After a heavy period of indulgence and the stark reality of our formidable climate, the grind of the commute and the working week – it’s no wonder that the first three months of the year is the peak season for planning a break in the sun.

At Teradata eCircle, we know that for travel marketers, it’s one of the most important periods of the year and one where meticulous planning is required, months in advance. They must ensure their acquisition campaign activity is targeted correctly, their messages have the desired effect to create an impact on their target market, and the creative is distinctive against their competitors and ultimately delivers incremental new customer sales.

A large part of the acquisition process is concerned with making sure brands deliver messages that create impact – but the ability to achieve this will be entirely influenced (or limited) by marketers’ understanding of their target audience. After all, if you understand the future travel plans of your prospective audience, you will have a competitive advantage that allows you to deliver more personalised meaningful messages to change the mind-set of your visitor and generate a much higher short-term sales conversion.

Driving the buying decision

However, aside from site retargeting, which is reliant on short-term website visits, and the ability to personalise based only on the product browsed on that previous occasion, rather than personal circumstances, how else can travel marketers engage with their prospects on a one-to-one level? Furthermore how can they truly understand the elements of their personal situation and the psychological considerations that are driving their buying decision?

Prospect lead generation provides travel marketers with a strategy to assist their existing acquisition marketing efforts. By creating an infrastructure and a mechanism for reaching out to a targeted pool of prospects they are able to re-contact at the most important and impactful times during the purchase decision journey. This creates an opportunity to influence the consumers purchase mind-set in their favour.

As such, prospect lead generation should be seen as building a long-term new customer sales asset. Highly sophisticated lead nurture programmes are designed to provide you with a better understanding of your prospect pool, which can be useful in positively influencing the customer mind-set. So when it comes to making that all important decision to book a holiday, your brand is placed at the heart of the purchase decision and held in high esteem compared to other competitor brands.

Lead nurturing helps us understand the personal circumstances which affect each individual’s product shortlisting, from what they like and dislike about your brand, to your competitors and the expectations they have from any future relationship. We also know when prospects are likely to buy, their typical consideration phase and what other external factors may influence their decision. Knowing this kind of information helps you to communicate far more effectively and more directly – most often through email – but also through individual display and PPC retargeting at just the right time.

This delivers a far higher level of performance compared to standard newsletter activity, but also significantly increases incremental sales from brand new customers – and at a much lower cost than other channels. What’s more, once built, marketers are able to communicate with their prospect pool long into the future.

Sales from new customers

Lead nurture should be something that all travel marketers have in place as an auxiliary function to all other digital marketing activity they may have planned. Marketers shouldn’t wait until someone is a customer before they start to engage with them. Lead generation provides brands with a mechanism to do just that – and increases the likelihood of conversion and more importantly, delivers sales from new customers.

A lead generation programme isn’t something that is likely to yield large returns in the very short-term, but it is a strategic tool that needs to be put in place and maintained throughout the year to assist activity during the peaks at the beginning of the year and in the summer.

However, all is not lost in the short-term. If you don’t have a lead generation process in place, you should take every opportunity to capture initial prospect site interest in the form of email registration mechanisms. This will allow you to re-communicate with your prospects later down the line and forever more. Very often, marketers are only concerned with driving email registrations after a sale occurs and as a result typically miss the opportunity to encourage registration before consumers become customers.

Marketers therefore need to look at establishing incentives and distributing engaging content at key consideration points throughout the purchase lifecycle. Furthermore they need to look at introducing more innovative ways to drive registrations on their website from wish list reminders and ‘Tell Me More’ info requests to ‘Recently Browsed’ email reminders, all of which create additional opportunities to grow your newsletter base and increase the opportunity to drive sales conversion.

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