5 Ways Travel Apps Can Gain Users Beyond Summertime
Travel apps are big business. According to AppAnnie, travel app downloads increased by 20% in 2016, compared to 2015 globally. Mobile is leading the way. In 2017, eMarketer found U.S. mobile travel sales totaled $75.85 billion, up 16.7% over 2016, while desktop and laptop travel sales declined 1.6% in 2017 to $113.77 billion.
There are big opportunities for brands in the world of travel apps: Never before have consumers had so much choice at their fingertips. Yet, advertisers need to use a variety of strategies to stay competitive. Additionally, advertisers need to keep in mind the seasonality of travel apps, because users tend to plan their holidays at the start of the year to ward off the winter blues, and then make sporadic purchases during actual travel periods.
Apply these five best practices to successfully drive user acquisition for your travel app all year round:
Start With Providing an End-to-End User Experience
Users are going mobile. In 2017, 57.5 million U.S. adults used a smartphone to book a trip, up 14.1% from 2016. eMarketer estimates that by 2021, mobile will represent nearly half of all digital travel sales, beating both desktop and tablet. What’s more, consumers in the U.S. are increasingly researching trips, with TripAdvisor being the most popular choice, according to eMarketer. Globally, 70% of travelers research on their smartphone.
The mobile trend seems to be driven by last-minute travel deals attractive to users on-the-go. Other factors include larger smartphone screens, easier mobile payment methods and more time spent on mobile.
Focus on making your app and mobile website user-friendly. Reduce the number of screens and clicks, so that users can easily find and book their trip. The sign-up process should be simple and seamless. For instance, take a look at Momondo’s interface design.
Set the Right Goals for Your Travel Apps and Be Transparent With Your Data
Start by setting the right KPIs. What is the goal? Is it brand awareness or engaging users? Increasing volume or expanding reach? Align campaign messaging and targeting tactics with your chosen strategy to maximize your ROI, and ensure that you are looking at the full set of post-install events to better forecast future bookings, registration, listing of items, etc.
Additionally, test several sources of traffic throughout the campaign (e.g. new publishers, social media, new networks, TV), and share your post-install data with your trusted mobile advertising partners. The faster they can better target and acquire the right users. Access to data and transparent communications between brands and acquisition partners are a winning combination for any successful user acquisition strategy.
Build an Integrated Marketing Campaign for Your Community, Both Online and Offline
Consumers are increasingly opting for established apps they trust, over the obscure “never-heard-of-it-before” newcomers. It’s imperative to increase your brand awareness and build trust. The most powerful marketing tool is word-of-mouth — loyal users who evangelize your brand to friends. When it comes to the main players — from Airbnb to Skyscanner — chances are that you’ll have read countless reviews; seen lots of social media and TV advertisements, or billboards and posters plastered around public transportation areas to maintain awareness and build trust.
Beat Seasonality With Re-engagement Campaigns
Out of sight, out of mind, as they say. Work around the declines in travel app usage by investing in re-engagement campaigns during the year. This will drive engagement and retention — possibly leading to positive word-of-mouth to boost organic installs.
Use in-app push notifications. The majority of travel apps, like Kayak, send an alert that advises users on the best time to book or find a great deal in their app.
For example, offer an incentive such as a discount on the next trip booked if a user leaves a positive review or refers the app to a friend who installs. You can also time re-engagement emails and special offers around the end of the month (pay day) and combine these with retargeting campaigns (ads or emails) to users who have visited the site but haven’t booked yet.
Benefit From a Burst Campaign to Outrank the Competition
While users may download your travel app today, they may also wait to book a trip three months from now, so it’s key to be patient. Consistently invest in branding and re-engagement tactics, so that users have more trust in your app.
When the time strikes for users to book their holiday, and the market is particularly noisy with brand advertisements (Christmas, Summer, etc.), you can boost your ranking in the app stores — and beat fierce competition — by implementing a “burst campaign” into your marketing mix. Burst campaigns can spur the growth of a newly launched app, or rejuvenate the user base of an existing app to prolong its lifecycle. They are also an ideal part of a marketing strategy when entering a new market, as they can help boost the travel app and gain traction fast.
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