If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about marketing, no matter what you’re trying to sell; it’s that content is and will always be king. You can implement every marketing strategy under the sun and follow every best practice you’ve heard of, but at the end of the day if your content isn’t good, or if you don’t have any at all, you’re destined to fail.
A lot, not all, but a lot of brands these days simply don’t know how to market their content. Some don’t even know how to create it, even if they’ve got a really interesting subject matter to deal with.
I’m not just talking about ticking over the blog for SEO purposes so Google thinks you’re human here. I’m talking about creating engaging content that people will actually want to read, not something that’s there to be ignored.
Search engines aside, your customers are your lifeblood and you should be obsessing about them. What are they thinking? What’s trending? How can we get some kind of interaction from them? These are all questions your team needs to be asking constantly.
In essence, your content marketing strategy has to not suck.
Clever content marketing is more than just words on a page; it’s a multi-channel approach that engages your customers, proves you are an industry leader and a medium that puts a human and relatable face to your business. Cruise brands especially, have an opportunity to engage with their customers and create great content that adds value to the brand whilst appealing to their demographic – in fact, cruise brands have a golden opportunity to really do great things with their content, and some don’t even know it.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of great ways cruise brands can put the wind back into their content marketing sails.
Know your audience and deliver content that they want to see.
You know your client base well. They could be avid explores and adventurers looking to get stuck into the great outdoors or people who just want to sit back, relax and take in some breathtaking views whilst gorging themselves on the buffet (let’s face it, we all love a buffet). Either way you need to create the content that they want to read and something that they can relate to.
If your customers are the more outgoing type – get them excited with great content showing the tours they could get involved in and the on-board activities available. Show them that this is exactly what they’re looking for through content. They probably don’t want to see pictures of people just lazing about all day and sipping cocktails, they want to know that you can facilitate polar bear sighting expeditions, rock climbing trips and football on top of a glacier.
Videos of trips available, top 5 lists of the most exciting things they can do on whilst on a cruise and an overall, regularly updated message that really shouts “This is what you’re looking for!” will all help relay the message you’re trying to get across.
Do it for them, not for you.
If anyone ever tells you that an SEO team is the only thing you need for success, they’re lying. Just saying you need SEO is like a cruise brand saying “we only need a boat for this cruise to be great” – complete rubbish. If you base your site on SEO best practices then yes you’re doing something right, but you need content marketers too. But be aware; if you are only doing it to try and cruise up the rankings, you’re destined to fail.
Google wants to provide a useful link to its users, so let’s just stop and think about that word: useful. Your content needs to be useful to the user and something that they genuinely want to read - not just 1000 words of complete rubbish that no one will want to get through. You need to provide content for your customers. The fact is; you’re reading this page because you want to learn about how to improve your content marketing strategy. This is useful content.
Whether it’s essential tips for cruise survival, what to bring on board, what to expect on a cruise etc. your content needs to be for your customers, not Google. Google isn’t going to buy a ticket for your cruise, the customers are. And although both are reading your content, only one side will truly connect with it. This brings me onto my next point…
Create an emotional connection
Creating an emotional connection with your customer base is essential. Your customers want to trust you and it’s up to you to gain that trust. Whether you do this by showing that you really understand what they’re looking for, or providing them with a valuable piece of content that they simply can’t bear to tear themselves away from.
Take this video from Hurtigruten for example. I was hooked within 5 seconds of watching it.
Everything appealed to me. This man represented everything I’ve been looking to achieve in life and I didn’t even realise it. The look in his eyes that says “I have arrived world, hear me roar” really got to me. The fun he was having, the narrative, the music, the enviable ruggedness - it all made me seriously want to travel to Antarctica and fight polar bears or something. And I HATE the cold! This created an emotional connection with me that had me watching the video 5 or 6 times. I wanted to do what this guy was doing so badly and I was instantly looking into how I could make this happen. This type of emotional connection drives sales and the quality of video really positions this brand as an industry leader by being able to evoke emotion.
Global Head of Social Media for LEGO, Lars Silberbauer said “when you feel that you are being advertised to, you lose a lot of trust in that message”. This type of advertising didn’t feel like an advert, it felt like this was the type of thing to fill that void I didn’t know I had in my life! Content like this is what sets a brand apart from others; it made me trust the brand and want to interact further.
Interacting with your customers whether through social channels or via your website has proven to be a valuable marketing tool that not only spreads awareness of your brand, but also drives engagement and loyalty.
Engaging with your customers through social media is important, but encouraging them to engage with you via a multi-channel approach is equally, if not more, important.
User generated content is one of the best ways to increase loyalty and get people excited about your brand, but it’s not just all about reviews.
Hurtigruten have nearly nailed another aspect of content marketing here by introducing a photo competition.
As everyone can easily become an amateur photographer these days, and everyone takes a camera with them on holiday, this essentially means Hurtigruten are getting high quality shots of holidays that they provide for free. Getting customers excited about showing off their photography skills as part of a competition and getting people talking about your brand and sharing those photos is a great idea.
They don’t just post anything either, they choose great quality shots that will encourage others to try and outdo.
My only critique would be that they could be doing this a little better by promoting the competition a little more and making this into a real feature onsite and via social.
I had to look hard for it but found that once I did arrive on the right page my competitive nature got the best of me and I wanted to get involved. Your staff can’t take a 1000 photos everyday showing off all the great parts of your cruise, but your customers certainly will be able to help. A UGC win.
An extremely important aspect of your content marketing approach is to be consistent. Stick to your guns when it comes to creating your business model. Are you showing off your fine dining experiences and relaxing atmosphere or are you showing your potential customers that sleep is the enemy? Whichever aspect you want to push – stick to it and keep people updated regularly. Blog posts, social posts, email newsletters all promoting your brand in a non-over the top way that is consistent with your message AND useful is the key to success.
Get your content in front of the right people
You’re content is great, you know your demographic and you’ve got everything in place for a great user experience when people come to your site. The only problem is, no one is actually looking at your site.
This is where you really need to think about outreach.
Outreaching articles, guest blogs and useful information to bloggers news sites and other heavy hitters in your industry do more than just help with that SEO link juice – they expose your brand to people who may never have heard of you. In addition, getting your content on other sites helps to establish that YOU are the forward thinkers in the industry as other people are talking about your brand in a positive light. This method drives traffic back to your site as people will want to engage with you more.
I know from experience that outreach works and helps further your brand’s message. For example, we have placed a myriad of articles about Hit Search itself on international and national sites, offering insightful pages like this into the best practices of online marketing. We’ve had people contact us from all over the globe asking for advice, all based on the fact we have placed this content elsewhere. And if it works for us, it’s going to work for you. You could be reaching out to completely new potentials through the medium of guest blogging and sponsored posts. Gone are the days of black hat link building – it’s all about quality content on and off page.
Keep these points in mind and you’re on your way to content marketing success.
For more information on content marketing for the cruise industry, contact an expert today at Hit Search on 0845 643 9289