Content Marketing That Works: How to Break Through the Noise
Laura Knudson | August 24, 2017
Long gone are the days of traditional advertising where commercials, print ads, and online banner ads interrupt the content people are actually looking for. These outdated forms of advertising are frequently ignored, especially on the internet, and are proving to be less effective for the bottom line (Skift, 2013). The modern consumer does not want to be sold to. Consumers want to be informed and inspired, and 92 percent of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story (OneSpot, 2014). Content marketing is the new strategy of choice and storytelling is promising to be an effective tool across the travel industry.
The Content Marketing Landscape
The world is connected digitally like never before with the rise of social media as a dominant force in content marketing, along with the expansion of internet access, increasing usage of mobile phones and messaging apps, and the rapid growth of video. By 2020 more people will have mobile phones than access to electricity, and video will make up 82 percent of all internet traffic (Cisco, 2016).
Digital content greatly influences consumers in their travel planning, starting with the first stages of the consumer journey. Sixty-five percent of leisure travelers research online before they decide where to go, and online videos from travel brands (airlines, hotels, tour operators, etc.) are viewed by 53 percent of travelers (Think With Google, 2014). In addition, video is shared nearly four times more than other forms of content, with over 8 billion video views daily on Facebook, 6 billion on Snapchat, and nearly 5 billion on YouTube (Brandwatch, 2016). In today’s digital marketing landscape, a number of mediums exist to share content, but for the travel industry there’s nothing greater than the power of video. Video is the future of content marketing, and it is the most impactful form of storytelling in the travel industry (Skift, 2013).
The challenge is that most content is failing. Consumers have limited time to consume, meanwhile the social channels are saturated with content, so we are reaching a point where more content does not mean more engagement (Patel, 2016).
Over 27 million pieces of content are shared every single day making it increasingly difficult to break through all the noise (Brandwatch, 2016). However, content marketing paired with an integrated storytelling strategy provides the opportunity for brands to authentically connect with their audience. Travel brands need to move away from the old ways of commercial advertising and embrace the story-focussed mentality, similar to publishers. The most engaging brands on social media share content that helps their audience to gain knowledge, to re-live experiences and to obtain value (Shareablee, 2015).
Case Study: Successful storytelling in the travel industry
In early 2016 the Adare Manor Hotel made headlines for its cleverly executed social media storytelling when a cute toy bunny was left at the hotel. The hotel staff shared a post on Facebook in an attempt to find the lost bunny’s owner.
When the first post sparked over 2,000 engagements, the hotel decided to continue with the story. A series of heartwarming social posts followed over the course of the weekend, sharing the bunny’s experience at Adare Manor including an afternoon tea, poolside lounging, and a relaxing massage. The social media story earned over 36,000 engagements in just three days and was recognized by a little girl’s aunt. The lost bunny was soon reunited with its owner. Ultimately this was a very simple, low-cost story to execute. It worked because it was a compelling story. The brand was integrated in a creative and tasteful way but the content remained focused on telling the story.
In a more expensive and polished example the Holland Marketing Alliance invested in a multi-year video strategy built around creative storytelling targeted to bring more visitors to their destination. Launched in 2013 the initial film of the ‘Holland. The Original Cool’ campaign went viral with over one million views. A series of story-driven content followed, culminating with the final video of the series ‘The Tale of Kat and Dog’, released in October 2016. Holland Marketing Alliance states that ‘a video strategy was decided as the best medium to showcase the messages of the campaign while also providing an opportunity for shareable content’.
The key message concentrated on challenging American travellers’ perceptions of Holland by revealing what Holland uniquely offers – a centuries-old fabric that vibes with what Americans currently consider cool. In short, what Americans consider cool we call Holland (NBTC, 2015). ‘Holland. The Original Cool’ has been one of the most successful video campaigns in the travel space by winning numerous industry awards, earning over two million views and generating extensive media coverage in over 80 outlets.
A variety of methods exist to integrate storytelling into a content strategy for tourism brands. From simple and creative content to fully produced videos and content campaigns, every brand should experiment with different forms of storytelling to identify the best strategy for their needs.
Skift. Content marketing trends in the travel industry. 2013.
Adam Weinroth. Infographic: The science of storytelling. Onespot, May 22, 2014.
Steve Denning. The Science of Storytelling. Forbes. March 9, 2012.
Brianne Rush. Science of storytelling: Why and how to use it in your marketing. The Guardian, August, 28, 2014.
Herskovitz, Stephen, and Malcolm Crystal. “The essential brand persona: storytelling and branding.” Journal of business strategy 31, no. 3 (2010): 21-28.
Cisco. The zettabyte era—trends and analysis. 2016
Think With Google. The 2014 traveler’s road to decision. June, 2014.
Kit Smith. Marketing: 96 amazing social media statistics and facts for 2016. Brandwatch, March 7, 2016.
Neil Patel. Here’s Why Your Content Marketing Strategy is Totally Failing. Content Marketing Institute. February 9, 2016.
Shareablee. Social Best Practices from Media Publishers. September 1, 2015.
Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (NBTC). The Original Cool, Campaign Key Figures. 2015.