The travel sector is one of the most prolific spenders in Paid Search marketing. Indeed, travel companies spent more on pay-per-click advertising than any other industry except for finance in 2012*. As the market becomes more and more saturated, brands are under increasing pressure to drive efficiency and performance from this channel.
Here are some of our key insights specifically on how brands can use Paid Search to drive online performance.
1. Be smart with your Keyword Coverage
Selecting keywords should be an important part of your strategy, and it is important to consider keywords that will ensure you have coverage across all stages of the buying cycle. High visibility throughout the buying cycle will reinforce your brand so that you will stay in the forefront of the consumer’s mind. We would recommend that you develop a strategy that is aligned to the consumer buying cycle as follows;
- During the awareness stage: use keywords that are location specific – example ‘holidays in Spain’
- During the research stage: use promotional keywords with the location as secondary – example ‘cheap holidays in Tenerife’
- At the intent to purchase stage: use keywords that are destination specific – example ‘all inclusive deals to x resort’
- At the purchasing stage: Promote the brand name as the primary keyword
Top tip: Keywords in the awareness and research phases may appear to have low conversion volumes, but may be fundamental in the path to conversion so it is essential to track and monitor the click path. By reviewing the click path you will be able to quantify the effect of bidding on these keywords to see if they are truly having an effect on account performance.
2. Develop a bidding strategy that maximises your ROI
Understandably, not all brands want to target expensive generic keywords such as ‘holidays’ or ‘cheap holidays’, and in some cases it may not always be profitable to appear in the top position. We would recommend that you conduct positional tests on keywords and monitor performance to determine what positions perform the best for your keywords.
Top tip: It is important to consider your margins when developing your bidding strategy. For products with low margins, ROI can often be improved by appearing in lower positions with carefully selected keywords such as long tail or brand specific.
3. Make your Ad copy stand out
Why would a consumer choose you over your competitors? Why should a customer click on your ad and visit your site? What do you have to offer that your competitors don’t? With so many ads competing in the search results, you need to ensure that your ad stands out over and above the competition. To help do this, we would recommend that you;
- Use price points in your ad copy and update these regularly to show you are competitive
- Incorporate USPs into the messaging e.g. low deposits, price match guarantee, number of different packages on the website
- Utilise ‘ATOL Protected’ to show users they can safely book with you
- Implement sitelinks to make your ad stand out, take up more of the results space and increase your ad messaging. Incorporate USPs into sitelinks so that the ad text can push price points
Top tip: Make a conscious effort to ask users to review their experience with your company to ensure you meet the threshold for reseller stars to appear. This will give the user extra confidence that you are a trusted website and increase your CTR.
4. Ensure your landing pages are designed to enhance the user experience as this will drive more conversions
The travel industry typically has a long research phase, so ensuring that your landing pages are helpful and memorable to the user will keep your company in the forefront of their mind during the path to conversion. We would recommend that you include destination specific pages that not only detail the great offers available, but can also provide descriptive information or images on the destination and sub-destinations.
Top tip: Include additional information on the landing page such as local weather forecasts, insights into the local culture, available activities and insider tips. This will show the consumer that you are an expert in the sector. This in turn will help to increase the length of time consumers are spending on your site and the likelihood of returning.
5. Ensure you target the right people at the right time
All sectors are influenced by seasonality factors, and none more so that the travel industry. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you are promoting the right messages to the right audience at the right time. There are a number of strategies you can adopt to help ensure that you are messages are promoted in the most effective way, these include;
- Incremental bidding – to enable you to increase your bids and give your ads extra visibility when the conversion rate is higher. This could be based on geo-location or time of day
- Day parting – to enable you to pause activity when there are minimal conversions and shift this spend into more profitable times of the day
- Demographic Search (currently a Google beta) – to enable you to target by age or sex with specific messaging or promotions
Top tip: Consider Remarketing, as this approach is very effective for this sector, for example if your company also sells travel insurance or car hire, you can remarket users who have bought a particular holiday, hotel or flight with this type of complementary product.
To sum up
In this competitive market, things are changing quickly and brands are struggling to keep up. Driving the highest performance from your PPC activity will enable you to stay one step ahead of your competitors. We hope that the tips in this article will go some way to helping you run an effective and efficient campaign.
Good luck, and please do contact us if you have any questions!