But … WHY are you interested in digital marketing?
Is it because you want an online sales system that...
If you’re nodding YES, to any of those, then you’re in the right place.
At Diaz & Cooper, we’ve spent almost 2 decades helping to promote businesses in the travel industry; doing the research and heavy lifting. We’ve learned (and continue to learn) a lot about what works and what doesn’t, and we’ve found that the path to digital marketing success begins with Customer Value Optimization (CVO).
Before we get into the nitty gritty, this blog post is pretty long, so it might be easier to simply download it. Besides, it’s always nice to have it handy.
Customer Value Optimization (CVO) is a powerful and proven system defined by Digital Marketer and customized by our team specifically for travel and tourism businesses.
As a Digital Marketer Certified Partner, Diaz & Cooper uses the CVO process to maximize the lifetime value of prospects and customers in your sales funnel.
Tactics are worthless if you don’t understand the CVO process.
This is why you are frustrated. You have no context. You have no system.
In this post, we’re going to show you, step-by-step how to create the system.
New bookings and repeat business will drive your revenue and build your brand.
Over the next 10 years, travel industry experts predict that online revenue for the travel industry [worldwide] will expand at an annual rate of 3.8% to reach $11.4 trillion.
Furthermore, the latest Nielsen research on leisure travelers found that vacationers spent an average of 53 days visiting over 28 different websites, with more than 50% of travelers checking social media for travel advice.
So, clearly, if you don’t have a plan for maximizing your digital presence, or, worse, if you haven’t started actively marketing online yet, you are on track to miss out on the industry’s greatest revenue and growth opportunity.
The time to act is now.
Just check out the latest data on digital marketing for the travel industry from CMO.com, Expedia and American Express:
...imagine what it would be like if you could confidently generate booking revenue on "autopilot".
Imagine getting more heads in beds (or butts on seats) and a higher profit margin even while you sleep! What would that do for your career or business? What would that do for your life?
Well, done right, digital marketing can be used to make that imaginary possibility a reality.
Integrating the elements of digital marketing – your website, your social media presence, your email communications, etc. – into a powerful conversion funnel enables you to automate your sale and marketing processes, resulting in inbound bookings and affording you the opportunity to concentrate on delivering unforgettable guests experiences that guests will want to enjoy again and again.
When you can get customers more quickly and easily through a well-engineered conversion funnel, you have more power to decide how big a chunk of your revenue you want to share with OTAs and other third-parties.
In this article, we will share exactly how we build fully automated booking machines using the CVO process.
After reading this article, you should be equipped to model a digital marketing plan for your business that will transform your marketing into a predictable engine for growth in your travel and/or hospitality business.
Diaz & Cooper exists to deliver a “done for you” marketing solution, so that you’re never at a loss for what to do next. We offer tools and guidance for every stage of your digital marketing funnel, and we’re so serious about building a genuine partnership with you that we’re happy to start with a freebie:
The first thing you need to know about how CVO works is: Your inbound marketing funnel is NOT about you.
It’s really not even about your resort, your destinations or your tours.
An optimized conversion funnel is focused entirely on your customers – your guests.
To achieve business benefit, your conversion funnel must deliver one of 3 core objectives:
Here is a visual of the CVO process that serves as the roadmap for everything we do…
We’ll do a deep dive on the 7 steps outlined in this image later, but for now, I’ll give you a high-level understanding of what you do at each step to attract more guests/customers, get them to spend more, and increase buying frequency.
There are 7 steps along the Customer Value Journey and here's what you'll need for each:
Complete these seven steps and you’ll have the foundation for true digital scalability! Now, let's dive in to each of the seven steps...
Most marketing that fails does so because…
Needless to say — getting clear on your ideal customer and the desired outcome your offer delivers is fundamental to the success of your business.
Here’s how to get that clarity…
If you are talking to “everybody” then you are talking to “nobody.” The biggest reason marketing campaigns underperform is because they target too broad of an audience, with a generic “one size fits all” message.
Buyer personas are important for guiding all aspects of your marketing plan, from website and blog content to social media and email strategies.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. By defining your buyer persona at the beginning of every marketing campaign you can avoid falling into the generic marketing trap.
A quick and effective way to create your buyer persona(s) is to think about the customers you currently have that are most profitable for your business, then note their general demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
As an example, here is what a buyer persona might look like for a resort property.
In this case Busy Brenda is a married mother of three. She and her husband are both working professionals, which has enabled them to create a pretty nice life for themselves and their children in Miami, Florida. Their combined incomes are to well into the six figures. They own a nice home. Their kids are enrolled in private school. For all intents and purposes, life is good.
However, due to their busy work schedules, free time is in short supply and family time tends to suffer. Planning ahead is difficult. Still, they’re desperately overdue for a family vacation that will work for a pre-teen, a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old and two very weary parents.
Now that you’re laser focused on a segment of people who are most likely to buy from you, you’re ready to craft the right messaging.
When someone decides to book with you, they aren’t actually buying your product or service… they’re buying the transformation your product or service makes possible: From an “undesirable BEFORE state” to a “more desirable AFTER state.”
Therefore, in order to get more people to buy, you simply need to transition from putting out canned one-size fits all messages to articulating the move from the “before” state to the desired “After” state in a way truly resonates with your ideal buyers.
Here are eight questions you need to ask yourself about how you transform your ideal buyer’s life with your product/service:
Your marketing message needs to express your understanding of each of these phases as you take your buyer persona through a before and after journey.
With this simple eight-question “Before/After” Grid, any half-decent copywriter will be able to create a marketing message, uniquely tailored to connect with the desires of your buyer persona and have an impact.
TAKEAWAY: Average marketing messages only articulate what a customer will HAVE if they purchase their product or service. Great marketing messages speak to how a customer will FEEL, how their AVERAGE DAY will change and how their STATUS will elevate.
Ultimately, the Before and After Grid exercise helps you to define your Unique Value Proposition -- a vital component of your marketing message -- that is most impactful to your ideal buyer.
NOTE: There’s a huge difference between a unique value proposition and a unique selling proposition.
Unique selling proposition: “I operate a family-friendly hotel with a great beachfront location”.
Unique selling proposition: “Our resort offers an international spa and a world-class golf course.”
To attract your ideal customer into your digital marketing funnel, it’s a matter of articulating your Unique Value Proposition in a way that resonates with your Buyer Persona.
Try and craft your desire message now and think about…
Once you’ve determined all of this—and it takes a little deep thought—you’re ready to move on to step 2 of the CVO process.
Congrats! You know how to define your buyer persona and how to craft your marketing message. So, now it’s time to figure out where you will go to find your buyer persona and compel them to visit your website so they can enter your conversion funnel.
Before we go any further, however, let’s make something crystal clear: This is the easiest part!
Not only are platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, lining up to deliver you all the traffic to your web page that you can imagine, but also their tons of other channels (some you already use) you can use to drive visitors to your website.
In the book Traction, by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, the authors outlined no less than 19 traffic sources from which you can choose. These sources include:
That’s a lot of traffic sources!
The thing is, where you get your visitors from doesn’t really matter.
You simply need to understand:
You can try to drive traffic through tactics like blogging, Facebook Ads, or email marketing but first you need to understand the system.
The goal, no matter which traffic source you choose, is to drive prospects into the CVO Funnel.
Become the master of a single, steady traffic source.
We recommend starting with one traffic source – focus on it, work it, master it, and then add additional sources to introduce more prospects into your conversion funnel. We call this the “Land and Expand” approach and it works.
Your traffic strategy (if the goal is acquiring new leads and customers) begins and ends with driving visitors into the CVO funnel.
It begins with the Lead Magnet…
The Lead Magnet is an irresistible bribe that gives a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information.
Make no mistake, although no money changes hands, this is a transaction – and, it is often the first transaction you will have with a website visitor.
The Lead Magnet exists to increase contacts/subscribers (in other words, leads!) in your database because most visitors to your website aren’t ready to purchase or request information on their first visit to your website. In fact, statistics show that 96% of visitors aren’t.
Because the Lead Magnet is the very top of the CVO Funnel, increasing opt-ins here will pay dividends throughout the rest of the system.
But all Lead Magnets are not created equal: You will need to provide tremendous value with the Lead Magnet.
That said, the common practice of asking for email with a “Subscribe to Our Newsletter” call-to-action is NOT a Lead magnet! What incentive do they have to give you their precious email--what immediate value will they receive? None.
The best will convert north of 50% of visitors into leads and you’ll be relieved when I tell you that the highest performing Lead Magnets have one thing in common…
This is the key to getting more leads.
You DO NOT need to create something lengthy or complex. However, the more laser-focused your Lead Magnet is — the better it will convert.
So, for example, this is NOT a good Lead Magnet… can you see why?
Sure, it's pretty. There is an offer but it isn’t specific enough…
Your prospect might enjoy exclusive offers, but, even more importantly they want to solve a problem. They want an outcome. This is too vague.
Contrast the prior Lead Magnet with the specific problem that is addressed in this Lead Magnet from bicycle tour operator Bicycle Adventures...
This Lead Magnet speaks directly to the compnay's Buyer Persona (an adventure traveler) and provides a specific solution to help them plan their next bicycle vacation.
A Lead Magnet that solves a specific problem for a specific segment of the market will generate more leads. This will be pretty easy after you’ve created your buyer persona and completed the Before and After Grid, because you’ll have a clear idea of the problems they face and the solutions that can get them closer to their desired outcome.
The Lead Magnet is usually offered on a web page called a landing page that is optimized to convert even cold traffic into leads; but it can also be delivered through lead flows, wallpapers, embedded lead forms and other conversion rate optimization tactics.
Regardless of the vehicle you use to promote your lead magnet, the presentation doesn’t need to be fancy.
Here’s a high-performing landing page from Sherman's Travel...
Using a targeted Landing Page results in a more informational lead, rather than a new random email from a person you know nothing about. When you use your Lead Magnet to entice a website visitor to give you their contact info, you see what the lead is interested and you get a potential customer who is already predisposed and primed to buy from you.
Now, you may be thinking this is the time to hit them over the head with your offer to book your tour, hotel room, tickets, etc.
And you wouldn’t be wrong... at least not completely.
If you want to maximize the rate of leads you convert into customers, before you go into selling your primary product, you want to offer a Tripwire.
Let’s take a closer look at this next step of the CVO Model...
At this point we’ve acquired qualified leads with your lead magnet – woo hoo!
But, they are not new guests/customers yet – boo!
Even though you’re new lead has expressed their interest in buying through your lead magnet, a large percentage of them are likely still not ready to book a top-dollar resort, high-end experience, or expensive attraction...at least not yet.
If you understand and execute on this step, you’ will surely convert more customers into bookings than most of your competitors.
The Tripwire is an irresistible low-cost entry-point offer designed to convert your new qualified leads (lookers) into paying guests/customers (bookers).
The most common way to make the Tripwire irresistible is by selling it at cost and, in some cases, at a loss to you -- but, this isn’t the old auto dealership “bait and switch” loss leader concept.
The tripwire is a REAL offer, it’s just that you aren’t trying to make a living from selling tripwires. You are selling tripwires with the sole purpose of acquiring buyers because there is nothing more valuable than a list of buyers.
This step is not designed to maximize profits. Heck, it’s not even supposed to cover your bills. You’re probably thinking about skipping this step after that statement (C’mon you know I’m right!)
Don’t skip it!
When you understand the rest of the Customer Value Optimization process, you will understand how the Tripwire Offer is the single most powerful addition you can make to your conversion funnel — even though you make no direct profit from it.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane for a dated but incredibly powerful example of a good Tripwire. If you’re old enough to remember it, you may have even signed up for it.
This offer from Columbia House is one of the best-known and most effective tripwires ever created. Simply put, buyers paid a super small fee to get their first taste of a worthwhile product and then became full-blown customers as they rolled into the monthly subscription service.
Today, you can use this same approach to fuel the conversion funnel for your travel products and services, allowing you to convert more bookings at a higher-margin.
Still feeling a bit skeptical?
Let’s take a look at a more relevant example.
In order to entice prospective buyers to visit their timeshares, they’ve offered discounted or free stays to hotspot destinations, as well as tickets to nearby attractions. Typical tripwire offers might include:
Some other relevant Tripwire ideas for a travel company include:
Remember the stats we shared earlier? Here's another sobering one...
“...Nielsen research found that travelers spent an average of 53 days visiting 28 different websites over a period of 76 online sessions, with more than 50% of travelers checking social media for travel tips.”
It’s just a fact that travelers almost never “just book” at the first site they find. You have to woo them, motivate them and hook them.
The strategy behind the Tripwire is simple: Convert the maximum number of Lead Magnet leads into paying customers, even at the expense of your profit margin, with the understanding that acquiring a paying customer will deliver profit through the next three steps:
Step 5 – Offer Your Core Product
Step 6 – Offer A Profit Maximizer
Step 7 – Establish A Return Path
When you offer a Tripwire your goal is to also achieve the following:
Before we leave this step, let’s take a closer look at customer acquisition costs…
It really is a simple equation:
For example, if a company spent $2,000 on marketing in a year and acquired 100 customers in the same year, their CAC is $20.00.
With a well-executed conversion funnel, you can cover these costs with your Tripwire, so every booking or add-on that comes afterwards becomes pure profit. Once you calculate your customer acquisition costs, you can build a tripwire packed with enough value that you can sell it at a price high enough to cover you CAC.
Once you’ve turned your lead into a customer with a Tripwire, it’s time for the next step…
You’ve done the hard work of attracting prospects into your marketing funnel with your Lead Magnet and turned them into paying customers with your Tripwire, now it’s time to get some real booking revenue into your business by offering your core product!
Good news – you already have your Core Offer ready to go!
Your core offer is your flagship product or service (the one most of your customers buy that also gives you great margins).
There’s no need to create anything new.
Most travel and hospitality providers stake their entire livelihoods on making cold offers of their core products to cold prospects with minimal results. We encourage you to reject that approach.
With the addition of the Lead Magnet and Tripwire Offer, you should see your Core Offer sales grow exponentially!
After all, you’ve already had two successful transactions with this buyer.
Entrepreneur and marketing expert Marcus Sheridan points out that “a successful marketing funnel depends on how well you establish and nurture relationships with your market.” Depending on the price point of your product/service, your customers may need more or less communication.
This is why it’s critical to over-deliver value with the Lead Magnet and Tripwire.
If you build out your conversion funnel using the Customer Value Optimization model, you’ll have a pipeline of QUALIFIED leads and Tripwire buyers(customers) – this should make it so that sales of your Core Offer will be profitable for you – even in a price competitive environment.
But, your core offer doesn’t have to be about profit. If you follow through on the CVO process, you could take everything you make from the Core Offer and reinvest it to acquire more customers. Then use the next steps to truly create profit.
This is how you become unstoppable.
The CVO model empowers you to spend more than your competitors to acquire a customer.
It may sound crazy, but you actually stand to generate the most profit for your travel business in the next two steps:
Step 6 – Offer A Profit Maximizer and Step 7 – Establish A Return Path.
Let’s take a look at how...
Dining packages, spa experiences, premium liquor, you name it – any offer made after the core product is a Profit Maximizer, and this is where smart travel companies can maximize their cash flow.
The world’s most successful businesses — travel related or not — generate the bulk of their margins from profit maximizers.
Check out these examples:
What could you be offering as an upsell or cross-sell? What could you bundle with your Core Offer? How can you incorporate a subscription or membership site into your business model?
As a hotel, excursion operator, cruise line or travel business, remember to shape your profit maximizers to ensure that these upsell and cross-sell efforts are in tune with your core product, your brand and values. Doing this helps to ensure that guests keep coming back for your unique experiences. And that means more profit generated by your business.
Tripwire and Core Product purchases (more bookings) are not enough — not if you’re looking to maximize profits for your business. Establishing a return path is the step that takes turns an isolated transaction into multiple future transactions.
Anything that brings the customer, visitor, or lead back to engage with you more frequently is a return path, including…
The objective of the Return Path is frequent, strategic communication with your buyers and leads in an effort to get them to buy from you again and again.
Develop a process, ideally automated, for sending out new content, new offers and informational updates about your company and your offerings products via email, phone, or mail.
Our preferred Return Path is email marketing. Because you have received website visitors’ contact information through the Lead Magnet, you have permission to email your leads in order to bring them back to the Tripwire, Core Offer or Profit Maximizer that they didn’t buy the first time around. (Yes, this means ideally you have mulitple offers!)
Likewise, you have permission to email your customers (past guests and TripWire purchasers) to offer them new Lead Magnets, that lead to new Tripwires, Core Offers, and Profit Maximizers increasing their frequency of purchases and, ultimately, the average Customer Lifetime Value in your business.
At a minimum, you should build an autoresponder email series to cover every step in your funnel where a prospect could exit without taking the next offer.
This “Follow-up Machine” will provide you with exciting new opportunities to extend value, drive additional bookings and upsell revenue-rich add-ons, producing compounding results that you will see in your bottom line.
And there you have it, the 3 ways to grow your business and the 7 steps to build an effective digital marketing funnel.
Define your ideal customer by creating a Buyer Persona. This helps you to craft message, offers, and content uniquely designed to create value on your customers’ terms.
This is where you go to find and invite your Buyer Persona to come visit your website. Viable traffic sources include, but are not limited to: Facebook Ads, Google Ad, Blogs, SEO (Organic Search), etc.
This is a free and valuable offer that your audience can get in exchange for giving you their contact information. It establishes trust with potential customers, gives them something of value before they buy, and gives you permission to follow-up with them they don’t buy on the first visit to your website. Pro Tip: To maximize effectiveness, include helpful resources that go beyond your product or service offering into your plan.
Creating a low-cost “entry-point offer” transforms a lead into a customer, warms them up to purchase your core offer and allows you to recoup some of the money you spent on promotions to get them there in the first place.
This is a standardized offering that represents both what people buy from you most and what creates the most profit for your company. You might want to read that again: We’ve seen many clients who discovered that their core product was something other than what first came to mind after re-reading that last line. :-)
This is an upsell that adds value to your core offer for your customer, as well as margin to the sale for you. There several different types of profit maximizers you can deploy -- I’ll share more on that later in this article.
Establish ongoing customer conversations and offers to bring your guests/customers back for more. Repeat buyers are not only more profitable than new buyers, but also these brand loyalists help you lower your cost of acquiring new customers by promoting your brand to others.
By utilizing the Customer Value Optimization model as your guide, you are on your way to building what Ryan Deiss calls “An Unstoppable Business.”
Are you ready to see how you can make Customer Value Optimization work in your travel business?
Let’s take the next step together.
We worked with some folks to put together a comprehensive list of all the different tactics you can use to grow your business – Remember Attract More Customers, Increase Transaction Value, and Increase The Number Of Transactions?
When we were finished, the list was 73 items long!
We'd like to go over this list with you and figure out the ONE BIG THING you should be focusing on so you can get a fast start to putting the CVO model to work.
If you have even the slightest interest in exploring how this proven digital marketing system can work for your travel business...
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