This is a guest post from online marketing expert Milan Stojković. With a focus on the tourism sector, Milan’s business MS Travel Marketing is dedicated to helping bring tour operators more customers. In this post, he shares some insider tips you can apply to your business today - and watch your online bookings skyrocket! Take it away, Milan!Are you looking for more ways to get direct bookings through your website? It seems like there are a million ways to do this: Facebook ads, banners, link building. And yet, nothing changes. No matter how many people you attract to your website, those conversion rates remain stale. How can you change this? First, you need to understand the concept of warming up your website traffic. This is the cornerstone of online marketing, and vital if you want to see those bookings soar.Let’s run through the three types of website visits you can get: cold, warm and hot traffic: Cold Traffic - These are the guys who somehow stumbled upon your website. They’re not actually planning to buy your tours or even travel to your destination.Warm Traffic - These people are definitely interested in your destination and what you have to offer. But, they’re gonna need more info and a little more convincing before they choose you over the competition. Hot Traffic - These visitors know everything about your tours and are ready to hit that book now button. So what do you want? You guessed it. You want your traffic hot. Like, fresh out the oven hot. These customers know what they want and are just looking for your book now button to get the deal done. But what about warm traffic? How do you convince visitors to book from you now that they’ve decided on their destination? And the cold traffic? How can you spark their interest and create that desire to learn more about your tours? The first step is simple: Don’t assume that the majority of your website audience is hot traffic. You could fall into a trap if you expect most of your visitors to be extremely interested in buying your tours. The assumption that all your traffic is hot may cause confusion when you see your conversion rate is still low. It might even lead you to start making unnecessary changes to your website.I get it: you heard from some online marketing specialist that if you change the color of your booking button you can increase conversion rates by 300%, and you want a piece of that action! The problem is that in reality, you might have less than 2% hot traffic visitors on your website. By trying to optimize the website just for them, you’re forgetting about the other 98% of visitors.The booking button color is not the problem. I promise. What you need to do is to warm up the audience. When hot traffic visitors hit 20%, then we can start thinking about the booking process.

Warming up the traffic

So how can you warm up your traffic and convert 1000 cold visitors into something a little… hotter?Here are a few simple ways:

1. Get Featured.

One way to heat up your hits is to be featured in a respectable magazine or news portal. Pay them to write a story about your tours and include a link to your website. Why not go one step further and ask them to include your Facebook pixel as well.Examples of post titles could be:“A quick reminder that [destination] is the stuff dreams are made of - let this tour operator show you why”“Why this tour company’s [destination] honeymoon experience is something every couple should consider”“This tour operator has everyone talking with their innovative way to experience [destination]”It’s vital you get your article posted on a dependable website that people are going to believe. It may be pricey, but it’s worth it. Now comes the important part:Instead of buying Facebook ads and clicks that lead to your website, pay to promote the article from this magazine.“What?!” I hear you cry. “So we're paying to send the traffic to another website, not our own? Isn’t that illogical?” The answer is no. This can be extremely effective. It will warm our customers up. When an article from a reliable news source pops up on their Facebook feed, they won’t perceive it as an ad... It's news! An interesting read with useful information. Customers will feel more comfortable clicking. They’ll also believe this article way more than they would believe you telling them your tours are awesome. "If these guys are saying it, it must be true."Now, people who come to your website will be much more familiar with your services and definitely more willing to buy. Take one of our clients - New City Hotel and Restaurant - as an example. We wanted to market the hotel as the ideal venue for conferences and other business events. But as a new hotel, it was hard to get the word out about its quality and service. We decided to publish articles in a few respectable online magazines with links to the hotel website and Facebook pixel. Then we paid to promote those articles on Facebook. After a couple months, events started rolling in to the hotel. We seized the momentum and published more articles. Fast forward one year and every conference hall is booked at least 5 months in advance.By changing the route your visitors take to get to your website - otherwise known as your ‘funnel’, you’re engaging their interest on a deeper level.But hold on a second. The work doesn’t end here. Since your products do not fall under the customers’ essential needs, they probably won’t buy immediately. This is where your remarketing campaigns come in. After a visitor leaves your website, you can use targeted ads to reach them as they browse elsewhere on the internet. Set these up to remind visitors about your awesome tour a day or two later.So before your funnel looked like this:Facebook Ad ---> Website offerAnd now it looks like this:Facebook Ad ---> Magazine post ---> Website offer ---> (remarketing) ---> Website offerYep, you’ve extended the funnel a fair bit, and it’s gonna cost money. But now your website visitors are much more interested in your services. Plus, they have more confidence in your offerings because a respected magazine wrote about you.By changing your visitor’s journey, you’re sparking their interest before they’ve even clicked on your website.

2. It’s in the vid.

Another effective way to get your traffic heating up is a Facebook video. Why not create a short inspirational video, in square format with catchy titles? Upload this video to your page or use our previous tactic and pay a magazine to post it on their page. The video will warm up your audience because it gives them an initial spark, a way to imagine your tour as their next adventure. This is exactly what we did with another of our clients - Walk91 Tours.They had a Facebook campaign that led people to their website. Conversions were good, but not great. We convinced them to shoot a video for social networks and told them how it should look. Then we promoted that video to a wide audience who could potentially be interested in their tours.

We created a custom audience of people who watched at least 75% of the video and served them with other campaigns that promoted Walk91’s tours.So this time the funnel looked like this:Facebook Ad ---> Website offerAnd now it looks like this:Facebook Ad ---> Facebook Video ---> Facebook Ad ---> Website offerThe results were much better.The Facebook video method may not be as efficient as a magazine post, but it is simpler to implement because you own all the channels.And there you have it. Simple and effective ways to get those conversions rolling in. Don’t forget, implementing these steps could require some technical skills such as:

  • Setting up the Facebook pixel and understanding how it works.
  • How to create a custom audience and remarketing campaigns.
  • How to set up a funnel.
  • Proper conversion tracking.

But don’t panic! You can learn all this and much more with my new online course Etourism Master Training. Good luck and happy traffic-warming!Milan StojkovićFounder, MS Travel Marketing

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