When someone decides on a destination for their next vacation, they’ll turn to Google or travel sites to plan the details — where they’ll stay in that city, what activities they’ll do, etc. Destination marketers should take advantage of the moments when potential travelers are searching for things to do, places to stay etc. in their destination. And to do that, you need a solid SEM strategy.
If you’re feeling unsure or confused about SEM, not to worry. Below, we’ll cover what SEM means, how it works, and how you can use SEM to uncover what potential travelers seek.
What Does SEM Stand for, and What Is It?
SEM stands for “search engine marketing.” It’s the process of attracting target internet users through paid ads on search results.
Think about the last time you searched on something in Google and saw paid ads for certain companies pop up at the top. Those ads come from companies using search engine marketing, or SEM, to show up first. You see them first because each company paid to promote them and used SEM strategies to target you as a user.
SEO vs. SEM: Important Differences
Since SEO and SEM are often confused, let’s get clear on the differences.
SEO (or search engine optimization) is all about organic search traffic. Websites use SEO to target specific keywords and move up on the Google search page without promoting anything. On the other hand, SEM involves paid ads that allow you to show up on the first page of Google.
There are pros of both SEO and SEM, and the main similarity is that both require keyword research to determine what the target audience is searching for.
Using an SEM Strategy
You’ll need an SEM strategy if you want to get the most out of SEM for destination marketing. Each step usually goes something like this:
- Decide which product or service you wish to advertise.
- Get clear on the type(s) of travelers you want to target.
- Define your advertising budget.
- Set up and launch your Google Adwords campaign.
- Track your return on investment (ROI) and other key metrics — such as keyword searches — on how your ad performs.
- Evaluate the data, then repeat and improve.
Travel destinations can especially use SEM for targeting locals or those planning to travel to your location. According to Social Media Today, many people use search engines for local planning — 64 percent of all Google searches are looking for local information, and 97 percent of online searchers have looked for a local business.
If you know who you’re targeting and how to target them, you can use SEM to reach many potential travelers. Of course, part of the SEM process is about learning from your target audience and adjusting to their needs. SEM can tell you what potential travelers are looking for, which further helps your marketing efforts.
How to Learn from Potential Travelers Through SEM
SEM strategies kind of force businesses to learn more about their target audiences, which is very beneficial for marketing. Before creating a campaign, it’s best to know details about your target market like:
- Their problems, wants, or needs that you can solve or provide
- Where they live
- Age ranges
- Gender percentages
- Other demographics that pertain to your offerings
Learning more about potential travelers will help you craft the best ad strategy. You’ll also uncover how to write the best-converting ad copy, landing page content, blog posts, and social media text. You’ll know how to tell stories that emotionally connect with the people you want to reach.
You should also adjust your SEM strategy as you learn more from viewing data and results on your ads. You’ll know which keywords are performing the best and what people are searching for to see your ad. Become intimately familiar with your key demographics, as well as niche markets, so that you know who you’re speaking to in your ads.
Analytics will also show you patterns related to specific search phrases, which ads are getting the most interaction, and where you’re receiving the most conversation. You can run A/B testing with two different ad types to learn which best connects with your target travelers.
Basically, by using SEM and analyzing the data from your ads, you’ll understand what potential travelers are entering into Google to find and book your destination. That type of tool is invaluable, and it can make you a lot of money.
Other Benefits of SEM
Besides the benefit of understanding your audience better, with SEM, you can also elevate your destination to keep up with the fast-paced race of online ads. Travel and tourism is a competitive industry, and SEM helps you move up in search results as travelers view you on the first page of Google.
In addition, by viewing the analytics on what people are searching for, you save money on wasted advertising with the wrong keywords or messages. Learning more about your audience helps your destination improve marketing and advertising strategies in every way.
Innovative SEM strategies can make an enormous difference for destinations. If you’re not currently using SEM to reach potential customers, you’re missing out on crucial revenue opportunities!
At Advance Travel and Tourism, we know how to target specific travel behaviors and reach more of the ideal travelers for your destination. Contact us today to discuss your advertising needs and how we can help.