Using PURLs to integrate print with digital

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Let’s be honest: Print and electronic media are often seen as completely different beasts, with the respective print and digital teams working in their own silos. But print and digital don’t have to be (nor should they be) mutually exclusive; the formats can work great when used in tandem.

Study after study has shown that print remains an effective way to secure a response—but marketers often find the associated costs, personalization challenges, and difficulty tracking their ROI frustrating. The question becomes: How can we overcome these frustrations to take advantage of print’s benefits while simultaneously linking it with the world of digital media? The answer is one word: PURLs.

PURLs—or personalized URLs—are easy to transmit via both print and electronic media, making them perfect for multimedia campaigns. Electronic distribution is fairly straightforward: You include the link, either in plain text or embedded, just as you would any other link. For print, you can use an easily remembered link, such as www.acmespecials.com/andy.shaw. Including the recipient name is an easy way to personalize the link and make the link easy for the recipient to recall. When recipients visit the URL, they land on a page with information specifically tailored for them—and, of course, as a marketer, you’ll be able to track that visit and the campaign’s effectiveness.

So how does a PURL work? The technology typically has three main components:

  • A unique PURL “key” for each recipient. PURL technology needs to create keys that allows recipients with duplicate names (e.g., John Smith) to receive unique keys and thus unique PURL pages.
  •  A system that manages the ways in which personalized and/or segmented content is sent to each recipient. Ideally, this system will include tools that let marketers create templates and specify variable content.
  •  The ability to deliver a personalized page when someone enters in a full personalized URL.

Most marketing automation platforms play in the PURL arena, though not all have the same roots, experience, and history. Nimblefish was one of the first to the table, developing some of the first PURL technology and even coining the term more than a decade ago.

The beauty of PURL technology is that it allows for an easy merging of digital and print technologies in a way that keeps cost down while delivering feasibility and effectiveness. Your print pieces point to digital sources, which means that they’re trackable and that you only need to personalize and segment the print piece enough to get the recipient’s attention. Leave the deeper personalized content, such as product recommendations or personalized videos, to the Web. With PURLs, you are able to take the advantages of print, such as tangibility and accessibility, and pair them with digital benefits, such as low cost and metrics.

Have you worked with PURLs? What’s your experience been?

5 Tips for Delivering Trusted Advice Experiences

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You can think of the Nimblefish approach as a three-legged stool—the three legs being relevancy, straightforwardness and the promotion of trust. A good advice experience should nurture leads and direct customers in the right direction; a good advice experience becomes great when it’s executed organically in a way that displays and builds trust with prospective customers.

That trust can be built at every stage of an advice experience. Here are a few key things to consider as you create your advice experience.

  1. The initial buy-in. When someone enters the advice experience, relevancy is key, so it’s pretty common to start an advice experience by collecting customer information. This request is often one of your first customer interactions, so your phrasing is critical. Although we appreciate keeping it short and sweet, your customers are going to have a few questions:
  • What will you do with their information?
  • What will they get out of the experience?
  • Why should they give you their information?

Answering these questions upfront and as succinctly as possible will take you a giant step forward toward building trust.

  1. What you present. A big part of the advice experience is providing guidance on relevant options, much like a salesperson. A salesperson is generally able to have a one-on-one conversation and then provide options in line with that discussion. Your advice experience needs to do the same thing. Relevancy continues to be important here; your presentation should make a clear connection between the information the client provided and what you’re suggesting. If you’re off in left field with something generic or clearly trying to steer someone in a specific direction, prospects are going to wonder what you did with their information and why you’re pushing them in the wrong direction.
  2. How you present it. Beyond just saying the right things, you need to ensure a professional presentation. This means establishing a trusted, professional brand. Ensure you’re using the proper language and grammar; invest in a nice-looking and well-functioning website; secure high-quality creative assets (note that high quality does not need to mean top dollar); and maintain your online reputation. From there, extend your brand in all that you do. Being professional throughout the advice experience is critical, but the professionalism must be found in every subsequent touch.
  3. Establishing yourself. Don’t assume the prospect knows who you are or has already vetted you. Make sure to include a line or two (no more) about why you are the expert and what qualifies you to make such a recommendation. If you have more to say, simply let prospects know where the information can be found. Transparency is always a good thing.
  4. Proving you’re secure. Anyone can launch a website these days, so beyond showing your professionalism, you need to also prove that you are secure. Basic things such as SSL certificates will offer you that “https:” and security seal consumers know to look for before providing personal information.

Trust is hard to build, but if you pay attention to what your lead is saying and make a point to be honest and open and prove you can deliver on your promises, you’re headed in the right direction. Extend that philosophy to your advice experience to increase conversions and build lasting client relationships.

 

Marketing Analysis: A Few Things to Remember

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Measurement is everything in marketing—but, as is generally the case, anything worth doing doesn’t come easily. Given constantly changing technology, evolving metrics, and emerging media, it’s no wonder a perfect system doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

Some old-hat tactics continue to deliver while new practices continue to emerge. Here are a few things to consider as you look to perfect your own marketing analysis.

Your company is different. What works for one company is unlikely to work for the next—even if they’re in the same industry. Your marketing practices, timing, and client base are bound to be different, so your metrics and marketing analysis should be different as well.

But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Odds are your marketing analysis tactics and baseline metrics will have something in common with those of other companies. Attend relevant seminars and networking events to swap secrets, and then build on what you learn, tweaking it for your own purposes.

If you get lost in the weeds, take a step back. One of the most complicated parts of marketing analysis is figuring out what information is relevant versus what it merely interesting to you because you are so intimately involved with the numbers. It can be tempting to micro-track and micro-brief leadership, but take a step back to determine what the numbers are actually saying for the overall direction and big picture.

On that note, what have you done for me today? As for the big picture, your ultimate goal is not simply comparing an email campaign’s click-through rate against a baseline goal (though that might be part of it); it should be analyzing all of the information to determine overall takeaways and direction. Is one tactic consistently growing your ROI? Are there certain tactics that—based on best practices and consumer interests—should be performing but aren’t? Answer the big questions to determine where you’re headed on the whole, and then find the gaps to determine your questions about individual tactics.

Don’t overcomplicate things. Too many systems means too many data transfer points and the need to constantly update fields and forms. You have a choice: You can put a person (or two) in charge of data collection and transfer, or you can leave it up to technology. One of the easiest ways to get past the inundating parts of a campaign, from kickoff through measurement, is to work with marketing automation software that unifies your send process through triggered follow-ups and, best of all, surface analytics. By tying the pieces together, the first half of the job is done for you, freeing up your team to focus on figuring out what the numbers mean rather than what they are.

Enabling and Embracing High-ROI Marketing

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We’ve talked about developing relevant content, maximizing the efficiency of content, and even getting more out of existing creative assets—but how often do you actually consider the idea of high-ROI marketing rather than high-ROI touches? And, for that matter, what’s the difference?

Let’s go back to basics for a moment: ROI means return on investment. As a marketer who is determining ROI, you’re likely looking at production and material costs for a given item or campaign. But if you extend your thinking beyond getting better returns on your touches to getting better returns on your marketing approach as a whole, you’re likely to head in a bigger, better direction. Here are a few ways to get started.

How can you approach relevancy from a big-picture perspective? When we talk about relevant content, we often talk about ways to filter relevant messages to people based on demographics or even producing variable video content that first solicits information from prospects to tailor messaging. All of this is absolutely important, but it’s often focused on a single send or campaign. Instead, think about your overall relevancy to a customer group for better appeal. For example, if you are in health and beauty, does your product line appeal to various segments for the same reasons, or are there different aspects that might appeal to various groups? On a related note, are you considering your relevancy to that group for each campaign or for all campaigns? Both are important, not just the former. As you consider your approach, think of ways that you can deliver unified messages with different appeals to respective candidates. Not only will you build a sub-brand and recognition, but also you’re more likely to see your response and conversion rates increase as a result.

How can you do less to get more? With anything ROI-related, the name of the game is reducing hours to get enhanced results. If you can bring in the right marketing automation and analytics software, you can free up time to focus on creative aspects, leaving manual tasks to technology. There are plenty of ways to work smarter (not harder), but it’s difficult to beat the benefits and results marketing automation provides.

How often do you revisit your segmentation strategy? If you are using marketing automation software or even simple drip campaigns, you’re likely pushing touches based on segments and responses. People grow and interests change over time, so it’s important to continually review and reassess those segment assignments for efficiency, results, and relevancy. Think of yourself, for example: Are you interested in the same things today that you were 10 years ago? Apply that to a teenage or youth demographic; even five years is practically a lifetime.

The importance of revisiting segmentation strategies goes beyond demographics. Changing segments affect every industry. In travel, people take the trips they’ve been wanting, developing new interests and preferences. In art and culture, income levels or interests and availability change. The point is, regularly review your segments and how they’re defined, as well as review the criteria for segment assignments.

What do you take away from measurement? Measurement is the key to increasing performance, and yes, ROI, but it doesn’t do much good to know what’s happening if you don’t apply the takeaways. All too often, marketers put so much time and effort into completing the analysis, but making actual changes falls by the wayside. Changes are your path forward to smart testing and realized ROI.

High-ROI marketing isn’t just about the ROI on a specific iteration or campaign; it’s about taking an intuitive, strategic approach that better leverages your team’s strengths, reduces time spent on manual or redundant tasks, and allows you to find ways to be more relevant to your audience(s) as a whole. This important shift in thinking can lead to capturing high ROI for your full marketing approach and execution rather than just for individual touches.

Increasing Considered Purchase Conversion Rates: It can be done

CONVERSION RATES.JPG.001You know the story: A visitor spends substantial time perusing your site … your team connects with the visitor one-on-one … then nothing. You hear crickets. Although you didn’t expect the visitor to purchase immediately, it doesn’t change the fact you still need to get that conversion. But how?

Increasing conversion rates is every marketer’s seemingly uphill battle—and conversion rates for considered purchases (in short, any purchase that takes some time and consideration before the consumer signs on the dotted line) present a special challenge. Here are four ways to increase your conversion rates for considered purchases with less frustration and more success:

  1. Play the long game.If you know your typical purchase cycle is six months, don’t market like it’s a two-week cycle. What does this mean? Spacing touches appropriately, strategically taking time to get to know your prospects, targeting materials for relevancy based on your takeaways, and shifting your messages accordingly. For example, your first follow-up touch might provide overview information about your company’s preeminence in the industry and then touch lightly on products of likely interest. From there, don’t follow up in two days; your message will likely come across as noise. Instead, watch the response from that first touch. Do prospects click on one of the links? Which ones? How long do prospects spend looking at products, what do they search for, and do they return to your site afterward or contact you otherwise? Don’t go chasing them down for a quick turnaround; it’s unlikely to happen and far more likely that you’ll scare them away. Instead, be strategic and play the long game.
  2. Don’t forget to ask.At the same time, don’t miss an opportunity simply because you forgot to try to close the deal. Make sure every marketing piece has a clear call-to-action and an easy way for leads to convert if and when they’re ready. This could mean clearly marking purchase options on your website landing pages and including a purchase button or clear link in promotional emails—you get the idea. The point is, always make purchasing an easy step to take.
  3. Learn from your sales team.Your sales team should know your clients and purchase cycle intimately and can likely provide valuable information in terms of what interests clients and the questions they ask at different stages. Use these insights to your advantage to incorporate the appropriate messages in your materials at the right times. For example, the purchase cycle typically begins with prospects realizing they have a problem and then looking for potential solutions. Prospects then move to the evaluation stage, where they match solutions against their requirements, filtering out options. This evaluation stage is critical and often where the marketing opportunity lies. You need to inform prospects about your offering, its advantages, and how it clearly solves their problem. Your sales team can help you better clarify the messaging and match the terminology and focus to each marketing piece.
  4. Nurture and automate when possible.The conversion rates for considered purchases take some time. If you try to do everything manually, you will burn yourself (and the lead) out quickly. Your job is to collect information and then decipher how to leverage it to provide your lead with insightful marketing that leads to a conversion. That said, not every lead will follow the same path, and the same information is not going to apply to everyone. We mentioned earlier that you need to pay attention to how your leads interact with your site and how they engage with your marketing materials; take that to the next level to ensure relevancy. Marketing automation software is a great way to automatically filter leads into appropriate marketing streams. Managing leads manually is exhausting and places you at risk of missing information. By automating, you can set triggers based on your programmed and prescribed reactions/actions, leaving you more time to pay attention to overall optimization opportunities and best practices that ensure more conversions in the big picture, rather than at the micro level.

Increasing conversion rates doesn’t have to be an uphill battle—but you need the right strategies and tactics to market to considered-purchase leads.

5 Must-Follow Marketing Automation Practices

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Marketing automation is perhaps one of the most valuable tools in a marketer’s toolbox. When used properly, automation programs not only deliver great results but also streamline marketing efforts, reduce tedious and manual efforts, and produce huge cost savings. However, the magic words are when used properly.

No, there isn’t a rulebook that applies across the board to every campaign for every company—but there are a few solid best practices that apply in every marketing automation instance. Here are a few ways to ensure solid results with your marketing automation efforts:

Continually assess. The biggest challenge with automated marketing isn’t learning the software or even deciding which pieces to automate; it’s maintaining peak efficiency. Marketing automation software is the vehicle, but you need to remain an active driver, watching conditions and adjusting course accordingly. Don’t let patterns grow stagnant or miss an opportunity for new growth; continually monitor and measure results, and, as when driving, adjust the course when needed.

Always test. You know the A/B testing you do for subject lines? Do the same for your automated marketing efforts. Test your timing intervals, offers, messaging, and more. Through testing, you’ll determine your own best practices and hone your marketing to secure better results for your own client base.

Don’t forget to tie it all together. Every message and every touch needs to tie back to your overall marketing strategy and lead flow. For example, this means that if you use lead scoring, your marketing automation software needs to be a part of that system. If you are pushing variable video or advice experiences, design your marketing automation strategy not only to push those pieces but also to respond to them. Too many marketers have missed huge opportunities by not connecting the dots. Say you use marketing automation to follow up with prospects but also run manual campaigns for proactive lead outreach. It isn’t enough to simply clean and cross-tab your lists; you also need to monitor the flow of leads between the two alleys to ensure that pushes don’t cross follow-up and that the order of messages follows a natural, relevant progression. Tie all of your efforts together, and streamline whenever possible.

Remember the sales team. One of the great things about marketing automation software (assuming the right software) is that you can quickly and easily automate messages on anyone’s behalf. If a personal approach is worthwhile, consider automating follow-up from your sales representatives; it’s extremely easy to include the appropriate name and contact information. And if that isn’t quite your game, simply stick with the bottom-line rule: Make sure the appropriate sales rep knows what’s going out and when. Some marketing automation software even allows you to tie in with other systems and share client summaries to make that communication effortless.

Allow for flex. Not every lead is going to follow that same linear path, so make sure to plan accordingly. Work with marketing automation software that allows you to easily filter leads based on their actual responses to ensure relevancy; doing so will allow for more relevant, responsive lead nurturing … which leads to higher ROI.

Using Video to Educate, Advise, and Recommend

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Video has an extremely high potential to return value to marketers—especially when done right. In fact, 65 percent of surveyed executives have told Forbes that they visit a marketer’s website after viewing a video. That said, maximizing this potential isn’t about creating just any video; you need to provide value and an easy, relevant experience. Here are a few ways to do that.

Define one unified purpose. One of the great things about video is its flexibility. For example, your marketing video might provide an overview of your services or company, or it might promote one specific offering. Either way, make sure to define the video’s intended focus upfront—before production begins. This isn’t to say that you need to create a separate video for each product; in fact, we recommend the opposite. Variable video allows you to inform customers of the components most relevant to them, bringing in various elements as appropriate and of interest to each individual. However, regardless of the “elements” that land in each prospect’s video, your video must still have a unified focus. For example, your video might provide vacation recommendations or recommend the best technology packages for an individual’s needs. The elements will vary, but the focus and purpose remains the same.

What are you offering? This ties in with ensuring your video has a unified purpose. What will viewers take away from your video? We recommend taking the approach that each marketing video experience does three things: educate, advise, and recommend.

  • Educating is pretty straightforward. Your video will inform the viewer about a situation, something about your company, or an offering. However, although some components are likely broadly applicable, not everyone is looking for the same thing. That’s why we recommend step two: advising.
  • Advising allows you to learn about your consumer to present the materials most relevant to him or her. You might filter down by information you already have—for example, products the consumer has already viewed online, or past purchases—or, you might have the prospect answer a few strategic questions. Viewers’ responses or information will advise you as to how to better inform them.
  • Recommending is the third step. The recommendation is the core takeaway. Based on your lessons from the advising portion, you will make tailored recommendations to the consumer. These recommendations will tie back to your video’s purpose in a relevant way for the individual consumer.

Make the call-to-action easy. Marketing video in general has great ROI, but any time consumers leave the media, there is an opportunity for them to fall away from the experience. Instead of simply giving a URL at the end of the video for more information, why not integrate the call-to-action? For example, below the video, you might provide direct, clickable links to pages associated with your recommendations. Alternately, you could provide a “call me now” button that puts someone from your company immediately in touch for follow-up. There are countless ways to make the step from watching a video to answering a call-to-action seamless, and each will increase your ROI and reduce manual follow-up.

Four Ways to Get More From Mobile Marketing

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When it comes to consistency in marketing, only one thing is really consistent: evolution. Evolution of best practices. Evolution of measurement tactics. And, perhaps most challenging, evolution of available media, such as mobile.

Mobile has grown exponentially; smartphones are now in the hands of more than 143 million U.S. consumers. Consumers are receptive to your mobile messaging, but, as with anything, you have to do it right. Here are a few ways to get more out of your mobile marketing efforts:

  • Responsive design: Do it. Even if you have no major plans for mobile marketing, don’t overlook responsive design. Ever been to a website through your phone, only to find that when you resize the text, half of it disappears off the sides of your screen? Responsive design prevents that from happening. A site coded with responsive design automatically optimizes the display for whichever device is in use, be it a smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc. With consumers spending nearly 60 percent of their time online on mobile devices, responsive design is simply a must.
  • Stop thinking of mobile as a “channel.” When mobile first became a marketing reality, we thought of “taking marketing mobile.” However, with mobile’s evolution, it’s no longer an individual channel; it’s a part of everything. It’s an extension of what you’re doing elsewhere. You’re no longer doing email, Web advertising, a website, and mobile; you’re bringing mobile into each of those channels. How will your marketing emails read on a smartphone (versus a laptop or desktop)? Will you go with a responsive design or create a separate mobile-optimized site?
  • Keep it straightforward. Visual website components, such as Java, Flash, or autostart videos might work well for sites accessed through traditional devices, but on mobile, they’re often just annoying if not all together nonfunctioning. To convey your message, make media straightforward and easily accessible through easily navigable design, static images, selectable videos (rather than auto play), and finger-friendly sizing for links.
  • Measure, then measure again. As with anything in marketing, measurement is key. Odds are that mobile is one part of your marketing mix—and a relative newcomer, at that. Take the steps necessary to learn how your consumers are using your mobile marketing and the bigger role mobile plays in your overall conversions and interactions. For example, how are your clients most often using mobile—to read your emails, access your website, or make purchases? What overall consumer behaviors are leading to sales—and within those behaviors and actions, what role does mobile play? For example, if a client visits your website an average of five times and reads an average of three emails before actually making a purchase, how many of those touches are made via mobile? Of course, measure the ROI of each separate outreach, such as SMS messages, but don’t forget to measure and carefully evaluate mobile’s ongoing, evolving role within the bigger picture, too.

Consumers’ use of mobile continues to grow—as do the results for marketers. Don’t forget to plan for mobile, leverage best practices, and measure to in order to adapt those practices for your individual use.

6 Qualities of Winning Retention and Renewal Programs

Infographic client retentionYou know what they say: It costs three times more to earn a new client than it does to keep an existing one. No marketer is likely to argue against the importance of client retention, but the question of how to retain a client can be up for debate. That’s why we’re spotlighting the six qualities of creating winning retention and renewal programs.

  1. Work with your sales team. All too often, the various teams in a company work in silos (the marketing team, the sales team, etc.). The reality is that your marketing team is an extension of the sales team, bringing in initial leads and building relationships upfront. The sales team is the closer. The teams need to work in tandem. Make members of the sales team a part of the process. Ensure they know when you send out materials and, for that matter, what you’re sending. That way, when they make personal outreach, they’ll be well informed and able to work with the materials you’ve sent, resulting in an easier close—i.e., increased ROI, a happy sales team, and a happy customer (a win-win-win, right?).
  2. What’s in it for the client? Reminding your clients of an expiration or upcoming renewal is a good step, but unless there’s a specific call-to-action or WIIFM (what’s in it for me?), they aren’t too likely to take action. Make your marketing materials enticing, and make the client benefit clear. Is there an early renewal discount? Perhaps a loyalty benefit? Make the actionable item, benefit, and deadline clear.
  3. It isn’t just what you say; it’s how you say it. If someone is already a client, you likely already have some insight into his or her preferences; use that information. Does the client prefer direct mail or email? Are there certain times of day in which the client routinely opens your emails? Has the client renewed or made continual purchases previously? What did those purchase cycles look like? Use the information you have on hand to more successfully create and disseminate materials. This strategy will not only earn you immediate ROI but also build longer-term loyalty.
  4. Make it personal. You know why Norm continued to go back to Cheers? Or Barney and Marshall to MacLaren’s? Familiarity. People like to know their business matters, and they like to feel they are part of your corporate family. Use the information you have to personalize your renewal/retention marketing materials. For example, if you email a link to a landing page that will ultimately turn a video, make that video personal. Variable video allows you to personalize video outputs based on any number of customizable points, whether client-selected or database-driven. For example, you might mention their current subscription and a reminder of the upcoming expiration. Or, you might go for the upsell, suggesting information about another relevant product or service. The same could be done in direct mail or any other marketing media. Whatever you do, find a way to make your outreach relevant and personal to each client, letting him or her into that “something bigger” club.
  5. Don’t be a fair-weather friend. Nothing’s worse than an organization that takes your money quietly and then magically reappears right before renewal time. Make sure to reach out to your clients throughout their contract term. New service benefits, reminders about service capabilities, tips and tricks, and relevant news items all count. Remember: You’re looking for ways to build an actual relationship. Frequency matters.
  6. Don’t make it an uphill battle. Remember that you don’t need to do it all manually and on your own. Make use of marketing automation programs to send the right messages at the right time to the right people. With the right software, you’ll be able to customize your messages based on the client name, sales team member, services and products, and more. Work with software that makes your job easier—not a program that just gives you one more thing to manage.

The keys to successful retention and renewal programs are relevancy, personalization, and using what you have to drive stronger connections, make more meaningful contacts, and return higher results. Play to these points, and you’re bound to be on the path to higher retention and renewal rates in no time.

Customizing Each Traveler’s Experience Begins with Your Marketing Approach

TravelFor consumers, travel is all about adventure, freedom from responsibility, and getting away from stress—however, often it’s stressful to simply find and book travel experiences. That’s why many travel and tourism organizations are using marketing automation to provide consumers with an easier, more convenient way to not only book travel but also to identify destinations and learn about what they offer.

Marketing automation in itself isn’t necessarily a unique notion—but how you employ it can be. From working with the right software so that you can customize your approach to tailoring your strategy to meet prospects’ individual travel needs, there are plenty of unique factors that affect the success of your marketing efforts.

Make marketing automation work to greater success for you by considering the following as you design your approach.

Use what you know.

To successfully market destinations and services, marketers need to have an understanding of their prospects’ preferences: What is it that they like to do, what amenities are must-haves, etc.? By understanding these core components, organizations can then better tailor marketing content.

You can secure this information in several ways. Surveys are one tactic, but there are two more elegant solutions that might better appeal to your target audience: advice experiences and making use of information you already have.

Advice experiences allow you to seamlessly acquire the information you need by directly asking the consumer a few strategically written questions; you can then leverage the responses to deliver customized, relevant trip options and recommendations.

Alternately, leverage information that you already have on hand. For example, if the prospect is a previous client, consider where the client went on past trips—information about the destination, any excursions taken, photos uploaded, and the like are all successful contenders.

Don’t forget to sell.

The great thing about an advice experience approach feeding into marketing automation is that it allows you a soft sell while also being direct.

Some of the largest global tourism organizations (think Marriott and Disney, for example) have taken this approach, staying focused on education and relevancy. Generally, these organizations place their efforts on educating the consumer about why their company is the right choice and what they’ll experience during the trip. By using gracefully introduced advice experiences to capture information upfront, they are able to deliver tailored recommendations directly correlated to messaging about why the company is the best fit for an individual.

The approach is focused, direct, and provides useful information-and secures enhanced results.

Always drive to one call-to-action.

Even though tourism is generally a B2C effort, we’ve found success in leveraging lead nurture tactics typically seen in B2B. For example, you might use a landing page to capture initial information, getting more specific at each question point. Then, from there, you develop an ongoing conversation over a specific period of time.

That conversation will likely start with why your brand is a good fit for the client based on what you know, and then you’ll use subsequent touches to lead the consumer to various destinations and clarify why your brand is best. You’ll apply what you have learned via the advice experience, direct feedback, and information about past trips to approach the consumer with the right destinations and the right messages. Those messages might focus on amenities or destinations according to the time of year. Regardless, each one needs to be unique, and each one needs to drive back to a specific call-of-action.

It isn’t what you say … it’s how you say it.

As with any survey, success is very much about understanding upfront the context of what you are trying to glean and proactively planning how you will use that information. That said, when you ask questions, the way you ask the question is very important. You don’t want to simply drive the consumer down a path to choosing one of several preset options; instead, you want to cull all of the options and engage the consumer in a dialogue so that you can provide a more insightful recommendation.

Often, it isn’t about asking the obvious questions—for example, “Where do you want to go?” or “How much do you want to spend?” These questions are limiting and drive to a calculation format. Instead, ask questions such as “What destinations have you previously enjoyed?” or “What are you interested in experiencing—adventure, nature, etc.?” These questions will help you to gain better overall insight to provide stronger recommendations.

Ensure quality across the board.

Remember that you are providing a larger experience that includes the travel but carries through each marketing touch. Make sure that your content fits that experience and your brand at each point.

The experience begins with that initial marketing piece, which should incorporate quality imagery and language. Once consumers land in your advice experience, they’ll find each asset taken one step above. For example, rather than landing in a static video, they’ll find themselves presented with a few questions that lead to a customized video speaking directly to their interests. They’ll be given information about destinations that truly appeal to them based on their interests and habits—and that information will include relevant excursions. Once they book, they’ll receive access to your user community, where they can interact with other travelers and continue their education. This access will also feed their interest in future opportunities.

Each travel experience is unique, as is each traveler, so use your marketing touches to extend that experience and make getting to the destination a fun part of the process. From great creative to advice experiences that feed to marketing automation (and send the right information at the right time), your strategic travel marketing approach should help you build dialogue with the customer and provide an enhanced, elegant opportunity to discover and coordinate travel.