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.

Missed Connection?

Get ‘em to give you another chance with remarketing!

Site visitors don’t always stay and play as long as we’d like or complete the action we want them to complete—how do you re-engage and extend the interaction? That’s where remarketing ads come in.

Track ‘em down

Display ads are utilized as a mid-funnel marketing strategy to reinforce brand identity, helping you encourage potential consumers to take steps toward conversion. With the ability to be geo-, demo-, contextually, or behaviorally targeted to your key audiences, smart marketers implement specific creative messaging to direct clicks to the corresponding page of interest on their site. But once you get them to click, how do you further encourage interaction, even if they clicked out of your page?

Bring ‘em back

By placing a remarketing tag on your website, you can remarket consumers who have been to your site but did not complete a specific action such as requesting information or contacting you. Using sophisticated targeting parameters, remarketing ads are served to these “window shoppers,” bringing them back to your site where they can complete a conversion activity. The coolest part is you can analyze your audience and target them based on their interest and interaction with your website. Talk about tailored messaging!

Appeal to ‘em

Segmenting your audience to create ads based on their interests seems like a no-brainer, but how do you break it down?

  1. Homepage visitors: focus on top-level imagery and branding to create awareness, eventually driving them to your optimized landing page.
  2. Specific page visitors: use creative specific to their interests on your page, enticing them to come back and learn more about the things they already have shown action toward.
  3. Visitors that downloaded information, like your Visitors Guide: develop their curiosity with additional content and relevant stories. Drive them closer to conversion with inspiration.

Fresh and exciting content will keep your brand top-of-mind with interested site visitors. Calls-to-action and offers can provide opportunities for interested viewers to click-through and be exposed to new and relevant information that they may have missed before.

Don’t overwhelm ‘em

Overexposing someone who has an interest in your destination can have the opposite effect, driving people away from your brand. You want to create an inspired action to visit, not an inspired action to change course. The highest click-through rate will occur when you’ve shown previous visitors your ad the appropriate amount of times, in the appropriate platforms. This can vary from campaign to campaign, so monitor results closely and “frequency cap” accordingly to ensure optimal results if you see performance start to wane.

Remarketing is a highly effective way to bring travelers closer to making their plans in your destination, when used strategically and appropriately.

Video inspires action

How do destinations get in on the action?

Make a plan for your videos

By now, you’ve likely realized that video marketing offers an extraordinary opportunity for destination marketers to reach large audiences and tell your stories visually. But are you taking advantage? If so, high-five! You’re making smart decisions to diversify your reach across platforms like YouTube and Facebook. If not, we’ve got some ideas that can help you turn your video assets into inspirational assets.

Working within a set marketing budget, destinations have difficult choices to make when it comes to which campaigns receive the most cash. It’s not always easy to decide where your attention should go, or which efforts are going to deliver the most payoff. Video marketing is quickly taking up its rightful share of the pie and it’s clear that this strategy is here to stay. Measurable ROI is imperative and can help you form better strategies as well as the content of your videos. With YouTube ads, you can tell in real-time if your targeted audience likes your content (with engagement metrics) and if it’s making an impact (with brand metrics)1. This all means that your campaign can be optimized quickly in order to get the most out of your efforts. Now that’s some serious bang for your buck.

What are consumers watching?

With YouTube’s popularity soaring past live TV, it’s no surprise that travelers are more likely to be inspired by your videos while they browse their favorite topics2. Videos bring awareness to a destination, delivering brand recognition to viewers. It has an incomparable ability to create emotion-driven decisions, and helps create favorability. Visitors want to experience the sights and sounds of your destination before they make their decisions. Are you sharing ideas and activities to drive engagement and curiosity? Travelers want to be excited, inspired, and enthused about where they plan to take their next trip—your videos can do exactly that.

Visitors want to experience the sights and sounds of your destination before they make their decisions.

Did we mention that video performs well across devices? In fact, video traffic now accounts for over 55% of total mobile data traffic3. Mobile-enabled video marketing helps you expand your reach because it’s user-friendly and viewer-focused, allowing you to reach the audience you want to target. Inspiration doesn’t have to only occur before a visitor arrives, mobile marketing efforts can reach travelers mid-adventure and continue to encourage further activities and engagement in your destination. Video for the win!

Cooperation just makes sense

Destination marketing organizations have the ability to create opportunities for partners to participate in cooperative efforts, making it easier and more affordable to engage in a video marketing campaign. Video ads can be co-branded to strengthen partner videos within the companion display ads that appear alongside your video. This brand familiarity is powerful, and partners will get in front of a bigger audience that they may have not reached otherwise. That’s some serious sponsorship value. In addition, visitors to the DMO’s website can be remarketed to with partner video ads, encouraging further interaction and guiding viewers closer to making their final travel plans.

Sources: 1 Google, 2 Adroit Digital, 3 Cisco

Lead Generation for the Destination Marketer

A savvy marketer such as yourself already knows that lead generation is the process of attracting new visitors through brand awareness while collecting their information for future marketing efforts—but you may not know why, how, or what you should be doing to properly tap into its potential.

What’s Your Goal?

The first thing to ask yourself is: Why do I want leads? Any campaign that delivers high-quality leads (people who have indicated an interest in your destination) can give you the ability to inspire a potential visitor to take the next steps and book their trip.

Establish a goal for your lead generation campaign. Do you want to gauge awareness about your destination? Do you want another way to distribute your visitors guide? Do you want to continuously reach out with emails or an eNewsletter? Whatever your goal is, make sure you structure your campaign around achieving it. If all of your effort is only focused on the generation of leads, you’re missing out on all of your conversion opportunities. When someone shows interest in your destination, don’t just leave them hanging, provide them with the inspiration they are looking for to plan their next trip.

If all of your effort is only focused on the generation of leads, you’re missing out on all of your conversion opportunities.

Ideally, your campaign will be an integrated piece of an overall marketing effort, focused on driving conversion. Your lead generation efforts would utilize components that spark interest in a potential visitor because of a specific call-to-action that is served to them at the right time. From there, they complete a conversion activity that collects their information such as a request for a visitors guide or a sweepstakes entry. Other efforts like Search Engine Marketing or Display Ads will create awareness or drive clicks to your site, but lead generation focuses on collecting information for future marketing efforts.

Diverse Marketing is Smart Marketing

Smart marketers should create a diverse campaign, utilizing both digital and print efforts to reach different types of travelers. Options like printed and digital inserts can provide a familiar feel, as they are inserted into magazines and newspapers, encouraging readers to learn more about your destination by going to a campaign-specific URL. This URL can drive readers to a page that collects their information so you can reach out to them at a future time with more information, a special deal, or an eNewsletter. This encourages potential visitors to initiate the relationship with you, making it more organic and natural for them to keep in touch.

Facebook is an ideal platform that offers strong targeting options.

A digital lead generation campaign can create more engagement, faster lead turnaround, and faster fulfillment, which is especially helpful if you are promoting an event. Facebook is an ideal platform that offers strong targeting options so you can deliver visually-stimulating, focused ads in user’s newsfeeds that are likely to convert. Furthermore, Facebook has options so that when they click on the ad, they are taken to a pre-populated form that collects their information with very little effort, making it user-friendly and efficient.

Level Up Your Efforts

Sweepstakes and special offers contribute to successful lead generation and our experience has shown that offering an incentive increases the number of leads your campaign receives. A sweepstakes package or special offer should promote a specific experience and be relatable to the audience. If your demographic is luxury-seeking Baby Boomers, don’t include a family pack of tickets to the local theme park. Make sure your package is desirable and appropriate to the visitors you are trying to attract. Don’t forget that as of October 2017 all forms, including those used for lead generation, need to be secure to avoid users receiving a warning pop-up that could deter participation in your campaign.

Made for Mobile: Facebook Instant Experiences

Mobile is BIG. Of Facebook’s 1.94 billion users, 1.15 billion of them use Facebook on their mobile device daily (Zephoria). Let’s say that again: 1.15 billion people looking at Facebook on their phones every day. Facebook has been cranking out new options for advertisers that keep up with trends, but one of our favorites is Facebook Instant Experiences.

The ads are—you guessed it—for mobile devices. They are full-screen, interactive, and users can tilt the phone to see more of the ad’s panoramic images. The ads also allow users to read inspiring content, swipe through a gallery of photos, watch videos, and click links to learn more. And the ad isn’t just visually appealing, it’s responsive. It’s an immersive experience that builds your brand and inspires users.

Gimme the Stats

Need for speed. Instant Experiences load 10x faster than the mobile web.

Higher Engagement. The immersive experience has been reported, by Facebook, that 53% of users viewed at least half of the ads. Average view time per user is 31 seconds.

Increased Conversions. Load times on ads are almost instantaneous, which means more users are following through once clicking on an ad.

Show and Tell

What’s it like, you ask? It’s so difficult to talk about how engaging these ads truly are without pulling out our phones to show you. We’ve had many clients run Facebook Instant Experiences campaigns, but Visit Gainesville’s ad is one of our favorites. Watch below to see the ad in action.

Zephoria. The Top 20 Valuable Facebook Statistics.