Marketing Automation

Case Study - Tourism Companies

Marketing Automation small business

Marketing Automation is important for every Company, but for a Solopreneur or a Small to Medium Business it can be a game changer. If leveraged properly Marketing Automation can help a scale up on autopilot, without the need for adding more People to the team and increasing overhead costs.  

In this post COVID-19 scenario how can Small to Medium Travel companies leverage Marketing Automation and weather the storm without increasing overheads. 

(There is a more detailed article on marketing Automation here, in this article I am only focusing on  how Solopreneur Travel consultants and Small to Medium Travel Agencies can leverage Marketing Automation) 

Index- Marketing Automation

Pre-requisites for Marketing Automation

In the new normal as a Solopreneur Travel Consultant or a small Travel Company with limited resources, you should have already shifted your focus towards the niche products where you can have a Specialization.

Once you have identified the niche products/destinations, it is imperative that you create content around it which is unique and Informative with no Sales Pitch to it. If you are a Small Travel Agency divide these products among your Team Members. It is very important that each member of your team is a specialist for the core region you are promoting.

This means, whoever is Product lead (in case of a Solopreneur it would just be you) needs to be involved every step of the way. For the purpose of making sure that your product is absolutely unique and stands out. The specialist needs to ask the following questions

  • Why this Product / Destination. Your why can become your strong Opening for content or Sales calls to prospects.
  • What makes this product different and unique. This becomes your main body of content and USP. (the what in turn would have multiple parts to it, what regions to offer, what hotels to choose, whats sights to offer etc.)
  •  When to offer this product and when to travel (The when helps you identify when to start marketing it as processing time for each destination is different and when should the clients travel.

Once you have the base product ready, put yourself in the client’s shoe, what would you want to experience, (today a lot of clients want bragging rights whether on Social Media or personal gatherings) have you built in components that actually give them the bragging right? Have you created experiences which give you an edge over the competition? Is your product differentiated? 

Each of the above components become your Unique Selling points

See as a Client, I wouldn’t pay more if what you are selling is same as what someone else is selling. If I have to do my own research than I might as well buy it directly from the Multiple suppliers (DMC’s) whom I can find online.

Be unique, Be different, Be creative. 

Case Study – Differentiated Product

I share here a first hand experience of how important differentiated products are and why we should focus on NICHE products. 

During one of my trips to Kenya, while on a Balloon ride in Masai Mara, On my Balloon ride, I started talking to others who were fellow companions, Of the 14 people on the balloon, 2 were from Kenya (My DMC client and her daughter) and the rest of us, (3 Families) as luck would have it were all ex-pats from Dubai.

That got me curious as I wanted to know how and where had had booked their travel, I asked the same question to both the families on the Balloon (one was 5 members of Australian Origin and other 4 were of Indian Origin) both were on upmarket packages (Each package had a Ticket value of over US$ 5000 per person)

Both the families had booked direct with Suppliers in Kenya, as they did not find anyone in Dubai who could give them a perfectly curated trip (They didn’t have clue about what to offer us, was what One of them said) and he showed me a list of companies he had called which was 14 of them in Dubai. Both the families said there were plenty of cheap options available but they wanted something Unique which gave them a deeper insight into the Destination. 

Leverage the power of content and create unique offerings, If your content is good then it would get indexed and bring Organic traffic to you.  

Segmentation & CRM Tool

This may sound like a repetition (since i already have 2 articles here on CRM) but if you do not have a CRM tool as your backbone you are leaving money on the Table and walking away. One of the best practices when it comes to Marketing Automation, is segmentation of data. If you data is stored in Segments then you have always have the right pool of audience to sell to. 

I would not be talking about CRM Tools here(You can read abour Why a CRM here and Hubspot CRM tool here) I definitely recommend going with Hubspot free version if you don’t want to spend money on a CRM at this stage.

Segmentation is something which can take your Travel Agency to the next level. In simple terms if your Data has not been segmented this could be your starting point. 

We are assuming you already have a Database of clients and you share regular promotions with them via emails. To start creating active and inactive segments you need to closely monitor the results. (which you should always do) once you have shared 7-8 Emails (over a period of 30-45 days) you would get an overview of who your active audience is and who are not opening any of your emails. 

Promoting to the audience who is active makes more sense, but that doesn’t mean you should not promote to the Inactive audience. I recommend taking the Inactive audience over to the Social Media as a custom audience and targeting them there to bring them back to your Brand rather than sending emails to them. 

Now you have the first layer of Segment which we know are active, it is now time to create micro segments, any new leads that come in should also be treated  as per same rules of micro segments. As a Travel company you could have segments and micro segments. Everyone interested in a destination is a segment. Within a segment Family with small kids is a micro segment, Couples only travel is a micro segment, Seniors travelling together is a micro segment. 

These micro-segments have their unique characteristics, Family travel would happen at a specific time usually school vacations, Couples and Seniors are not tied to a school vacation period. You can leverage this data which is in Micro Segments to push for offers in a timely manner. 

Micro Segments are also a great option when you are choosing to launch a new destination. If your segments are well defined you would know who your Potential customers could be. 

This process of having proper segments and micro segments usually takes 2 years to achieve and once you have them segmented you will be surprised by the results of timely targeting. People need to be reminded of events like long weekends coming up and school holidays coming up. By adding your own flavor of  F.O.M.O (fear of missing out) to this you can create an urgency and see a faster closure happening. 

In a real life scenario I have personally seen the power of segmented data. While consulting for a Travel company, we started segmenting the data from day one and had a decent and somewhat usable segmented database available to us in 6 months, this was further put into Micro Segments and in a space of 2 years this Travel Company was able to fill up 15-20% of their seats on every departure using the Micro segments. 

Segmentation can easily be achieved in a CRM tool like Hubspot by creating Custom fields. You could have 2 custom fields where 1 is your Destination based segment and other is your Micro Segment. CRM tools have amazing search functionality where in you can input the name of the Destination and search for all your customers. 

Marketing Automation - Triggers and use cases

We have all had that experience where we were buying something online and got distracted and forgot about it, a while later an email comes or a pop up comes on the phone reminding you that you still have items in your cart.

How do the online portals do this?

“This is Marketing Automation in Play”

Automation is an excellent tool and can be used every step of the way by a Travel Agency from the on-boarding the client’s (You should have a good onboarding sequence set up to warm up your leads) and gradually moving them along the Lifecycle stage to creating a F.O.M.O for a product you are selling.

As a Travel Agency you use some sort of method to get leads which may or may not translate down to Business at this moment but this is data & if managed properly can be a Goldmine.

Case in the point: You have a package you are promoting on Social Media. You redirect the interested prospect to a landing page which captures the data, the data captured if put in a smart system would automatically send them an email with the Package requested.
(The time between lead capture and emailing of the Information is instant {usually 2-3 seconds}, provided you already have the message ready in the Auto Responder)

By the time your prospective client has reached the Thank you page, (It is a good practice to redirect your Lead capture to a Thank-You page as this helps with retargeting a lot) he / she already has the package in the inbox. Now the Automation Kicks in, using triggers you can set up next steps in the process, If the prospect has clicked on the email then send a follow up email reminding them that The Deal is about to expire or They were planning this vacation. If not clicked then send the Prospect a reminder.

Before you call the prospective client you should have already shared a few emails, Product information and any other information you deem necessary to create a Touch point.  You don’t have to call the client and start from a scratch.

Set up triggers to send email to your micro segments about new deals, which may be of interest to them as they come out.
Remember you have already invested in getting this lead earlier, so now you can convert them to become your client.

Have simple automation set up to email the clients when they visit your website, SendinBlue has great automation’s which can be triggered for just about anything. Read about the Automation here.

You can further automate how the data travels between your CRM and Marketing Platform using one of the following tools 

  1. Zapier
  2. Piesync

Imagine having to enter data only once and then automated sync keeps everything in place. What happens in Automation is reflected in CRM and vice versa. 

Leveraging Email Marketing for Marketing Automation

The first thing we teach in lead generation and Marketing is, Your List is a Gold Mine, build a list and sell to the list. While selling to the list, the most effective tool is Emails. As per a study Email marketing is the most effective way and still number 1 way to Close sales.

Marketing Automation
Source 99firms.com

Despite the importance of email marketing not every company uses this in the right manner. A lot of Travel newsletters I receive are not responsive, which means that when you see it on your mobile devices (where most of us read them anyways) they don’t fit on your screen and you need to scroll sideways rather than up and down. How many of us end up reading them?

Some are still sending newletters/promotional emails using thje bcc option from their email clients. 

Design responsive newsletter which look good on the Mobile and Tablets.

Newsletters which are high on Text content don’t generate a high click through rate (CTR)  It’s a chore or a task to read them. It feels like work.

If you are looking at driving a conversion then it makes sense to use compelling Media like Videos and Pictures rather than too much text and bring the propsects over to your dedicated landing page to capture intent.

Next Steps after sending the Email

The performance of an email campaign should usually be measured after a 48 hours period for a Travel Agency.  After you have sent the mail and 48 hours have passed, check the stats and see your open rates and click through rates.

If you have not set a next step here you are not utilizing the full potential of Automation. You can steer the clients towards the next steps you want them to take by defining the same in Automation.

I usually recommend 2 actions post this. Those who opened the email get a personalized email asking if they need more information or if we can schedule a call with a Travel Advisor and the second action is for those who didn’t open the email. Duplicate the first email and tweak the subject line and share the same email with same Automation at the back end.

There is a more detailed articles on 7 best E-Mail Marketing tools you can use here

Wrapping up - Take away

Create a NICHE focussed product, with excellent content copy (2500-3000 words is ideal) be an authority on the product you are promoting.

Leverage Social Media to promote it and drive traffic to your Landing Page, where you have a proper data capture. Tie this to your Email Marketing Software and sync the data with your CRM tool. Be clear in your Data capture on lead generation page, by asking for all Information you need for Segmentation and Micro Segments. 

Stay Relevant and create a Top of the mind recall by writing your email series in as much detail as possible.