Looking for ways to make digital marketing and advertising for your travel or tourism business easier, faster and more successful? You’ve come to the right place.
Thanks to the marriage of machine learning (Artificial Intelligence) and automation with digital marketing and advertising, it’s now possible to save time and run better, smarter campaigns.
When we hear the phrase “Artificial Intelligence” (AI), most of us likely think first of robots — Rosie (the Jetsons’ robot maid), or Will Smith’s “I, Robot”, or – recently – Roomba®, the iRobot vacuum.
But AI isn’t just about robots. In fact, while the term was coined in 1956 in response to the discussion around “thinking machines” (Forbes.com), today’s definition encompasses most anything that uses a computer or program to do the work our human brains and bodies would otherwise have had to do:
“The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages” (English Oxford).
So, with that (broader) definition in mind, consider of all many (and amazing!) examples of AI at work in our personal lives and office places!
Note: At TechEmergence, they’ve split the definition — differentiating between AI and machine learning:
“To simplify the discussion, think of AI as the broader goal of autonomous machine intelligence, and machine learning as the specific scientific methods currently in vogue for building AI. All machine learning is AI, but not all AI is machine learning” (TechEmergence).
Some (of the many) examples of AI and Machine Learning in our homes and offices:
- Video Games
- Smart Cars
- Netflix Movie Recommendations
- Automated Online or Phone Customer Support
- Voice-To-Text Programs (ie: Text Messages)
- Web Search Engines (ie: Google, Bing)
- Data Analysis
- Business Forecasting
- Email Inbox Spam Filters
- Virtual Personal Assistants (ie: Siri and Cortana)
- Smart Homes (Thermostats/Lighting); Google Home
- Credit Card Fraud Detection
- College Plagiarism Checkers
- Social Image Recognition
The same technology that’s making life so easy and exciting for many of us is also making digital marketing easier (and often more successful) for travel & tourism business owners and marketing managers. A few examples:
- Customer Segmentation
- Digital Ad Targeting
- Programmatic Advertising
- Conversational Commerce
- Social Media Marketing
- Content Curation/Recommendations
- Content Generation (Generation? Yes! AI “writers” are getting so good that some like Gartner suggest that by 2018 “20% of all business content will be authored by machines”.)
And what about digital marketing automation?
Digital marketing automation is a category of “AI in digital marketing” and refers to the “software that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflows so that [companies] can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster” (Marketo).
Further, it’s “the use of [that] software to automate marketing processes such as customer segmentation, customer data integration, and campaign management…to make] processes that would have otherwise been performed manually much more efficient” (SearchCRM).
Simply, from Kentico: “For marketers, it simplifies planning and delivering marketing messages to exactly defined segments of visitors…For visitors it helps provide the right content at the right time.”
So it’s a broad term, and can include (among other things):
- Automatic multi-step new client onboarding programs
- Automated lead/prospect email marketing drip campaigns (including: eNewsletter sign-up processes/functionality and “lead nurturing auto-responders”, which can be as simple as a great email bounceback feature that thanks people for a purchase or welcomes them to a program following successful sign-up.)
- Ad Targeting
- Retargeting campaigns (including: automatic targeted abandoned shopping cart follow-ups)
- A/B split testing
- Automation in social media
Putting AI To Work
For travel & tourism business owners and digital marketers, it’s perhaps easiest to divide digital marketing automation into three main categories:
1) Advertising/Promotion: Using artificial intelligence to improve the targeting of your digital ad campaigns to ensure you’re reaching the right prospective clients in the right place at the right time; using AI to analyze the resulting data. For example: Automated Email Marketing and Automated Social Media Marketing & Engagement
2) Prospecting: Automating follow-up to stay connected with warm leads; moving them through your business’s prospecting cycle. For example: Automated Booking Management and CRM: Customer Relationship Management
3) New Clients/Customers: Automating your business’s “onboarding” process to welcome and thank them, as well as staying in touch to turn happy clients into brand evangelists. For example: CRM: Customer Relationship Management Dashboard/Tools
Imagine how you could free yourself and your team up to do the real hands-on work of shaking hands, developing partnerships, and coming up with your next great tours or guest experiences if you were able to automate to many of these important (but often onerous) aspects of prospecting and onboarding!
And, then, imagine how you could improve your next digital marketing or advertising campaign if you were able to put artificial intelligence to work for you, highlighting opportunities for real success via analytics, segmentation, targeting (and retargeting), curation, generation and split testing.
To be sure, the big travel brands are already doing this. So, in order to compete, you’ve got to begin considering the ways in which you might incorporate AI, machine learning and automation into your 2019/2020 digital marketing strategy.
Easy First Steps
Assuming you’ve already got some level of digital advertising in place (in which case you are already using AI and automation even if you didn’t know it!) and are attracting new customers, have a look at your current email marketing strategy and ask if there are ways it might be improved:
Internet marketing expert Jeff Bullas says “digital marketing automation has its roots in email marketing” so it feels like a good place to start.
Do you have an AI-integrated email marketing system in place (to keep in touch with both prospective and active customers) that doesn’t require too much of your time or manual effort?
- Can people sign-up for your newsletters easily online?
- Have you set up auto-responders to go out to targeted groups (ie: people at different stages of the prospecting or booking cycle)?
- Have you got analytics in place to track the success of each of these tactics?
Meanwhile, exploring some of the industry’s top AI tools (and their broad functionalities) will give business owners just getting their feet wet in automation an idea as to all of the many possibilities. Some of those tools include:
From PCMag’s The Best Marketing Automation Software of 2018:
- Constant Contact (Automated Email Marketing and more…)
- ActiveCampaign (Automated Email Marketing, Sales Automation and Customer Relationship Management (CRM))
- GetResponse (Email Marketing, Automation and more…)
- HubSpot (Top Marketing, Service and Sales Software)
- Infusionsoft (“Sales, Mktg, CRM, and Email In One”)
Other great digital marketing automation tools/software for both small- and medium/large-sized businesses that you should consider for your brand in 2019 include:
- Pardot: A “smarter marketing automation built on the world’s #1 CRM platform”, Salesforce.
- Marketo: A “powerful and easy marketing software that helps marketing and sales professionals drive revenue and improve marketing accountability…provides the leading cloud-based marketing software platform for companies of all sizes to build and sustain engaging customer relationships. (from JeffBullas.com)
- Oracle: “Marketing and Segmentation, Campaign Management, Lead Management, Marketing Measurement and Sales and Marketing Alignment”
- LeadSquared: Marketing Automation and CRM
- SalesFusion: Prospect and lead tracking, CRM, campaign creation and more
- Wishpond: “Offers features for marketing automation, social posting, website popups, lead management, API access, and custom CSS, it also supports a number of CRM integrations” as well as social promotions (contests) and more! (from FinancesOnline)
- AdRoll: A “high-performance digital marketing software focusing on retargeting…[includes] features for segmentation, cross-device reach, predictive buying, and social targeting” (FinancesOnline)
We can help!
In fact, the Stir team uses a variety of digital automation tactics in our own marketing, and in order to maximize the success of our travel, tourism and hospitality clients’ campaigns. We’ve also helped clients from around the world from Canada to Italy to implement a variety of automated systems for their own businesses. And we’d be excited to put that expertise to use to help you grow your brand (and your bottom line).
Get in touch with the Stir Tourism marketing team today to learn more.