Business Leads

5 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Help You Generate Solid Business Leads

Generating profitable business leads is time-consuming work. From collecting data to verifying contact information, creating a solid database consisting of people who are genuinely interested in purchasing your goods and services requires patience and experience. So when hiring a VA to help you increase your flow of business leads, it's important to find a person with brilliant people skills and extensive Internet research experience.

Common Business Lead Generation Tasks

Chances are, you utilise various methods for gathering business leads already - from online surveys and direct mail, to website landing pages and social media management, and you know full well that handling every aspect of lead generation can easily be a full-time job in itself. So instead of trying to manage all of these tasks yourself, why not hire a VA to do most of the leg work for you?

An experienced VA can manage your email lists, respond to comments and queries on your social media pages, create marketing materials and send them out, and contact prospective clients and customers directly by email and / or phone.

To make business lead generation even easier for your VA, create a list of specific tasks with deadlines or timelines. For example, dedicate three days per month to planning and development. Ask your VA to monitor social media and other online content daily to ensure a quick response. Send email correspondence once a week. Creating a well defined lead generation schedule helps you and your VA maintain a positive relationship with new and existing clients / customers, now and into the future.

Research New Leads

What's the point of having a hundred new leads if most of them don't result in new business? Before spending time and money courting potential clients and customers, ask your VA to conduct online research to determine how interested they are in potentially purchasing goods and services.

Knowing more about a lead - such as the industry or company they work for, rank within a company and known business associates can usually tell you if the lead is worth pursuing, or not.

Build a Contact Database

To make regular contact with clients and customers as easy as possible, ask your VA to build a lead contact database complete with full names, phone numbers, email addresses, business websites and even physical business addresses. Your VA can do the same with your email lists, which can be great for sending mass emails in a more personalised way.

As additional leads come in, your VA can simply update these databases. Your VA can also go through the database periodically to delete or update contact information, as necessary.

Create Marketing Materials

In addition to following up on leads the come from your website, social media pages or from face-to-face meetings and other interactions, your VA can also help create marketing materials, edit journal articles, post blog entries, and update webpages to generate interest in your business.

Depending on the specific skills and experience your VA has, they may even be able to design webpages or graphics, create business apps and offer suggestions for other ways to generate leads.

Maintain Regular Contact with Your Leads

It's important to maintain regular contact with viable leads so your business remains at the forefront of their thoughts whenever actively considering your area of expertise. Create a quarterly marketing and communication plan for your VA to follow so you can keep these valuable business relationships intact. A combination of email, phone and direct mail marketing on a quarterly basis is typically more than enough to keep new and existing clients and customers aware of your business.

For most online businesses though, a sequential "stacking" or "stacked" email loyalty campaign along with monthly newsletters and more random personal / promotional emails does the job of maintaining a close connection with your leads quite well too, and once again a VA with the right skills can set this all up for you.

Are you looking for a sustainable source of leads for your business - and not just any leads, but qualified leads that come from carefully tended, personal interactions? If so, hiring an experienced "lead generation" marketing virtual assistant might very well be the perfect fit for your business. Contact us today to arrange a free discovery session to find out more about how a marketing VA can help you maximise your business!

5 Reasons Your Tourism Business Should Be Using ‘Google My Business’

Almost 70% of online searches are made via Google. Google My Business allows the physical location of your business to be found on Google Maps which lets your customers locate your more easily. It is the new Yellow pages with the addition of your exact address and location being provided via Google Maps. If you customers are searching for you on a mobile device they can received turn-by-turn directions to your door via Google Maps.

1. Get more traffic for free

Who doesn’t want free advertising for their tourism business? That is what you are getting with Google My Business. You need to take advantage of every advertising opportunity that you can and there is nothing better than being able to advertise to customers in your area for no charge. Additionally, it can drive traffic to your website.

2. Track leads

You can find out how your customers found your tourism business and what they searched for online.

3. Share photos

You can create a virtual tour online to showcase your tourism business. According to Google’s data, “businesses that added photos to their listings received 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more clicks through to their websites.”

4. Analyse phone call data

With custom insights, you can even keep track of how many calls you’ve received. Because the contact number is clickable it can record what has dialled you from your listing

5. Beat scammers

Is your business name similar to another one? Because you have to verify your tourism brand it means that you don’t have to worry about customers being confused.

How to sign up and have your tourism business listed on Google My Business

To start, you need to have an account with Google and if you don’t already have one you will need to set one up. Once you are all setup to go to google.com/business. You will be asked to agree to some terms and conditions from Google and then be taken to a form for you to complete with details of your tourism business such as name, phone number and category. To confirm that you really do exist you will need to verify your tourism business, this can be done via phone, text or post. Until you have verified your tourism business no information will be displayed to protect against scammers.

Tips for How to Properly Use Google My Business

Once you have completed the sign up and verification process here are a few tips to maximise your listing:

Use keywords

One of the most important steps is the completion of the keywords and category section. Include a description of your tourism business that is appealing and accurately describes what you offer your customers.

Utilise images and videos

Your Google My Business listing can include up to 10 images and five videos for no charge. Remember that this is free advertising so make the most of it! Include not only internal images but those of the outside or key landmarks so when your customers are trying to find you that know what to look for.

Create a Google My Business Page for each of your locations

If you have multiple locations for your tourism business then you need to create a different listing for each location with its specific address, contact details and images.

Encourage customer reviews

Make sure that your satisfied customers tell everyone else about you by leaving a review and rating their experience. Remember that a better rating will attract more customers in a big way, it is almost a guarantee for tourism businesses. Always make sure that these are genuine reviews otherwise they will do more harm than good. If Google suspects that they aren’t authentic or they suspect that you are simply soliciting reviews for a higher rating then if could have the opposite desired effect and actually push your rating down rather than up.

Whilst Google My Business is not as ‘flashy’ as some of the other social media options available is an essential tool for your tourism business. Making life easier for your current and potential customers by ensuring that your business can be easily found is a vital part of your marketing strategy.

Do you have any questions or need some help setting up your Google My Business page? Contact us today we are here to help you achieve success with your tourism business.

Tourism marketing

What Prevents You From Improving Your Digital Presence?

Whenever I ask a tourism operator this question the resounding response is “I simply don’t have the time.” 

So how do you make time and how can we assist to make things easier for you?

I want to help you out by sharing the 7 key tips that I have found really helpful.

Tip 1: Make a Plan

Spend the time planning your digital marketing strategy. A well-developed plan can steer you in the right direction and help you identify and achieve your digital objectives. Never underestimate the power of taking the time to build a solid foundation as a well thought out plan will ensure that you are catering to the needs of your target audience and you are tapping into the hidden desires that they forgot even existed. Planning is a skill that no tourism marketer can afford to ignore but so often we leap ahead. 

A well-crafted content calendar can be a huge reliever of the stress associated with your digital presence. You can see what days you have you have to create content on, how many times you have to post (and exactly here), the topic, you budget allocated to the promotion and the key message of the campaign you are focusing on. But most importantly, you can see why you are taking the actions as you have developed the plan based on your ideal customer.

Tip 2: Analyse, Fix & Go Again

Yes you need to make a plan but never be afraid to ‘tweak’ it or veer from it. So you ask – first we have to make the plan and then we need to change it? Yes, the plan is always a work on progress and if it’s not working them you will need to give it some tweaks.

Analysing and reporting on the success of your digital campaigns regularly will allow you to check what is working and what’s not. This is one if the key features of digital marketing in comparison to print based marketing. If you put an advert in a local magazine you do not have the analysing and reporting options and ability to alter it like you do with digital. By delving in to the analytics you can identify what is not giving you the return on investment and needs to go. Then you can invest your time and investment into the tactics which are meeting your objectives such as generating you bookings.

Tip 3: Use the Right Tools

It’s important to use the right tools to save you both time and also your sanity. Take advantage of automation tools that allow you to make to best use of your time.

If there’s a tool that can ease your work load and budget constraints or increase your productivity then grab it with both hands – you owe it to yourself.

Tip 4: Keep Learning

Have you ever met a digital marketer who isn’t still learning? No, we are all constantly learning and evolving in a world that is moving at what sometimes seems lightning speed. Make sure you stay up-to-date with the tourism marketing trends as staying curious is important.

Tip 5: Self-Motivate

Digital marketing is new and rapidly changing and can often become overwhelming for many tourism operators. Focus on picking just two channels and getting the basics right for them. For example SEO to ensure that can get found on those all important local key searches. Then when that is done perhaps put a plan in place to write two blog posts a month. This is where building that foundation digital plan becomes so important as you know exactly what you need to diary time for.

Tip 6: Seek Help

You are not an island – don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. Building a support network around you so that you have someone to reach out to is important. Seek out the help and support of mentors so that you can ask questions, welcome feedback, to gain knowledge and have the accountability that you may require.

We have developed the DigitalKickstart Facebook group to provide a forum for tourism operators so that you have a place to ask questions, share their knowledge, obtain feedback or get that accountability that we need in a supportive environment. We would love you to join us as we grow this group. If you would like to talk to us about how we can help you with your digital presence then please drop us an email and we can organise a time to catch up.

Tip 7: Switch Off

Don’t risk burnout, anxiety and insomnia always recognise the importance of switching off. Every day there are hundreds of thousands of pieces of content published in relation to digital marketing – there is no way that you can read them all so why even try? Arriana Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, is one of many key influences who advocate the taking of well-timed breaks from technology.

She suggests implementing such rituals as meditation, mindfulness and switching off your phone at dinner and during holidays to help you relax, unwind and recharge your batteries. You need to do what works best for you and your tourism business but always remember that awaking refreshed and rearing to go each day will help with the creation of your next epic Tweet.

Brand

Developing Your Tourism Brand

The term “brand” has become one of those words that has almost propelled itself into the hallowed halls of business jargon to its ubiquity and, frankly, overuse. If we had a bitcoin for every time we heard the phrase ‘brand’, we’d be internet millionaires. But a more lucrative situation would be if we had a bitcoin for every time we heard a misperception about what branding is, then we could buy the entire internet. It might be easier to start with what a brand ISN’T.

A brand is not:

  • Your logo
  • Your tagline
  • Your product
  • Your sevice

All of these things can be expressions of your brand but they are not your brand.

Here’s the simplest way we here at Kreative Social Media define brand: Branding is about the promise of a distinct, memorable experience. It’s about creating an expectation and delivering it consistently every time anyone comes in contact with your brand whether it’s the way you answer the phone, how your website functions, your customer service process, how your tourism office/accommodation looks or how your service/product performs. It’s how you make your customers feel about themselves and their decisions when they are interacting with your brand. It’s why they stay at hotel A vs hotel B even if the price or product might not be that much different.

Developing a strong, authentic brand and delivering it consistently is the foundation upon which every successful tourism business is built and gives you a major edge in what is an increasingly competitive market.

Your promise to your customer

A brand is a collection of thoughts and feelings about our experience with it. They are intangible as you can only feel them rather than the tangible which you can see, hear, touch, taste or smell. Brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect when interacting with your tourism business and it differentiates you from your competitors. You brand is developed from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.

How do you get your brand inside people’s heads?

You get your tourism brand inside the head of your potential and current customers by exposing them to messages about your brand and also through the actual experiences they have with your brand. Experiences refer to all moments when they come in contact with your brand. Every single member of your tourism business team contributes to shaping their experience with your brand. Therefore, marketing is a function of all members of the organisation and not just an individual team member. A brand will not be strong and a tourism business will not be able to deliver on its branding promise unless the entire business from top to bottom understands and embraces the brand.

What makes a strong tourism brand?

Every strong tourism brand stands for something; one single differentiating attribute which can be termed the “brand essence”. This is the one single intangible attribute that differentiates your brand from your competitors.

Branding distinguishes your tourism business from its competitors and builds a preference with your customers. Having consistent strategic branding will lead to strong brand equity which will result in the “added value” brought to your businesses products and services meaning that you will be able to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded businesses can command.

Finding and clearly defining your “brand essence” is very much a journey of self-discovery which can be started by answering the following questions:

  • What is the mission of your tourism business?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products/services?
  • What do current and prospective customers already think of your tourism business?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your tourism business?

So now you are well on the way to defining your brand, but how do you tell everyone about it. Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

  • Get a great logo and place it everywhere!
  • Write down your key messages about your brand and make sure that every single member of your team is aware of your brand attributes
  • Integrate your brand into all aspects of your tourism business. From how your answer your phone, your uniforms, your email signatures – everything!
  • Create a “voice” for your tourism business that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and in all visual imagery. Is your brand friendly? Then be more conversational. Is it a premium product? Be more formal. I hope you get the idea
  • Develop a tagline by writing a memorable meaningful and concise statement that captures the true essence of your tourism business
  • Design templates and create brand standards for marketing materials. This ensures that you use that same colour scheme, logo placement and look and feel throughout all communication. Consistency is the key here!
  • Always be true to your brand as customers won’t return or tell others about your business in the way you want them to if you don’t deliver on your promise.

Hopefully this has been helpful in simplifying the concept and getting you started in defining or refining your tourism business brand. Always remember that we are here to help so just drop us an email if you have any questions about branding or any marketing for your tourism business.

Why email marketing is an essential strategy for tourism

Are you wanting to create better communication with your customers? Email marketing is a highly effective marketing tool for tourism businesses. It allows you to nurture relationships with your current, future and potential customers. Keeping in touch via email marketing has one of the highest returns on investment of all the marketing you can do (other than work of mouth). So even though email marketing seems like it has been around for ever it has revolutionised itself to become more of a show pony and is now a key component to generating leads and sales for your tourism business.

Growing sustainable long-term relationships and developing loyal valuable tourism customers is a growing challenge. The reason why email marketing is so powerful, is because it is permission based. This means that people have made a conscious decision to ‘opt-in’ to receive communication from you and are therefore more engaged than those on other forms of online marketing which in turn positions them further along the buying funnel resulting in a higher chance of purchase. Targeting travellers comes down to reaching the right people at the right time with your unique offer. Potential travellers are liking to begin their online research well in advance of when they actually finalise their arrangements and make their bookings.

Developing an effective email strategy means they you must establish an ongoing interactive relationship with your prospects and customers. To assist with this, you should use profiling of your prospects and customers to gain an insight into all their wants, needs and desires. This way you can ensure that the communication you are sending out is targeted to them.

Some tips on email marketing for tourism:

  • Establish yourself as the expert when you send out professional newsletters filled with tips
  • Motivate more bookings with instant news of great deals
  • Create newsletters to deliver specific content about your destination
  • Use quality images and videos to showcase your business and the destination
  • Interact with customers through surveys
  • When people sign up for your newsletter they are expecting to hear from you
  • Whilst not everyone is on social media most people do have an email address
  • Email marketing can be a key component in driving traffic to your website as the information that you are should be redirecting the reader to your website to ‘read more’. Include only a snippet of a blog post, news article or a promotion then refer them to your website to read the full ‘story’
  • A benefit of sending out sales promotions to your newsletter subscribers is that all sales conversions from the email can be tracked in your website’s Google Analytics if you have online bookings and Google Analytics installed
  • Email is a personal and friendly form of communicate which allows for relationship building. It is like receiving an email from a good friend
  • Customers are checking their emails on their smartphones so you can talk to them where they are spending their time
  • Your email database belongs to you whereas social media is only ‘rented’ and therefore you don’t own it. If something happens on social media eg an algorithm change, you could suddenly lose all contact with your customers. Therefore, by encouraging customers to sign up to your email database it is like an insurance policy against the third party social media providers

How can using email newsletter software help:

  • Easily create your own great looking email campaigns. It is easy and fast, you just select a template and add you own content with no technical knowledge required
  • Send personalised emails to all your subscribers immediately or schedule for later delivery
  • View real times reports of opens, clicks, bounces and much more. Easily analyse and compare multiple campaigns
  • Import your email list and filter subscribers to target specific market segments. Automated list management to organise unsubscribe emails and remove duplications
  • Delivery testing ensures that your email is tested against popular spam filters, firewalls and email programs. This is important as it will ensure that you achieve the best possible delivery rates

Facebook advertising and your email list

You might already be doing some marketing on Facebook for your tourism business but if you are probably not taking full advantage of the power of the combination of your email marketing strategy and Facebook lookalike audiences.

Your email list is a goldmine of customer data and it creates a resource of promising leads as they have already moved through the initial step and are well on their way through your conversion funnel.

They already know about your tourism business and by signing up they have identified their interest about wanting to know more and to keep in touch with you. This is the key reason why email marketing is such a powerful component of your tourism marketing strategy.

In Facebook, you create the Lookalike audience and then choose your custom audience of newsletter contacts as the source group. By utilising your mailing list, it is providing a reliable and high-quality source of leads. By targeting a new audience that is similar to your already qualified leads then the chances of getting good returns on your ads greatly increases.

If you need a hand to setup you email newsletter template or would prefer someone to manage your email database and send your newsletters for you, then we can help. Just click here to send us an email and we will contact you to arrange a time to catch up.

Why should you hire a virtual marketing assistant for your tourism business?

Hours upon hours can be spent trying to grow or develop your tourism business. But how spend your valuable time could actually end up hindering your tourism business from becoming successful. Hiring a virtual marketing assistant can free up some time you may be spending on marketing and replace it with what you do best.

An extra set of hands can help with creating newsletters, social media content creation, posting content on your blog, answering emails from clients or responding to social media mentions. A virtual marketing assistant can also take charge of a marketing campaign or product launch.

A virtual marketing assistant can help your tourism business on a short or long-term basis. They can assist you with a specific project or provide assistance for a certain number of hours per week or month. This means that they can provide assistance when you really need it most eg leading up to the peak holiday season or to increase bookings during your off-season.

Tips for creating a great working relationship with your virtual marketing assistant:

1. Determine your needs before hiring

You need to have clear expectations and clear boundaries in relation to the role. Are you looking for your virtual marketing assistant to take on more of a project management or task-oriented role.

2. How to find a marketing virtual assistant

Ask around as finding a marketing virtual assistant via a referral gives you insider information on their skills and knowledge. Also determine if they have experience within the tourism industry as an understanding of the terminology and unique challenges your tourism business faces is important to the overall success of the relationship and work produced.


3. Take it slowly

Always have a ‘discovery’ session via Skype or in person (if this is possible). This is really important for both parties because if you can’t build a rapport during this time then you probably aren’t going to be a good fit and working together is not going to be as successful as it should. Start out on a trial basis instead of signing a long-term contract straight away is a good approach to take, particularly if you haven’t worked with a marketing virtual assistant before.

4. Specify any technical skills needed

A virtual marketing assistant with a high technical skill level will be able to adapt to new systems easily and quite seamlessly but the learning curve for a less experienced assistant who may not be a marketing or tourism specialist may be steeper. If you have specific requirements or preferences, make sure you discuss them at the outset.

5. Manage – don’t micro-manage

Once you engage your virtual marketing assistant, the first few weeks will be a bit of a learning curve for both of you. It is very important that you trust your virtual marketing assistant enough to do the role you have engaged them for without second- guessing them.

There is a difference between monitoring the material being produced to ensure that it is a representation of your tourism brand and being a micro-manager.

6. Don’t delegate your pet projects

If you can’t really let go of a specific project or task then don’t. Because even if you do delegate this then you will be constantly thinking about it and it will continue to absorb a significant amount of your time and energy. This defeats the whole idea of engaging a virtual marketing assistant. Keep the tasks you’re attached to on your to-do-list until you are ready to let them go.

7. Remember why you hired a virtual marketing assistant

Being able to focus on the tasks that inspire you and keep your business moving forward is one of the reasons for you to work with a virtual marketing assistant. Keep that in mind when you are planning how you can make the best use of the extra time you will now have to work ‘on’ rather than ‘in’ your business and how this will help you grow your tourism business to a new level.

If you would like to find out more about hiring a virtual marketing assistant for your tourism business then contact us today to arrange a time for a no-obligation chat.

10 Tips to Create a Strong Social Media Content Strategy for your Tourism Business

Do you want to create awesome content that makes an impact? It isn’t always easy to create the buzz you are looking for.

In this post, I will share with you my top 10 tips to that will help you create a social media content strategy that resonates with your customers.

#1 Develop your content strategy so that it is aligned with your tourism businesses social media goals.

Determine what your businesses goals are so that when you develop your content strategy you can align your end goal with best metric to determine the achievement of the goal.

  • If you are wanting to generate traffic to your website, then you need to measure the unique visitors from your social media platforms where you have been running your social media marketing campaigns.
  • If you are wanting to build up your followers, then you need to measure your email subscribers and your followers on your social media platforms.
  • If you are wanting to increase the engagement on your social media platforms then you need to measure the quantity and type of comments being made, the likes to your posts and the shares of your posts.
  • If revenue generation is your main focus then you need to monitor the exact dollar value of every lead generated via your website and social media platform posts.

Always keep these goals in mind when developing your social media content.

#2 Approach your content strategy with a big-brand mind-set

If you are a small tourism business, then approach it like the big businesses do:

  • Find out where your customers go and talk
  • Create content that your customers want to talk about
  • Use social media to listen to your customers
  • Engage your social media followers by giving them a incentive to follow your brand

#3 Outsource content development as required

Can your tourism business keep up-to-date with all the tasks associated with maintaining a presence on social media eg developing and sharing awesome content and responding to customers comments.

Steps that you can take as a business to ensure a successful social media campaign include:

  • Decide what you want to achieve
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin
  • Keep some social media in-house
  • Outsource some social media to a marketing assistant who understands the unique requirements of social media for the tourism industry and can apply that knowledge across the platforms you require

How many hours a week does it realistically take for your tourism business to maintain a presence on social media? Don’t let the shortage of your internal business resources stop you from achieving your online marketing goals. Outsource your marketing to maximise every opportunity to achieve your goals.

#4 Engage in real interactions

The usage of auto posting tools are beneficial to ensure consistency of posting but you must also engage with your customers. Through having conversations, you will achieve better results and add more value to your social media. By not just posting and forgetting but by being available to your customers in real time it will mean that you can have more meaningful interactions.

#5 Keep up to date with changes on social media platforms

History has clearly shown us that change is inevitable on social media platforms. You only need to search Google for “Facebook changes” to see the large number of results for a range of topics.

You can keep up to date with Facebook changes by:

  • Following Facebook for regular updates
  • Following key social media and tech experts updates
  • Set up a Google alert for Facebook updates

No one wants to be surprised by a change that they didn’t know about so they couldn’t be prepared. Keep up to date with the developments so that you don’t miss out.

#6 Use hashtags to help your customers find your content

Hashtags have become important to how we communicate online.

They can be used in several ways:

  • As a promotion tool – they allow you to track promotional activity across social platforms
  • A great social media conversation starter
  • For targeting – rather than people having to do a general search on the web, hashtags can be used to engage people in specific conversations that are relevant to them. This can result in the sharing of a positive experience they’ve had with your business.
  • Innovation – you are only limited by your own creativity in regards to their usage

#7 Ensure your website is mobile friendly

It seems that we are visiting websites more from our mobiles devices today than any other way. But there is nothing more frustrating than opening a page that isn’t mobile friendly and having to try and navigate it to find the information we are wanting.

To make your website more mobile-friendly:

  • Keep your page’s simple
  • Ensure that it is compatible to multiple devices and browsers

#8 Network in all the right places

When determining who, your ideal customer is you must always research the social media platforms that they frequent.

#9 Present your human side

Including photos of your team is great social media content to share. It helps to show your customers the people behind the business and helps to build a relationship with your online community. Always remember that your team are your biggest raving fans so don’t forget to include them in your social media strategy as they can often be the providers of some awesome content.

#10 Be consistent with your branding across all platforms

Make sure you have a consistent brand identity across all platforms. This includes such items as being consistent with your colours, fonts, image styles and logos.

If you are unsure if you are demonstrating a consistent brand experience, then take a look at all your marketing side-by-side and see if there are any changes that you could make so that they will look like a set rather than individual items.

If you would like to find out more about creating awesome social media content for your tourism business, then download our free guide.