The web has proven itself as an invaluable channel for travel marketers. As consumers research potential vacation ideas, they take to the internet for its breadth of data, and travel agencies that spread branded content across the ‘net put themselves in plain view. According to iPerceptions’ Q2 2012 survey, approximately 40 percent of U.S. online travel consumers used search engines to conduct preliminary research about vacation or trip possibilities.
While the bulk of searchers entered the sales funnel through desktop browsers, traffic upticks came from smartphones and tablets. The Search Agency’s “State of Paid Search Report Q3 2012” noted that 84 percent of all paid search travel clicks come from PCs. However, the data also showed overall U.S. paid search clickthrough rates for travel and leisure queries dropped year-over-year, slipping from 7.94 percent to 5.28 percent. While travel and leisure saw CTRs fall by 34 percent year-over-year, the category maintains a 38 percent higher engagement level than any other performer on the web. In fact, impressions made increased by 59 percent, while clicks experienced a subtle 6 percent uptick. This leveling-off could be the result of greater competition within the search marketing sphere.
The iPerceptions report in conjunction with The Search Agency’s data encourages travel marketers to dedicate time toward search engine marketing, as it facilitates high rates of engagement, but the practice alone may not be enough to generate sustainable year-over-year growth long term. Marketers who realize the slight uptick in clickthrough rates of travel PPC ads may soon become the norm should look to supplement media and make online campaigns well-rounded. Despite travel search recording a higher percentage of engagement when compared to any other category, marketers can improve brand visibility further through content marketing, and use custom content to drive conversions.
As Brafton reported, 43 percent of travel consumers depend on blog content to inform their vacation plans and activities. Brands that position PPC ads in SERPs and beyond can pique consumers’ interest, but data suggests organic content delivers the final blow that pushes prospects over the conversion edge.