Maximising retargeting ‘windows of opportunity’ in the travel space

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family holiday

Travel is wonderful. Travel planning is stressful. It’s difficult, occasionally frantic, causes you to pull your hair out, and a long time can pass before you see any success.

The same can be said for travel marketing, but on both sides of the coin, it’s worth it. The customer gets to lie on a beach with a Mai Tai, and you get to look over your revenue reports with a smile on your face.

You may of course, also enjoy a Mai Tai (depends on which motivates you more). But before we break out the cocktail shaker, we need to understand how to earn it.

What is a ‘window of opportunity’?

A ‘window of opportunity’ might sound like just another fancy term for retargeting your users… Well, it is, but I think it deserves its fanciness. I see a window of opportunity as a time when you’re able to retarget users when virtually nobody else is. The tricky bit of course is working out

  1. When that is
  2. How to take advantage of it.

Identifying a window of opportunity

The first part is by no means the easiest, unfortunately. Taking a look at your Time to Purchase section of Google Analytics will likely present you with something that looks like this:

The bars might vary in size, but (particularly for travel booking) it’s very likely that you’ll see most purchases happening in the same day. This blog isn’t going to focus on that bar. The zero-day purchase is a bit of a bull run, and everything that can affect it takes place well before that “day zero” – SEO, Brand Awareness, etc...

Today, we’re focusing on everything that comes after, and before.

The most traditional method of retargeting is via RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads), Display remarketing, E-Mail and Social PPC audience targeting, and is most effective at bringing ROAS (Return on Advertising Spending) when applied to the immediate days following “day zero.” However fundamental they may be, it’s worth remembering some vital best practices for this.

Window of opportunity: After “day zero”

Users spend a few days looking over different travel providers before deciding to spend their hard-earned cash on one. Just because a user has dropped off of your landing page, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t interested in your flight or hotel... It likely means that they weren’t ready to pull the trigger just yet, or they wanted to shop around.

This is where you give them a reason to stop shopping around and go with you.

  • Use remarketing lists to retarget visitors to your website
  • Enhance that list by using engagement stats to determine what behaviours your best customers exhibit
  • Remarket to those users and pull out the big guns with your ad copy: Offers, USPs, Discounts… Whatever you’re prepared to offer to make them consider you again. This might be your last chance, after all.

If you’re not already using RLSA, they’re a great place to start. However, more and more Marketers are already taking advantage of RLSA opportunities. If you really want to maximise on opportunity – to really stand out and be rewarded for it – you’re going to need to work on some more advanced, daring stuff…

“Be there, and be useful”

Being there, and being useful, is a mantra Google loves to repeat, and it should be the aim of all digital marketers working in the travel space. Here’s why:

Unlike simply purchasing a kitchen appliance, going on a trip isn’t as simple as buying [thing] and enjoying [thing]. It requires a great deal of planning, and decision-making occurs at every step, for every facet. While most of these decisions involve making a purchase, some are non-monetary…

Look how little time is spent actually booking a flight, hotel, or car rental in comparison to searches based around what Gina will be doing when she arrives… What are the cultural norms in my destination? What events are taking place while I’m visiting? How can I identify a genuine taxi and avoid being scammed or put in danger? What linguistic quirks are there that I should be mindful of? These are questions that holidaymakers and “experience”-craving adventurers are going to be asking, and they’re going to be asking them online.

What they’re going to find, is content: Content that is there at the right time, and useful for their situation.

To create content that is useful, you simply need to understand what questions are being asked in relation to the destination your customer is thinking about. There are numerous methods for finding out what these questions are, but this research will inform what the topic of your content will be.

Once the useful content is created, and able to be discovered, the next part is figuring out how to be there for your customers are at the right time.

There are numerous ways of doing this, and utilising remarketing lists to target people who have already visited your site is one of these, as we’ve already discussed. However, this is dependent on a customer having already visited you once, and for that reason, its limited. How do you be there for the people who have never visited your site?

Before retargeting begins: Riding the wave of emerging trends

No matter where they’re travelling, your customers are using the web to refine their trip. Sometimes it’s used to find the best place to go, but sometimes it’s used simply to make travel less stressful. From learning how best to pack luggage efficiently, to catching some shut-eye on the flight, to making it to their hotel easily, customers are searching for ways to make their trip easier.

This is just one window of opportunity for Travel brands looking to be there for their potential customers. All that is left is to create some useful content that caters to this topic, and make sure its seen by the right people.

As for finding more windows of opportunity? Facebook, Twitter and Google in particular regularly provide insights into emerging trends to assist their advertisers. Keep a close eye on what they’re putting out, and if it you can create useful content to suit it, do so, and customers will reward you with their interest.

Alternatively, you can always jump on an emerging tech trend and provide something entirely un-useful for a laugh, as Contiki did with their Virtually Unlimited offering.

One last thing: Experiment with Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

You may have just undergone a whole new website re-launch, but don’t take your jump in conversion rates as the be-all-and-end-all of success. There may be a few more drops of cash you can squeeze out of it once your customers navigate from your content to your landing pages.

Recently we’ve been conducting experiments with our client’s websites. By altering small parts of any given landing page, we have been A/B testing each variant to see which is more successful, and we’ve seen surprisingly different results in some places.

These changes can be as simple as making the “Buy” button a little bigger, or a different colour. They can also be more advanced, such as tweaking the payment process to make it smoother, or personalising your landing pages to your users (we’re a big fan of this one). Basically, the only way to know for sure if your landing pages are as strong as they could be, is by running CRO tests. We’re excited to see what else we can learn from these experiments, so consider trying some of your own.

You just might be deserving of a few Mai Tais by the time you’re done. In the meantime, check out our videos on CRO here, or take a few moments to read more about how we can help you with your CRO success story.

Josh Whiten is digital marketing director at Sagittarius.

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Josh Whiten

Josh has enjoyed a successful 25 year client-side and agency career and helped pioneer digital marketing in the region, having specialised in SEO and PPC since 2003.

Since then Josh has worked in consultancy, run his own agency and now heads up the Digital Marketing team for Sagittarius. He regularly speaks at business and marketing events nationally and was one of the original founders of Digital in Kent.

All by Josh