In ContentSEOSocial

For most of our DMOs, blogs are already an integral part of their content marketing strategies and are regarded by some to present a smarter way to invest their marketing budgets.  

With experiential travel on the rise, the blog is an essential tool, allowing DMOs to capture experiences for the destination as a whole by involving everyone from residents to local businesses in the creation of content.  

Not only do blogs drive traffic to your destination site but visitors often perceive them as more credible than other more traditional marketing communications and are one of the most effective methods for creating emotional connections.  When combined with social media, the blog is even more powerful.  

Blogs have moved on in the last few years too.  Destinations may have started by committing a part time resource from their own in-house team to the task but now guest bloggers and blogging professionals are utilised increasingly to write blogs on specialist subjects and deliver a fresh perspective, outside of the DMO. 

A great example of an organisation which has taken blogging to a new level is our long term client, Destination Bristol.

When the current destination site, www.visitbristol.co.uk was launched 18 months ago, their previously external blog was incorporated and the organisation invested heavily in content in order to boost their organic search engine rankings.  At that point the DMO was experimenting with a part time resource but cut to today, they now publish around 30 pieces of content a month and have just started to experiment with monetisation.

Their blog content includes a mix of themes to engage with a range of target markets including local residents, visitors (both domestic and international) and tourism businesses in Bristol.  Their blog posts are well written in an inspirational style and categorised to cater for a whole range of interests:-

Food Friday - this weekly blog invites individuals from local businesses to contribute a 1 day itinerary featuring their favourite coffee shops, restaurants and bars in Bristol, giving great coverage to the city's fantastic food and drink scene as well as a plug for the author.

Reviews & Interviews - theatre reviews, written by a member of the audience and theatre interviews with artistic directors and actors are always popular to generate interest and provide a new perspective. Some are even shared by the venues to further increase exposure.

Events - event driven content works well for Visit Bristol.  One of the biggest events in the Bristol calendar is the annual Balloon Fiesta in August.  Last year's '7 best vantage points' blog attracted 10s of 000s of page views and is still generating traffic to the site now.

Lists - Blogs written in a list style eg. '117 Things to do in Bristol in 2017' are always popular and continue to attract traffic months after being published.

Conference blogging - this initiative forms part of a monthly eNews campaign targeted at the MICE market.   Rather than promoting lists of products, the email includes links to relevant blogs for improved engagement with Visit Bristol's business database of conference facility users. 

Instagram Takeover - Two to three times per month an Instagramer will be given the opportunity to take control of the Visit Bristol account.  The team then includes their images of Bristol in a blog post.  So for example, one of Hamburg's most famous Instagramers, Oliver Bock was recently invited to document his adventures in Bristol, helping him to spread awareness and providing a visitor experience from an international perspective.  This blog was then promoted via social media in the Hamburg area to encourage traffic and visits from Germany to Bristol.

Word on the Street - this is a monthly round-up of the best blogs, press coverage and twitter posts providing Visit Bristol with another opportunity to reinforce their message and boost exposure for the city in a 'don't just take our word for it' style.

The Local's Guide - Well know Bristolians get the chance to provide their top tips on places to visit within the area of Bristol where they live.  These have been very popular in terms of local awareness of the role of the DMO and highlighted areas outside of the normal tourist hot spots.  To that end, they have been organically shared widely in local Facebook forums.

Accommodation Themed Blogs - In a bid to combat the recent changes to the way accommodation is promoted on Google and rising competition from OTAs, Visit Bristol is deploying a content marketing strategy in the form of accommodation themed blogs to boost awareness of the city's great choice of places to stay.  

And it doesn't stop there.  Visit Bristol is just embarking on an exciting new monetisation strategy which will provide tourism businesses in Bristol with the opportunity to sponsor a blog whilst generating revenue for the DMO.  The strategy fits perfectly with the objectives of leading regional attraction Berkeley Castle which is the first to come on board for the new venture.  Their target market is visitors with families who are already in the area so the blog will help them to raise their profile, with the help of some additional exposure on Visit Bristol's Facebook page.  

Jon Chamberlain, Marketing Manager of Destination Bristol comments "It's important to maintain a good editorial/commercial balance of content and I can't imagine a time when we have more paid-for content than not, but this strategy goes some way to increasing the reach and scope of our consumer campaigns, of which these pieces of content form a part."

Visit Bristol's blog has had a major impact on traffic to the site too.  Unique page views to the blog are up 60% compared to last year, with the site up 8% overall. Entrances directly to the blog pages are up by 92% in the last 12 months, with the majority of traffic coming via Google.  This shows the content is both valuable to the reader and being found organically.

Jon adds, “We spend a lot of time developing our content calendars which are an ever-changing beast as we come up with new ideas and react to the events and openings in the city. We are constantly developing and refining the blog offering and see this as an integral part of our role as the local DMO.”

If you would like to find out more about how to add a blog to your site, contact your Account Manager or give us a call on (0)330 440 1825. 

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