Let me preach for a sec: Facebook ads are NOT the end all, be all of list-building tactics.
*Wait, hold on a minute Emily, back up please.*
Oh, right. Before I start preaching, let’s talk about lists.
If you want to know how to get travel clients — or how to get MORE of them — know this: It all starts with your list.
Your email list of itching-to-book prospects. Prospects you’ve formed a relationship with through your travel agent email newsletter, opt-in offers, email campaigns, etc. etc. etc.
The million-$$$ question is … how do you get prospects on your list?
Well, if you’ve read any of the gurus’ takes on list building, you’ve heard about Facebook Ads.
Sure, you can use FB ads to try to build up your list.
But. Facebook ads can be pretty tricky to get right.
Perhaps you’ve learned this the hard way, blowing several hundred dollars on Facebook ads to try to get folks to sign up for your awesome travel-themed opt-in offer (also known as an IFO or lead magnet).
I’m not saying Facebook ads don’t work. I’m saying they’re pay-to-play, and it’s risky to pay when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing … and when there are so many other list-building tactics out there to try, that don’t involve spending extra money on ads!
Here are my 10 favorites:
How to Get Travel Clients Through List-Building Tactics
1. Opt-ins on your website:
You probably already have your opt-in offer set up on your website somewhere. But how many sign ups are you actually getting? If the answer is “close to zero” — it’s time to change it up. Instead of a static box on your home page, for example, try getting opt ins via a pop up. Yes, I know, everyone thinks pop ups a terrible — but they work.
Plus, you don’t have to be obnoxious about it. Smart plug ins allow you to design pop ups that only, well, pop up after visitors have been on your site for a certain number of seconds (instead of bombarding them immediately) or when they’re showing intent to exit your site. I use Bloom on my site.
2. On your blog posts:
Got your opt-in offer up on your site? Great! Next: make sure you’ve got your opt in on every single one of your blog posts as well. You can link to your opt-in page within the post’s copy or use a plugin to insert opt-in boxes at the bottom of your posts (in fact, you can see an example at the bottom of this post).
3. Content upgrades:
For extra brownie points (and more sign ups), practice the content upgrade method. Instead of promoting your general opt-in offer in a blog post, create an offer that’s specific for that post. For more details — and my assurance that creating multiple opt-in offers doesn’t have to be hard! — head here.
4. Guest posting:
Start pitching guest post suggestions to bloggers in your niche; if you’re a family travel specialist, for example, you could pitch a post idea to a mommy blogger about the best times to visit Disney’s parks, based on kids’ ages.
Here’s the list-building key, though: Typically bloggers allow guest posters to include a short bio at the bottom of posts. In your bio, instead of writing: “Learn more about me at MyWebsite.com,” you would write: “Get my top ten secrets to skipping the line at Disney HERE”— and then you would link to your opt-in offer. BOOM. Instant credibility boost and list-building opportunity all in one.
5. Publishing on LinkedIn:
Use LinkedIn Publisher to widen the reach of your blog posts — but again, just like with guest blogging, be sure to include a link to your opt-in offer in your bio or somewhere in the post, instead of just a link to your site.
6. Business Cards:
The back of your business card is a blank slate. Put a link to your best opt-in offer on there for some list building IRL. Go old school and leave your business cards at local businesses — bonus points if they align with your niche (like wine bars, if you sell wine-themed cruises).
7. Trade show sign ups:
Treat the next trade show or bridal show you attend as the ultimate list-building opportunity — because it is! Come with a strategy, a juicy offer, and a compelling follow-up campaign all ready to go.
8. Social media sign ups:
If you’ve got a Facebook page for your business, use your cover photo as an advertisement for your opt-in offer, and link to your offer using the “sign up” button (here’s my page as an example). For insta-babes, rotate linking different opt-in offers in your bio and then mention it in your Instagram captions.
Similar to guest blogging, you can pitch yourself for podcasts and even teleclasses and webinars in your niche. Show hosts will normally give you the opportunity to tell listeners how to connect with or follow you — here’s your chance to point them to your opt-in offer. I got nearly 100 new subscribers by being a guest on a teleclass!
10. From the stage:
Snagged yourself a spot on an industry panel? Speaking in front of your buddies at BNI? Plug your opt-in offer — even better if you’re using slides, so you can flash the url on the screen.
PHEW! I know, that’s a lot of travel client-attracting ideas in 1 blog post. You don’t have to do all of these to build an engaged list — but picking one or two and sticking to them (<– that’s the key!) is just smart marketing.
Got a favorite list-building tactic that didn’t make it on the list? I’d love to hear about it! Share how YOU get travel clients and leads in the comments below!