Whether you book excursions, classes, or accommodation, marketing is an important part of your business plan. It helps you reach new customers, reconnect with previous ones, and grow your company.
But how do you successfully market your bookings, especially during the pandemic? We’ll walk you through 13 simple ways.
1. Create content that meets the needs of your audience
High-quality content can take many different forms — blog posts, eBooks, white papers, videos, information pages, and more — and plays a critical role in nearly every marketing strategy. You can use great content in emails, ads, and social media posts, and it’s imperative for successful search engine optimization (SEO).
But what makes content great? It all starts with meeting the needs of your target audience. What questions are they asking? What problems can you solve for them? What do they want to read about? If you’re not quite sure, our First Customer series walks you through finding an audience, identifying their problems, and more.
Make sure you don’t just sell your products in your content, though. Focus on being helpful. If you run a bed and breakfast, you might create an area guide with the best restaurants and things to do near your location. If you sell horseback riding excursions, you might write blog posts with interesting facts about horses and updates about the ones you keep in your care. If you’re a cooking school, you might share favorite recipes.
Now is also a good time to answer questions about the precautions you’re taking during the COVID-19 pandemic. People are probably searching for this information — so make it readily available! Constable Burton Hall Caravan Park links to their COVID-19 policy right in their main menu, which outlines their social distancing requirements and cleaning practices. This sort of information goes a long way in making people feel comfortable booking a stay or experience with your company.
2. Make the most of social media
Social media is an excellent way to connect with previous and potential customers at once. Choose a couple of platforms based on where your audience spends their time and focus your time on those.
First and foremost, focus on serving your followers. Don’t just promote your business; instead share information that they’ll find valuable. Remember the content you created earlier? This is a great place to share it! By avoiding being too promotional, you can meet your followers where they are, stay top of mind so they’ll choose you in the future, and make them feel good about your brand so they’ll refer you to others.
There are several other ways you can use social media to market your bookings site:
- Reach new customers. Consider using paid advertising for specific demographics and audiences. Share special deals and promote fun experiences, or get involved in Facebook groups based on your area or industry.
- Interact with your community. Be responsive! Engage with comments quickly — positive or negative — and answer questions that might arise. Use quizzes, polls, and giveaways to get your audience involved.
- Reengage previous customers. Install social media tags — like Facebook’s Pixel — to reach out to previous customers who may not have booked with you in a while.
Want more tips? Check out our post about turning followers into customers. Want to streamline your processes? WooCommerce provides several extensions that make integrating your bookings site with Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest much easier. Or, consider using Jetpack to automatically share new content with your followers.
3. Optimize your site for search engines
Organic search engine traffic is some of the most valuable traffic you can get to your site. Why? Because people that find you on Google are actively searching for what you have to offer.
SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. It takes ongoing work and time to find success — but it’s well worth the effort. The best place to start is by creating valuable, relevant content, as we’ve already discussed. Then, focus on your user experience — site speed, responsive design, navigation, etc. — and optimize your pages and bookings for relevant keywords.
Sounds like a lot? It doesn’t have to be. This post from Jetpack walks you through all the SEO basics.
4. Invest in search engine advertising
While paid search engine ads do cost money, they also typically lead to faster results than SEO. Spend some time defining your audience and choosing the right keywords. This will get you in front of the right people at the right time.
Searchers that click on paid ads are actively interested in your accommodations or experiences and, most likely, are ready to purchase soon. This is the perfect time to use urgency as a motivator!
In your ads, mention limited-time offers and special deals that appeal to customers’ fear of missing out. Direct visitors to specific landing pages created for each offer, with more information, helpful content, and clear calls to action.
Don’t worry – you don’t have to invest a ton of money to get good results. Start small, test several ads against one another, and increase your budget once you understand what works. For more details, read our Google Ads for Beginners guide.
5. Reach out to site visitors
The people that visit your site, click through several pages, read some of your blog posts, and even open up your calendar are some of your best prospects. Why? Because they’re the most interested in booking with you. Reach out to these people using remarketing ads.
Remarketing ads are an inexpensive way to stay top of mind. Start by creating an audience of previous site visitors with the Google Remarketing Tag and/or Facebook Pixel, then periodically promote new pictures, blog posts, and information to that audience.
This is especially effective for promoting a sale – you’ll reach a lot of people who are interested in booking with you but may have held off because of price. It’s the perfect chance for them to buy!
6. Encourage reviews
Reviews add instant credibility to your business. When someone considers booking with you, they’ll search for others’ experiences and thoughts. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews after someone’s stay or experience is over, or you could send an email out later that day, requesting reviews.
And while reviews on your own site are great — and encouraged! — also direct customers to platforms like Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor.
The most important thing? Deliver an excellent experience time and time again to keep those reviewers happy.
7. Build an email list
Email marketing is an incredibly powerful way to keep your audience updated on what’s happening with your business and encourage them to book with you.
Start by choosing an email marketing platform. WooCommerce integrates with a wide variety of them — pick the right one for your business based on price, number of subscribers, and functionality. MailPoet and AutomateWoo are two excellent options.
Then, start building an email list. Give customers the option to subscribe when they book with you (don’t just add them automatically!). so you can reach back out to them in the future. You could also offer a coupon code, eBook, or travel guide in exchange for an email address to capture the information of site visitors who haven’t yet purchased.
Just like with social media and content marketing, don’t be too promotional. Share information that will help your customers and interesting articles that they’ll enjoy. You should also personalize your emails as much as possible. Use subscribers’ names, purchase history, and interests to deliver the exact content that’s most relevant to them.
Pro tip: You can also use email marketing to recover abandoned carts, customize transactional emails, and set up automated welcomes.
8. Take advantage of user-generated content
User-generated content is any content created by your customers and followers rather than your brand: vacation photos, experience videos, testimonials, and more. This type of content goes a long way in generating bookings because people tend to trust information from their peers more than businesses.
Share your followers’ photos and videos on your own social media accounts. Ask if you can include them on your website, and consider a giveaway or contest to encourage even more people to participate!
9. Be available for questions
Your customers probably have a lot more questions during the pandemic than before. Not only will they want to know about your business, accommodations, and experiences, they’ll also want to know about your cleaning practices, cancellation policies, and maximum occupancy.
Consider adding a chat box to your website with someone on hand to answer questions as quickly as possible. You could use a tool like LiveChat or even add a Facebook chat box directly to your website.
Also, create an FAQ page with common questions and make it readily available. This simplifies things for site visitors and your customer service team. Adventure Parc Snowdonia answers questions about everything from session length and advance bookings to pricing and age requirements.
10. Embrace photos and videos
As a bookings site, photos and videos are your best friends. People want to know exactly what their room will look like before they book or what type of scenery they’ll get to see on their motorcycle tour.
Invest a little bit of effort or money (it doesn’t have to be hard!) into high-quality photos and videos, then feature them on your site. Add them to booking products, showcase them on your homepage, or even create a gallery that potential customers can flip through.
The Icon Cookery School does a great job of this. They feature stunning photos throughout their site, and share videos on social media that show what their cooking classes are like.
If you’re worried about heavy-hitting files slowing down your site, consider using Jetpack’s image CDN and video hosting service. They’ll take the load off of your server and keep things running quickly.
11. Create a customer loyalty program
There’s nothing better than loyal customers. They book with you time and time again and share their experiences with friends and family. Keep them happy by creating a customer loyalty program.
With the WooCommerce Points and Rewards extension, your fans can earn points for booking a stay or experience, writing a review, or signing up for an account. Then, they can redeem those points for a free night or discount off a future purchase.
12. Connect with influencers
An influencer is a person with a lot of, well, influence over other people. They might be a travel blogger, food critic, entrepreneur, or social media guru. The bookings industry is the perfect place to make the most of their skillset!
Typically, you would either offer an influencer a free stay or experience, or pay them for a review of your business. For example, you might give a travel blogger a free three-night stay at your resort in exchange for their honest review. Or, you could pay an influencer on Instagram to share the current Father’s Day discount you’re offering on golf packages.
This allows you to reach a whole new group of people who are more likely to book with you because they trust the influencer you’re partnering with. Want more information? Read our post about influencer marketing.
13. Support your community
Now more than ever, your local community needs support – and there are a ton of ways you can provide that! For a period of time, you could donate 10% of the money earned from your bookings to your local food bank or homeless shelter. You could promote local shops on your social media accounts or blog. Or you could partner with a nearby restaurant to provide coffee, snacks, or food for your guests.
By supporting your community, you not only show potential customers that you care, you also form powerful relationships with nearby businesses that will be mutually beneficial for years to come.
Increase your bookings today
Our best advice? Don’t wait to start a new marketing campaign. Jump in, try several different strategies, and find what works for your business. If you focus on providing real value to your audience, you’re sure to find success.
WooCommerce provides everything you need to sell bookings online and market them to existing and potential customers. From an unrivaled bookings extension to marketing tools, you’ll have everything you need to grow.
Not yet using WooCommerce? Get started today.