Why Your Website Needs to Be Faster

Mobile web traffic
Why your website needs to be faster

We expect rapid results in our everyday lives. Nowadays, we have practically unlimited amounts of information at our fingertips. Consequently, if your site doesn’t load fast enough on mobile, users will go somewhere else. It’s that simple. But how fast, is “fast enough”? Read on to learn why your website needs to be faster:

What Load Time Looks Like

We slowed down our website’s load time to give a sense of how long 10 seconds is on the internet. If you were scrolling on Facebook and clicked a link, how long would you wait for it to load?

Case Studies on Site Speed

It’s impossible to be engaged by content that you can’t see.

Why It Matters

Why Your Website Needs to Be Faster
Benchmarks for Mobile Page Speed
Source: think with Google

At TwoSix Digital, we see tourism websites with at least 50% of web visits coming from mobile and, typically, it accounts for about 60-70% of traffic. This number is growing every year. This is why it’s imperative to ensure that your website is quick enough to keep users interested.

Above, you can watch that same video with drop-off statistics based on load times.

How to Test Your Site

how to test how fast your website is on mobile

Each web page on your website is different. Each has its own pictures, information, and features. A great way to see the load times of pages on your website is with Google Analytics’ site speed tool. Google also offers an easy “Test My Site” tool that analyzes different URLs and reports on mobile speed. If you want to see exactly where your page is slowing down, then check out WebPageTest,.

How Fast Should Your Website Be?

If a slow mobile experience drives customers away, a fast mobile experience can help attract and keep them.

think with Google

We recommend keeping your page load times to under 3 seconds, and try to have at least one thing visible on your screen, such as a menu or image within the 1st second.

How Do I Make My Website Faster?

why your website needs to be faster use lazy loading
An example of “Lazy Loading“, when images appear blurry at first.

The first step is to contact your developer and tell them your benchmarks – specifically for mobile. While desktop speed is important, mobile site speed is paramount. Compressing images and text, along with employing a technique called “lazy loading“, are good places to start. If you want to go a bit more in depth, check out these recommendations.


Today, site speed is one of the important aspects of a website, and comes into play before content is ever seen. Consequently, it will always affect how effective your digital marketing will be, and should be considered a priority. If you’re looking for new ways to stay updated on destination marketing, be sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter or follow us across social media at the links below! 

How to Find Great User-Generated Content

(And what to do when you find it!)
Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

User-Generated Content (UGC) is a huge part of tourism marketing. People are constantly posting images during their travels, which provides great opportunities for DMOs to repost this content on their own channels to promote and inspire tourism. In this blog, you’ll learn the best ways to find great UGC on Instagram and what to do when you find it. 


Tagged Images

Some users make it super simple by tagging you in their photos, so the first place to start is looking at the images you’re tagged in! Navigate to the “tagged photos” portion in your Instagram profile to see what you’ve been tagged in. A best practice is to check-in on this a few times a week (at least) to make sure that you’re not missing out on any impressive content.

How to See What Images You're Tagged in On Instagram User-Generated Content UGC

Check Your Hashtag For User-Generated Content

Did you know that you can search your hashtag on Instagram to see all of the posts that have used it? You can do this by either navigating to the search bar and typing it in or by clicking your hashtag that’s in your bio. This will take you to a screen displaying both popular and recent posts using your hashtag!


 

Location Tags

Using a location tag is a method for users to post about the places they visit during their trip and a great way to know for certain that an image was taken at a specific destination. To find a specific location tag, simply navigate to the search bar and start typing in the location. You should see the location pop up in the search results. If you see a location tagged that you want to look at in your feed, you can also click on the tag above the image and it will navigate you to a page displaying both popular and recent posts at that location. Remember, don’t just check city tags, but also local attractions, restaurants, and more! 


What to Do When You Find User-Generated Content

Now that you’ve found the perfect image for your feed, it’s time to save the user-generated content to your collection and get approval from the user to actually use the photo in your feed. Follow these steps to make sure that you’re asking for permission in the right way:

  1. Save the image to your collection so you can easily refer back to it when necessary. See below how to add it to your collection:
Save User-Generated Content to Your Collection on Instagram

2. Like the Image!

3. Comment on the image using verbiage something like this:

“Great photo! With your permission, we’d love to use this in our blog. Let us know if you have any concerns.”

How to Ask for Permission for User-Generated Content UGC Tourism

4. Once you receive a response, you can reply and thank them for giving you permission!


Posting the User-Generated Content with Credit

Finally, make sure that when you post the image on your own social feeds, you tag the user in the image, or give them photo credit in the comments. If you’re putting it in your blog, be sure to give them image credit. If you are embedding the photo directly to your website, it’ll automatically give credit where credit is due.

Following this quick approach is an integral step in giving your brand a voice. You also show your visitors appreciation for posting their images of your location. Integrating user-generated content in your blogs and social media feeds will allow future visitors to see others experiencing your destination and can inspire them to do so as well. For more new and exciting ways to use digital marketing to enhance your destination marketing organization, be sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter and follow us across social media at the links below.  


What Is White Space and Why Should You Use It?

How to Create an Effective Partner Listing


Partners are a large part of destination functionality, as they help build the destination experience. As a destination marketing organization, it’s important to provide informative, accessible and detailed partner pages on your website. This will not only help your consumer feel well-informed before they arrive but also during their visit when they’re looking for ways to experience your area. Here are the basic elements to help you create an effective digital tool for your visitors: 


1. Basic Information

Start it off simple by including all necessary, basic information that will aid visitors in learning about the partner: 

  • Name 
  • Address – be sure to include cities if you work with several different cities as one organization
  • Phone Number 
  • Hours 
  • The partner’s website 
  • The partner’s social media accounts 

2. About Section / Summary

Be sure to include a small summary of what type of attraction, hotel, restaurant it is. For example: is it a ‘family friendly’ or an adult bar-style type of restaurant? These small details will help your visitors learn about the partner without having to leave your site! Here are some examples of what to include in your summary: 

  • Hotel Amenities 
  • Type of cuisine 
  • Type of environment 
  • Ticket cost or entrance fee
  • Special dietary options on the menu

3. Maps and Directions

Knowing where to go and how to get there is key for visitors. By putting a clickable map on each partner page along and/or a “Get Directions” function that goes to a mapping website, you will give them the easiest access to your partners. Is the place hard to find? Is parking difficult? Including these helpful pieces of information in the partner listing will help your visitors find their way!


4. Media

Include high-quality images of the product in the partner listing. For example: 

      Hotels: Include images of rooms, the lobby, any accommodations or special amenities

      Restaurants: Include images of top food items, drinks and overall aesthetic

      Attraction: Include images of key elements of the attraction and any amenities


5. Related Content

Integrate any related blog content on the partner pages. This could include things like “Top 10 Places to Eat in Grand Rapids” on your restaurant pages or popular trip itineraries like “48 hours in Dallas” on attraction or hotel pages. This is a great way to get more traffic on your blog posts and to continue to give your visitors more tools to improve their visit! 


6. Reviews

Integrating reviews is a great way to keep a user on your website rather than heading to TripAdvisor or Yelp. Plus, it will help them better make the decision on where they want to eat, play or stay without having to leave your site. Check out this examples:


7. Your Visitor’s Guide, E-newsletter & Social Profiles

Finally, it’s essential to make sure to add important consumer content like your social media profiles, a link to subscribe to your e-newsletter and a link to download your destination guide somewhere on every partner page, such as in your footer. Including these on your partner page is a great way to give your visitors every possible resource to keep them informed. 


Effective partner pages are important destination-drivers, as they help build accessibility for your visitors. When you are putting together a partner page, always remember that your end goal should be to create an optimal digital space for your visitors to easily navigate and learn more about your partners. 


For more ways to stay up-to-date on the latest digital marketing & tourism trends, be sure to follow us across social media and subscribe to our newsletter


4 Easy Ways to Get to Know your Digital Audience


A digital marketing strategy is primarily driven by the wants and needs of your audience. Knowing both what they want to see and what they need in order to create a conversion can help build a base for your digital strategy. Audiences are always changing, so it’s imperative to frequently check in and learn about them. Here are 4 simple ways to get to know your digital audience:

1. Investigate Google Analytics

You can learn several things about your audience by looking through your Google Analytics account. Check out these different metrics: 



2. Perform Keyword Search

Performing a keyword search is a great way to help you discover what sorts of niches your audiences are interested in your destination. There are several tools that you can use to help generate keywords associated with your site. 


Try out the Ubersuggest tool to help you learn about what keywords to implement into your niche content landing pages. This will help you not only understand what users are looking for when searching keywords related to your destination, but also help you come up with content ideas for the long run. 


3. Check out Social Media Insights

You can also learn about your digital audience by looking through your social media accounts’ audience insights. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all vary on the data that they are able to provide for users: 


4. Send out a Survey

If you’re unsure of what kind of content to produce, try sending out a simple survey to gain a better insight on what kind of content your audience wants to see from you. Check out this example of a survey to help you gain more insights on what your customers want: 


Finally, always remember that your audience can and will change over time. Don’t be afraid to take time to intentionally learn about their habits, demographics, social media usage, and other metrics. No matter what your findings, it will help you gain a better perspective on what they want from your organization. 


For more tips and tricks on how to master your digital marketing strategy, be sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter and follow us across social media. 

Playing the Long Game with your Digital Campaign


A strategic digital marketing campaign is the very definition of a long game. It often takes patience and will not produce results overnight. You may ask, “what exactly constitutes as  ‘success’ when using a long game strategy?” While the answer will be different for every organization, by following these steps to approaching your digital campaign, your long game strategy will be set up for success. 

Step 1: Define the Goals

To determine the priorities of the campaign, the marketing team should decide what it wants to accomplish and what type of audience will be targeted to achieve this goal. These goals could include: building brand awareness,developing an email subscriber list, website traffic, or increasing engagement with your targeted audience. 

Deciding on what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will be recorded throughout the duration of the campaign is just as important as determining a set goal. Some commonly recorded KPIs include:

  • Website Traffic Year over Year– campaign vs. campaign
  • Engagement– Site time, pages per visit, decreased bounce rate, mobile vs. desktop
  • Increased traffic to partner sites
  • Overnight stays and booking inquires
  • Travel guide distribution

For some organizations, this is also a good time to establish an appropriate theme for the campaign. Campaign themes can be based on vertical product offering like skiing, golf, fishing, anchor events in the destination, attractions and/or seasonal activities.  

To determine what content is most important to support each theme during a campaign, we recommend a process that begins with extensive exploration and research. 


Step 2: Do the Research

Once you have determined an appropriate theme for your campaign, the next step is to begin the exploration and research of that topic.  This will help you determine the promotional angle for the program.  The areas of research will include:

  • Google Analytics Data: number of page views, time on page, and audience demographics. This is done to tell us what content and subject matter related to the theme is most interesting to past website visitors. 
  • Content Consumption: Social media stats, blog postings, consumable travel products featuring itinerary suggestions, seasonal booking & occupancy trends.  

This is a great indicator of specific areas of interest along with identifying the best opportunities are for engagement and conversion. 

The data will provide us with key consumer demographics, landing page content details, and additional campaign itinerary ideas. Once this data is organized and categorized, it can then be developed into a well-structured website landing page and complemented with campaign creative.  At this point,  the campaign planning can officially begin! 


Step 3: Plan the Ad Program

Begin campaign planning by determining a start date and an end date for the promotion. Then, work through an ad schedule that will include several different flights and creative elements like video and imagery. Once the ad flights are determined, be sure they align with your established goals and effectively moves potential prospects through the customer “journey.”

The ad flights can take on multiple options, such as lead generation, content promotion, display or social ads.


Step 4: Implement and Monitor

Once the campaign is live, be sure it builds awareness, keeps customers engaged, and allows them to constantly discover more about your travel product.  You should continuously monitor results based on your KPIs and make any needed adjustments or changes to ensure success.  If the campaign is primarily built around a social platform like Facebook and the ads are appearing in the feed, be sure to review and respond to all comments. This can be as simple as a like or a “Thank you” with a smile emoji.


Step 5: Post Campaign Analysis

If this campaign was the first one run by your organization, explore benchmarks for industry standards to help determine the level of success. Once the benchmark measurements are reviewed and some time has been spent analyzing data, you can begin setting new goals based on what has been learned about the audiences’ needs based on performance

And finally, remember this: running a campaign is all about patience and perseverance. If you miss your mark the first time, don’t give up – keep on working to reach your established goals and pursuing the long game of digital campaign management. 

For more ways to master your digital marketing strategy and to stay up-to-date on the latest destination marketing trends, subscribe to the TwoSix E-Newsletter and follow us across social media! 

6 Best CTA Practices in Social Media Marketing

10 Things Your Tourism Website Needs

A destination’s website is usually one of the first search results returned when a potential visitor begins exploring options for their next vacation or getaway. It should be an all-encompassing representation of the destination’s brand. Websites with such large collections of information can sometimes overlook key features that can enhance the digital representation of the destination.


Here are 10 common things that we see missing from websites:

1. Social Media Profiles

One best practice is having your website linked to your social profiles. You should also be linking your social profiles back to your website! Often, websites have social icons, but they’re not positioned in a place that is readily visible to users. A best practice is to have the social icons at both the very top and very bottom of your site. Here is a great example:



2. Social Content

Another best practice is to share your social profile content on your website. It’s best to place them on multiple pages and locations within your website. It can be done through embeds of social media posts within your blog or article page content, a user-generated content feed to your home page, or by displaying your own social feeds directly on the site.

Multiple sites we have also integrated reviews into the listings to make it easy for consumers to gauge the quality of the destination’s accommodations, restaurants and attractions. See the example from Visit Oakland for what review integration looks like.

Here’s a great example of a User-Generated Content feed from Discover Kalamazoo:


3. Detailed Partner Listings

Partners like restaurants, taverns and attractions are an important amenity to potential visitors. To ensure users don’t leave your website when viewing activity options, these locations should be as detailed as possible and convenient to access.

These listings should include dynamic maps, turn-by-turn directions, and links to items like menus and special amenities. Of course, don’t forget contact information and also their social accounts! Not only do thorough listings keep users engaged, it can also improve your organic search marketing results.

Here is a great example of a detailed partner listing including review integration from Visit Oakland:


4. Listings Positioned with “best” at the top

While the detailed partner listing are an integral part of educating consumers on the destination’s amenities, strategic placement of these items is essential.

A best practice is featuring local hotspots and locations that are unique to the destination. It’s best to highlight the locations that provide a differential rather than list all of the generic locations categorized alphabetically.

Our suggestions to optimize the listings are: order by what you consider your best, sort by categories, or order them by reviews based on TripAdvisor or another review site. Look at the way Discover Lancaster County organizes their listings by some of their biggest impacters for inspiration.

Listings Website Optimizations


5. Niche Landing Pages & Itineraries

The bulk of the content featured on a website content should be centered around niche audiences and vertical content. Enhance this aspect by asking the following questions:

  • What makes your destination unique?
  • Do you have specific blogs/article pages centered around this differential?
  • Do you have landing pages that are centered around this activity?

Visitors like easy access to unique and niche travel product in a destination. By displaying detailed content on a vertical or interest driven page, it can help tell the story of a destination and provide inspiration to visit.

Here’s a great example from Traverse City Tourism. They are known for Cherry Blossoms and wine tasting, which are both prominently placed on their home page – along with itinerary suggestions.


6. CTAs: Above-the-Fold

Call to Actions (CTAs) are beneficial to a social media and website strategy. As consumers are using the website to plan their visit, leverage your CTA’s to garner additional consumer information.

Some CTA examples that we often see on websites include “Subscribe to our E-Newsletter”, “Plan Your Trip Today”, “Save Big in Minnesota “, “Check out our blog post.”.

Keep the CTA’s integrated throughout the page content and “above the fold” so that users can see them without scrolling.

A scroll map indicating how far the majority of users scroll when they open a website’s home page.

7. Site Optimization/SEO

Most trip planning begins at a search engine query and a few quick tips can help keep a site relevant in the search rankings.

The first step would be to ensure that the website has covered the basic fundamentals like having the appropriate title tags and descriptions along with uploading a current site map.

An additional item to fortify your listing results would be to include a schema mark up language. To find more on www.schema.org.

Finally, site security has recently grown in importance, make sure your site includes a SSL certification.


8. Site Search and Navigation

Websites will large amounts of content can create some challenges in the navigation and exploration process. In order to simplify this process for visitors, it’s important to integrate a dynamic search tool into the site.  It creates an ease of use and the ability for consumers to find things fast. The best place to position a search navigation tool is at the very top of the page.

Another way to create easy navigation for your users is with tile navigation.


9. Mobile Friendliness

The majority of web browsing happens on a mobile device, so making sure that the website is responsive and easy to navigate on mobile.

Even if a website is mobile friendly, it’s also imperative to optimize it to load quickly.  To check your load speed on mobile, check out this link or utilize this tool in Google Analytics.


10. Brand and Personalization Integration

Brand integration is the most important part of any website, so making sure that you are on-brand is imperative. The website should relay a visual message beyond just the written content! Make sure all of your logos are consistent and you add your brand colors and fonts to the site. Display your hashtag in a prominent location and make sure that the personality of your brand is shining through. Here are 15 more ways you can improve your website’s branding.


Conclusion

Websites are a fundamental component of every destination’s digital presence! Staying up-to-date on best practices for your site is a great way to make sure that you are doing everything needed to make a lasting impression.

To stay updated on the latest digital marketing trends, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!