Going the Extra Mile with your Travel PPC Campaigns: Top Tips for Personalisation

With peak travel time upon us, we’ve written a series of articles about how to maximise your travel PPC.

For example, how to use 2019-2020 travel consumer trends to your advantage, best practices for building and managing large scale travel accounts, and the best Google Ads scripts you could be using to capture demand.

So say you’ve got your structure sorted and all the bidding tools you need – what is that extra touch that you could be using to really stand out from the crowd? Personalisation.

Personalisation essentially is marrying where you are advertising, when, to whom, and with what messages, to make the journey as individual, appropriate, and cohesive as possible.

The 4 tips below will all help you stand out in what is a very crowded market, and are certainly worth considering if you want to go above and beyond in your marketing campaigns.

1. Insert travel times and/or price details into your ads depending on the location of the searcher

For example, if you are based in Manchester and search for “cheap flights to Spain”, which of these ads is going to make you think the company advertising has a more relevant search for you?:

                                                                                       

Of course, it may be this person is searching in Manchester but intends to fly from another airport. As with everything in PPC, you’d need to test it and let the results decide on whether it’s appropriate.

You could take the personalisation further still, or try using it to promote inventory you would like to sell more of:

                                                                                     

There are two ways to achieve this: either through setting up campaigns for each search location, or by using ad customisers.

Whilst setting up new campaigns may be more familiar and feel like you have more control (as well as extra reporting abilities), there are disadvantages to this.

Quite quickly the structure will become unmanageable if you have a high volume account. Conversely, if your account has a smaller reach, you might find your keywords become too low search volume to show ads.

Ad customisers on the other hand do require a feed with the relevant information held in it, and take some time to set up correctly, but once you’ve done that they can be very powerful.

You can integrate them with your existing campaigns and ads, and test them in the same way you would any other ad. 

(Quick plug here for our free Experiments Studio tool here that gives you quick access to the results of any AB tests you are running, as well as the statistical significance of those results.)

Find out how to use ad customisers here.

2. Use in-market audiences to target audiences further down the funnel, with personalised messaging and landing pages

Historically Google’s pre-built in-market audiences have made you pay higher CPCs for the privilege of a pre-qualified audience. 

However, given that they are heavily weighted towards the travel industry (120 of 508 of the audiences are travel specific), it makes sense to monopolise on their granularity. 

You can find a full list of the audiences here.

Using in-market specific ad groups or campaigns would allow you to send searchers to specific landing pages depending on what you already know they are in-market for, despite generic searches.

Take the “Trips to Costa Rica” audience for example. If someone in this audience searches for “best holiday activity ideas”, and you are targeting them, you can test sending them directly to a page advertising activities available in Costa Rica, or Central America.

This could be a good technique for either mature, high volume accounts where you are trying to find niches and searches you aren’t quite hitting or converting.

Equally, if you are constrained by budgets and want to spend your marketing budget in as targeted a way as possible, in a very competitive market, it may be worth testing.

In addition to personalised ads, you can also personalise landing pages using dynamic text insertion. 

Neil Patel details how to do this here, but again it’s another step above and beyond on the search journey to really personalise each searcher’s experience.

Moreover, it can be a resource efficient way of creating specific landing pages when your website development resources are limited.

3. Retarget using RLSAs, built around types of pages that searchers have visited previously, on more generic searches 

Similar to the concept of retargeting in-market audiences from Google, you could use your own RLSA audiences, built on the pages of your site which someone has landed on before.

For example, if someone has been browsing 4* hotels, you can add them to a specific RLSA audience.

Then when they come to search generically for hotels, you can target them with specific ads alluding to 4* hotels, or send them to a 4* hotel landing page. 

Alternatively, if you know they’ve been on a specific hotel’s page on your site, you can advertise the best rates for that hotel in the ad copy when they search more generically. 

Of course, the more granular you go, the higher the traffic you need to make the audience viable for Google to allow you to target them (1000 users and above).

That will allow you to maintain a presence throughout that searcher’s journey, at their moments of highest intent, rather than through GDN or other programmatic activity that can seem conspicuous and jarring.

4. Retarget on social and through GDN with creatives tailored to the pages which that audience visited

This is in a similar vein to the above, creating your own “in-market” audiences depending on their behaviour on your site.

Crucial though is the second step – targeting that audience with creatives and copy specific to the pages with which they engaged.

For example, it would be legitimate to retarget visitors to your Barcelona hostels pages, and to retarget visitors to your Norway hostels pages, but the psychology behind what’s attractive to those two searchers is very different.

And so, they should be treated differently.

You would imagine that sandy Spanish beaches are more likely to appeal to the Barcelona searcher than the Norweigan searcher (who would probably respond better to beautiful Scandinavian fjords).

That would instantly further personalise the search experience, and add to the user experience cohesion that can be so valuable.

Summary 

Personalising someone’s experience when they are planning a trip, whether they’re looking at travel, accommodation, activities or more, is what will make you stand out in a very competitive market place. 

4 achievable ways to do this that we would recommend are:

  1. Personalise ads using travel times and/or prices from the searcher’s location
  2. Use in-market audiences to send potential customers to the most relevant ads and pages in the first instance
  3. Create RLSAs using data from the pages someone has visited to capture them during future generic searches
  4. Invest in location or service specific creatives to retarget people on other channels

Have you tried any of these, or have other techniques for personalising your PPC travel campaigns? Let us know in the comments!

 

Amy Hawkins
About Amy Hawkins

Amy joined Clicteq in March 2019 as a Paid Search Account Manager. She has a wealth of experience in managing enterprise retail and lead generation paid search accounts including BMW, Hive, Secret Escapes and iRobot.

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