However, the website is only one element of the digital marketing mix and for you to really market your destination well, the full remit needs to be utilised.
This doesn’t mean setting up a Facebook, Twitter, blog, YouTube, Vimeo, LinkedIn and Google + account and using all time and effort simply updating these accounts. Channels such as social media, email marketing and rich content should be utilised alongside the website.
Story and recipient first; channel selection last
Rather than deciding that you need to start a Facebook campaign, start a blog or send an email to all 600,000 emails you have in your database, the first thing that needs to be defined is the message you want to communicate. It is nigh on impossible to create a communication that reaches out to all of your audience segments, so the right audience type needs to be defined too. Only when the message and the audience type has been confirmed is it appropriate to look at the wealth of options digital makes available for content dissemination.
More than a website
The word ‘digital’ covers so much more than just the destination website. Sure, a great website is key to a successful digital strategy, but so is a well thought out social media strategy and a user-focused content approach as well as the utilisation of a great email marketing tool and e-CRM system.
As a general rule of thumb, we use digital in the travel and tourism sector in the following:
- SEO/PPC campaigns - recruitment of stakeholders;
- SEO / PPC campaigns – recruitment of stakeholders;
- Website – informing and ‘closing’ stakeholders;
- Social media – engaging with stakeholders;
- Email marketing – reactivating stakeholders.
Of course, this is a guide, and each element of the digital marketing mix can be used for different elements of the user’s life cycle with the region.
Understanding the audience
The very nature of destination marketing and the fact that people are genuinely interested in what a region has to offer will ensure that data capture is not a problem. Some of our clients have over half a million email addresses captured in their database. The issue is in the segmentation. Simply sending half a million e-newsletters a month is lazy and could be detrimental to the brand of the region if people receive messages that aren’t relevant.
The key is to segment the different audience types, define what your region has to offer each type and then create the right message and channel to send that message out. It will mean more communication, but it will be targeted, refined and ultimately lead to better responses.
The Big Issues – budget and resource
This approach sounds like it creates more work and requires more budget - it doesn't. What it means is that the resources of your team can become focused, and the extensive knowledge and passion they have for the region can be harnessed. Budget wise, the tools are probably in place anyway; it’s just about using them correctly.