Editor’s Note: This is part six of The Zen of Travel Content Marketing series on building an inspired (and inspirational) content strategy for your hospitality or tourism business. (Still not convinced you need content or a blog? You do.) As I publish each new installment, I’ll link it at the bottom of this post.
No more teasing, no more waiting: you’ve made it! Over the past few months, you’ve fleshed out your travel personas; developed your hotel or travel content strategy; chosen the best travel content delivery channels; run an audit on your current content; and had a look at some exceptional examples of travel content marketing. You’ve been patient (thanks for that!) and now it’s finally time.
Yes, it’s now time to create compelling, actionable travel content. It’s time to use your words to paint vivid mental pictures with brushstrokes so bold, they’re almost fluorescent. And it’s time to leverage the principles of travel copywriting to guide your site visitors to click, to sign up, to book, to call – whatever it is you want travelers to do, it’s time to get them doing it.
But before I release you into the writing wilds, I’ll leave you with this travel content marketing checklist – 11 essential elements to include in every piece of your content marketing:
Travel Content Marketing Checklist: 11 Essential Elements
#1: Write Well
In all the do this and do that of content marketing, we hear a lot about calls-to-action, social sharing, and even quality content. But what you rarely read about is quality writing. (More on those below.) In travel, it’s not enough to merely share good information: you must write well. Bring your destination to life with your words. Put your readers in the moment. Create a picture so striking, so completely irresistible, that anyone who reads your words will be convinced – convinced that you are the one, the only answer to the question, “Where should I travel next?”
#2: Pinpoint Your Target Persona
Your content strategy may target more than one travel persona, but each individual marketing piece – each blog post, each travel guide, each newsletter article – should target just one. Before you write one word, choose your target persona and then write for that, and only that traveler.
#3: Define Your Goal
You should have a specific goal for all your content. Perhaps you want people to sign up for your email list; maybe you want travelers to download an itinerary; or you might want them to click the darn book button already. Whatever your goal, define it clearly before you begin writing a blog post, a newsletter article, or a travel guide. Remember: your end game will define what you write and how you write it.
#4: Insert a Call-to-Action
And speaking of your goal, all content should have a call-to-action (CTA) that guides visitors to fulfill the goal of your content.
#5: Add Internal Links
Link to other blog posts, guides and content on your website – and choose your anchor text (linked words) wisely; the best anchor text is natural (read: not strange phrasing written for the search engines) while incorporating targeted keywords and phrases.
#6: Choose Incredible Photos
Content is better with images, so always add one (or a few) to your blog posts, newsletters, guides and other content.
#7: Forget the Hard Sell
Never, ever forget that your content isn’t about you: it’s about travelers. We live in the sharing economy, and travel content marketing is all about sharing the best of your destination, your hotel, your offerings – but in a natural way.
#8: Boost the Quality
Strategize everything you write to be high-quality. Don’t just parrot what others have already said: pioneer. Write something that hasn’t been written, or improve on something that has already been written a thousand different ways. And after you’ve written something, go beyond simple edits: ask yourself how you can make your piece an even better resource for travelers.
#9: Run the AIDA Test
AIDA is a time-tested copywriting formula; it’s acronym stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. You don’t have to become a top-notch copywriter to do content marketing right, but it is a good idea to keep AIDA in mind as you write. Your headline, your introductory paragraph, your content and your CTA should all pass the AIDA test.
#10: Optimize Your Content
For blog posts, travel guides and other content that lives on the web, be sure to do some basic search engine optimization (SEO): choose your keywords and key phrases wisely, and write optimized titles and meta descriptions. Then get started on check point #8, so other websites will link to your content (backlinks are one of today’s most important factors in boosting your search engine rankings).
#11: Share, Share and Share Again
Content marketing is no Field of Dreams: even if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. You must spread your content across the interwebs – share on Twitter, post on Facebook, add to LinkedIn. You should comment on popular related blogs, especially those that show comment love (share your latest blog post with your comment). Participate on related forums. Leverage your email list, and share new blog posts, latest news, and other tidbits as they come. Build relationships with bloggers, media, and travelers. Wash, rinse, repeat. Never stop.
And that’s all, folks! You’re ready to write targeted content that gets shares, builds loyalty, instills trust, and drives bookings. Good luck, and please let me know how it goes!
Other installments in The Zen of Travel Content Marketing series:
Part 1: Get to Know Your Target Audience
Part 2: Define Your Travel or Hotel Content Strategy
Part 3: Choosing Your Content Channels
Part 4: Run a Content Audit
Part 5: 9 Examples of Exceptional (but Doable) Travel & Hotel Content Marketing