By: Jessica McWhirt, Origin
Digital marketing has become an essential aspect of tour guide business promotion in today's digital era—and it’s not cheap. From social media management to search engine optimization, there are a ton of tasks that tour operators need to perform to drive website traffic, engage customers, and increase bookings.
However, the cost of digital marketing tools can add up quickly, especially for small guiding businesses or individuals on a tight budget (or no budget at all).
Fortunately, there are several free tools and apps that can help you run your digital marketing campaigns without spending all of your money. In this article, we will explore the top free tools to use for digital marketing.
Use Google Analytics 4 For Website Analysis
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a free, powerful web analytics tool that provides valuable insights into your website’s performance.
With GA4, you can track your website traffic (e.g. how many people visit your site), analyze user behavior (e.g. how quickly they leave your site), measure conversions (e.g. how many people reserve an adventure with you), and a slew of other things.
The tool offers in-depth reporting, including audience demographics (e.g. gender, interests, country of origin), traffic sources (e.g. direct, paid search, referral, organic search, etc.), and user engagement (e.g. page view, scroll, bounce rate, etc.).
This data can help you make informed decisions about your digital marketing strategies and optimize your website for better results. If you’re using online booking software, like Origin, make sure it integrates with GA4.
Use Google Keyword Planner For SEO
Keyword research is a critical component of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content marketing. It’s how travelers find your business (or your competitor’s). You want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to show up in Google’s search results when travelers are looking for the adventures you offer.
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool by Google that helps you to find relevant keywords and search volume data. You can use it to find keywords that are popular with your target audience, discover new keyword ideas, and analyze keyword competition. This information can help you optimize your website content, create targeted search ad campaigns, and improve your search engine rankings
You’ll need a Google Ads account before you can use the Google Keyword Planner, but that’s free to create. It lets you enter search words or phrases or even your website to generate more keywords. From there, you can write blog posts and content using those keywords or run a paid search campaign using those keywords.
Use Yoast SEO For Content Writing
To help with your keyword planning is Yoast SEO—a plugin for WordPress that helps you optimize your website for search engines. It gives you a checklist of tasks to improve your website's SEO (e.g. adding meta descriptions, optimizing your content for keywords, and creating XML sitemaps).
Yoast SEO also analyzes your content for readability and provides suggestions for improvement. The free version of Yoast SEO offers basic features, while the paid version offers more advanced options and support. If you’re using WordPress for your site and/or blogs, this is a key tool to use to make sure you’re showing up in search results. It’s also important to make sure you’re writing copy and content outside of iFrames as they negatively impact your SEO.
Use Google Business Profile To Show Up In Local Search Results
Having a local guiding business, Google Business Profile, previously known as Google My Business, is a must-have free tool. lt helps you improve your online visibility and attract more local customers, for free.
You can easily create and manage your business listing on Google, which appears in Google Maps and local search results.
You want to make sure you add important information such as your business name, address, phone number, and hours of operation. Google My Business also lets you add attributes to show your guiding business identifies as Black-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and is LGBTQIA friendly so people can learn more about your business.
You should also upload photos, respond to customer reviews, and post updates about your business. A more complete profile makes your guiding business look legitimate and trustworthy.
Use Google Trends To Market Better
Understanding the latest trends and consumer interests is crucial for tour operators as it’ll heavily impact your business development and digital marketing strategies. And Google Trends is a free tool that can help you stay on top of the most popular stories and terms across Google Search, Google News, and YouTube.
Google Trends lets you track the popularity of search terms in real time, over a stretch of time, and across different geographic locations. You can use it to identify trending topics (e.g. white water rafting in the spring), explore related queries, and compare the search volume of different keywords.
This information can help you when you’re posting to social media, writing blog posts, or emailing your guests about your latest promotions. Knowing what your clients are interested in right now will help you tremendously in your marketing efforts.
Use MailChimp For Email Marketing
Email marketing is a cost-effective way to engage with your customers and promote your tours. Mailchimp is one of the popular [kind of] free email marketing tools that help you create, manage, and send professional-looking emails.
You can design custom email templates (i.e. add your colors and vibe), group your audience (e.g. group by tour taken), automate email campaigns based on your client’s behavior (e.g. showed interest in a guided tour, but hasn’t booked yet), and track your email’s performance (e.g. open rate, clicks, unsubscribes, etc).
Mailchimp provides detailed analytics to help you measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns and make data-driven decisions. For example, you can test different subject lines to see what gets the most opens.
The free version of Mailchimp allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 subscribers. If you need more features or a larger subscriber list, you can upgrade to a paid plan. We recommend using a booking software that can automatically sync your guests’ contact information to your MailChimp account.
Use Canva To Make Graphics And Visuals
Visual content is an essential part of digital marketing, and Canva is a free tool that makes it easy to create stunning graphics and visuals.
Canva offers a wide range of templates for social media posts, infographics, presentations, flyers, and a host of other things. You can customize these templates with your own text, images, and branding, or create designs from scratch.
What’s great about Canva is that you don’t need to be a professional graphic designer to use it or to create eye-catching graphics. It does a lot of the work for you, which is especially important as a tour operator with little extra time in your day to make appealing visuals.
Canva also provides a library of free stock images and icons to enhance your visuals and create professional-looking graphics without any design skills. They also offer a paid version that gives you a lot more options to create further.
Use Buffer To Schedule Social Media Posts
In today's fast-paced digital world, social media has become a crucial tool for guiding businesses to connect with their audiences, build brand awareness, and drive engagement. However, managing multiple social media accounts and posting consistently can be time-consuming and overwhelming.
Buffer helps you schedule and automate your social media posts across different platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more. Instead of manually posting content on each social media platform individually, you can create and schedule posts in advance using Buffer.
Buffer also shows in-depth analytics and insights to help you measure the performance of your social media posts. You can track key metrics like reach, engagement, and clicks to see what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t.
Digital marketing is especially important for outfitter and guide companies since most travelers are researching their trips online before they book an adventure. Using Google Analytics to analyze your website data will help you learn what’s working and what’s not. Using Google’s Keyword Planner, Yoast SEO, and Google My Business will help you show up higher in search results and for relevant keywords.
Using Google Trends will help you stay on top of what’s trending and you can use Canva and Buffer to create and post social media posts for those trends. Finally, using MailChimp for email marketing will help you stay top of mind for your clients and prospects when they want to book a trip.
About the Author
Jessica is Head of Marketing and Content for Origin, innovative online booking software designed specifically to help tour guides and outfitters keep trip reservations and staff availability up-to-date, prevent overbookings, and assign guides to booked trips. Interested in learning more? Schedule a call with us or visit our website: www.exploreorigin.com