Pivot & Focus on Proactive Marketing Content
Strengthen Your Adventure Brand Now, During COVID-19
In recent weeks, we’ve shared resources on how to best support your customers, staff and business, tips for cancellations and refunds, and effective adventure brand messaging during this unprecedented COVID-19 disruption.
Now let’s consider: How can we make the best use of this disrupted time to move our brands forward with proactive marketing?
We are sensitive to the fact that many adventure brand owners are feeling the financial and emotional strain of business suddenly stopped. Now is an important time to focus on maximizing this “downtime” in your business to focus on marketing initiatives that can significantly strengthen your digital channels.
Your New Marketing Plan Timeline
Q1 – Will go down in the record books for sudden and total travel business disruption. Only look forward from here.
Q2 – Is an important time for regrouping, shoring up, and being proactive. Act now to strengthen your brand awareness, digital channel content, and optimize for conversions and search engines. (You know, all the stuff you never have time for in the thick of your operating season.)
Q3 – Who the heck knows what will happen. So be ready with strong digital channels, great marketing messages that blend inspiration, education, new spins on existing products, and soft selling.
Q4 – Get those holiday plans lined up and crush it with your 2021 pre-season campaigns for travelers ready to get back to any sort of new normal in 2021.
What does this new marketing timeline look like?
- Q2: April, May
- Content Creation: new website content, videos, downloadable assets, guides, itineraries, contests, interviews, Q&As, virtual experiences, email marketing content. Map out your Customer Experience Journey and create the missing content, improve your existing content.
- Audience Research and Building
- Website Search Engine Optimization
- Do not disappear!
- Q2 into Q3: June and July
- Hopefully trips will start running – plan for it, and pivot if things change again.
- Focus on roll-out of any adjusted services (if applicable) with smaller groups, more rentals, etc. with maintaining safe practices.
- Load up on press outreach about what you are doing.
- Continue to balance engagement, education, information with sales in your marketing content.
- Nurture the audiences you built in April and May with the great content you created.
- Q3 into Q4: August, September, into October
- Keep running adjusted trips as much as possible.
- Double down on planning your 2021 season and start with holiday campaign planning. If you’ve never run a holiday campaign, now’s the time to consider it.
- Q4: November, December
- It’s “Game On” time. Launch those amazing 2021 pre-season and holiday campaigns.
- Measure, pivot and revise in real time to maximize your campaign results.
Given what 2020 might look like, let’s uncover marketing initiatives that you can start right now to help strengthen your adventure brand. The following list focuses on building up and improving content across your digital channels. Your efforts here will serve visitors who already have heard of your company, but need more content to engage at the next level, and will serve your prospects who have yet to “find/meet” you.
1. Your Website: Customer Experience Journey Content
As much as everyone seems to be enjoying Tiger King on Netflix, there is another “king” in the arena, and that’s the content you create. This is because content supports your visitors in moving through your sales funnel to conversion. Content supports the optimization of your website so Google can “see” you across their metrics and win more traffic for your website.
Block off your schedule (or delegate to your team) daily time to hone in on the following:
Review Your Current Customer Experience Journey Content
Your website should be delivering key information to help move people from prospect to customer. It should be capturing leads and delivering metrics that help you make decisions on what marketing campaigns are working, and what needs to be adjusted or even stopped.
1. Perform a Website Audit with a “Customer Lens”
Navigate your website with the lens of a customer. On every page, note: 1) What your first impression is of that page 2) what that page illustrates as the “next step” for a customer to take (call-to-action, subscribe form, next page) 3) note the steps needed to book or buy. If it isn’t clear, now is the time to make smart adjustments. How are your FAQs? Can visitors find them? Are the same questions being asked over and over to your reservations staff? What resources will help answer those questions best for your customers and prospects?
2. Fine-Tune Your Customer Experience Journey
The three stages of your customer’s journey with your adventure brand is:
- Top of Funnel (TOFU) aka Awareness
- Middle of Funnel (MOFU) aka Consideration
- Bottom of Funnel (BOFU) aka Decision
Identify how your adventure brand’s website supports those three stages—and make adjustments accordingly. You do this by identifying your visitors’ digital behavior on your website. This behavior is the actions they take with your content. To help you with this, read about the aspects of your Customer’s Journey and access our free Customer Journey worksheet to apply it to your website and content. You can your visitors’ behaviors in your google analytics. (And if you are a marketing rockstar, through the google tag manager events you’ve carefully mapped out. More on that in another post.)
Examples of Customer Experience Journey Content:
- Blog posts
Wilderness Voyageurs shared a great post titled “Best Yoga Stretches for Cyclists“—a great resource their followers can use at home.
- New or improved landing pages
Alpaca Expeditions created a Start Here section that was built by gathering existing content into one easy to use, comprehensive, step by step resource.
Videos, videos, videos. This is some of the most valuable content you can create. People love videos. Videos can “show and tell” your story better than any other medium, done right. Plus, Google prioritizes videos in organic search results. Your videos will show up on the two largest search engines in the world: Google and YouTube (owned, of course, by Google).
- Downloadable guides
Rancho Cacachilas has created an engaging Baja California Sur Visitor Guide and Mountain Bike Destination Guide available for download. These guides are exceptionally popular with website visitors, and introduce them to a totally new Baja eco adventure vacation.
- Online featured assets
Alpaca Expeditions created immersive experiences of their most popular treks. Here’s their Inca Trail Magazine with both a flippable view and a gated PDF download.
3. Review Your Website Forms and Processes
Make sure all the forms on your site are optimized for humans, have the most updated information, and are routed to the right people in your company behind the scenes.
- Pre and post trip communications
- Waiver forms and reminders
- Email newsletter signups
- Special trip information request forms or itineraries
- Automated cart abandonment emails
- Up sell recommendations within your reservation platform
- Online catalogs/brochures
YOUR ACTION ITEM: Review your customer journey and identify the holes in it. Is there content you can be creating to offer more information to people in the consideration phase, like a PDF guide they need to provide their email address to download?
2. Social Media Channels: #HACK Content that Connects
The content people want most is #HACK content: Helpful, Authentic, Clear, Kind. You want your company to emerge from this crisis with your customer base seeing you as part of the solution. You don’t want to be invisible or irrelevant to them, and you certainly don’t want to be perceived as part of their problems.
Strengthen Your Community & Following
Brainstorm ways to position your adventure brand from a place of support—whether that’s educational and inspirational information, or an offering that is helpful. Try this with your website, email newsletters, and social media content.
- Virtual activities (Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga classes)
- Virtual meetups / alumni gatherings
- Virtual trips/tours (a great on-the-trail video)
- How-to video series with live Q&A, etc
- Partner up with another to host in-depth conversations
- Language lessons for places you run trips to
- Fun contests that inspire
Gather User-Generated Content to Let Your Customers Do the Talking for Your Brand
Dig into the user-generated content your followers and customers have created over the last few months or years. Find social media posts, great reviews, etc., and save them/file them; pull quotes to freshen up your testimonials; schedule reposts into your social media calendar.
Leverage, Leverage, Leverage!!
Use this UGC on ALL your channels: share to your social media accounts, post on your website, feature in your emails, add to your Youtube videos.
YOUR ACTION ITEM: Create your list of topics to #HACK on your social media channels. Learn more about finding and leveraging User-Generated Content with these detailed “how-to” posts for User-Generated Content on Facebook and User-Generated Content on Instagram.
3. Email Marketing: Review and Adjust Your Email Content & Lists
Unlike most other marketing venues, email marketing is permission-based; its not disruptive. Email marketing allows you to deliver your targeted message directly to inbox of a person has asked to hear from your company about your adventure products! It’s an ongoing conversation with an engaged audience… and if you weren’t all that active with them before, there is no better time than the present to begin sharing your #HACK content! (Note: Is your email list old and stale? Don’t be discouraged! Start now and create that great content that they want to read. Think of each subscriber as a possible customer. What is the life time value of your customers? That’s how to think about your email list of subscribers!)
Update Your Email Content Calendar
Use your adjusted business goals to drive what your monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly email campaigns are about—and plan out your content by filling out and maintaining your annual email content calendar. This helps you avoid that paralyzing spiral of not knowing what to say to your adventure prospects during this time. Be sure to keep your content flexible so that you can pivot when COVID-19 dissipates.
Batch Write Your Content
Once you’ve identified your email marketing content, block time off to batch write your emails. Although we normally suggest pre-scheduling this kind of content, we suggest not doing that in this case: COVID-19 has created a lot of moving targets, and you want to be sure your messaging is appropriate.Get a
Add a Compelling Email Popup Signup on Your Website
Make it easy for visitors to sign up for your email news. Add enticing information to help them understand what they’ll be getting. Check out Nomad Adventure’s email signup on their site for ideas.
Consider Ways to Personalize Your Email Marketing Efforts
If up until now your email efforts have been a “cast and blast” kind of situation, where all your customers are getting the same message no matter where they are in their customer experience journey with you… you now have a great opportunity to make adjustments needed to your email list. Check out these 3 Key Approaches to Personalized Email Marketing for the how-to!
YOUR ACTION ITEM:
Need a refresher in Email Marketing Best Practices? Download our toolkit here, and access a free annual calendar template, too!
Want more tips specific to adventure companies during this period of disruption?
Meet Courtney Simone, founder of Adventure in Black! She joined Julie Thorner for a wonderful conversation about her startup business that she launched in late 2019, right before covid hit. Topics covered include tourism marketing to people of color, building a community as a [...]