If content is king, then social is definitely queen. With a fast growing digital society that loves to post and boast, social media has become a fundamental tool in a content marketer’s kit.
And for the travel marketers, social has been a gift. Done well, a great campaign can far outreach any traditional marketing activity in terms of audience and influence.
Social, no longer seen as a bolt-on channel, has become an integral part of travel marketing, from PR, reputation management to customer engagement. And in many ways, it's also the voice of the brand.
Virgin Atlantic’s director of brand & customer experience, Reuben Arnold says: 'Social media helps us demonstrate our personality and what we’re about'.
The CoolBrands Awards were announced this week and it's no surprise to see American tech giant, Apple, in poll position as the 'coolest of the cool' brand.
The annual initiative, by CoolBrands (part of Superbrands UK Ltd), identifies the hippest brands loved by Britons. This year it has revealed some obvious choices within its top 20 list: Nike (4th), Glastonbury (5th), Twitter (8th) as well as many high-end luxury brands such as Aston Martin (2nd), Rolex (3rd) and Chanel (13th).
While it’s great to see such brands prospering in these times of economic austerity I am particularly interested in the smaller niche brands that have made the cut this year.
No disrespect to the brand giants. They do a great job, but on big marketing budgets. What I love to see is how the smaller companies are making the grade.
Online personalization has been blighted by the stigma that it’s something we’d all love to achieve but it’s out of the reach for the middle market.
In fact, a recent Econsultancy survey that found that 94% of companies sampled agreed personalization “is critical to current and future success” but they didn’t know where to start or how to approach it.
But the tables are turning and this is all about to change. Companies that have started to use new and accessible personalization technologies have seen up to a 300% increase in conversions.
Unlike traditional 'top of the funnel' personalization models which rely on past behaviour data to personalize the online and email marketing experience, new cloud-based technologies use real-time behaviour analytics to adapt content and engage users whilst they’re on-site.
This means the messages and communication can change depending on if the user is at lead or at the referral stage.
Even luxury brands are having trouble moving with the times. What is certain is that the static brochure style website featuring a photoshoped image of an infinity pool is dead.
Luxury hotels, like every industry, are having to be more imaginative and rethink their marketing strategy.
The first rule in content marketing is that content needs a purpose: to stimulate, engage, convert and build a buzz around a brand. It’s got to be useful, visible, desirable, engaging and provide a platform to position the hotel as a socially-connected brand.
Why is content so powerful? It’s is the modern day convergence of PR, social, SEO and good old-fashioned storytelling.
At the recent Neolane & Celerity co-hosted breakfast seminar Ashley Friedlein spelt out what agile marketing is and how it’s going to change us all.
In his introduction he said we’ll all be talking about 'real time', 'agile', 'on demand', 'automation', 'speeding up' and 'event triggered' in the months and years ahead.
What was clear from all the presentations at the event was that personalisation, real-time, agile marketing practices will become the norm.
According to Neolane’s recent survey, 19% of marketers are currently personalising their websites in real-time. But Neolane predicts that this figure will jump by 3X to 59% by the end of 2014.
Even the Google Now android app has forseen this as our future too. In its latest ad it claims we’ll be able to access information that is relevant to us right now.
Based on predictive algorithms it claims to be “one step ahead” – suggesting new routes to work if traffic is heavy and recommending places to eat where you are, even telling you the best things on the menu.
Loyalty schemes are big business. You only have to look at Tesco’s Clubcard, Boots Advantage and Nectar points to see how effective they are at drawing consumers in and creating brand loyalty on the high street.
But looking around the globe traditional loyalty models are being taken on by the mobile revolution. Brands using their mobile channel to target engaged consumers and deliver smarter, personalised deals are giving traditional routes a run for their money.
Fiddling about with coupons and cut-out offers at the till will soon be a thing of the past. Brands that have harnessed marketing to mobile, enhanced by mobile payment solutions, will smooth the way when it comes to redeeming offers at the point of paying.
Putting the customer at the heart of your organisation’s strategy has long been the elixir to business success. It seems obvious, doesn’t it, especially as we’ve had CRM systems in place for more than 10 years now?
However, at a recent event in London hosted by Celerity, data & CRM specialists, big players sat around the table and agreed it was still an aspiration and ever elusive goal for many.
It was recognised that CRM systems that combined digital, mobile and social data alongside traditional touch-points were outstripping those that didn’t.
Names such as Domino’s Pizza, Starbucks and first direct were obvious brands to cite that have cracked the customer service game thanks to their combined approach.
Mobile is changing our behaviour. And the message from a recent mobile marketing event, hosted by ORM London was, adapt to this change or be left behind.
The headline figures: who owns a smartphone (currently 54% of the UK), tablet (21% of the UK) and what they do on these devices (28% surf the net) changes from week to week. The latest in this rapid stream of stats is that more smartphone devices are being activated everyday worldwide than babies being born.
Mobile usage is big and it’s set to be even bigger. Twitter's latest report highlights how smartphone and tablet users are the most engaged consumers. Mobile users are 96% more likely to follow 11 or more brands and 58% more likely to recall seeing an ad on Twitter.
Google even predicts in three years mobile will overtake desktop as the most common way to go online – making mobile marketing more important.
There are many content marketing tools that B2B marketers can use. The most popular is the blog. In Rebecca Lieb’s book, Content Marketing, she says: “No topic or industry is too arcane for a blog”.
She cites a US-engineering company, Indium, that has no less than 73 different blogs…on soldiering materials. Having that many blogs increased the firm's inbound leads by 600%.
But creating original content and finding time to do it is a business' biggest challenge she says. This is also something that I hear frequently too. But as a recent Hubspot report showed that blogging is something businesses cannot afford to avoid.
The ebook is a content marketer's best friend. Not only does it allow you to become a publisher, where you can have your own editorial agenda, it gives you a platform to become a thought leader in your field.
It has the added benefit of generating in-bound leads on a large scale. For instance, Eloqua attributed a large percentage of its new business to the prospects that downloaded a series of its free ebooks.
Whilst writing and researching our first ebook I came across some excellent examples that I wanted to share with you.
In each ebook there are fantastic content marketing techniques in play: tips, resources, ideas, infographics, visuals, links, case studies, stats, how-to-guides. All easy to use and many inexpensive to implement. Check them out for yourself.