Indeed, travel marketers are taking notice of this need for customer-centric content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 53% of marketers reported spending more time on content marketing, with 71% considering how their content impacts the overall customer experience and 69% focusing on creating content for their different audiences rather than the brand.
Still, despite the increased attention on delivering relevant content, travel marketers are faced with the challenges of catering to customers’ needs in a world where content is more abundant than ever. If you ask a travel marketer what content strategy means to them, their answers vary widely based on the brand, their backgrounds, and their specific objectives. This is because most organizations usually focus on one dimension. For example, creative teams and their agencies will focus on the raw content assets. Developers will focus on the back-end management of content that supports storage and decimation of content. Marketing and technology teams will focus on the management of content as a workflow. Brand teams will focus on the governing aspects of managing large amounts of content.
A lack of focus exists, creating three challenges for travel marketers:
- Content proliferation: Past development of content results in many brands facing a wealth of available content that is difficult to manage.
- Narrow focus: Many marketers focus too much on quantity and SEO and not enough on quality and context.
- Technology as a driver and obstacle: The presence of new technology calls for more strategically stored and classified marketing content.
To put greater focus on content strategy, travel marketers must align content to various customer segments, including business and leisure travelers. But they also must think about content as it pertains to the different stages of the trip life cycle: imagine, explore, book, enrich, experience, share, and relive. Customers consume and create different content at each of these stages of their trip, so travel marketers need a content strategy that’s grounded in this life-cycle thinking.
To anchor content strategy in an established framework that ensures content, process, tools, and technology recommendations are not only relevant but comprehensive, travel brands should consider this five-step approach:
Step 1: Analyze customer data--The first step of the content strategy process includes identifying business goals and objectives in order to understand what your organization is trying to achieve with both its content and enterprise-wide goals. Likewise, it is important to understand your customers. Customer data, secondary research, and analytic insights, such as customer segmentation, helps you understand not only who your customers are, but what their journeys looks like and what their needs are.
Step 2: Evaluate the current state of content--There are two main ways of understanding what content currently exists and is available for use. The first is the manual way. Though not granular, this method allows you to understand current content at a high level. The second is to understand the current state of content by using content management systems to pull and analyze what is available. One point to consider with this approach is the methodology used to tag existing content. If nomenclature used is not accurate or actionable, it could lead to unusable or misleading results: garbage in, garbage out. This also helps inform what content is missing, what needs updating, and what content should be deleted.
Step 3: Evaluation of current contact plans and go-to-market vehicles--“If you build it they will come” does not always apply to content. You can offer the best and most relevant content to your customers, but if they are not aware of this content or the content is difficult to find, it is useless. This step is designed to evaluate current programs or campaigns used to push content out to customers at each point of their trip journey. This way, recommended changes to existing programs and/or development of new programs can be made, all while considering the correct channels for the correct audiences.
Step 4: Identify tools--In the previous steps, content assets and programs have been identified. Now it is time to understand what tools are required in order to implement and manage these assets. By understanding your current inner workings--what teams are involved in content production, who is responsible for what, what processes are in place, and what technologies you have access to--it’s easier to identify the tools needed to implement on content strategy.
Step 5: Create a go-to-market (GTM) roadmap--Once the content assets and tools needed to achieve a successful content strategy have been identified, these initiatives are put into a GTM roadmap. This roadmap is a calendar view of both assets and tools and takes into consideration stakeholders responsible, dependencies, and timing.
By using this approach, it is possible for travel brands to develop an all-encompassing content strategy that meets customer needs across audiences and trip stages, aligns to customer experience efforts, and drives business growth.