My 9-year-old daughter is head over heels for her Lego (Best Friends Forever Series).
It was not a surprise when she suggested, 'Papa, do you know there is a Legoland in Malaysia?'. If only I could explain what happened next.
Saving you all the melodrama, I found myself planning a Singapore holiday on a Sunday. I thought I would be able to wrap up the plan the same Sunday, but for some minor edits from the family.
But, it was not to be.It was 10.15 AM when I logged onto google.
Like you, I searched for 'holiday packages Singapore' without the quotes.
I saw the usual suspects in the organic search results. The ones with the budget and hard-earned bootstrapped money also featured in the inorganic Adwords search results. I gave results on both the sides a shot.
Organic Results In organic Results
Makemytrip, weareholidays, yatra, antilog, vacationscox and kingstui, SOTC. For all the above results, on clicking, I was greeted by a dedicated landing page with forms - short and long - that committed to respond to my queries immediately. (Only SOTC did not take me to a landing page and I had to dig it out)By 10.30 AM, I was done. I had filled in forms with all the necessary information - number of nights, hotel preferences, flight dates, everything. (Please refer to the slideshare if you would like to get a sense of the landing pages)
Please note it was a Sunday, a perfect time for me to listen to all the information, assimilate and take a decision.
But I only got one call on the same day and that too after a good 3 hours. Surprisingly, it was a travel agent that I had not heard of before.
The rest started calling the next day onwards. Guess what, I was no longer interested. Only one did not bother to call - Cox and Kings.
While I am still planning my holiday, a good fortnight after that Sunday, I could not help putting down a few pointers on the inbound marketing readiness of the travel companies that I interacted with.
The pointers fall into two categories:-
- Attract and Convert
Attract and Convert
All the companies - big and small - are doing well when it comes to attracting traffic and converting interest. Dedicated landing pages, proper call to action and optimized forms ensured a hygiene user experience.
Forms on landing pages in some instances were lengthy as they were attempting to capture all possible information with respect to the trip.
It is here that inbound marketing readiness really needs a lot of work. There is no point converting leads but not closing them.
To keep things simple, I will break down lead nurturing further into two parts.
Offline lead nurturing
This nurturing involves all phone-based interactions and actual meetings, if at all. Thankfully, in my case, there were no meetings. But the phone calls, they were way off-mark.
Almost every call that I took began with this question, 'What are your travel dates?'. It was followed by, 'How many people?' and so on.
Don't get me wrong. The questions are relevant, but downright stupid since I have already answered them while submitting their detailed forms.
The nature of the call was totally out of context.
While this opens up a new subject on inside sales, the limited point here is that inbound marketing readiness is missing. There is a breakdown in the initial experience of the customer and the follow-up.
Online lead nurturing
This involves email or a series of emails with the objective of helping a lead like me (in this case) to make an informed and educated purchase.
In my case, though the sales representative sent me holiday package details after a call, their marketing team kept sending me other promotional emailers like flight offers and even US holiday offers. It did not help.
In some cases, I was unable to take calls (Calling without appointment at 10.30 on a Monday morning) thanks to TrueCaller. It would have been appropriate if the 'missed' call was followed up with a brief actionable email that could have captured all the information needed for a next step. There was an opportunity to move forward even without a phone conversation.
The travel companies have definitely made a good start with inbound marketing, but there is lot more to be done.
Maybe they could start with me, as I try and make sense of the myriad emails, I have received since my first search.
Lego land anyone?