If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many is a video worth?

One minute of video is worth 1.8 million words, according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research.

Whether you want travelers to explore the great outdoors, shop ‘til they drop, wine, and dine, or experience your destination beyond the conference room, video is a great way to showcase all you have to offer. Visible Measures reported that brands using YouTube/TrueView see views of previously existing content increasing by up to 500% after posting new videos—promoting one awesome video could mean even more views or clicks on your other videos.

Let’s be real—video is fast becoming one of the best ways to make an impact on target audiences:

  • Hundreds of millions of hours of video are watched each day—YouTube
  • Video will account for 80% of global internet traffic and 85% of US traffic by 2019—Cisco
  • 73% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching videos that explain a product or service—Animoto

Storytelling through a video series: Soul of PHX

Our long-time partner, Visit Phoenix, wanted a new way to digitally promote their visitors guide in 2016. The concept was to take readers behind the scenes of Scott Baxter’s cover photo shoot and get an insider’s look at the creativity that goes into the guide. The video sparked a new idea for Visit Phoenix—what if we tell more stories about interesting local professionals and their views about the Soul of Phoenix? Soon, the video series was produced and distributed, sharing the stories of residents that were inspired to “put down roots, pursue their passions or start a business”.

Check out the series here: https://www.visitphoenix.com/learn-plan/soul-of-phx-video-series/

How will you use the power of video to tell your story?

Content that highlights your destination is a powerful marketing tool. When you’ve got a visually stunning video and a team that can ensure your message reaches your target audience, you’re ready to encourage wanderlust.

User Generated Content

As travelers plan their next trip, they scour the Internet, read articles and reviews, and check every social media platform for inspiration. What’s more inspirational than making an authentic connection with a destination through images and videos that show what it’s really like to visit? User Generated Content (UGC) showcases your brand through content from actual visitors—people who have enjoyed and captured what it’s like to immerse themselves in the experience of your destination—and shares that content with prospective visitors.

UGC is the new word-of-mouth advertising

Think back to a time before the Internet, when the cool pictures and stories people shared about their recent adventures made you want to book your next trip. The channels in which we now receive this word-of-mouth advertising have changed immensely.

Thanks to social media, a person’s circle of trusted resources has expanded from immediately available friends and family to hundreds, maybe even thousands of people on the Internet. People tend to want to share their experiences, and the influential power of seeing someone you know and trust post stories, videos, and images is exponential. How can marketers take advantage of this and create new connections? A diversified marketing plan with branded content and the added clout of UGC complementing each other strengthens the promotion of your destination.

People tend to want to share their experiences, and the influential power of seeing someone you know and trust post stories, videos and images is exponential.

Incorporating UGC into your materials

If you’ve already started using UGC in your campaigns, you may have struggled with the amount of time it takes to curate photos and videos that fit your brand. For DMOs that have tight budgets and lean teams with limited time to spare, it can be challenging to make the UGC dream a reality. Madden’s partnership with CrowdRiff brings you the opportunity to work with two teams who know the best ways to implement your visitors’ photos and videos on your website and promotion materials.

The CrowdRiff platform works differently from others because it seamlessly gathers and organizes images without limitations. The core platform was built with DMOs in mind, using the insight gathered from an analysis of what DMOs need and want—a flexible, easy-to-use, and quick system that doesn’t burn up your valuable time. The artificial intelligence of the platform uses quality filters to curate better images with higher quality.

Weaving these high quality images from your visitors into your digital strategy will help you create a better connection with potential new visitors. This authentic representation of your destination helps you tell your story in a way that engages your target audiences and inspires them to take a closer look at all you have to offer. From printed guides to online content, there are no limits on where and how you can incorporate genuine content created by real visitors into your brand message.

Great content needs smart distribution

Content without distribution is like a car without gasoline.

You want to inspire travelers with your content, but they have to find it first. That’s where smart and intentional distribution strategies come in. Last week we discussed the different types of content best utilized at each stage of the traveler journey. Promoting your content with various distribution channels at each stage of the journey is equally important—here are our suggestions for creating your strategy:

Native Advertising

Imagine reading an article on one of your favorite sites. As you scroll down the page, you may see related or recommended articles on a side bar or at the bottom of the story, enticing you to click and keep reading. That’s how native ads draw readers in.

When you’re relaxed and not in a hurry, you’re more likely to opt-in to related content.

We love native ads because they catch readers when they’re likely to be in “leisure reading mode” and more open to exploring. When you’re relaxed and not in a hurry, you’re more likely to opt-in to related content. Most native ads are unobtrusive and flow with the page layout—typically they don’t look like an advertisement, just another piece of content to consume.

Our Recommendation: Utilize native ads for your experiential stories to maximize inspiration.

Social Media Marketing

We’ve talked about using social media to your advantage multiple times, but that’s because it’s so versatile! Whether you’re sparking that initial interest in your destination or ready to spur conversion, Facebook has your back.

Remember that not all content has to be words—imagery and video are engaging and can draw audiences in on multiple platforms. Have a fun behind-the-scenes video? Have a quick countdown of the best photo ops nearby? Think about the video length and what you hope to achieve before choosing YouTube, Facebook, or in-stream video.

Our Recommendations:

Get travelers dreaming with a stunning Instagram gallery.

Encourage planning with a fun Facebook Canvas Ad.

Influencers

When someone you like tells you about a trip they took and posts really cool photos you’re more likely to pay attention, right? Whether you want an influencer to write and promote a blog post about their experience in your destination or simply make their audience aware of your destination through their social media outlets, there are advantages to partnering with influencers beyond the content itself.

Followers trust their favorite influencers—an ad probably wouldn’t be as meaningful to those audiences when compared to an endorsement from someone they admire.

Influencers show off your content in a way that doesn’t come off as “sales-y”, meaning partnering with them gives you the opportunity to create a genuine connection with audiences. Followers trust their favorite influencers—an ad probably wouldn’t be as meaningful to those audiences when compared to an endorsement from someone they admire.

Our Recommendation: Encourage your influencer to share their itinerary to get their followers imagining their own trips.

The Right Fit

Content and distribution go hand in hand. It’s important to pair the right content with the right distribution channel to make the biggest impact on your target audience.

Have you got what it takes to be a Content Master?

Every destination has a story and no doubt, you want to tell yours. The last thing you want your visitors doing is wading through a sea of content, searching for the stories that best resonate with them. You want to entice, inspire, and exhilarate travelers at just the right time with the right type of content. Fear not, we’ve got your back. Let’s walk through the traveler journey together, as we conduct a symphony of storytelling.

Stage 1: Inspiration

Experiential stories plant the seed of inspiration in travelers’ minds. Whether or not someone has seriously considered a trip to your destination before or even visited in the past, sparking interest is the first step in the traveler journey. We like to capitalize on the power of your Visitor Guide and expand its content online with more stories and videos to develop brand voice and introduce your destination as a great place to stay and play.

Bonus Stage: Connect with audiences through images and perspectives from influencers who add authenticity to elements of your campaign.

Stage 2: Researching

Learning about what a destination has to offer follows the initial inspiration. Your Visitor Guide’s feature stories can be brought to life online. Repurposing editorial and maps and adding complementary video and interactive elements to the content allows travelers to dive deeper into all your destination has to offer.

Stage 3: Dreaming

At this stage the intent to travel grows and you can nurture that feeling with immersive content. User-Generated Content filling your gallery board, delivering in-depth videos, and interactive elements allow for more engagement. Brand intrigue increases at this stage enticing travelers to be a part of the experiences they are seeing on screen.

Stage 4: Imagining

At this point, travelers may know cool things about your destination, but now they need to imagine what they would do if they were actually there. Itinerary-focused content creates opportunities to envision their trip and helps travelers develop specific trip outlines. Personalization and atmosphere are key elements with each piece of content at this stage. Don’t be afraid to get personal!

Stage 5: Planning

Say it with us—listicles! Also known as list-format articles, listicles count down items such as the top things-to-do and see in a short, easily digestible presentation. Deciding to take action is when planning starts and this stage is all about conversion. The fun design of each planning piece of content, whether it’s video, infographic, Facebook Canvas Ad, or influencer photo gallery, draws travelers in and gets them ready to choose the locations to experience during their visit.

Creating buzz for your brand with influencers

The Power of Influencers continues to grow—so how will you utilize that power in your digital marketing campaign?

Showcase your destination

What makes your destination unique? Maybe you have quirky shops and cafés, the coolest craft breweries around, farm-to-table dining, or scenic hiking trails. Those special things that make your destination stand out from the rest will entice travelers to visit. Consumers trust influencers to share their authentic experiences, so what better way is there to show off your destination’s hidden gems than by partnering with them to tell your story?

Connect with your target audience

Just like you’re building your brand, influencers are hard at work building theirs. If you want to reach couples looking for a romantic getaway, foodies looking for a culinary adventure, or millennials looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience you should partner with an influencer who embodies a similar lifestyle. Influencers are everyday people who create a relatable rapport with their followers. Bridging a relationship with your ideal audience is easier with the help of an influencer—in fact, 92%of consumers turn to influencers for recommendations over celebrity endorsements or advertisements, according to MuseFind.

Keep visitors coming back

Consider inviting an influencer to check out a new ride at a theme park, an anticipated museum exhibit, or a recently renovated attraction. The experience the influencer shares with their audience—whether followers have been to your destination before or not—will inspire travelers and give them another reason to visit. Talking about the latest and greatest offerings can spark interest in learning more about what makes your destination the perfect setting for the Best. Vacation. Ever.

How do we persuade people to travel?

Why do we travel? We want to explore the path less taken, to discover ourselves, to say goodbye to the mundane and reconnect with the ones we love. It’s all about embracing those curl-up with a good book and lay out on the beach, welcoming those grab-life-by-the-horns moments, relaxing like every day is the weekend, and making new memories. The dreamer and the adventure-seeker, the weekenders and the planners—they all come together for one core reason: to feel something.

Our clients are proud of their destinations and rely on our content’s ability to create an emotional connection with readers. Amplified Storytelling uses story arcs and narrative transportation to draw readers in and get them imagining themselves in the characters’ shoes. Sometimes a story sticks out in our mind as extra awesome and strikes the perfect chord with the destination—that’s what happened with “The Crown Jewel of Columbia County.”

“I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Ichetucknee Springs story! I’ve had so many people say, ‘It’s like I’m there in the story with them!’” Paula Vann, Columbia County TDC

How do we take an idea and turn it into a successful Amplified Storytelling campaign?

It all starts with research and communication. The Madden and Columbia County teams discussed story concepts that would achieve their goals. Every story concept is based on an in-depth software analysis of keywords—“Ichetucknee Springs” proved to be a fun topic that would ensure the content had high SEO value based on search demand. Columbia County Tourism Development Council’s main goal was to have authentic content, meaning people reading the story and then traveling to the destination would feel the continuity between content and personal experiences. This was accomplished by hiring a writer native to Florida to go to the destination and include all the details of his excursion. Imagery was an important element while creating the story—it’s easier to imagine yourself in a place when you can see the wildlife enjoying the warm sun, the calm turquoise water, and many green shades of the foliage.

Once the story and its visually enticing Presentation Layer were created and perfected, our teams went to work amplifying. We distributed the content through ads on Facebook and other lifestyle, news, and social media sites. Advanced targeting parameters and continuous optimization helped people discover the story. We’re not talking random clicks to site with readers moving on quickly—our stories typically engage readers so they more than double the time spent on page when compared to the site average, and this was no exception. Columbia County TDC saw over 93% new visitors to their site, meaning over 6,900 new people connected with the destination’s story. Readers spent an average of five minutes on the page. When was the last time you spent that much time on a single page of a website? The emotional connection created between the reader and the story increases the intent to travel, and that’s why inspirational Amplified Storytelling is unique among other types of content.

The Power of Influencers

The power of popularity has long been utilized to influence groups and individuals, alike. People crave real connections and authentic content to help drive their decision-making, and travelers are no different. Check out our infographic about the growing power of influencers.

The Measurable Success of Amplified Storytelling

You’ve launched a strategy to make an emotional connection with potential visitors through Amplified Storytelling, the ultimate content campaign…how do you know it’s working? Let’s talk about what kind of metrics you want to focus on now that you’ve chosen an awesome marketing decision.

You’ve probably got a really cool website, with tons of beautiful pictures, catchy headlines, and now, inspirational and engaging stories. Good on you, smart marketer! So how do your stories make things even better? Amplified Storytelling, marketed through native ads, reaches new audiences, bringing in potential visitors from the top of the funnel. On average, a campaign will deliver 90% new visitors.  Yes, you read that right, 90% of the site visitors will be new to your brand, exploring and engaging with all that imagery, information, and of course, your stories.

The more time they spend, the deeper the connection grows

Your carefully crafted site content captivates your new audience, making them feel immersed, thus increasing time spent on the page. The more time they spend, the deeper the connection grows, and the further they dive down the conversion funnel.  Plus, not only are users finding your story on their favorite site and choosing to click on it, Amplified Storytelling with its rich and deep text also reaches users organically through search engines and generates greater SEO value for your website as a whole.

Did we mention there’s an upgrade for all of this? Here’s how we make your story even cooler: a Presentation Layer. This option is ideal if you want to add captivating visual elements to your stories. They not only make your content more appealing with rich experiences optimized for desktop and mobile devices, but also invite the reader to engage with interactive photos, videos, and links. See what we mean here. On average, Presentation Layers double time on site, when compared to site averages.

Telling a story

Content is everywhere in marketing—in ads, on websites, encouraging you to “click here” or offering lists of the “Top 10 things”. But what if there was content that went beyond the traditional content that most CVBs have on their website? Well, there is, and we’ve been perfecting it for the past five years.

It’s all in a name—Amplified Storytelling

So what makes our content different?

“Amplified” refers to the way in which we distribute the content through our premier audience development network. Our team of digital marketing experts customize targeting and constantly analyze the campaigns, carefully crafting your distribution so we reach readers interested in traveling. We optimize these placements daily so that the right people are seeing your content at the right time.

Beyond complementing your brand, storytelling creates an emotional connection with the reader.

“Storytelling” refers to our unique approach to content. We use a combination of words, graphics, and video to promote your brand story. It really allows you to take the reins and control what message your readers are getting. Beyond complementing your brand, storytelling creates an emotional connection with the reader. You could say “My destination has a cool taco shop. Try it out,” but really it’s so much more engaging and inspiring to show photos of someone eating those tacos, and to step into their shoes as they experience those first bites.

If readers aren’t salivating and mentally bookmarking your destination as somewhere they’d like to travel, we haven’t done our job. We sponsored a recent study by University of Florida that found that an emotional impact translates into inspiration, which then makes that person more likely to travel to your destination. Basically, hit them with the feels, and you will be one step closer to a conversion.

The gift that keeps on giving

One of the best things about Amplified Storytelling is the many ways it can impact your marketing campaign. By creating an emotional connection with your readers, you’ll create a positive image of your brand. As they continue to interact with your brand it will only reinforce their positive feelings about your destination.

By creating an emotional connection with your readers, you’ll create a positive image of your brand.

You’ll also see an increase in organic traffic from your stories. The analytics-driven content plan considers search demand, content opportunity, and uses keywords that can help boost ranking. Your stories are indexed by search engines, which helps increase your search presence and ability to be found.

If you could have content that is based on analysis, reinforces your brand, and creates an emotional connection with readers that helps move them toward planning their next vacation, why would you settle for anything less?

3 Actionable Insights for Your SEO strategy

Simply stated, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the key to bringing organic traffic to your website via search engines. Expert SEO audit and analysis help us gain insight into the best ways to boost your website ranking on search engines. The majority of the Traveler’s Journey takes place online, just like most customer experience. You want people to find your website, and a solid SEO strategy is the way to make that happen. Here’s how:

Step 1: SEO Audit & Analysis

A Madden SEO Analysis gives you a comprehensive look at how your site is ranking for different keywords and phrases. We compare your site to competitors and determine opportunities for improvement. When auditing your SEO, we focus on these types of errors:

  • Critical crawler issues
  • Landing page speed, including mobile speed
  • Missing or invalid H1 tags
  • Pages with duplicate content
  • Title tag issues
  • Content issues
  • Missing or short meta descriptions
  • Broken links or missing pages
  • Keyword ranking position changes

Search engines calculate how relevant your content is when compared to millions of other pages available. There are many things considered by the search engine algorithm in less than a second before it delivers results. Location, site traffic, keyword density, and authority all factor into where a site ranks on the search results page. SEO is greatly affected by broken links and 404 errors. If a search engine’s crawler spends too much time looking for content on your site, it negatively impacts your ranking.

Knowing what’s working well and where you can improve helps you focus your efforts. The key is to have realistic expectations. Unless a traveler searches for your exact brand name, odds are that your website will probably not rank #1. For example, if your site ranks 47 out of 100 or shows up on page 10 of the search results, it may be unrealistic to get to that first page without the help of paid search. Working on your “striking distance” keywords where you can move from #10 up to #6 is a reasonable goal. Focusing on moving from page two to get onto the first page is the best way to spend your time and resources.

Step 2: Make a Plan and Take Action

So you know which keywords have the biggest opportunity to improve your site’s rank on a search engine—now what? The page name is the first thing you check. As awesome as the algorithms are, they simply cannot compete with a human brain when it comes to syntax. For example, if your “Things to Do” page is called “Play”, your site may not rank as high. Using the keyword or phrase naturally throughout the copy of the page also comes into play. Evenly spread out the keyword throughout the content without sounding repetitive.

Increasing traffic is another way to make your site more appealing. Tripadvisor’s page for your destination will probably rank #1 because their overall site gets over 456 million visitors per month. High volumes of people coming to your site makes search engines want to send more people to your site. This is why Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization go hand in hand.

Another opportunity to consider is having your site linked on influencer or authoritative sites, and to use your site influence to help your partners. The algorithms notice these back links referring to your site and see that as a sign of a reputable resource.

As voice searches grow in popularity, including content that answers a specific question can boost your search ranking. For example, as we reorganized and updated content for DiscoverAtlanta.com, we answered questions consumers were asking. Atlanta CVB’s new site has four featured snippets, which are used by smart speakers to answer voice queries. Asking Alexa, Siri, or Google about affordable activities or fun things to do outdoors in Atlanta delivers insights directly from the CVB website.

Step 3: Never Stop Improving

Nurturing your SEO and continuously enhancing your website content is a must. Organic traffic doesn’t change overnight—improving your rank is a marathon, not a sprint. Keeping your website up to date and adding current information, new images, videos, and more will contribute to boosting your credibility. Search engine algorithms prefer to recommend sites that load quickly on any device, making site speed crucial to strong SEO.

Looking for more ways to raise the bar? Adding new content to your site in tandem with strong distribution tactics is important, but not just any content will do. Blog posts on your site are helpful, but their timestamp makes them irrelevant to search engines within a couple years. Using a competitive content strategy for your website, such as Amplified Storytelling, allows you to incorporate the search terms travelers are looking for and inspire audiences. Our team of experts recommend adding this type of evergreen content to your website throughout the year to keep travelers coming back to your site.

Embrace SEO

Figuring out where you stand compared to the competition, creating a solid strategy, making smart changes over time and creating relevant content will help your site rank better and appear higher in search engine results. Want more insight on how to step up your website SEO? Contact us and start a conversation with our team of experts.