Retargeting

Retarget Travelers to Take Them On a Trip Back to Your Site

Written by Tim Edmundson

Mar 23, 2016

Each spring awakens the wanderlust of millions of potential travelers. With warmer weather comes more people looking to book travel for the coming months – 68% of North Americans booked their trips online in 2015. That means if you’re in the highly competitive travel business, you need to make sure your ads are reaching these travelers and resulting in booked flights, hotels, car rentals, and package deals.

Spring is the perfect time to evaluate, and if need be, clean up your ad strategy. And it’s best to start sooner rather than later; data shows that travelers most commonly book hotels two months before their trip – and they rarely convert on their first visit to a travel booking site. Their tendency to wander from site to site makes them prime candidates for retargeting campaigns. If you’re already running retargeting, take stock of your performance to ensure you are going about it the right way.

Whether you’re starting fresh, or your campaigns aren’t performing up to expectations, it’s a good idea to start with the basics. You’re going to want to establish where your customers are online, and when (and how) you are going to engage them.

WHERE DOES THE JOURNEY BEGIN? Let’s start with where these potential travelers are spending their time online. According to eMarketer, your best bet in finding customers who are interested in booking travel are search, on travel sites (obviously), and Facebook.

NEARLY 50% OF TRAVELERS BEGIN TRIP RESEARCH THROUGH SEARCH | This means that your search rank really does matter. Make use of ad words and strong on-site SEO to ensure your site is visible and ranks high.

FACEBOOK IS THE SOURCE OF 69% OF TRAVEL CONTENT SHARES | This makes sense pretty quickly should you ever venture to your News Feed for longer than five minutes. Enjoy those pics of your friend’s lavish vacation you can only afford in your most expensive of dreams.

TIP: Facebook users have travel on the brain, so be sure you are running ads there. We recently discussed best practices on how to get the most out of your retargeting efforts on Facebook, so be sure to give that a read.

THE RESEARCH PHASE MEANS OPPORTUNITY. Travel bookers are commonly found on travel booking sites, but they aren’t necessarily there to buy anything.

41% OF PEOPLE BROWSE BUT DON’T BOOK | Based on research conducted by Skift and Boxever, close to half of potential travelers use these sites to browse or research prices but do not finalize their purchase.

40% SEARCH 3-5 SITES BEFORE BOOKING | Potential travelers don’t limit themselves to one site. While it’s a shame that so many consumers get cold feet, this number represents an opportunity.

Behind the disappointment of unconverted sales lies a large group of engaged and interested users who are visiting travel sites, but just don’t see enough of an incentive to finalize their trip. These consumers are a prime audience for retargeting campaigns.

CASE STUDY: An effective retargeting campaign will know who to engage, and the right moment to do it. SteelHouse worked with a leading travel site in an effort to retarget these wayward travel planners. How?

Method: For your ads to be as effective as possible, they need to speak to the right audience. The only way to ensure your ads are getting in front of the right people is through proper segmentation. For this particular travel site, we created over 30 specific audience segments in order to tailor messaging for various demographics and behaviors. Audience segments were built using both onsite behavior, as well as the online travel engine’s own data. And this data was key – segments took into account how many travel points a user had, or how many lifetime purchases they had made. With specific, actionable data like this, ads were built that would speak to each segment specifically. A variety of formats were used – video, countdown timers, and dynamic product carousels (which used the travel locations the user searched while on-site) were all brought into use.

Results: Advanced segmentation combined with beautiful, relevant ads contributed to a ROAS of over 10x!

Check out the full case study that explains how we partnered with a major travel brand to drive traffic to their site.

Effective retargeting makes the best use of the data available, and it should be used to predict behavior. That way you aren’t serving ads for flights when the consumer is trying to book a hotel – if you serve them a compelling ad that offers a great deal on a room instead, you’ve done the legwork to get a conversion. In our experience with our travel customer, the right combination of data analysis, smart segmenting, and appealing creative all lead to a successful retargeting campaign that netted those elusive travel shoppers.

If you’re looking to start fresh with a new digital marketing strategy this Spring, or just retool your retargeting campaigns, now is the time if you want to start chasing after summer trip planners. Keep the basics in mind, keep strong segmenting and creative at the center of your campaigns, and you’ll be booking travelers in no time.