According to eMarketer, the travel industry is the category most heavily focused on direct response advertising. With 72% of total budgets allocated to transactional DR tactics, travel marketers are focused on advertising performance and how to make their media investments work harder.
Today, many marketers are reinventing their advertising campaigns through greater access to and control over their audience data. Although travel marketers have spent a lot of time analyzing the different stages of business vs. leisure travel — dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing — they’ve also allowed third-party aggregators and re-targeters to drive their acquisition goals while hijacking their audience data. The anonymous flow of customers may fit short-term CPA goals, but it comes stripped of key insights that drive acquisition advantages.
An integrated programmatic strategy should be central to any travel marketer’s advertising approach. The key ingredients to succeed are already available: access to rich customer data, specific acquisition and retention goals and integrated e-commerce systems to capture transactions.
Here are five tips for travel marketers to re-energize their advertising performance through a more data-rich, technology-driven marketing approach:
1. Adopt an audience-targeting mindset.
Who are your best prospects? Programmatic marketing is oriented around the discipline of organizing and utilizing audience data to make better media buying and optimization decisions. This compares to traditional digital media buying which has been based on selecting websites and ad placements as a proxy for the intended audience. Given that consumers’ use of media is so fragmented across devices and multiple channels, marketers have to target prospects more nimbly. Through the use of data management platforms (DMPs), marketers can capture and organize disparate sources of audience information to enable more insightful audience-based marketing.
2. Unleash your first-party data to drive competitive advantages.
Are you leveraging the audience intelligence you already own? Do outside parties control your media acquisition information? Travel and hotel companies have rich customer data that can be used to create proprietary marketing segments. “First-party” information often resides in different databases, including site visitor, call center, e-commerce (time/destination/value) and customer loyalty (CRM) data systems. When integrated, this data helps marketers
identify unique audience segments that they can associate with various media tactics and customer activity. The use of first- party data provides the foundation for improving overall marketing return on investment.
3. Get out of the search + retargeting + affiliate funk through cross-channel attribution.
Many travel advertisers are stuck relying on three tactics: search, retargeting and affiliate deals. Each looks valuable in isolation, but it’s unclear whether they are fully incremental or double-counted since they are run through different vendors with different tracking. That is great for the vendor, but is not efficient for the marketer.
Media attribution tools help marketers identify the incremental value of different media tactics and the complementary impact of search, retargeting and affiliate activities. Attribution methodologies are helping marketers incorporate mobile, video, social and email into their core acquisition programs.
4. Use acquisition data to scale CRM and loyalty programs, and vice versa.
Do your acquisition efforts integrate with your CRM and loyalty marketing? The benefits of adopting an audience-based acquisition marketing program extend to enable better CRM programs. The customer acquisition information helps identify and predict which discrete customer segments may be most advantageous for CRM activities. In turn, by connecting the CRM data to the acquisition programs, there is a better understanding about which prospecting tactics drive the best lifetime customer value.
5. Implement a learning agenda.
Which marketing activities are driving the greatest efficiencies, impact and insights as consumers evolve? The marketers’ learning agenda is organized to help evaluate media targeting opportunities against goals. An audience-driven marketing approach provides rich sets of data to help understand media impact. As marketers look to keep pace with their prospects in a fragmented media environment, the learning agenda is a valuable tool to ensure continuous innovation.
Understanding these five concepts will help travel marketers make their advertising investments work harder. This is how travel marketers can wean themselves from costly black-box intermediaries and drive clearer advertising results, stronger budget controls and deeper customer insights.