How to turn tourists into your clients
Let’s be clear: when it comes to app promotion, tourists aren’t an easy audience to target. You’ve got to think broadly and introduce a multi-faceted campaign: the one that includes both online and offline, traditional and more creative “guerrilla” marketing methods. In this article, we’ll cover the most effective tactics from very different niches.
Google Ads has a number of possible campaign setups. One of them is Display ads. Display ads includes an ‘Interests and Remarketing’ option. With its help, you can target people based on the categories of apps they have already installed. Think about which kind of apps your target audience is using: these would be typical tourist apps that help you book a hotel, a flight, find a good restaurant, and so on. Your ad will appear in specific app categories or specific apps - it’s your choice 👻
The second way to target tourists using Google Ads is to set up a search campaign based on the keywords that signal that a person is visiting your country. Use your city's or your country’s sights, plane tickets to your country, the way from your airport to the center as keywords. Experiment with keywords, but don’t get carried away: PPC can get pretty expensive.
Facebook and Instagram Ads
On Facebook and Instagram, you have an option to target people that are visiting a specific location. When setting up an ad campaign, choose your location (or a number of locations) and change the default setting to “People traveling to this location”. Facebook and Instagram will target users who had your chosen geographic area as a recent location that’s at least 100 miles away from their home location (yes, Facebook knows where you live 🤐).
Social selling is a more subtle way of advertising. In a nutshell, it requires you to search social networks for people that might be interested in your product and when you find them, show the product to them.
Twitter, Reddit, and Quora are the platforms that are used for social selling most successfully. To find potential leads on these networks, search for a combination of words that describe either your app or what your buyer persona is most likely to ask on social media. These can be queries that are very direct, for example, “taxi app in [your country]”, or less direct, for example, “visiting [your country]”. First, take some time to come up with a number of queries that indicate interest in your app. Then, search for the queries in each social network directly or use a social media monitoring tool to find them for you. Remember, people ask absolutely everything on social media.
Once you find the queries, reply to them as a random social media user or as a brand representative. I recommend the first option. In the reply, tell the author of the question that app X helped you a lot while visiting [your country] and suggest the person tries it.
Influencer marketing is another effective tactic for getting tourists to download your app. For it to work, it’s important to find the right influencers. Influencers, by the way, are people that have a large audience watching and listening to what they have to say. The term used to mean pop singers and sports celebrities, but when social media took over the world, influencers appeared everywhere. Turned out, a teen from Instagram can be just as popular as your favorite music hero and just as effective in delivering a marketing message. For this to work, however, the marketing message has to be relatable to their online audience.
To promote an app for tourists, you’ll have to partner with an influencer who talks a lot about traveling. Luckily, this world has Instagram - a social network full of influencers-travelers.
Another important source is travel blogs. Again, luckily, there is no deficit of travel blogs out there. If your writing isn’t bad (or if you don’t mind hiring a copywriter 🤓), it makes sense to guest post on relevant travel blogs. You could write anything touristy about your country: which places to visit, which restaurants are best, what’s your experience with CouchSurfing, hostels, airport, communication… Whatever the focus of a particular blog is. And insert a mention of your app somewhere in the article. It should fit organically, but the text should be promotional enough for a reader to go and check out the app.
People who google touristy information about your country will come across your article. Regular blog readers will also see the article, and they are all travelers that might visit your country one day.
User-generated content is a tricky business. But when you manage to get your users to, well, generate content, it works very well. Like many other modern marketing tactics, this one appeared as a result of social media being so incredibly popular. You’ve got a user who has a couple of social accounts, with each account having on average two hundred followers. Many of them have the same interests as your users because some of these people will be friends, some will be of the same age group (school and uni friends), some will be of the same socio-economic status (colleagues). It’s a whole range of potential customers. All you need to do is get your users that already enjoy your app to advertise it to their followers. For free.
This is where social media contests come in. Ask your users to share a photo of themselves and their favorite tourist location in your country and tag the app, and promise one of them will win something. People love taking photos of themselves and here they just have another justification for doing that. It’s a win-win: people get to show off their vacation time and you get your app in front of the eyes of hundreds (or dozens, or thousands, depending on how many users you already have) interested eyes. Plus, the followers of whoever takes part in the contest get this information from someone they know and trust, which makes them more likely to check out the app.
Partnership with hotels, bars, restaurants, travel agencies
Finally, some offline tactics to leave you with. As I said in the beginning, getting a hold of tourists isn’t easy. However, it’s a multi-billion dollar business - there's a lot, a lot of tourists out there. It makes sense for different categories of tourist services to work together. As an app, you’re not a competitor to hotels, bars, restaurants, and travel agencies. Collaborating with them will be beneficial to all of the parties involved.
These are just some tactics that have a very good chance of attracting tourists for your amazing app. The key here is to experiment with each one of them to see which one works best for you.