As we know, effective content marketing reaches the target audience at every stage of the consumer journey, gently nudging them through the funnel at each juncture, from awareness all the way to post-conversion.
There is, however, a unique opportunity for every business to use content to hone in on the pre-purchase phase of the funnel.
According to Amy Cannon, Far From Avocados co-founder, engaging with your audiences in the pre-purchase stage is critical before pushing towards a conversion.
“Today’s consumer is increasingly discerning towards brands. Their message is ‘get to know me before you monetise on me’.”
For travel and hospitality brands, the pre-purchase ‘discover and dream’ phase is also an opportunity to create content that ultimately extends the customer’s overall ‘experience’ in the lead-up to a purchase.
Think like a (travel) publisher
We’ve said it a million times before to our clients, but we’ll say it again: successful content brands ‘think like publishers’.
In which area or areas does your brand have the authority to say something worthwhile that will make your target audience stop and pay attention? Start there and build your content outwards from that position of strength, taking into account related and overlapping interests.
That said, there’s a crucial distinction between advertising copy and editorial copy; publishers create editorial copy that adds value to the end-user, by way of education or entertainment. This is distinct from filler, sales content – content ‘for the sake of it’.
The Ovolo Hotel Group is a great example of a hospitality brand thinking like a publisher to connect with its consumer in that pre-purchase phase. The site has an online magazine called The Silver Egg with articles and features written by journalists on a range of topics directly and indirectly related to travel in Australia and Hong Kong.
Publishing articles like ‘Places to go in Bondi NOT Overrun By English Backpackers’ means targeting the customer during the pre-purchase phase while they are researching and considering potential destinations – in other words, getting to know them before they attempt to monetise upon them.
This introduces the Ovolo Hotel Group to them at an opportune moment of high-receptivity, meeting them at a natural touchpoint (eg, an internet search) that offers some genuine value to them.
Extend their stay: dream a little dream
Selling travel is about selling a dream, or quite often an intangible product. Using powerful visuals is a key method of communicating the intangible – and a perfect extension of the phrase “getting there is half the journey”.
If a travel or hospitality brand creates emotive content that extends the customer’s overall experience to include the lead-in to purchase, it will make the customer want to linger during that opportune ‘discover and dream’ phase and get to know the brand.
La Saguaro Hotels does this by carefully curating its Instagram and Facebook feed with glossy, vibrant professional photography. The emphasis is on the aesthetic.
Taking this approach on a visual platform like Instagram allows La Saguaro to construct a strong brand identity, a fun, colourful ‘world’ rather than a boring gallery of practical stock images of hotel rooms and amenities. In fact, it’s not immediately obvious from social media content that the profile is run by a hotel group – it could be a travel magazine or a colourful photography profile.
The quality of the imagery entices the travel consumer during the ‘dream and discover’ phase without any overt sell or call to action. This is an example of a brand using engaging and visually pleasing content to build a rapport with their consumers before the purchase push, or as Amy puts it, “brands who are looking for one thing stick out like a sore thumb”.
The key takeaway from the examples of the Ovolo Hotel Group and La Saguaro Hotels is to create relevant content that heightens the target consumer’s enjoyment of the lead-in awareness phase, and adds value by answering the target consumer’s questions during the research or discovery phase.
Inside every brand are layers of functional, emotional and self-expressive benefits that they need to examine, according to Amy.
“A brand must ask how they can explore the benefits of their offering more deeply to their prospects not-so-visible characteristics, such as interests, lifestyles, attitudes, expectations and activities. That’s why our agency heavily focuses on powerful psychographic traits of audiences.