|Tour Director of Whale Swim, Rae Gill, shares with us the dramatic impact SEO has had on generating business for her…|
Q. How did you got into the whale tourism business?
It was very unusual, I was running a marketing business in Australia and a friend of mine came from Sweden to visit. She took people to swim with dolphins around the world, and then one day she told me about swimming with whales in the Caribbean. My body just got pins and needles all the way through, I just started to cry and thought oh my god I have to do it. Then 8 weeks later I’m on a flight to the Caribbean. My first experience with the whales was just unbelievable, life changing stuff. I knew I had to be a part of it and luckily the guy who ran the show over there told me about Tonga and how it was just starting in the industry. So as soon as I got home I made some enquiries and 14 months later I had my first group of 8 people in the year 2000.
Q. What sort of marketing strategies did you use in the initial stages of the business?
The website of course, I had to start my business as a website because this is a very niche market, not everybody in the world wants to swim with whales unfortunately! I knew there was only a small amount of people interested so marketing through travel agents etc. wasn’t going to work. I started my website in the year 2000 and through some basic knowledge began to market it through search engines. Google PPC was just beginning in those days so I got into that. I also had a guy who was helping me at the time who was into doing websites.
“I had a huge change in the amount of hits I got, and the
conversions from those hits into bookings changed
– Rae Gill
Q. Now do you get quite a proportion of customers from the online business?
All of them. When I say that, probably 99% of my customers come from the website. When I have a journalist come on my trips, or a TV crew, that kind of media coverage is great for the business and I get direct enquiries there. But they always go to my website first to check it out and from there they come to me. But that’s only a small percentage, everyone comes from the website.
Q. What was the reason for going with Haiming to help you get more traffic to your website?
I was feeling like I was at a brick wall, I had a few problems with a staff member who was sabotaging my website and he’d been so called “helping me,” but unfortunately he had an agenda. Then I had an email sent to me from Haiming Jiang of his online reputation management team, and I don’t usually follow that up but it was just the way he worded it. I thought I’ll check this guy out, so I rang him and we went from there. I had a huge change in the amount of hits and not only that but the conversions from the hits to converting to bookings changed dramatically. And he’s fabulous to deal with, so easy to deal with and just does everything very simply, but it’s really effective. I recommend him!
“You’ve got to get people to your website in the hundreds
not just a few. To have someone who specializes in doing
that is priceless!”
– Rae Gill
Q. Where do you want to take Whale Swim next?
Internationally, my business is an international business because people from all around the world come. So I want to concentrate more on targeting people coming from Europe. So that’s really my next step up.
Q. What would you say to other business owners who want more traffic to their website?
That they get someone like Haiming to help them. Its fine to have a website designer make you a great website, but it’s not even about that. You’ve got to get people to your website and you’ve got to get them there in hundreds not just a few. To have someone who specializes in doing that like Haiming does, it’s priceless as they say!
You know, without people coming to your website and getting conversions it’s just a waste of money. I know this from the years that I’ve been running an online business. I know that online marketing and how your website looks is the main thing to get people to go past the homepage. But it’s the little things that Haiming has shown me that have made a huge amount of difference. Things your average person would miss, and I mean I’m in marketing and I missed them! So for somebody who has no marketing background they’ll be putting things on their website that will actually be sabotaging it.