a second site for- what was at that point- a relatively small set of visitors to our website when I knew that the process of getting the “real” website done almost killed us on in the first place!

Thankfully, in 2012 webmasters and programmers started to give us the tool to make sites “Responsive”. For those who aren’t overly familiar with what “Responsive” means in this context, we’ll keep the explanation simple: It’s a type of design that makes a website easy to read on any screen, be it mobile, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

Now, besides the fact that this suddenly spares us all from trying to build a second site (or use one of those awful mobile-converter softwares that will sorta’ kinda’ do it for you), building your site to be Responsive has several benefits:

  • The most obvious is that it gives a far better user experience to your guests/clients who are visiting your site from a small or odd sized screen.
  • It actually helps to improve your SEO. Seriously- it’s not just humans that hate trying to read a poorly formatted site on a tiny mobile screen- The search engines aren’t fans of it either! Google, Bing/Yahoo, and most other modern search engines give a nice little boost to the sites that are responsive over the ones that aren’t!
  • It makes you look more professional. Since being Responsive has almost become the “price of admission” to play with the big guys lately, sites that haven’t switched to Responsive design yet, often look either out of touch…or worse..like they don’t update because they are out of business!
  • Here’s the big one as it pertains to Travel/Hospitality Industry businesses in particular: Your clientele is even more likely to be researching you (and your competitors) on their phones than in nearly any other industry. Since these people are often making somewhat last minute decisions as to where to spend their money, they will often reach for the cellphones on the fly, and at that point it’s not just about giving them the informational content they need to make a decision- it’s also about speed of presenting that information, and ease of how it’s presented. If your site isn’t fully responsive, you WILL lose at this stage.

2. You have less time to engage someone on mobile – Roughly a third of the people who plan their travel online through their mobile device are going to book that day. Likewise, mobile phones are  more likely to be the booking device, while tablets (as well as laptops, desktops), are more likely to be used upstream to do the initial research, compare pricing, and read reviews. Because travelers tend to take the buying process across multiple devices depending on the stage of the sale, you have to strategize your company’s sales funnel to accommodate this segmentation!

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3. Don’t ignore reviews- If you are getting great reviews consistently on Yelp, TripAdvisor, or any of the other popular review sites, aggregate those on your site, and make sure they are easy to find- especially on the desktop/laptop/tablet version of your site. Don’t try to fix the game though. If there are a small handfull of less than stellar reviews, do your best to answer them directly on the review site, but own those too. Mobile audiences are savvy audiences- if they see ONLY perfect scores, they’ll assume someone has “fixed the game”.

4. Offer short term promotional deals/discounts through Facebook Ads and go heavier on mobile- Facebook ads are a relatively inexpensive way to get your message out to an audience that you can super-target. Using cookies on other sites, you can set your Facebook advertisement to only trigger for people who are already spending time on travel websites. You can even drill down further to only target people who “like” the city you are in, or who “like” to do the activities your business offers (or at least the activities that many of your guests choose to participate in when they stay with you). While you can serve these ads to desktop/laptop users and get a lot of traction as well, Facebook will allow you to serve specific ads on the mobile platform exclusively. This is the time to run those “last minute deals” to grab the person that has already done their research and is right about to make a purchase! The more you can target an already receptive audience when they are in the right frame of mind, the more successful your marketing will be…and the more cost effective too!

Obviously, this is just scratching the surface of why we all need to put a little more thought into how we differentiate our mobile travel marketing strategy from how we market to everyone else.  The fact is, mobile will continue to grow as a preferred platform, especially as Gen-Xer’s and Millennials take on more and more of the business and family travel roles being vacated by retiring Baby Boomers (and for more information on how that will effect your business, as well as specific steps on how to make this pattern work in your favor, be sure to to download our free ebook The RipCurrent Guide To Generational Travel Marketing). Taking a handful of strategic steps that you can be consistent with now is the best way to ensure you keep up with the mobile hurricane that has only just begun to blow onto shore.

Free Generational Travel Marketing Ebook from RIpCurrent Content Marketing Services