Digital marketing in tourism – insights from #SATSA19

Unique content is the “central ingredient” behind creating Inspiration and Aspiration when it comes to digital marketing in the tourism sector.

That’s according to David Ryan, founder of Rhino Africa, who told SATSA Conference delegates that properly distributed content was one of the critical components of a holistic digital marketing strategy.

“Our Digital Strategy has always centered around generating Inspiration and Aspiration for both Destinations and Product around Africa. Without Inspiration or Aspiration there would be no search interest and that, at the end of the day, determines your global competitiveness. Content defines the brand and companies need to put that brand and their client at the centre of their strategy,” said Ryan.

According to Ryan, profit and conversions are not goals, they are consequences of your marketing. “Digital marketing, first and foremost, is an investment in your brand and clients. It’s the mechanism that creates Inspiration and Aspiration that ultimately serve your goals.”

Like any investment – in client and brand – ROI is not instantaneous and therefore requires commitment, he said. “It shows returns over time and if my experience is anything to go by, budget plenty for school fees because you are part of the digital evolution.”

One of the biggest challenges of developing a digital strategy, he said, is it requires a big investment. “Campaigns and channels don’t start performing immediately. Much like the traditional world where relationships take investment and nurturing, so does a digital marketing strategy.”

Companies now are facing more competition than ever in the advertising space. This makes it more important to adopt a holistic marketing strategy and be present on all relevant platforms, not just prioritising one.

In 2004, Rhino Africa was one of fewer than 1,000 Advertisers with Google and there was only one channel to advertise on. “You could afford to be less purposeful with Ad Spend,” says Ryan.

Today with over four million advertisers, competition is tough, and advertising is expensive. “To put that into perspective, five years ago we would pay around $45 for a luxury Kruger enquiry. Today, that same enquiry would cost you in excess of $300.”

With 4 million web users and limited marketing spend, never before has it been more necessary to ensure your marketing is seen by the right target audience.

Search has been taking a hit. Competition is increasing and voice searches are taking away volume. This increases the cost of advertising on specific keywords that clients are already bidding on. The only way companies can respond to lowering their cost of acquisition is to continuously test and innovate for new advertising channels.

In terms of trends in the digital marketing, Ryan said mobile, social and video (especially stories) are hot at the moment. “Keep your website and landing page load times fast, make sure they’re easy to navigate on mobile and keep things simple,” he said.

“Instagram Stories have grown to 400 million users, while Facebook Stories topped 300 million users in 2019 and they launched in 2016!”

In the words of Ryan: “There is no future in the past. Business, as usual, is dead. Drive change or be driven by change.”

To view David’s full presentation, please click here.

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