WooHoo! Your first post-COVID tour has rolled! (Or it’s nearly ready to roll.) Now comes the fun of keeping all the balls in the air: creating new tours and marketing them simultaneously. As the world opens again, keeping your marketing funnel full goes hand-in-hand with getting butts in seats and heads in beds!
However, if you’re looking to effectively market in this new era, some things have changed since pre-pandemic days. What worked in 2019 might not work as well to attract consumers now.
- filling your funnel,
- marketing your newest tour,
- looking to attract potential clients to a consumer night,
- or hosting a virtual information session,
Here are the social marketing essentials savvy marketers are using to be successful.
Filling your funnel
Do you find that your email list has shrunk a bit over the last two years? If you’re like many tourism marketers, you may find that your bounce rate has skyrocketed while the open rates and click-through rates have plummeted. If this is the case, it’s time to ramp up your email collection and gather more potential clients into your funnel.
Growing your marketing funnel is essential so that you have a continual influx of new prospective clients moving through the buying stages with you. Here’s an overview of sales and marketing conversion funnels.
The quickest way to draw people into your funnel is to give something away. That’s right: Give away a freebie, known as a lead magnet, that your perfect client just has to have! Think of it as the proverbial carrot that earns you an email address. A downloadable piece of content, your lead magnet, is given for free in exchange for an email address.
For example, this downloadable nugget can be a checklist or guide that’s easy to digest and quick to produce. We have all seen travel-packing guides and checklists. That topic is so 2010! We can do better than that. Here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
Creating your lead magnet can be as simple as putting together a PDF, a video, a podcast, or even an infographic. This lead magnet will continually add people to your funnel and your email list. It’s key to a successful marketing strategy.
Tour and event marketing checklist
Leaving nothing to chance will boost your tour and event marketing success. Even if past events and tours filled up quickly, this is a new era, and things have changed. Understanding your existing and potential clients is also key.
1. Start by surveying your intended audience to better understand which social sites they hang out on. Make that top social site the starting point for your marketing efforts. Chances are that Facebook will be at the top of the list.
Tip: Study your social and Google analytics so that you have a clearer snapshot of your existing audiences. This will help you pinpoint the social sites to focus on.
2. Create marketing images and animated videos that suit your corporate image, brand, and style and appeal to your intended audience. Here are some tools to use to create these powerhouse graphics.
Tip: Keeping in mind your own unique look, maybe this is the time to adjust your brand image for the post-pandemic era. Perhaps your niche has adopted a focus on sustainable tourism. If so, adding some green into your brand images, logo, and video will help to visually showcase this change.
3. In advance of your event or tour, create a Facebook Event on your business page.
a. Maximize your exposure by including an event cover image: 1200 × 628 pixels, about a 2:1 ratio.
b. Use the event page to invite your Facebook friends.
c. Promote the event by sharing it to your page and relevant groups.
d. Draw people to your event page through your blog and e-blasts.
These tactics will help strengthen relationships with your existing fans and position you as a tourism leader within relevant Facebook groups. Re-engaging past clients through your e-blasts and blog posts will help to build buzz in a cohesive style.
4. Develop a hashtag and use it consistently on all social posts. Research hashtags on Instagram so that your new one is unique and easy to type.
Tip: Take this up a notch to reach a broader audience and mention it in a video or livestream and invite people to use your hashtag.
5. Create a series of social posts for your upcoming event.
a. Start with a series of teaser posts to create buzz for your event. Run these posts for one to two weeks prior to the rollout of your regular event marketing posts. These teaser posts can take the form of short videos or titillating graphics.
b. Create event marketing social posts with a clear call to action. Try several calls to action so that you can test which ones work best.
c. Direct readers to your event page on Facebook for more details. Remember, each event page comes with a unique URL.
d. Include a link to a sign-up form to capture names and other relevant contact information. Use a simple but effective tool like JotForm to create your sign-up form. The best bet is to keep your form simple so that people aren’t put off by providing their contact info. Research shows that asking for a first name and email is sufficient. Plus, this is the basic info you’ll need to add them to your email list. NOTE: Skipping this step leaves you only with minimal contact info provided through the event page. #Fail.
6. Build buzz by creating posts that give people an insider look at your tour or event. This type of post gives potential clients a sense of being a part of your process.
a. Design graphics that give a glimpse of your tour or event surprises.
b. Begin sharing these behind-the-scenes images as part of your teaser posts and continue throughout your marketing campaign.
c. Create video that goes behind the scenes of your event-planning process. Check out the tools I use when shooting video.
d. Tap into the reach and engagement of video without going on-camera. Check out these tools in this video you can use from the director’s chair.
7. Post on all social sites that potential clients use and have indicated in the survey.
a. Consider LinkedIn if you’re planning to attract a demographic that’s currently in the workforce.
b. Don’t forget to spend a few dollars and advertise socially. Here are two ad strategies that are often missed and can take your social ads from so-so to sensational.
Working hard to create your plan makes working it so much easier, and by using this checklist, you have the heavy lifting done for you.
Now go out and have a successful tour or event. You’ve earned it!
Catherine Heeg, president of NTA associate member Customized Management Solutions, focuses on social media marketing strategies for the tourism and hospitality industry. Connect with her at cmsspeaking.com and socially.
Top photo: ©venimo/Adobe Stock