Digital advertising

Contentshands typing on a laptop keyboard

  1. Google My Business
  2. Google Ads
  3. Social media advertising
  4. Influencer marketing


As your tourism business expands and you need to broaden your reach, it may be worth exploring the possibilities of digital advertising.

Google My Business

Google My Business (also sometimes abbreviated as ‘GMB’) is a free tool that can help you manage the information people see when they search for you on Google.

Google My Business serves two purposes: it helps business owners increase their online visibility, and supports local SEO, making it easier for people to find and review businesses in their local area.

Here’s a few reasons why Google My Business can be part of your digital marketing strategy and boost your local SEO:

  • Once registered, customers can see important information like your opening hours, contact details and your location on Google Maps, as well as images and a link to your website.
  • Customers can also leave you reviews – and importantly, you can respond to reviews and provide feedback.
  • A GMB listing can lead to better search results and will appear higher up the search listings than non-GMB registered businesses.
  • Using features such as GMB Posts and Google’s Booking button can also improve your search listing position.
  • Registering your listing ensures that you retain control over it. Since anyone can suggest edits (including your competitors), you need to ‘own’ the listing in order to correct any factual errors or changes.

Google has also announced that in future they will increasingly prioritise businesses with sustainable credentials and introduce a ‘Things to do’ feature which helps people find activities and sights local to them.


Google My Business checklist

  1. Register with Google My Business and complete all the required information.
  2. Use GMB Posts – these are free and act like mini ads you can use to promote new products or seasonal offers.
  3. Use Google’s booking button – if you have online booking software, you can connect it to your GMB listing and allow customers to book directly.
  4. Allow customers to ask you questions through the Questions&Answers tool. For more information read Google My Business Questions and Answers Feature.
  5. Respond to customer reviews – good or bad.

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Google Adsa young couple enjoying themselves in front of Brighton Pavilion

While SEO can improve your search engine ranking, paid search advertising, often referred to as pay-per-click (PPC), can make it more certain that your business will rank well for specific search terms. Google Ads is Google’s paid advertising service, but most search engines offer something similar.

Paid ads normally appear at the top, or to the side, of standard search engine listings.

You can choose specific keywords you want to link your business to, and bid on them on a PPC (pay-per-click, sometimes also called CPC, or cost-per-click) basis. This means you will only pay if someone clicks on your ad.

Importantly, you have complete control over your daily budget and the maximum PPC you are willing to pay.

However, it’s important to understand that the highest PPC doesn’t always guarantee top search rankings: Google uses other factors including search relevance, location, popularity and previous clicks to create an overall Quality Score, which then determines the final search results.

You can fine-tune advertising for specific groups, markets and regions, or on metrics (filters) like time of day, day of the week, user device and search preferences, as well as targeting ads at previous and new customers.

Alongside your main digital advertising text, Google Ads offers ‘extensions’ which increase your ad’s size, allowing you to capture more space in search results. Options include sitelink extensions (which sit below your ad and link to specific pages on your site) and location extensions (which link your location to your Google My Business account).


Google Ads Checklist

  1. Set a budget for Google Ads and your maximum PPC rate.
  2. Link your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account to make it easier to track.
  3. Use more than one metric to make sure your advert reaches the most relevant audience.
  4. Monitor how users are engaging with your ads, especially how your ads are converting into engagement.
  5. Include a call to action in your ad – for example ‘order now’ or ‘search here for...’
  6. Make sure any links from your ad click through to the most relevant page on your site.
  7. Check Google Ads regularly to find out about new features.

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Case study: Elm Tree B&B

"We have had success with paid ads, especially on Facebook – but we’ve found they need to be carefully tailored to demographics to get the most out of them.

For us, we’ve found advertising on search terms like ‘luxury in Lincolnshire’ and ‘gay-friendly Lincolnshire’ have been helpful, as well as limiting the ads to people searching within an hour or an hour-and-a-half of Lincolnshire, which means we can target quite specific audiences."

bedroom of Elm Tree B&B

Elm Tree B&B, Lincolnshire

Social media advertising

Most social media platforms also offer paid advertising services – generally known as ‘sponsored’ content.

They work in a similar way to Google Ads. You pay a fee to display a post, usually on a PPC basis. As with Google Ads, you can set a maximum budget to control costs, and tailor posts to reach a specific audience, location or customer demographic.

Due to changes in the way social media algorithms work, it is becoming increasingly necessary to pay for sponsored posts to promote your business on social media to users who don't already follow you.

Each platform has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to think about your target market and your desired result. The wide variety of Facebook ad formats make it perfect for business-to-consumer (B2C) campaigns, while more visual content tends to work best on Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube.

Find out more about the different social media platforms for digital tourism marketing. 


Social Media Advertising Checklist

  1. Make sure you set goals for your paid campaign before you start: suggestions might be increased traffic, visibility, higher engagement rates, lead generation or sales.
  2. Choose the platform that suits your goal: think carefully about the market demographic, the type of content you are creating, and how you are planning to communicate your idea.
  3. Measure the performance of your paid post. Most social platforms have tools to help you track your success: you can use this information to tweak your strategy next time.
  4. If you are using a scheduling tool, make sure it has analytics tools to measure your posts’ performance.

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Influencer marketingperson wearing a straw hat looking at a waterfall

What is influencer marketing?

Influencers are people with large online followings, created either through their own website, blog or social media account. Because of their large number of followers, influencers can help market your tourism business or help you find new customers.

How influencers are paid varies. Some will be happy with a complimentary product or service, while others will ask for payment. Whatever the agreement, be clear about the terms of engagement (it is sensible to have some form of contract, even if this is just in the form of an email).

Outline what you expect from them and forward any brand guidelines, tone of voice advice or other materials that will help them understand your business. Importantly, establish whether you will have the opportunity to give any feedback or approval on the content they create for you.

Above all, analyse the outcome, and measure results – whether that means an increase in followers, or more bookings. Compare the investment and return: what did working with the influencer cost, and how much new business did it generate? Increasing your followers is great, but it’s important to know whether it was really worth the investment.


Influencer Checklist

  1. Start your influencer search close to home. Identify the most engaged followers of your business on social media. If they’re passionate about what you do, they may also be willing to act as brand advocates.
  2. You can also search for ‘influencer’ and your industry on Google. The top results might be too expensive, but it will give you an idea of who to look for and the types of content they create.
  3. Before deciding to work with an influencer, consider what kind of followers they have, not simply how many. Do they match well with your business, or the demographic you are trying to reach? Do they post regularly and make an effort to respond to and engage with their followers?
  4. Research the content they create carefully. If an influencer’s content doesn’t align with your own brand values, they could do more harm than good.
  5. Remember that this is a business transaction. It is important to establish goals and targets, be clear about the services they are offering, and what you are likely to get in return.
  6. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulates influencer content. Paid partnerships and sponsored content must be flagged: for detailed advice, download the Influencers’ Guide.
  7. Evaluate the outcome of the collaboration according to the goals you’ve set. If it’s been successful, or alternatively hasn’t achieved what you’d hoped, it’s useful to know why, as you can use this information to inform possible collaborations.

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