During your time as a manager of an outdoor tour business, you’ve likely noticed huge changes in marketing. From radio ads and billboards to Google Tags Manager and Social Media Ads- the world of marketing has changed drastically and you’re constantly trying to keep up.
And it’s not going to stop changing. So, you need to find the right resource to keep you in the know.
What are your options for marketing your outdoor tour business?
Let’s take a look:
1. Pay Per Click Ads
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is an option to pay to display an advertisement based on keywords searched on Google. You pay for the advertisement only based on the clicks your ad gets. You set up PPC ads through Google Ads. PPC is an attractive option to marketers as it can put you on the fast-track to appearing in google searches, whereas an organic SEO strategy takes time and can be hard to get on the first page if it is a competitive keyword or phrase.
You may want to include PPC as part of your online strategy. But we do recommend to start with your SEO first (number 5 on this list); you want to have organic search operating smoothly before you throw money at the problem!
2. Social Media
In the travel market, the competition is steep. And your competitors are not just other outfitters; you must stay top of mind as your future guests contemplate amusement parks, cruises, beaches, and of course, outdoor adventures. Luckily, your future guests are spending their time on social media- a lot of time. According to a survey by Global Work Index, adults spend over 2 hours on social media every day.
Clearly, you cannot ignore social media in your marketing strategy. But it’s not always as straightforward as you might hope. Like Google, the social media game is constantly changing.
Let’s look at some of our favorite articles from past conference speakers to get some ideas for your 2019 social media strategy:
- Advances Facebook Marketing - With multiple outfitters claiming the most experienced guides, the best equipment, and operating in the same space, how can you truly set yourself apart? It's all about the Marketing. See these 5 Tips for Facebook Marketing in 2019.
- 2019 Social Media Secrets - Get your audience to stop the scrolling and engage with your brand. 7 ways to blend the superpowers of public relations, social media and search engine optimization to beat the odds of getting lost in the news feed.
3. Email Marketing
From the moment your future customers learn about your business, you need to be there to nurture them through the process of self-education until they reach the finish line (booking their trip). So, how do you do that?
One option you must consider is email marketing. Now, you may be thinking that email is ineffective these days. It’s true that our inboxes are constantly inundated with offers and options, but when done right email marketing can allow you to be in control of the touch points your customer needs to make an informed decision.
Don’t get me wrong- there are certainly important tactics to employ to make sure you get this right. Here a few quick tips:
- Don’t ask too much too soon- make sure you are giving at least as much as you’re asking. And what can you give at the earlier stages? If a prospective customer contacted you but did not decide to purchase, it means there are questions currently left unanswered. Imagine what those questions may be (you can tap into your front-line customer service folks to learn the most common questions they get to know this). You should have content on your website that addresses these; your emails should offer up this content so they can peruse at their convenience. For more content ideas, skip to strategy #6.
- Be brief- With email marketing & lead nurturing, less is more. You want your prospective customers to find the call to action quickly.
- Get Personal- Your outdoor business has a unique perspective. Use that voice when you write these emails. Use merge tags when you can so your customer can see that you care.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. From choosing your email service provider to writing the copy for lead nurturing emails, there are a lot of decisions to make. But we are here for you.
Check out this webinar we did for America Outdoors members on email marketing for outdoor travel companies.
4. Referral Business-
Your future customers are using more resources to plan their trip than ever before. In the age of information, you must make sure you show up in each space. So, you’ve dedicated time and money to social media, paid search, optimizing your website and are even doing content marketing. But what about referral agencies? According to Expedia Group Media Solutions, 44% of travelers consult online travel agencies and 24% consult traditional travel agents (likely in conjunction with all avenues).
In case you’re not familiar, an OTA (Online Travel Agency) is a website dedicated to the sale of travel products and services directly to the consumer. Think Trip Advisor, Airbnb, Expedia, Viator, etc. As an outdoor tour operator, you need to decide if you are going to use this resource to drive traffic to your business.
Learn more from 2018 conference speaker, Lucas Cobb. Download his 2018 America Outdoors Conference Presentation here.
5. Search Engine Optimization
SEO is how you arrange your website and content with the goal of making your site more visible in search engines, like Google. If you’ve ever wondering why your competitor ranks higher than you in a search for “zip lining in Arizona” (insert your own activity and location here) it’s because they have optimized their site to perform better than yours.
Luckily, there are tactics you can employ to improve your ranking without spending a dime! As a tour operator it is very important to prioritize SEO in your online marketing plan.
6. Content Marketing
Your outdoor adventure business has a unique perspective and much to teach your past and prospective customers. You have a huge cache of resources that your guest wants or needs to see before they can make their decision to book a trip. Content marketing has huge benefits for your business. It can help you build relationships without even having a conversation because they get to know you and the culture of your business. It can creatively address your guests’ fears and help them choose the right trip for their needs. And it can help with #5, SEO rank.
So where should you start? Here are some ideas:
- Checklists- Think “what to bring on a multi-day backpacking trip” or “what to wear ice climbing”. This is easy content to write since you are the expert! And while you probably already send this to your guests when they book a trip, getting it on your website now will help quell some worries they have BEFORE they book.
- Guest video testimonials- Your past guests are your best advocates for your future customers! Use them! While they are still on site, take a moment to record them telling a story about their trip, then put that up on your website for all to see. According to RenderForest, including video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80%.
- Guide Interviews and Profiles- Have you looked at your TripAdvisor page recently? If so, you will notice your guides’ names in almost every review you have. Your guides are quite possibly your best asset. And your guests are obsessed with them! They love to hear the tales about their unique lifestyles. Let them get to know their fun personalities before they take a trip! Take 30 minutes to interview your best guides during the summer and distribute the content on to your website throughout the year.
Wish you could be kept in the know about all this and more? Let America Outdoors help. Our members are privy to ongoing business support, including timely articles, webinars and documents related to outdoor travel marketing, risk management, leadership, and business management.
Join the association today to stay in the know!
We look forward to welcoming you to the community!