ROI is one of the biggest marketing mysteries we are facing collectively as an industry today. Our recent Tourism Marketing Plan Blueprint questionnaire confirmed that it is one of the main issues many of us in the travel and tourism industry are struggling with.
You should not be spending money on marketing where you do not track your spend. Metrics are not perfect, but you should also understand that if you don’t measure your marketing efforts, you are relying on “hope” marketing. This is a dangerous business in today’s marketing environment – you just can’t be sure whether or not your efforts and spend are successful. Just as importantly, you may diverting resources away from other, more successful, opportunities.
Broadly speaking, though, we find there are generally two camps in the travel and tourism business:
- Those who spend and don’t measure, relying solely on ‘hope marketing’ – spending marketing time and budget and ‘hoping’ it goes well.
- Those who have all the metrics in place, but don’t do anything with it for any number of reasons – lack of time or know-how perhaps.
It can be a difficult area, but what we often tell our clients is that we need to strike a balance between best practice and the real world. It is not always black and white, particularly in areas like social media, PR and brand equity. We often ask: are you measuring the right things?
We encounter a lot of wastage of precious budgets. An area that upsets me most is consumer travel trade shows, where it’s common for leads to not be followed up. On many occasions I have seen garbage bins at the exit of some of these travel shows filled with brochures!
There is no true way to measure these sorts of tactical executions of your budget. In the digital age where it is easy to truly connect with interested travellers, one must question the ROI of every dollar and hour spent on a campaign.
Neil Patel tells us that while individual metrics don’t always tell the whole story by themselves, combined together, they can provide you with the whole picture. In the first instance you need to determine exactly what you are measuring and align this to your broad strategic business goals.
What are you measuring? What are your goals?
Measuring results in relation to your broad and overall business goals should be at the centre of all of your metrics. In the travel and tourism industry, it could include:
- Increase revenue
- Increase visitation
- Increase spend
For the purpose of this article we will look at two areas of measurement common to the travel and tourism industry – websites and social media.
Measuring ROI on your website
In the digital age, your website is your shopfront and your face so a critical measurement of the usefulness of your website. Many businesses do this, but do they do it to any effect? First, you need to broadly define the goal and purpose of your website – and more directly, your conversion goals. These need drive what you measure. Realistically, as a time poor travel professional, you won’t be able to apply this to everything, but you should measure what is most important to the broad goals of your business and website.
Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting determines that a successful website tracking strategy should go through the tracking cycle. Google Analytics makes it easy (and free) to measure and track your website stats. It also allows you to link them to specific goals, as well as broader goals with a monetary value.
The tracking cycle
- Determine your overall strategy, with both long and short term goals or objectives.
- Establish a baseline by recording your data and statistics. Compare year on year data and take into account seasonal fluctuations, operating environment and competitive landscape.
- Proceed with tactical execution.
- Collect data over a period of time.
- Compare baseline data to the new data. This could be a particular timeframe, such as 6 or 12 months etc.
- Refine and adjust your campaign.
Examples of broad goals to measure on your website could include:
- Generating sales
- Generating leads
- Generating revenue
- Travellers to read your blog posts
- Developing an audience
More specifically it could include:
- Viewed a pricing page
- Online purchase
- Filled out contact form
- Usage of online quote feature
- Click on link to dealer website
- Sign-up to newsletter
- Download of .PDF file
- Time spent on important webpage
- Social interaction (share/like/follow)
- View of video
- Number of visitors to site
- Pages – performance over another
- Traffic by search engine
- Traffic by keyword
- Traffic via mobile
- Geographic location
- Plus, much more.
You can also measure branded traffic. Branded traffic is when a traveller searches using your business or destination name, or types your domain name directly into the search bar.
Once you have determined your goals, time frame and baseline, proceed with the campaign and collected data, then analyse. You can then go on to tweak and refine your campaign or goals. Rinse and repeat.