Find out how to scale fast with growth marketing. In this video, Kelsey Matthews, Growth Manager at Skyscanner.com and Bob Tripathi explore how to navigate SEO, content marketing and influencer marketing to stay competitive in the crowded B2C travel industry to achieve massive results.
Growth Marketing for B2C in the Travel Industry With Kelsey Matthews, growth marketing manager at Sky Scanner
Bob : All right folks. This is great.
I have a very special episode today. What we are going to do, as you guys know, is talk to leading practitioners and experts in the digital industry. And we’ll talk a little bit about growth marketing. Now growth marketing is one of those words that can be used as digital marketing, or online marketing growth. We’ll be talking about growth marketing and my guest can tell you more about it. But my take on growth marketing is when the company is in a scaling mode, especially in the hack side of it, we call it growth marketing which is very different than growth hacking.
But it’s somewhere in here. So with that again My name is Bob their body with digital sparks marketing and I have a great guest here. Kelsey Matthews Kelsey welcome.
Kelsey :Hi. Thanks so much for having me.
Bob :Yeah. You know as I said I’m really excited about talking with you right now. And I know that to you the growth marketing manager at Sky Scanner and Sky Scanner like many other sites is a way you can book your trial and many other things. As I was mentioning earlier I’ve been using it since 2014 timeframe because one of my Irish friends introduced me to it. But yeah. Would you mind introducing yourself? What o you do at Sky Scanner and things like that for us.
Kelsey : Yeah I think so yeah. My name’s Kelsey. I work for Sky Scanner. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with Sky Scanner we’re a global travel search web site. So essentially you can compare flights hotels and car rental. We work with over 1200 partners so that means airlines and online travel agencies. So it’s really a one stop shop to find the cheapest travel prices. And at Sky Scanner I work within our U.S. marketing team and I mainly focus on SEO, content marketing as well as influencer marketing. So, extremely passionate about all of those channels. So yeah, excited to chat about it today now.
Bob : Yeah yeah. We love it. We love passionate and people and you know people who love this and believe this. It’s great. I think your plate is kind of full because I heard some of the most important tactics in their SEO content influencer marketing but I’m guessing you work on the business to consumer sites. Is that right?
Kelsey : Yes that’s correct. So for SEO we have a travel blog. OK. So if you go to Sky Scanner.com slash tips and inspiration you can see the sort of content that we’re producing. And essentially you know we’re just trying to answer traveler questions so it can be anything from the initial phases of travel planning. So the more inspirational content, all the way to different flight deals or airline promo codes. So we really just try to create content to answer questions that travelers are asking.
Bob :Interesting. So have you seen that answering questions is a much better way than other type of create content creation. Have you played around in different areas?
Kelsey : Yes definitely. So with every piece of content for us we do try to answer the question that they’re asking or solve the problem. And our goal with that is when the person lands on the page we want to answer that question within the first five to 10 seconds of travelers landing on that page. So we’re constantly looking at different metrics and KPI is whether it’s bounce rate or time on page and we’re not always concerned with getting them to book a flight. Because at the end of the day you’re going to have content that they’re not there to book a flight. So yes on this we know that we’re answering the question and they’re engaging with the content then that’s success for us.
Bob : So let me let’s delve a little bit into the world of search then we’ll move on to content and then move to influence of marketing, right. So I was SEO just different Sky Scanner which is so B2C focused and it is kind of the industry where there are quite a few players, right. And so how do you differentiate, especially when it comes with SEO.
Bob : So for SEO are you saying differentiate in terms of the competitors or differentiate SED versus content?
Bob : Yeah like how would you go about you know optimizing looking at keyword and things like that right? Because there’s so many players hitting the same type of areas keywords.
Kelsey : It’s extremely competitive especially in us. So for us as SEO tools are our best friends we’re constantly looking in tools such as AH Refs link,decks Google Search, console keywords actually just AdWords. Actually you can kind of see how competitive the keyword is and what that would cost you if you wanted to launch a paid campaign. So within these tools we can actually get a feel for how competitive that keyword is and how likely it is that we’re even going to be able to write on page one. And for us, and actually for any company, I’d recommend focusing a little bit more on the long tail keywords, obviously generic search terms such as just a cheap flights for instance, you know is going to be way more competitive than cheap flights to Los Angeles in May. So we are focusing a little bit more on that longer tail keyword where we can see the return a little bit quicker and we know it’s not as competitive.
Bob : So how do you go about, let’s say you got a keyword like you know cheap flights to leave in August for example
Bob : Right. How would you go about like you just create a blog post or how would you go about doing you as you said for sure?
Bob :Yeah, we could create a blog post. The good thing about sky scanners we have loads of historical data on booking behavior how prices change travel trends that we’re able to then implement within content. And when you put data in front of a traveler I think it just kind of builds their trust it builds their confidence in the brands. So yeah we’re really trying to utilize the data we have to better inform traveler decisions and save them money. So we would create a blog post and just ensure all the kind of SEO fundamentals are met. The title description and ultimately that the content is really good. Yeah. Again that we’re answering the question or the problem that people are trying to solve.
Bob :Nice. Yeah. Yes exactly. I think the whole move to us in 10 ways you know and I agree about the whole long term strategy that you guys have. So when you look at SEO in 2019 you know we always get these blog posts or these comments here and there, SEO is so last century. But according to you what are some of the most if you have to. Put out like three elements or four elements which are still critical. What would you listed out as watch from where you stand.
Kelsey : Well number one, it seems so basic, is ensuring that the content is well written and that it’s good. Keyword stuffing is long gone. You can actually be penalized for it. So ensure that you are answering the traveller question. Second, I would test various elements on the page and see how Google reacts. You can actually utilize your paid channels to get quicker results in terms of kind of like AB testing and seeing what works the best. So for us you know we’ve tested various schema markup on pages. We’ve tried adding tables or bullet points to the top to try to get those featured snippets. Google is literally trying to answer the question without users having to click on a result. If that’s going to happen you want to be that brand that’s showing as the results because if anything it’s brand awareness. So just testing various elements like that. So those are the top two. I would say back links are incredibly important. This is where working with influencers actually comes into play. If there’s influencers that are experts or frequently talk about the article that you’re writing about, try to collaborate with them get them to feature some content or do a little content swap. So yeah, just utilizing other channels aside from SED then help boost that SEO strategy.
Bob : Link buildingI’m guessing it’s pretty organic in your businesses.
Bob : But do you have us do you have a solid link building strategy that this is our money you need to acquire things.
Kelsey :Not so much a lot of it is organic like you said we’re constantly picked up in online news outlets with influencers who just kind of recommend us naturally which we’re lucky so lucky to have that one thing we’ve been doing to help drive additional back links is like I mentioned before implementing that data into articles you we notice when we have the top flight deals or this is when you should book flights for Christmas that sort of content just naturally gets picked up a lot more than if you were to kind of do a basic travel article.
Bob : Nice. And this is I believe summer is the busiest time for you guys too. I’m guessing it’s busy, yeah?
Kelsey : The holidays like Cyber Monday is huge. So there’s a lot of major holidays and peak periods that we see throughout the year that we try to prepare for and launch campaigns around get content ready for that.
Yeah. So before I am more into content and other areas autosomal the KPI is do you guys measure on a weekly monthly basis when it comes to SEO?
Kelsey :For SEO. A lot of it is the traffic. So organic traffic trying to grow that year, every year we do look a little bit more down the funnel. So not only do we want to acquire the traffic but are they searching for a flight, hotel or car. If not are they signing up for the newsletter or setting a price alert. So we have a few of these indicators that tell us whether or not that traveler got value when they landed on the page. So yeah, I would say the traffic the free traffic and then we have certain metrics we look at like activation to see if they’re actually taking an action.
Bob : So normal rankings?
Kelsey : Ranks. Yeah well the ranks are kind of like a secondary. We know if we’re getting the free traffic we’re likely ranking well we will run test. You know if we see an article with great potential as on top of page 2 we might do a test to see if we can get that to rank you know page 1.
Bob : It’s fun. So I know you are also manage content so I’m assuming it’s super busy work. What do you focus when you talk about content and content creation especially for such a major B2C public facing site. What are some of the high bit auto initiatives you work on it comes to content?
Kelsey : So for me I sometimes think content and SEO should be one and the same. So I do feel that a lot of it is similar to me where the separation is an article created for SEO might look a little bit different than it would be for page social or for PR. Or the newsletter. So yes, it does get busy when we’re trying to grow organic traffic but at the same time we’ve got the paid social team saying, hey you know we want this sort of article for this campaign we’re running, but ultimately any time I am someone asked me to create a piece of content for another channel, the first question I ask is ‘What could this rank could we get this to rank as well.’ So the wording might be a little bit different we might change a few things. At the end of the day if they do need a totally separate piece of content. Well unindex it. So it’s not cannibalizing any other existing articles and will completely transform it to what that person needs for that specific channel.
Bob : Nice nice. Do you rely a lot on user generated type of content to just mostly in-house produced?
Kelsey : It’s mostly in-house. We have a team of freelancers that’s more keyword based. We do have a section of the web site that is UGC and it’s more reviews on specific destinations or top attractions like travel guides that sort of things UGC. But when it comes to the more educational content content for the social and the newsletter MPR that’s all in-house.
Bob : So what are some other challenges have you seen when it comes with content and content marketing in general in your industry?
Kelsey : Challenges. For me it’s probably. The number of articles and competitors that are out there and that it’s just so saturated– I mean you go on Facebook and Instagram and it’s constantly hard to know what’s an ad versus organic right. Go to Google now. They just launched on mobile. They changed what the ad format kind of looks like for paid results. So they changed like the green ad button or whatever you want to call it to black smaller. And so Google’s kind of you know intertwining this paid organic landscape and making it harder for the user to really distinguish what’s paid versus unpaid. So all of that affects us in performance and every company for that matter. It’s constantly changing.
Bob : Yeah. Because that’s so they figure out right. Like if the more blended it is the more money they’ll make. Right?
Kelsey : Exactly. So I’m sure for paid it’s great they might see the click through rates improve, but for organic you know not so much.
Bob : So it has an impact on organic rise?
Kelsey : Yeah. And then also just for content marketing and other challenges just standing out. So as I was saying, because it is so saturated there’s so much out there. What’s going to set your company aside? what’s going to make the person click on your article as opposed to the 10 other travel ads or pieces of content they’ve seen you know?
Bob : So are you guys totally focused on the text content or are you do you look at other content like videos and things like that?
Kelsey : Yeah. So I’d say 80 percent of the time it’s text. We haven’t quite cracked into video too much. We’ve done a few tests. We do have like a creative team globally that helps with video production and creative assets that we might need. So typically we’ll do it for some larger campaigns or larger holidays, but definitely something we need to look into more. Know it’s obviously becoming the new way to consume content.
Bob : Yeah. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. So what other KPI or matrix when you measure with content you know like it’s traffic the only thing that is beyond like the time span and things like that?
Kelsey : Yeah it really depends on what the article is aiming to do. But yeah I would say mainly it’s the organic traffic. We’ll get retention and a few instances to see if people came back and engaged with our product again. Yeah we’ll collaborate sometimes with our commercial teams. So we do obviously work with some advertising partners. There’s instances where content is created for a sponsor content sort of play but yet it’s mainly the organic ness.
Bob : Fun, fun. it’s interesting with Google you mentioned because Google is a travel engine in a way. Right. Does it help or hurt, I’m guessing right?
Kelsey : Oh you have to bring them up.
Bob : No I’m just kidding I. That’s why I read it for like 20 minutes. I ask you that question.
Kelsey : Yeah. Yeah. So obviously in the US there’s a lot of large competitors, and yes Google is one of them they have launched their own travel products. And it is it can be tough. It can be frustrating you know when you search for travel keywords and Google’s there are showing their own flights. So we’re just constantly trying to come up with creative solutions to like I said the long tail keywords are trying to rank snippets and trying to kind of be where they’re not. So we’re confident our growth has been great. You’re right here in the Americas region. And the company as a whole. So we’re doing we’re doing things right.
Bob : So yeah you have to right. Like how it’s always a double edged sword you know. The stores that’s gonna send you the most traffic and certainly is in the same business as you are. What do you do for that trade.
Kelsey : I will say I’m sorry. Just on that point in terms of like the kind of competitive landscape we have been around since 2003. So we are established we’ve built these direct relationships with the twelve hundred travel partners globally. We’ve got great coverage on prices as I’m sure you’ve seen when you’re booking your flights. So I think that does kind of give us an upper hand and show travelers some of the best options out there.
Bob : None of those guys can. As you said. The reason I started to use it because it gives you those combinations which most sites don’t give you you know. So other people have started kind of copying a little bit. What do you call it a hacker fair you know but do you guys have been doing a while. So what it always does for me is it basically breaks down you know the search and the math and stuff like that you know. Because a lot of times I buy one makes white and then I see this other line is cheaper than you know we’ll do that. But before we somehow train Oh we should buy a return trip yes you know what.
Kelsey : Yeah. There’s lots of tricks to save on flight. So yeah I always recommend searching one way versus the round trip and you can be surprised with how the prices vary.
Bob : Yeah maybe a couple times and I fly quite frequently. You know most of the time you end up getting good deals in know. Yeah definitely. So you talked about influence. Oh oh. Audience understand how does influencer marketing move such a big buzzword right now.
Bob : How does it play in your industry in the B2C world, especially in the travel plan. So what do you consider influence of marketing and how do you go?
Kelsey : And so I’m so glad that you mentioned that’s become such a buzz word because it has. And I think it’s kind of run out there and yeah there’s been loads of influencer marketing companies I think are hopping on this influencer bandwagon. And to me I see influencer marketing in two ways. You see the Justin Bieber’s of the world the Kim crowd actions who put a product on the table and they’re probably paid a million dollars and that’s influencer marketing. And then you have these kind of mid-level influencer are still large followings compared to you know the normal people of the world. But it’s so much more authentic and they really make an effort to educate their audience on the brand. Talk about the features. It’s great if they even use the product or you know whatever it is themselves. So that’s our approach to influencer marketing. It’s not just people mentioning Sky Scanner here and there it’s working with them to fully educate their audience on who we are how we can help the traveler. Through blog posts through Instagram. And then repurposing that content on our own channels and then share that story with our own you know travelers.
Bob : So I guess the strategy is I think you call it the micro influencers. So basically just go after the micro influencers and they have a very authentic community. And the story it relates well then opposed to going after the big names of the world. So how do you narrow down on who you’re going after and what do you do and how is your engagement process with them not just in terms of amount but you know like this is what you’re supposed to do.
Kelsey : Right. Right. So for us I guess you could say we have a slight bias to influencers and travel bloggers who have already mentioned us who already use us. It’s also easier to come across those mentioned. So they’re social listening tools out there. Google Analytics is a great place to start. If you just go into your referral traffic and just see what blogs or other Web sites out there have already sent you traffic. So that’s a great place to start. And then when working with them there’s no one size fits all. You really have to determine what it is their audience is interested in. This is person take more road trips and we want to work with them to promote car rental or are they a deals finder and they’re always sharing ways to save money on travel. So then we’ll work with them in that way. So we really try to come up with an individual tailored approach with each person we work with. And what we’ll do to kind of measure success is the main goal is to drive traffic to Sky Scanner or maybe its app installs and then we’ll come up with a cost. We’re looking to stay around currently that’s at our cost per acquisition and that’s how we’ll come up with what we’re willing to pay. And how many visitors what we’re hoping to get from the collaboration or installs.
Bob : Nice nice. This is great. Thank you for sharing that. Very helpful but have you seen any. Do you have any suggestions for audience on best practices when you go on this influencer marketing path. Like if three things you want to give has an advise. What would that be. I know. Sorry Joseph. No I’m going to do this for you.
Kelsey : Three things I would make sure. I think a good indication of whether an influencer collaboration is going to be successful is how. Much. I guess thought the influencer puts into the collaboration. So when you start communicating with influencers you might get a few that are like OK. This is how much I charge for this post send me the link and I’ll post it on Tuesday. And then you get the other influencers who are like well what are your KPI eyes. What sort of message are you looking for. Try to have any specific talking points you want to get across. What sort of images do you think. And that is just a great indication that they’re going to put an effort and they care personally to see the campaign succeed.
Bob : Nice. That’s great. That’s a great tip. I think this kind of approach for people goes across all industries.
Kelsey : You know when you’re working with digital agencies or even when you’re hiring people you know as the kind of questions that they’re going to ask you that you know that. OK. These other people you want to work with. Right. This is great. No I know that you’re being like I believe sky scandal started somewhere on the other side of the pond somewhere in Europe right. So you have a global team. So how was it set up if you don’t mind me asking.
Kelsey : Right. So yes so our original founder Gareth. And a few of his buddies were actually on a ski trip and I’m sorry. They were looking for flights to go on a ski trip and they were so frustrated with all the websites they had to check like most of us are. We don’t want to check loads of websites. So him and his friends were at the pub and just started kind of writing out what their ideal travel platform would look like and they built an Excel spreadsheet. So that’s how we originally started. And since then we have 11 offices globally we have over twelve hundred employees so we’ve really seen some great growth over the years now. Yeah.
Kelsey : So sorry what was the question. No I know there was a good background in the company for sure of the structure.
Bob : Right.
Bob : I just got excited talking about the story it is telling you.
Kelsey : Yeah. So we are set up in what’s called squad application. So we have tribes kind of a high level. And then from there we have individual squads and the squads our teams typically with one goal in mind or a market that they’re trying to grow with the tribes or more high level set up to help the squad succeed and their goals so in the US we have about seven people in the squad and we are tasked with rowing the US market various marketing channels and that’s how we’re set up.
Bob : Yeah. That’s really great because I was just actually did a presentation.
Bob : The weekend you know the digital teams are not structured according to the organization goals or objectives. And probably because you guys are in such a growth mode I think it serves you great. If you have little squad so you everyone can work in a start more dried mostly if you are a very decentralized business and you try to bring the whole marketing team in-house as a central team that may not know how. So I’ve seen that happen too. So yeah.
Kelsey : And it helps support a more localized approach. So if you have a central marketing team trying to come up with campaigns for the U.S. or Brazil, you’re not going to have the same impact as people on the ground who understand the market and can really get the product in a place to succeed on a local level.
Bob : Nice nice. Yeah yeah I agree I agree. In terms of you know before this but when you look at the landscape you know where digital is where social is and all that. How do you know how much time people should be spending on organic food. So should be get spot of growth marketing right. So where do you see the convergence versus our location. And to be an organic especially with base social for example.
Kelsey : Yeah. Great question. I would say free traffic is great. Yeah. No. I would personally recommend putting quite a bit of time and effort into organic and unfortunately a lot of CEOs and high level exacts they want to see immediate returns and that’s obviously not the case with organic. It can be a long term investment. And looking at the ARO y her article is not it just doesn’t make sense. So it is more of a long term play but it can take two to three years just to get your website to have a higher domain authority. So Google is calling it more often and giving more weight to it. So I would say organic definitely need to invest quite a bit of time in terms of the other channels. I think there should just always be campaigns ongoing. And don’t just launch campaigns haven’t finish and then launch another one see how you can kind of get these campaigns that are always on has different campaigns that you can then scale. So yeah I would say a decent amount of time should be put to both of those but yeah that’s great.
Bob : No. Kelsey this is great. But is there any question that I didn’t ask and you want to share or talk about that somehow I missed.
Kelsey : Any question not what I can think of. I think everything we’ve got a lot to discuss.
Bob : This is good. Yeah this is great. Glad I was able to do that. So Kelsey How do I know people who can find you on LinkedIn. But what’s your Twitter handle. Live. So anyway if you want people to reach out to you you know. Yeah.
Kelsey : Yes I am. I don’t use Twitter unfortunately but I do have Instagram. You can follow me. You’re going to laugh at my username but it’s cool to see the world. So you know very appropriate for working that Sky Scanner. I see why the world though.
Bob : Nice. Beautiful. Thank you so much. I’ll see this has been amazing. Thank you for taking the time and talking with us and. Yeah. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you.
Kelsey : Thank you. Thanks.
Bob : All right folks. That’s it. And we will talk soon. But I thought that was a great episode and glad you enjoyed chatting with Kelsey and hearing all about her insights. Thank you.
Bob : Thanks Kelsey. Bye.