Digital content marketing 101 for hoteliers

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Content marketing has exploded in popularity in recent years, as brands embrace the concept of providing material that showcases their expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Engaging travel consumers through the production of high-quality content is an excellent way to not only build brand recognition, but also boost engagement levels with your target audience, especially on social media channels.

The latest survey by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) found that 86 per cent of B2B marketers and 77 per cent of B2C marketers use content marketing, with seven in ten marketers now creating more content than they did 12 months ago. This underlines the popularity of the tactic, as companies of all sizes recognise how good an opportunity it is to interact with their target audience. Hoteliers are always keen to sell the concept of a destination, and today’s ‘always-on consumer’ wants to find out more information about a hotel through their favourite social media channels.

Why use content marketing?

Content marketing has been the top digital priority for B2B and B2C marketers since 2013, according to research by Adobe and Econsultancy. Companies such as Coca-Cola and Mastercard have embraced the concept and look to develop it in such a way that offers the best chance for brand engagement. But central to the process is the need for a formal strategy. If hotel marketers are not thinking strategically about their content marketing efforts, the chances of reaping long-term success are minimal. Don’t forget, one truly inspiring blog post or visual will be more effective than 50 that fail to resonate with the audience. The beauty of content marketing is that it unites the efforts of sales, marketing and other departments, giving companies a coherent approach that helps to support prospects through every stage of the customer journey.

Gaining trust

Hoteliers rely heavily on repeat visitors and word of mouth recommendations to keep occupancy levels high, as consumers like to stay at locations that have received positive reviews. And content marketing has a big role to play here, as a study from Demand Metric found that 82 per cent of consumers are more positive about a company after reading custom content, while 90 per cent find this original material useful. So as you can see, not only does content marketing help to engage customers, it also delivers the deeper connection they are after before agreeing to part with their money. With the value of the customer experience obvious – nearly two-thirds of customers told Gartner it is more important than pricing when making a final decision – hotel marketers cannot leave any stone unturned as they seek to create the perfect mix of tactics. This means using blogs, destination guides, videos, email marketing and social media to communicate your message.

Developing an action plan

Once hotel marketers have decided to use content marketing to advance their brand, it’s important they put an action plan in place. This should include:

Having a brand voice – A strong and consistent brand voice is a vital part of the content creation process, as the tone adopted should reflect the audience. For example, business customers will not respond to the same language as families.

Choosing a CMS – Get a content management system (CMS) that offers the right level of flexibility around text, visuals and promotions. You do not want to develop grand plans only to realise they cannot be implemented on your current website.

Developing a relationship with influencers – You want people who can act as brand ambassadors to create content for your portals, as this is an excellent way of getting third-party recommendations. Create competitions based around photo sharing, come up with unique hashtags and offer discounts for user generated content.

Localising – Not all content will be of equal importance. Make sure you factor in the cultural norms of certain areas to make sure everything produced is going to be of interest to local customers.

Using a multi-channel approach – Nearly 21 per cent of bookings came from tablets and mobile devices in 2014, according to HeBS Digital Research, underlining just how important a multi-channel approach is. The value of content marketing has grown in recent years, so hoteliers need to focus on how the tactic can be used to achieve their business goals. Putting a formal strategy in place is an essential step, as this allows brands to align departments and make sure that all marketing material produced resonates with the target audience. By committing to content marketing, hoteliers can drive traffic and boost conversions.