Basics for Your Travel Social Media Strategy

According to a recent study by Sprout Social, travelers are turning to social media to influence them more than ever before. In fact, only 48% of those that used social media to research travel followed through with their original plans.

Blog-BasicsTravelSocial1 Basics for Your Travel Social Media Strategy

As a destination, you certainly rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing, so this is a trend that you simply can’t ignore. What are you doing to take advantage of these trends? At Advance 360, we recommend a few places to begin.

Develop Goals

Without a headline, call to action, or supporting text, an ad is just a pretty picture. Any ad unit you craft must have a goal and a purpose before it’s created. If you seek an increase of 1.75% in revenue over the next quarter, draft advertising units for the social spaces that push your customers or visitors toward that goal. Or if you rather change the makeup of the visitors to your property, seeking to expand your footprint to new geographies? Social media’s audience targeting can help with that, too.

Craft Something Beyond the Click

It isn’t enough to have a great ad. You also need something to explore once you’ve gained the click. You earned that click – but you won’t earn it again unless there is value to the action you’ve enticed.

Be Useful

Serve up tips, tricks, and the unexpected, and curate it well. Four Seasons, the luxury destination properties that nearly everyone knows, saw a 1000% increase in daily average visitors to their site, using this kind of strategy on Pinterest.

Don’t Bite Off More than you Can Chew

If you can’t manage SnapChat, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and a YouTube account, don’t go there. Take on only as much as you can, and then grow only once you’ve achieved success in that platform. Your audience will feel that you’ve diluted your identity and your product, and you probably won’t disagree while you’re feeling stretched too thin.

Monitor All, Measure, Repeat

Track everything. Google Analytics will help you see your work from ad to conversion. Manually analyzing metrics across platforms is time consuming and cumbersome. Instead, use the aggregating tools available to you to automate as much as you can, and make more impact.

83% of travelers trust recommendations from family and friends. Use the social space, where those conversations take place, to your advantage.

A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era

Any way you measure it, it’s all about reach whether it’s paid, earned, owned, or shared media.

As brands and publishers rush to grab up as much land in the digital space as they can, it ultimately lands them in only two yards, Google and Facebook. This duopoly has become something that brands and publishers have to figure out and Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media, shared some of his thoughts on the subject of this duopoly. He warned publishers about rushing towards these platforms as the saviors of their business models and instead opted to differentiate in the space as opposed to embracing the race to feed the algorithm which reads as the modern-day race to the bottom.

His most insightful point is that content still holds value that can be leveraged by publishers. Traditionally we have seen publishers bending to the will of Google and Facebook but Smith argues that content is so vital to the modern digital landscape that these platforms will have to partner with publishers and brands going forward instead of rolling over them.

His final point is one we drive home with all of our clients:  pick a platform that works for your brand, not the one that is most popular because they might not be one in the same. Bloomberg has found success on Twitter where some brands (which brands, news or business brands like Bloomberg?) might not share that view and may find success on Snapchat or LinkedIn. The point is that publishers and brands need to be particular about where they put their content and understand not only why they are posting there but to whom they are posting the content for.

Check out the rest of his presentation here.

Creating Engagement Through Content

Content Creating Engagement Through Content

In digital marketing, the best way to sell your product or service is by not “selling” at all. Instead of always asking your customers to buy, you can become a resource for them, by sharing valuable information or just something fun. For example, a car dealership could produce a used-car buying guide, or a dentist office might distribute kids quizzes on how to prevent cavities.

This information is called “content” and whether delivered through a blog post, social media update or video, it’s the heart of any successful digital marketing strategy. Consider that 50% of consumers report that a company’s content has a positive impact on their purchase decisions.

People spend more than 1,000 minutes per month watching online videos with the 18-24 and 25-34 age ranges leading the pack. Video consumption continues to rise, to the point where video social media network YouTube has become one of the leading search engines on the web. Educational institutions need to understand how their audience is consuming content online, and the fact is that more people than ever are watching videos for both entertainment and education. And with video content being among the highest converting metric, can you afford not to utilize the power of video? (Read on about video content marketing here, with this article from Advance Ohio.)

Nearly 90% of all brands use some form of content marketing, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Whether a mom and pop shop or Coca Cola, businesses recognize that this vital marketing resource helps them connect with their customers, generate more sales leads and grow their business.

Recruiting International Students

According to the Institute of International Education, more than one million college students studying in the U.S. are international students, and 47% of those are from China or India. Due to limited funding, more than half of these students elect not to make a campus visit before starting classes. The US has always been the destination of choice for international students, making your digital marketing strategy around an international audience even more necessary.

We’ve outlined some strategies below to help universities marketing to prospective international students:

SEO/SEM

If you were an international student, how would you go about searching for universities in the United States? You would probably search for something like: “programs for international students in the United States” or other similar phrases. Having your university’s web page appear on the first page of that search’s results will enable you to be visible to international students. If you are a very small university it may be hard to compete with larger ones through organic search results, which is where paid search can help. 

Digital Content

Digital content is all about knowing who your audience is and writing for them. Use relevant and useful content to attract prospective international students, like rates specific to international students, as well as information, and answers to frequently asked questions to help make their decision easier. By providing as much relevant information as possible, you will be a step forward ahead of your competition. Remember, your content strategy will elevate your SEO rankings, too.

Mobile

study by UVersity.com showed that international students use their mobile device to visit websites, download university apps, take a virtual campus tour, and view university social media. Having a mobile-friendly website that is engaging and has a fast response rate will allow you to make a good impression on international students. But before you have prospective international students looking at your website university, you need to get noticed. Mobile marketing will allow you to reach the audience you have intended while getting your university’s name out there for prospective international students to notice and research.

Social Media and Other Grassroots Strategies

International students want to communicate with admissions counselors, international services, and students during the admissions process.

  • Use your international alumni to intrigue prospective international students. Create testimonials that you can quote and refer to on your social media accounts. You can also use your international alumni to create a page on LinkedIn. Invite current and former international students to join the page so that perspectives can view it and find someone to connect with that went to college abroad and can give them valuable advice.
  • Use your social media account to promote materials that are important to international students. You can promote materials about the number of international students there are on campus if they are relatively high, or you can promote materials about clubs/organizations that are on campus to help international students feel acclimated on campus.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Using Instagram is second nature for current teens which is why utilizing your university’s Instagram and advertising on the platform will help increase your university’s brand presence with international students. Posting pictures of campus and students will give international students a feel for campus life without physically being there. Keep in mind that generic photos of campus are no good, make sure the pictures capture candid moments.

Improve Your Search Performance with Content Marketing

Content Marketing has become one of the most important ways for a business to market themselves online. 

Not only does targeted, relevant, frequently updated content on your site nurture your prospects and give them a deeper way to get to know you and your products, if done well over time, it gives good “Google Juice” so that you are ranked higher in searches! Improving your organic search rankings with Content Marketing takes months of consistent publishing on your website. It is for that reason that we work with clients on annual engagements, rather than producing “one-off” pieces.

Click to download our most recent travel content guide.

Digital Healthcare Marketing Strategies that Really Work

Constant change has become the norm for healthcare marketers these days, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down as a new administration will inevitably mean changes to the healthcare system. That being said, there is one trend that isn’t going away in digital healthcare marketing, and that’s the focus on the patient. Healthcare has made the shift towards a value-based system, and healthcare organizations depend on patient satisfaction to not only maintain their current patients but to get referrals and gain new ones.

The good news is that organizations that promote themselves digitally will benefit from the increasing consumer involvement in healthcare. Providers are at an advantage, because health is one of the most important topics in people’s lives, and digital marketing is facilitating an exchange of information between these providers and their patients. But what are the best strategies for reaching patients? We’ve outlined some of the most effective ones below:

Storytelling

The goal of many healthcare organizations should be to focus on brand awareness, as well as gaining and retaining patients. The best way to do this is to draw patients in by framing your healthcare facility as a caring and engaged organization. Your story needs to be about putting the patients first. These days, patients are turning to the internet to research their healthcare. By consistently providing them with up-to-date information about diseases and conditions, treatments and procedures, and the doctors and health care professionals in your organization, you can engage the patients that are out there researching. In addition, healthcare marketing is cyclical and should focus on what the patients are experiencing throughout the year. During Mother’s Day, you can run maternity stories, weight loss after the holidays, flu shot information in the winter, and men’s health around Father’s Day. Of course, healthcare organizations need to keep in accordance with HIPAA, so focusing on general and educational information should be the priority.

Video

Don’t forget – content doesn’t just mean the written word. Video marketing is extremely effective for healthcare organizations. Creating videos to post along with your content can greatly enhance your content marketing strategy: according to a study by Moz, posts with videos receive nearly 300% more inbound links. Consider creating patient education videos that explain a complex subject in a short but compelling way, or interview doctors in your office to bring the human factor to your healthcare organization. Make sure to post these videos on your website and share through social platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

Social Media

Engaging with patients means that healthcare organizations need to take it one step further than just posting information on a website. That being said, social media is an important component of healthcare marketing. In fact, 90% of adults 18-24 say they would trust medical information shared by others in their social networks, while 41% of all patients say social media impacts their choice of healthcare providers. Replying to patient concerns in a timely manner is important for healthcare organizations, and encouraging patients to provide feedback on their experience can be an effective social strategy. Healthcare providers should be using social media as one channel to amplify their story. Another great way to use social media to the benefit of a healthcare organization is by creating groups and forums where patients can discuss various aspects of the healthcare field. Keep in mind though, that social media is only effective if it is consistently managed.

Website and Search Engine Optimization

All websites these days are at the mercy of search engine algorithms, and healthcare organizations are no different. If you want your organization to be discovered online, you need to have your website content optimized for that purpose. So what does that mean? In terms of Google specifically, there are two primary metrics: relevance and authority. Relevance is a measure of how relevant your website content is to your business. This used to only be measured through content related to keywords and back-end tags and meta descriptions, but the algorithm has gotten much more sophisticated and can now understand the content as it is related to the intent of the search. Authority is the measure of how trustworthy and valuable a page is based on rankings that include how many times people share or link back to content, how well the site runs, and if it is optimized for mobile usage. In basic terms, the best way to optimize your website is to make sure the content you create to tell your story is valuable, up-to-date, and of good quality.

Email Marketing

The truth is, email marketing is still the standard for business reaching their audience, it just needs to be done in the right way. The best email strategy is a targeted and personalized one that reaches the right audience with the right message. Use personalization techniques that enter in recipient’s names when sending, include a catchy subject line, fill the email with relevant and useful content for the readers. It always goes back to the story and making sure that the patient is getting quality information that aligns with your brand.

By using digital tools to communicate relevant information and educate your patients, you will inevitably build relationships that will help you retain your current patient base and build a community of well-informed and engaged patients that are loyal to your organization.

For NonProfits: The Importance of Understanding Your Donors and Their Motivations

To well-informed marketers, it’s no longer a question of whether they should be diving into digital marketing. The answer to that is a resounding “YES!” The question now is: “How do I integrate digital marketing into my organization’s strategy?” While this is a valid question, marketers should be asking an even more important question before even considering the development of their digital marketing strategy: “Who is my audience?” 

Many nonprofit organizations assume they know who their donor audience is, and develop strategies based on these assumptions. There are two problems with making these assumptions: 

1. How do you know these assumptions are accurate? 

2. Even if these assumptions have been accurate in the past, are they still accurate, and will they continue to be accurate in the future? 

This lack of audience clarification is an important reason why it is crucial for a nonprofit to define its donors. 

Data is one of the most important parts of any digital marketing strategy. Eighty percent of nonprofits use donation amount as their primary, and often only, data point for their targeting strategy. Only 34% use age and birth year data in their targeting. In order to more effectively increase engagement and conversions, nonprofits need to expand their use of data. 

Rather than blindly sending out a message to any available audience, a data-driven strategy can be used to identify and target specific segments of donors. For data to make sense and be valuable, you need to have numerous and accurate data sets. Think of data like a black and white picture. Adding one set of data – like donors – would be like adding the color red. Another set of data, possibly social media followers, would be green, and then adding a third set of data would be like adding blue. Suddenly, you have a full scale color picture. When you analyze and organize the data, it’s like adding a nice frame around it and now the picture is ready for viewing. 

When an organization truly understands its donor base, everything can be planned around those audience members and what they’re looking for. Content can be created that speaks to what’s important to them and what drew them to the organization in the first place. E-newsletters can be timed to agree with a donor’s schedule and filled with content that is important to them. Social media interactions can be more meaningful and create further conversations through sharing. The fact of the matter is that people are more likely to respond to campaigns that resonate with them. More than just knowing an audience, digital marketing helps build strong, loyal, and long-term relationships with donors, so they feel a connection to the organization and continue donating on a regular basis. By knowing who donors are on a more specific level, organizations can understand their habits and behaviors, and relate to donors even more.

 

Where to Begin

Advance’s Ohio team recently posted a great piece of content on, well … content! Generating ideas is tough, especially when content developers are tasked with material that is SEO rich and interesting to the reader. This great blog entry describes a number of inspirational tools, created by Hubspot, Buzzsumo, Daily Page and Help Me Write. These aren’t the only generators of their kind available, but might help as you begin your content development journey.

Read the full article here.