By Jeanna Wood, Visit Florida Space Coast
The traveler’s journey to booking a vacation has changed drastically in the last 15 years. At the turn of the century, travelers didn’t have social media to see their friends’ vacations, nor did they have immediate access to their favorite travel brands and destinations like we do today. Their decision to travel was heavily influenced by television, radio, print, and word of mouth recommendations. And in the world of marketing, these methods didn’t exactly guarantee that you were targeting the right audience or that they were listening. It was basically a shot in the dark.
It’s been 13 years since Facebook launched, and 10 years since the Apple iPhone made its debut. Those two things, as well as many other digital platforms, have revolutionized not only the way we live but also the marketing industry. Facebook has over 1.4 billion active monthly users who like over 4 million posts a minute. Instagram has over 100 million likes per hour. Every interaction made and every search is an opportunity to collect data. Believe it or not, Facebook probably knows you better than you know yourself.
Big Data and Content Marketing Go Together
Data is being created and collected all the time. It is measured, analyzed and is being used in a myriad of ways to better target travelers and shape their purchasing decisions. The digital age has allowed brands to expand beyond their conventional efforts, but social media has challenged the way brands communicate with their audience.
Traditional messaging and imagery is no longer seen effective because travelers don’t accept it at face value. More and more companies have had to lay down the role of advertiser and embrace their role as storytellers and create content in hopes to grab the attention of consumers.
That obviously leads to the question of how best to utilize content marketing. Some brands only care about the return on investment and hope that their efforts create consistent conversions. But at the end of the day, in travel marketing, content marketing should be added value and lead to an overall increased brand awareness. The conversions will come if you’re adding value.
Poor content marketing is prevalent. It’s easy to identify, in most cases, since it usually adds no value and garners very little user engagement. It should come as no surprise that good content marketing requires good content to begin with, but the question still remains: is it right for the audience? the platform? the season or even time of day? Some may say travel marketers should focus on more video content while others may say blogs; however, big data has the potential to accurately define what types of content will truly move the needle and lead to the best results.
Leveraging Big Data Gives Better Results
Brands need to depend on data and insights more than ever to help them create effective content and placement. Whether you’re sourcing method includes social listening, Facebook insights, or data from third party resources, all these things will help you create content that appeals to your audience, giving you better results and engagement.
My team has worked closely with Nielsen to provide insights about the behaviors and preferences of visitors to our destination. From this study, our marketing team has a better understanding of our target demographics, their travel behaviors, consumption of media and top leisure activities. We know what airlines they prefer, how they read the news, and if they watch television or stream it, among other things.
“The key to big data is having an ability to unlock and harness the vast amount of insights that can be contained within,” says Michael Sharp, Managing Director, Agency Sales, Nielsen. “In a media ecosystem that is fragmented over devices, platforms and delivery systems it's imperative that marketers know not just who their best visitors are, but also the best way to reach and engage these visitors and Nielsen's marketing effectiveness solutions allows content marketers this ability."
The study we conducted has not only allowed our marketing plan and budget to be more strategic and effective, but it has influenced the content we produce and the channels we deploy on.
For example, our study shared our target demographics’ ages, where they live, and how many kids they have at home including their age range. Not to mention, they have below average television viewership, high Internet usage and they read the news via mobile device. This influenced our decision to no longer deploy commercials via broadcast, and print ads are used sparingly. Those dollars have been shifted to social media marketing where we can laser target our demographic with content. Plus, our budget is spent more effectively, achieving 1 cent cost per view for most campaigns ran on Facebook and keeping CPM under $5.
When it comes to creating content, we know to leave out certain leisure activities, like golf and tennis, because our audience doesn’t engage with it. We also know to include children, ages 6 to 11, since our audience identifies with that best. These are just a few examples of how our team strategically approaches every piece of content produced. Our content marketing strategy has resulted in record breaking numbers for our destination. Year over year, our destination increased revenue by 12 percent and our destination’s hotel occupancy is up 23 percent.
Moving Forward with Big Data
It’s no secret that big data can be overwhelming, yet it has the power to influence your content marketing strategy that in turn benefits not only your brand but also the consumer. Whether you’re looking to grow your insights or revise existing data, it may be time to consider how big data is affecting your approach to content marketing and how it can take you to the next level.
If you’re just starting out, remember to keep it simple and be patient with yourself as you digest information. Create a fact sheet with the most important information noted like age, place of residency, top way they receive news, interests, and things not to talk about. Share this with your team and begin to measure your results. When you’re ready to expand your knowledge, consider employing a trusted third party to provide you a study with insights that will propel your brand further.
As the world continues to become more digitally focused, big data will only increase and the insights will be staggering. And the sooner you put this data to work for your brand, the quicker you will rise above the noise.