One of the biggest benefits of digital content is the ability to be agile with our messaging: in times of flux, businesses can quickly shift their messaging to better align with changing customer needs.
This is especially true as we brace for the expected resurgence of visitors following COVID-19 vaccinations later this summer and visitors once again turn their attention to researching the things to do and places to eat and stay in your market. This information, of course, will be delivered to the visitor via web pages, blog posts, customer review sites, and — maybe most notably — via the business listing on the website of your destination marketing organization.
Before we reach this point, it’s important that businesses review and re-craft (if needed) their listing content to ensure information provided about our businesses accurately answers questions, inspires people to visit, and entices them to take the next step.
RETIRE COVID-RELATED MESSAGING
Admittedly, visitor concerns about safety and cleanliness are going to linger for some time even after the population is mostly vaccinated. And we certainly have an obligation to make sure our customers are informed about the risks and requirements associated with COVID-19.
But, while that information may still be relevant, it’s not going to be a primary concern for the customer after the pandemic. Meaning, the content that you (maybe very recently) updated to highlight special delivery options, curbside pick-up, restrictions in party-size, etc., in response to COVID-19 will quickly become a secondary consideration and, eventually, it may no longer be relevant. We’ll need to start shifting our content away from COVID-related details and towards highlighting how we’re meeting the trip-planning and inspiration needs of the visitor.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION – AND GET EMOTIONAL
In your updated listing content, be sure to highlight the specific ways in which your business will provide value to the visitor during their trip. If you can find a way to tap into an emotional need, it is far more likely that your message will resonate with the prospect.
For example, an attraction might highlight “great family memories” and “easy online ticket purchasing,” highlighting two important benefits for families; their love for their family and ease of planning. Similarly, a restaurant might appeal to a customer’s desire to experience local flavors by highlighting its “21 local beers on tap” and a menu composed of locally-sourced ingredients.
In many ways, highlighting these specific value points is more important than details about your business. The visitor, afterall, isn’t likely going to the market to look for your business, specifically. They’re looking for “a relaxing and rejuvenating spa experience.” It’s our job to position our businesses as the solution for these needs.
REMEMBER YOUR OTHER CHANNELS FOR IN-MARKET VISITORS AND LOCALS
Note that these same guidelines should apply to your listings across your web footprint, including Google, Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp and others. These platforms are not only being used by visitors (often while they’re in the market) but by your local prospects as well. For these channels, it’d be prudent to think about how your value proposition addresses the needs of each of these audience segments and to craft your content to meet the needs of the larger audience.
CONFIRM THAT YOUR OPERATIONAL DETAILS ARE UP-TO-DATE
Nothing will aggravate a customer more quickly than visiting your business after looking up your hours on Google only to discover (ugh!) you’re actually closed! Unfortunately, as our business hours and other operational details have been pretty fluid over the last year in light of circumstances surrounding COVID-19, it’s likely that your information is inaccurate on at least one of these platforms. For the sake of the customer, take the time to check each of these websites and bring your details up to speed.
GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY IS CRITICAL
Remember that visitors are scanning through the listings pretty quickly. Many of these listings pages show listings in a grid format and highlight a photo and a business name. This means you literally have a fraction of a second to grab the visitor’s attention while they’re scrolling through the listings. And you need to do this using, primarily, an image.
To do this, it’s important to think about what kind of content the visitor wants to see and to curate your visual story (via photographs) accordingly. Because visitors are looking on destination websites largely for inspiration, your photography should absolutely highlight an experience the visitor can get excited about.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT INCLUDING YOUR LOGO
“But,” you might say, “I need my logo on my listing.” The reality is that, unless your business is a huge attraction in the market with a ton of brand equity, your logo is probably not going to have a huge impact on the visitor’s decision to take the next step. What is important is that the visitor can quickly find solutions that will aid in trip inspiration and planning or that the customer can quickly find while she’s in the market. And, if the content you provide marries well with their needs, there’s a good chance you’ll have a new customer.
To this end, your listings content (including your photography) should be 100% about engaging the audience. If you absolutely must include your logo, try to find a way to include it in the photo organically. A restaurant or brewery, for example, can use a glass with its logo on it in lieu of superimposing your logo over a photo.
INCREASE YOUR LISTING’S EXPOSURE ON YOUR DMO PARTNERS WEBSITE
If your DMO partner is also a DTN partner, you likely have the option to dramatically increase your listing exposure on the DMO’s site. For most of these sites, the listings populate alphanumerically on the category page. The DTN Featured Listing pushes it to the top of the first page of listings results, giving your listing front-and-center attention and tons more views and clicks. To see if you’re eligible for a Featured Listing on your DMO partner’s website, connect with your DMO partner or the DTN Team.