What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing encompasses everything you do to promote your tourism business online – using websites, email newsletters, social media, online videos, digital advertising and SEO (search engine optimisation).
Today, going online is a part of the daily life of people young and old, around the world. The internet has become everyone’s main source of information: we use it when we want to find hotels, book tickets, buy groceries, watch films, download music and get recommendations on where to go for dinner. Having an effective online presence is an essential part of tourism marketing.
Digital marketing in tourism is a way of communicating to visitors and customers more effectively. It can help you engage with your existing audience, access new markets, fine-tune your messaging and, most importantly, grow your business.
Digital marketing is cost-effective
In the past, small travel and tourism businesses would have found it almost impossible to compete using a traditional marketing strategy, such as print or television advertising, which could be extremely expensive. A digital marketing strategy allows you to manage your time and resources much more effectively; it can be extremely affordable or, in some cases, free.
Digital marketing is measurable
Digital tourism marketing enables you to measure your success: who is engaging with your content, which country are they visiting from, how much time are they spending with you online, and how your content marketing is translating into bookings and sales.
Digital marketing allows you to target specific audiences
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), effective pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and social media ads can help you tailor your tourism marketing to reach specific types of customer. That means you can use your resources much more efficiently.
Digital marketing is global
In the US, people spend more than four hours a day online, in Spain and the UK, more than three hours a day, and in France and Germany around two hours. The high levels of global internet use today give even the smallest travel and tourism businesses access to a worldwide marketplace, reaching potential customers all around the globe.
Digital marketing creates communities
You can use digital marketing in tourism in many different ways to tell the story of your business. You can use it to explain what your business is about, to introduce the people involved with it, to build an online community and to create content that gets people engaged and interested with the work you do.
Case study: Eureka! The National Children's Museum
"We consciously moved away from more traditional marketing channels because – simply put – our audience wasn’t there anymore. We found digital channels to be much more cost-effective and targetable. Plus, we could monitor and track which content worked best, on which sites, and quickly adapt where we needed to.
Our main digital tools are our website and our social media presence, particularly Facebook, as that is the main social network that parents use. We also ask our visitors if they’d like to get our email updates when they make a booking, so our email list is a good size and has a healthy opening rate. The average open rate is 20%, but since the first COVID-19 lockdown this has risen to more than 50% on occasion."
It’s a good idea to allocate a set amount of time every week specifically for your online marketing. It should become a regular part of running your tourism business or attraction. Initially, you might find a couple of hours a week is enough – but as your business grows and your needs evolve, you may find more time is required.
It’s also important to set aside time to analyse results, which gives useful information about your customers, and how they have interacted with your campaign. You need to dedicate some time to understand this information, and how you can you use it to improve your results in future.
This digital marketing toolkit covers all of the basics and the next steps to take once you’re familiar with the key ideas. You will also find case studies showing tourism marketing examples to inspire you, as you think about ideas and techniques for your own business.
Case study: The Collection, Lincolnshire Museums
"Our digital marketing is done by the staff working on site, alongside their day-to-day roles. This works so well for us, as they have the insider knowledge on what we do and how we want to project that.
We also work with the University of Lincoln to part-fund a social media intern for six months. Their role is to support us with all aspects of digital marketing and gain experience working alongside a number of teams. It's an opportunity for young people to get a paid role and experience; we benefit from fresh and new ideas from someone skilled in marketing."