Website personalization is probably the single best way that will certainly help you improve conversions, sell more and increase revenue and profits. That is especially true for travel bloggers.
If you’re wondering what personalization is, the answer is simple.
Personalization is changing parts of your content in a way that appeals to your customers’ unique interests.
Travel blogging is a tricky business and the vast competition makes it even harder to turn it into a viable business. Of course, many travel bloggers start their blogs because they like doing it, not with a specific business model in mind. That comes later.
Most successful travel bloggers differ in one thing – relationships with their audience. Relationships are everything. Having a relationship with your audience is the foundation of trust. And, of course, if your readers trust you, they value your advice, your tips and recommendations.
Building relationships also allows you to get to know your audience in depth, so you can understand their needs and pains. That way, you can identify potential products that can help them and this is where the business models come in.
So why personalize?
Because even though your users have some things in common (since they are drawn to your blog) they are different people, most of the time from different countries, different backgrounds, different cultures, they browse on different devices, at different times during the day (or night).
The first and foremost way of building trust is via the first thing that your users are in contact with – your website. Better design and mostly better user experience is the best signal to your users that you are serious in what you are doing.
And personalization is the next step in improving the experience of your users.
So during my work I have found out that personalizing tiny bits of content put on the right place and in the right time, makes the difference in conversions and sales. I will give you an example:
One of our clients has this product that comes out every Monday. So in their articles where they put links to that product they use personalization based on day of the week. That means wherever they put a link it says “Order now and receive next Monday” if it is NOT Monday and if it is Monday it says “Order and receive today”. That is a very small thing that increased their sales especially on Mondays.
So in this article I will give you a few tips like this for you to implement in your travel blog.
Since personalization is very … personal, it is different for every audience and travel blog.
I will use the most common travel blog structure and content (that I have seen) in order to provide you with the tips.
I have tried to provide tips on direct help with monetization using affiliate programs, as well as tips for growing your mailing list and improving engagement. You can use them straight away if they apply to your case or modify them accordingly if they don’t. The important thing here is for you to understand the idea.
Of course if you have any questions or need an advice related to this do not hesitate to get in touch. We are here to help.
Tip 1 – People are more inclined to purchase from websites popular in their own country.
Large percentage of travel blogs monetize with affiliate programs when they recommend gear to their readers and therefore earn commissions on each sale. This tip is very straightforward and will surely increase your affiliate sales and commissions.
Let’s say you used some equipment and you want to recommend it to your users. For the sake of the example I will use this very nice action camera Xiaomi Yi 4k+ which I often use.
So let’s say you used the YI 4k+ in your travels and you want to recommend it to your users in order to earn commissions if they purchase it – the typical affiliate program.
You take the top 3 countries from your analytics where your readers are located. Those will be the top 3 countries where your users are visiting your blog from. You can, of course, replicate this for more than 3 countries (the more the better) but I will use 3 for the example now.
Before we dig in let me introduce you to SimilarWeb. Here you can find a good enough ranking on the most popular websites listed under different categories in different countries. You can use that research to choose your personalization purchase links later on.
So you have the top 3 countries your readers are located in. Let’s say they are USA, UK and India.
The idea here is to show your users different purchase links depending on their geo-location.
First we need to find websites that sell our product (Yi 4k+ in this examples), are popular in the specific country that we are targeting and have an affiliate program (so we can earn commissions).
Users from USA
Let’s start with USA. After brief research you find out that people located in the United States are perfectly comfortable to purchase from Amazon.com. So you find the Yi 4k+ camera in Amazon, sign up for the Amazon affiliate program and use your affiliate link for your readers from United States.
Other sites that offer consumer electronics and are popular in America according to SimilarWeb are bestbuy.com, newegg.com and bhphotovideo.com. Any of these will work in case they have an affiliate program which will help you earn commissions on the sales.
Users from UK
There are myriad of electronics web stores in UK including Amazon.co.uk. So we can find a YI 4k+ in Amazon.co.uk or other electronics stores which are popular in UK (which, of course, also have affiliate programs so you can earn commissions) and show that link to your readers from the UK.
Users from India
When it comes to India, Flipkart and Amazon.in seem to be the best options.
Since our camera is not available in Flipkart I will use Amazon.in.
Since some of the travel blogs have visitors from more than 100 countries it is impossible to personalize for all of them. It is not only impossible but it is also not necessary. Top 3,5 or top 10 works.
However, we still need to pick a universal purchase link that will be available for users from all those other countries different than the top 3. Usually, we can pick a universal purchase link from sites that deliver to most of the countries in the world. Something like GearBest, Amazon, Aliexpress etc.
How to implement this.
So far so good, but how do we implement this now?
Well, that is also easy. I assume you have downloaded our Personalization plugin for WordPress. Below I will show you exactly how to do this using the plugin:
The concept here is to create 4 different conditions. One for each country plus one that will be universal for users visiting from a country different from the top 3. As I said before you can extend to more than 3 countries. The process is exactly the same.
Step 1. Create a condition for visitors from USA and set the following settings.
This will basically check if your users are browsing from USA and if they are, the site will show them the purchase link specific for USA.
Step 2. Create a condition for visitors from the UK and set the following settings.
This will basically check if your users are browsing from the UK and if they are, the site will show them the purchase link specific for UK.
Step 3. Create a condition for visitors from India and set the following settings.
This will basically check if your users are browsing from India and if they are, the site will show them the purchase link specific for India.
Step 4. Create a condition for visitors from different than the above mentioned countries with the following settings.
This will basically check if your users are browsing from USA, UK or India and if they are NOT the site will show them the universal purchase link. In other words if a visitor is browsing from a different country than those 3 countries we talked about the site will display the universal purchase link.
Step 5. Show it in your post or widget and voila!
Tip 2 – Easy segmentation of your mailing list for even better targeting.
For travel bloggers, as for many other businesses, the mailing list is very important in terms of marketing. Even though it sounds very “old school” the email still outperforms the social media in terms of engagement and efficiency. Twitter, Facebook, etc. are almost irrelevant by comparison. When someone gives you their email address they are ready to engage with your content or products. They want to hear from you.
I will not dig any further into why emailing is very important but believe me it is.
In order to be as effective as possible you need to personalize the emails too. You need to know as much as possible about the users that you are sending emails to.
Since the users are providing this information willingly, you need to ask for it. In general asking for this information happens on your blog where you have some fields that the users fill up. You have at least one field for the email address and then the more fields add up the more information you can collect about your reader.
But more fields in general mean less subscribers. People do not like filling up many fields.
What if we knew which of our subscribers are from our top countries, or their device?
And how do we collect more information about our users without adding more fields to our form?
Personalize your subscribe forms in order to get more information so you can personalize your email campaigns.
For example, building on TIP Nr.1, if you want to send them e-mails with different product links based on the countries they are browsing from you need to ask them where they are from. But that is not cool. You add one more field and that will decrease the percentage of subscriptions.
In general we are interested in our top 5 or 10 countries. For this example I will show you an example with the top 2 countries from our analytics but you can replicate it for as many as you want.
What you can do is create different subscriptions forms. Let’s call them “form USA”, “form UK”, “form others” etc. For this example I will stick to those 3 but you can extend to as many as you want.
Each of those forms could look the same. They ask only for name and e-mail address.
But what they do differently is that they store the subscribers in different lists. “Form USA” stores the information in one list. “Form UK” in another and so on.
So the trick here is to show each form if the user browses from a specific country.
In other words if the user is from USA the site shows” Form USA”. If the user if from UK the site shows “Form UK” and “Form Others” if the user is not from USA or UK.
That way you will know that all users subscribed in the list generated by “Form USA” are from USA, by “form UK” are from UK and so on.
The result is that you have them segmented by country without bothering your users asking them which country they are from.
By using this method you can also collect information such as if the user subscribed on their first visit, the device they subscribed from (phone, tablet, or desktop), which day of the week. Whatever you find relevant.
How to implement this.
Basically we use the concept from the above example.
First we need a plugin that will handle our subscribe forms. I have found couple of plugins that can handle those but never tried them. Those are Mad Mimi Signup Forms, MailChimp.
For the purpose of this example I am using this plugin: MailChimp Subscribe Form, Optin Builder, PopUp Builder, Form Builder which works perfectly in this case.
Basically any plugin that will allow you to create different forms and generate separate mailing list for each form will work. If you find it difficult to find one, you can let us know here.
Then we create 3 forms – “Form USA”, “Form UK” and “Form Others”
Step 1. Create a condition for visitors from USA and set the following settings.
This will basically check if your users are browsing from USA and if they are, the site will show them “Form USA”.
Step 2. Create a condition for visitors from UK and set the following settings.
This will basically check if your users are browsing from UK and if they are, the site will show them “Form UK”.
Step 3. Create a condition for visitors from outside of the specified countries.
This will basically check if your users are browsing from UK or USA and if they are NOT, the site will show them “Form Others”.
Step 4. Show it in your post or widget and voila!
The result is that all the users will see the same form. But you have 2 lists with your subscribers from USA and UK. You can send them targeted e-mails with tours, tickets, purchase links specifically for their country. As I said you can replicate this for as many countries as you like.
Note: It is very important that you explain to your users that you are doing this in your privacy page.
Tip 3 – Improve your destination guides by personalizing day of the week and time of day
May be the one thing that the majority of travel blogs have in common is the destination guides. Many travel bloggers, when visiting a specific city, write their recommendations on places worth checking. Depending on the niche of the blog those could be restaurants, clubs, museums, coffee shops, co-workations, ski runs, etc.
Since the purpose of those type of posts is mainly inspiring the readers to go and check out those places, I will show you how you can improve those types of posts by using personalization.
In general the easiest way to find ways to use personalization in your blog and be useful is to put yourself in your readers shoes – where they are when browsing, why they are browsing your blog, etc.
So I am providing this example because I have found myself in the same situation every time I travel. When we arrive in a city we have never been to (or been there few times) we check different travel blogs to find out what we can do there.
In this example I will show you how to use personalization to improve the experience of people browsing your blog when they are located in the city that you wrote a guide to.
Time of day.
Personalization by time of day mostly includes changing or adding content within specific time frame during the day. Like show opening hours (where it is relevant) or the hours when the place is worth visiting (like night riding on a ski-run, sunsets, sunrises over beaches etc.).
One of the most important and practical pieces of information related to every place is their working hours. When it comes to the opening hours just listing the opening hours works but saying if the place is open now or closed now provides better experience. You can also build on this by using a call to action. Like in the example below.
It is also a very nice way to monetize by having an affiliate type of arrangement with the place.
Hours worth visiting.
This is very similar to the one above but works even better.
This basically tells the users when it is the best time to visit a place. Depending on the place, this can be because at that timeframe there are not so many people visiting and you can escape the crowds, or just it is just because during sunset it is the most beautiful, or they have a live music and it is the most fun at that time.
Day of the week.
Personalizing by day of the week is very similar to the above example.
How to implement this
I am sure that based on the above examples you can come up with many more different cases in your blogs that use personalization by hours of the day.
I will show you how you can implement the above examples by using our plugin but the process is very similar if you want to personalize your own cases.
By the way if you have a specific case and you cannot figure out how to implement just ask us here and someone from our team will help.
Opening hours. Here the site will show when the bakery is open and when it is closed.
Day of the week.
Tip4 – Improve your destination guides by personalizing for geo-location
I have noticed that flight search affiliate programs are those that make some money for quite a few travel bloggers.
I would suggest improving further your destination guides by providing an idea how much it is going to cost to your users to get a plane ticket to that destination.
Let’s say I am writing a destination guide for Vienna. I will again check my analytics to see where the majority of my users are from. Let’s says that they are from the UK.
I will check the flights from UK to Vienna and strip down some info regarding prices, flight frequency, which airlines, from which airports they take off.
And the user who visits from the UK will see this:
The user who visits my blog outside of UK will see this:
*It is worth noting here that some affiliate programs (like the skyscanner used in the examples) pay only travel bloggers for traffic from certain countries. You can use geolocation personalization to show the highest paying widget to the users from different countries. Much like tip number one.)
How to implement
Below you can find the settings for the above example using the personalizationwp plugin by flowcraft.
Tip 5 – Combine location and time of day to improve engagement
One of the best personalizations that boosts engagement I have seen is when you combine geolocation plus time of day for even better personalization.
Since people reading your blog like you and most of the times feel inspired by you it is only logical to tell them what inspires you.
Therefore you can use geolocation and (or) time of day to tell them what inspires you in the country where they are currently located.
For example if your user is browsing from Spain show them what you most liked in that country.
Even better – if the user is browsing during the day tell them what you most liked during the day – like the example below.
I reccommend you also add a mailing subscription box that will ask them to subscribe specifically for updates related to Spain.
Applying this to as many countries and timeframes as you want is also highly recommended.
You can also use a specific date to showcase articles related to specific events – carnivals, festivals etc.
How to implement this
Those are our 5 tips on how you can use personalization to improve the conversions of your travel blog. Of course personalization is very … personal. It is different for every audience and travel blog. I tried to give you an idea how you can approach personalization. Let me know your thoughts on this and if you have questions or just need an advice do not hesitate to get in touch.