A 4-Step Approach to Personalized Destination Marketing

Where is the personalization in destination marketing? From the moment you wake up and check your phone until you drift off to sleep, often staring at your screen, you’re flooded—even bombarded—with content that isn’t personalized.

Maybe it’s a promoted post advertising taking a weekend to shred the waves in California, but you hate salt water and have no interest in surfing. Or, it might be persistent emails from an airline company promoting cheap tickets to Europe, but you don’t even have a passport.

The archaic one-size-fits-all approach won’t do it anymore. Advancements in advertising have shifted messaging farther and farther away from this approach, moving toward personalization, which travelers have come to expect.

So how can you get personal with your destination marketing organization? Let’s get into it.

Research Your Travelers

You might think you know who your audience is, but do you really know who they are? You may be positive that you’re outbound direct marketing efforts are targeting your desired target audience, but your reporting tells you that a different group of travelers are visiting your website.

Data doesn’t lie. It gives you the cold, hard answers. So, look into your Google Analytics, email contact list, social media profiles and get to know your online visitors before they become real-life visitors. Is it who you thought you were reaching? If not, it might be time to reevaluate, reassess and rewrite your target audience.

Develop Your Strategy

After you know your audience, it’s time to move over into strategy. You might have heard that content is king, but content strategy holds the crown.

If you’re reading this, content personalization is most likely new for you. And when you’re going somewhere new, how do you know where you’re going without a map? This is where your content map, or strategy, comes into play.

This map, calendar or plan should state all the content you’re creating and when you’re publishing or sending it. This will lay out all the moving pieces and parts on the table so you can see when and how you’re attempting to reach your audience.

Take blogs, for example. How many are you posting a month? Are they targeted toward your segments? Are they getting sent out to those segments with email marketing? Are you posting and promoting on social media? Although you might feel inundated with questions, they should all be answered before you start any new endeavor or adjust your existing strategy.

Segmentation Leads to Personalization

After you truly know your audience and have buttoned up your strategy, it’s time to segment. Once you bucket certain visitor groups into segments, you can start personalizing your content.

So, rather than creating content that appeals to the masses, you can start appealing to your segments. For example, based on your data, let’s say you discover a group of New Yorkers who want to get away from the traffic and head to the peace and tranquility of your destination. Based off of that information, you can write and design an email that says, “Skip the 5 o’clock Manhattan traffic,” and send it only to your potential visitors from New York. Imagine how much more likely you would be to open that email if you had to sit through rush hour traffic every day?

Analyze Your Results

Analyzing results is the most important step, and it’s often missed or pushed to the side. But without analyzing the numbers, you can’t know if your efforts are a success or if they’re missing the mark.

Keep in mind you might not get it right the first time—or even the second with your outbound direct marketing efforts. In fact, if you did hit a home run first try, we want to hear from you.

After you’ve looked at your blog page views, email open rate and social media impressions, you have to look at the areas where you didn’t perform well, talk about what went awry and brainstorm how to fix it. This could take long discussions and maybe even A/B testing.

If you had a blog that well outperformed all the other blogs, what was different about it? Did it have a video or infographic in it? Maybe a really enticing title? An offer advertised?

Ask yourself the same questions with other content, like email. If you had an email with a high open rate, sit down with your team and analyze that email. Was it the subject line? Maybe even the preview text? A few heads working together in a collaborative space can lead to solid conclusions.

Remember: research, strategize, segment and analyze. You might have heard these four words tossed around, but when used together with a team, they can create greater personalization and results than you expected. Rather than throwing content at the wall (or at the internet) and seeing what sticks, learn about your audience and provide useful, informative, tailored content instead.

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