Case study: Content marketing made easy

How a specialist tour operator used smart content strategy to achieve a 97% saving on digital ads costs.

mapi-gala-tablet-coverLOST WORLD ADVENTURES is a boutique tour operator specialising in small group trips to Latin America. Like many operators they’re keen to expand their direct business and have been cautiously navigating the minefield that is direct-to-consumer travel marketing.

As every small travel business knows, direct marketing can quickly turn into a black hole for cash.

Adwords, the most common channel, has a punishingly high cost-per-click, in the $7 to $8 range for keywords targeting Machu Picchu and Galapagos. With industry average conversion rates that could work out at a cost-per-acquisition of $190 for a single enquiry!

Not liking those numbers, LWA got in touch with us to find a different approach.

Challenges

  • We had to find a way of capturing targeted traffic–i.e. people who were demonstrating an interest in the destinations–without paying top dollar for Adwords clicks.
  • With content creation costs at an all time high, we had to find a solution to make high quality content more affordable and accessible.

What we did

We started out by putting ourselves in the audience’s shoes. What are they looking for when they research and plan a trip to these destinations? From that exercise we commissioned a team of expert travel writers to create an ultra-high quality, 65-page travel guide.

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The guide gave us the raw material to start generating new audiences. Instead of paying $7 for an Adwords click we were able to acquire traffic at much lower cost using SEO, social media ads, display advertising, and more.

Using our hyper-optimised landing pages we achieved download conversion rates of 80%+. Virtually unheard of and surpassing even our own expectations!

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With each download users were invited to request direct follow up, sending enquiries straight to the sales team.

In addition we were also able to use email and remarketing to bring even more people into the funnel. Each new user was a qualified lead with a demonstrated interest in the destination and product.

Results

  • The campaign started to generate new leads immediately, working out roughly at $6 per lead. That’s an incredible 97% saving on comparable Adwords costs.

Conclusion

Many small travel tour operators find direct marketing and sales a daunting prospect, preferring instead to rely on other referral channels. Indeed, it can be a horrendously expensive waste of money! But when done right, a combination of good content and smart strategy can produce incredible results.

Does a 97% saving on ad costs sound good to you? Give us a call to discuss your options!

Case study: Reeling in new bookings with stunning content

How an adventure fishing company used beautiful content and smart strategy to achieve a 100% increase in reservation enquiries.

wildn-tabletWILDERNESS NORTH operates one of the largest networks of fly-in fishing lodges in Canada, selling epic trips to a very loyal customer base – many of whom repeat book every single year.

But the company wanted to broaden its reach to new customers, reaching other audience groups such as families, and keen anglers who hadn’t considered booking a fishing trip to such a remote location, and weren’t familiar with the destination or the experience.

We knew this huge audience was out there, we just had to find the best way to reach them and fire up their imaginations.

But the new fishing season was just around the corner, we had to move fast.

Challenges

  • We had to create a piece of content that would resonate with existing, hyper-loyal customers as well as bring in new audiences – people who were keen anglers but hadn’t thought about wilderness or fly-in fishing before.
  • With just months to spare before the new season we had to get the entire project up and running as quickly as possible.

Understanding the market

No-one knows the target audience better than the Wilderness North team – they have been serving the community of keen anglers for many years.

The site was packed with practical, nuts & bolts information on what a fly-in wilderness fishing trip involves. We had to edit that down into a handbook that would carry value for the existing customers in addition to reaching new audiences.

Within weeks our team of editors and designers produced a stunning guide – in both screen and print friendly versions:

travel content marketing example page

Connecting with the right people

We published the guide on a dedicated landing page on the Wilderness North site and began directing highly targeted visitors with Facebook and Google Display ad campaigns.

This gave us everything we needed to start reeling in (groan!) some new audiences.

We started with Facebook ads to send top quality, highly-targeted visitors.

Although the Facebook cost-per-click is usually quite high, the targeting and quality is unparalleled, which gave us some incredible conversion rates.

We then used lookalike audiences with Google Gmail and Display ads to target a broader audience of similar people.

This is a super smart way of taking the advanced (but expensive) targeting of Facebook and combining it with the much cheaper but higher volume of Google Display ads.

All of these people were sent to our landing page, where we saw an incredible 36% conversion rate – almost unheard of in our industry!

All downloads were added to email lists and new remarketing audiences.

Finally, we created search and display remarketing campaigns to recapture visitors at the moment of booking, generating new leads:

travel content marketing customer journey

Results

  • By creating content and ad campaigns that were laser targeted to a very specific audience we achieved an incredible 36% conversion rate on the download landing page.
  • Within weeks we had achieved 1,000+ downloads (and counting).
  • By the end of the first month we’d achieved a 100% increase in reservation enquiries.

Conclusion

There’s a common assumption that “content marketing” is a long-term process that takes months or years before you start to see any results.

As we saw with this project, with the right combination of focused content and laser targeted distribution channels, it’s very easy to hit the ground running and see immediate results.

Have a think about your business – are there new opportunities we can explore together?

travel content marketing example

Case study: Around the world in 80 clicks

How a specialist flights company strengthened ownership of their niche and massively boosted their PPC and email audiences.

rtwf-tablet-coverROUNDTHEWORLDFLIGHTS.COM is a flights and travel agency specialising in round-the-world itineraries and deals.

They’re an established company with strong performance in organic search (SEO), PPC and email. They wanted to build on their strengths by reaching new audiences of travellers who might not have previously considered taking a round-the-world trip.

They already had a dedicated PPC agency, plus some great content on their blog. We needed to find a way of connecting the dots and bringing new value to their digital activities.

Growing email and PPC remarketing audiences was the #1 priority.

Challenges

  • The target audience is relatively hard to reach and already exposed to lots of “content marketing” style messages. We needed to find new ways to reach and engage these people.
  • At the same time we needed to broaden the appeal of round-the-world travel away from backpackers and younger travellers and into the new territory of career-breakers, baby boomers and retirees – showing these people that round-the-world trips aren’t all about gap year students and backpacker bars.
  • We had to achieve all this with new minimal content investment and in a way that would dovetail with the work of Roundtheworldflights.com’s existing PPC agency.

Connecting with the audience

We created a content plan for a guide to round-the-world travel that would provide all the practical, nuts & bolts information that a traveller would find useful early in the purchase decision.

We reviewed the large archive of blog posts and articles on the Roundtheworldflights.com site, identifying all the existing material that would support our content plan.

We converted this content into an ultra high value travel guide that travellers can download, save to their mobile devices and share with their friends – a perfect companion to the decision making process that goes into researching and booking this sort of trip:

travel content marketing example

 

Reaching the right people

We used a combination of Display, Gmail and Facebook ads to amplify our new content asset to highly targeted audiences, bringing them to a new landing page on the Roundtheworldflights.com site.

We also harnessed longtail SEO traffic to the site’s blog with tactical use of pop-ups that help bring casual “browsing” visitors towards the guide download page.

Each visitor that downloaded the guide was saved onto the email lists and into new remarketing lists that were passed over to the company’s PPC agency to remarket and convert into leads and sales.

Remarketing to warm, pre-qualified audiences is a great way to increase conversion rates and lower the cost-per-acquisition:

case study content marketing travel customer journey

Results

Within weeks of publication we had:

  • Generated 20,000+ visits to the ebook landing page.
  • Converted 2,000 visitors into downloadsa conversion rate of 10%.
  • Added tens of thousands of prospects to remarketing lists for follow-up PPC campaigns.

Conclusion

Travel companies are often sitting on pre-existing content archives that can easily be repurposed into a new asset for powerful but cost-effective content marketing.

When 3rd party agencies are already involved we’re always happy to work together and bring new value to the table, helping improve results across the board.

Have a think about your company – do you have content or expertise we can repurpose into new assets?

adventures less ordinary travel content marketing case study

Case study: Content marketing less ordinary

Adventures Less Ordinary: travel content marketing How a small startup made big waves with remarkable content and strong influencer partnerships.

INSPIRED ESCAPES is a startup adventure travel company doing innovative things in travel philanthropy, volunteering and experiential travel.

It’s a contested space dominated by well-established players and the team knew that to announce their arrival in a crowded scene they needed to produce content that was genuinely worth shouting about.

There were conversations already happening about the problem of voluntourism, the question was how we could tap in, make an impact, and grow audiences and bookings from zero.

But budgets were tight and they needed results fast.

Challenges

  • Create a piece of content that sparks conversations among an audience of ethically minded, millennial travellers; consumers who are among the most digitally active but often the most impervious to branded messages.
  • Amplify and connect the content to our target audiences wherever they’re active online.
  • Convert as many audiences as possible into prospects for follow-up marketing and lead generation.

Seizing the argument

We collected together the leading voices in the ongoing voluntourism debate, totalling some two-dozen professionals, activists and bloggers with unique expertise in responsible travel, many of which were active in the #MendNotEnd discussions on our travel community, Outbounding.org.

From this team of experts and influencers we commissioned an anthology of ultra high value writing on ethical volunteering abroad.

We compiled the content into a slick digital guide, producing a 107-page publication that exuded authority and credibility.

adventures less ordinary travel content marketing case study

Audience building

We published the guide as a downloadable ebook, allowing easy email capture.

We used PR and influencer outreach to earn dozens of reviews, articles and links:

adventures less ordinary travel content marketing case study

Turning audiences into prospects

We used retargeting to recapture audiences who’d visited and downloaded the guide, bringing them back to the site to drive bookings:

adventures less ordinary travel content marketing case study

Results

In addition to the intangible value of being associated with this standard of content and expertise, the project was also a quantifiable success:

  • Earned dozens of write-ups (and inbound links) in the mainstream travel media and blogs.
  • Drove a 31% increase in visits.
  • Increased email subscriptions by 33%
  • Put tens of thousands of new users into audience lists for retargeting ads & lead generation.
  • Assisted 28% of all new conversions.

Conclusion

Like all effective content marketing campaigns, the project’s success was based on two critical factors: Firstly, the creation of an extraordinary piece of content that drove explosive audience growth, and secondly the strategic conversion of audiences into prospects.

This is when “content” becomes content strategy.

 

How about your brand? What stories could we tell together?

optimised twitter card for travel content marketing

Case study: Content marketing on the wild side

birding in manu travel content marketing case studyHow a simple and cheap content project helped a family-owned lodge grow their direct bookings.

Deep in the Peruvian Amazon, about as deep as it’s possible for tourists to go, is a family-owned lodge called TAMBO BLANQUILLO. Over the last 30 years, owner Luis Felipe Raffo has built a business delivering unique experiences in one of the world’s most thrilling travel destinations.

The dedication by Luis, his family and his small staff had earned Tambo Blanquillo the loyalty of their referring travel agents and the appreciation of countless satisfied guests. But as with many small travel firms, they didn’t have enough time to keep up to date with digital marketing, grow their web presence, or generate much direct business.

Luis was keen to boost his direct bookings,

so he turned to I&I for help.

Challenges

  • Tight budgets made it hard to commission much new content from external writers, but we quickly realised that wouldn’t be necessary. No-one knows more about the local area and its wildlife than Tambo’s owners and guides. Rather than create new content, the challenge was to extract the wealth of knowledge locked up inside the business.
  • Tambo’s core audience are keen birdwatchers, photographers and nature enthusiasts who are mid-to-high income with an interest in adventure travel. We needed to connect with this narrow audience to ensure high conversion and booking rates.
  • The project needed to deliver bookings at comparable or lower cost than Tambo’s trade referrals, and generate positive ROI as quickly as possible.

Reaching and inspiring the right audience

We couldn’t afford to spend time or money reaching people who weren’t likely to book with Tambo Blanquillo. We built a clear picture of our ideal audience persona, understanding their demographics, interests and needs as they plan their vacations.

Based on this we developed a content plan that would resonate and inspire our target audience.

We decided to create a field guide to bird watching in the Peruvian Amazon, using the unique knowledge and expertise of Tambo’s staff and guides.

The guide contained everything a prospective traveller would need to know about planning a bird watching trip to the Amazon, including field notes on spotting and identifying different species.

It could be downloaded for free and saved to the traveller’s mobile device for use during their trip.

The end result was an unparalleled, definitive content asset:

Turning audiences into prospects

We used various tools to bring the target audience to our new content.

Facebook ads allowed us to promote the guide to very narrow audience groups:
facebook advertising for content amplification - travel content marketing

When people clicked on our ads and downloaded the travel guide they defined themselves as qualified prospects – they had shown their interest and we knew they were potential bookings.

Converting prospects into leads and bookings

We used remarketing ads to re-capture our prospects when they were ready to book a trip. Google search and display PPC ads are the ideal tools for this job:
search remarketing for content marketing

display retargeting ads for content marketing ROI - I&I Travel Media

Using these tools we were able to target our Google ads to people who’d already downloaded the guide, vastly increasing our conversion and booking rates.

Results

The project was an enormous success:

    • Increased unique visitors by 160%.
    • Earned new links & referrals from top authority sites.
    • Decreased bounce rates by 55%.
    • Increased email subscriptions by 661%.
    • Increased leads by 290%.
    • Return on Investment (ROI) of 425%

Conclusion

With projects like this the content itself doesn’t drive the bookings. It is used as a magnet to build audiences, impress potential customers and capture their email addresses.

Then we use other channels to re-capture them when they’re ready to book a trip, bringing them back to the site and securing the booking.

The ROI achieved is testimony to the power of content marketing when done right.

Now, months after publication, the content and supporting channels continue to deliver qualified traffic, leads and direct bookings at a volume unprecedented in the company’s history.

No one said content marketing is easy. But here is evidence, once and for all, that it can be done for travel companies of almost any size.

Now have a think about your own brand. What stories could we tell together?