You don’t need me to tell you that 2020 wasn’t quite a normal year for…well, anything. Plans were put on hold, safety precautions became of utmost importance, and uncertainty seemed to cloak the immediate future. 

Multiple industries were affected by these shifts, especially the travel industry. Whether it was foreign or domestic, travel restrictions barricaded every destination and every hope for a trip. 

Now that we’re nearing a time when traveling seems more possible, it’s a prime opportunity to expand your top-of-funnel acquisitions. How do you generate interest in your brand after a year or so of stagnation? Here are a few ideas I’m personally focusing on right now:

1. Discovery Campaigns

If you haven’t already delved into discovery campaigns, Brittany Sager’s blog post, Discovery Ads for New Customer Acquisition, gives a thorough overview of what Discovery campaigns are and how they can work within your account. 

I love Discovery ads for many reasons. They populate multiple areas of search, utilize imagery within the ads, and allow for slight variations between text and image assets (similar to Responsive Display Ads). 

Why use Discovery ads for travel-related clients? For starters, Discovery ads are wonderful for generating interest and attracting new customers. I worked on a month-long promotion initiative for a client earlier this year, and we used Discovery ads as part of our strategy to garner interest. The results spoke volumes. We captured 15 million impressions, and 88% of website traffic during this time consisted of new visitors. While individual results may vary, it proved to be a huge factor in the success of the promotion.

Aside from that, Discovery campaigns are particularly attractive for the travel industry because of the imagery component. Images of travel destinations speak for themselves – especially at a time when a lot of people are aching to travel again! Powerful imagery is an efficient way to catch someone’s eye. It allows for the audience to picture themselves in that location and might even drum up interest before they get to read the copy. 

If you choose to run Discovery ads, pay attention to how they affect traffic going to your branded and general campaigns. It’s likely that you’ll see increased searches once folks have discovered your brand. To read about how you can use Discovery ads as part of your remarketing strategy as well, check out Dan Rocklin’s blog post, Discovery Campaigns As A Part of Your Remarketing Funnel.

2. Brand Awareness Campaigns

Brand Awareness campaigns are focused on doing just that – creating awareness of your brand. Choosing this strategy means you want to show your ad to people who are most likely to recall your brand within a couple of days of the ad. 

Brand Awareness campaigns generally operate around the estimated ad recall metric, which helps estimate how many audience members are keeping your brand at top-of-mind. It seems straightforward, but there are specific reasons why I wanted to highlight the use of these within the travel industry.

Firstly, brand consideration is a key step to establishing your reputation in the travel industry. Most folks aren’t going to search for a destination and pick some random brand they’ve never heard of. They might take their time to explore the brand, compare against competitors, and establish a bit of trust before booking a trip. 

People want to travel with a brand that feels familiar to them, not some stranger who might lose their luggage along the way. If you don’t believe me, just ask my mom – a loyal patron of One Specific Airline who has passed that loyalty onto all of her kids. Seriously, we won’t fly any other airline unless under dire circumstances.

This leads me to my next point: building brand loyalty. Brand Awareness campaigns can be a powerful tool in moving customers from the consideration stage to the loyal customer stage. Use these campaigns to tell the brand’s story, to humanize the hardworking folks behind the scenes, to make the brand feel welcoming and familiar. 

If used in tandem with other efforts, Brand Awareness campaigns can tackle multiple fronts and ultimately keep your brand at the forefront of your audience’s mind. In the travel industry, this can be an important part of generating high-quality, high-intent traffic.

3. Lead Forms

If you’re utilizing a platform with Lead Gen Form capabilities, this is an excellent way to gather information about your audience in order to continue the customer journey. Lead Gen Forms can vary slightly based on the client and platform, but they generally capture basic demographic information as well as email addresses. Sounds great, but why use this for the travel industry?

For starters, Lead Gen Forms can help generate a lot of traffic and boost your remarketing lists. This aids in both brand awareness and brand consideration, which we already know is important in establishing brand loyalty. 

Beyond that, Lead Forms can be an effective way to connect with your audience and establish trust. Do you have a newsletter that you send out? Sale notifications? Updates about travel restrictions and necessary steps? A Lead Form can capture the information needed to communicate these things with your audience. 

This is especially important right now, given the landscape of this global pandemic. Sometimes it only takes a few days for news and restrictions to change, and a trustworthy travel client will want to make sure they have a way to pass on updates to their clientele. 

With Lead Forms, you can gather the information you need to stay on top of changing travel trends and keep your audience in the loop. By removing the hassle of folks having to seek out this information themselves, your client can establish themselves as a conscientious leader of safety and communication among travel companies. Who wouldn’t want to book a trip with a company that has a ringing endorsement like that?

Conclusion

While things aren’t necessarily “back to normal”, the future is looking brighter and the travelers are looking for trips again. There are certainly other options for expanding your top-of-funnel reach, but these three areas are a great place to start as things ramp up again.

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