User-Generated Content to Fuel Expedia's WOM, SEO and Sales
A company could sit back and wait for customers to post something nice about its products and services on its social media pages. But why not be proactive and help stimulate and facilitate this word of mouth? That's the concept behind the test Bellevue, Wash.-based travel firm Expedia recently launched with the support of Compendium Blogware, a blog software company in Indianapolis.
Ami Packard, Expedia's director of database marketing strategy and new initiatives, and Chris Baggott, CEO of Compendium, shared details on the launch during a Target Marketing webinar last month, "Blogging and Social Media: Perfect Together."
Because a key driver behind the phenomenon of social networking is people's desire to become what Baggott termed "micro-famous," Expedia set out to solicit experiences from customers who had just returned from a trip to Hawaii. This group was sent e-mails that encouraged them to share their favorite moments, restaurants, sightseeing spots from their Hawaiian adventure. The goal, says Packard, was not to garner reviews of the hotel or travel company booked through Expedia, although the inclusion of such information in customers' stories is not a problem. Rather, she explains, her team was hoping to capture the enjoyment of the trip, experiences that help other travelers decide whether to visit a particular locale. As such, the e-mail provided the audience with topic suggestions (a great restaurant, scenic area) to make follow-through to the landing page a no-brainer; it also encouraged the customer to share a trip photo.
On the Expedia landing page, customers found a highly structured form via which to enter their content. Using such a form not only takes the guesswork out of the process for the customer but also allows Expedia to control some of the tagging to leverage keywords. For example, a drop-down menu for the trip type includes meta tags that Expedia optimizes throughout its site content.