Johann Thorsson Head of Marketing at Dohop.com discusses the success of Dohop, strategy for growth and gives his opinion on SEO vs Paid Search…
Q: How was the name Dohop chosen? What does it mean to you?
Johann Thorsson: Dohop was chosen because we needed a unique name, one for which the domains (.com .se .ru) would be available. It does not mean anything in any language as far as I know. It’s just a silly word that’s easy to remember.
Q: Dohop has been nominated as World’s Leading Flight Comparison Website 2014, how does your team feels about this great success?
Johann Thorsson: The team is thrilled, of course. It is a validation of the work we are doing and even though we don’t have the marketing budget of the bigger sites it is great to see that we are still being noticed worldwide.
Q: What are the best techniques of monetising blog/site traffic based on your experience?
Johann Thorsson: The best way to monetize a blog or a site is to establish it as source for something the user values. This can be a source for cheap flights or as a site that helps with SEO. Once you do that you can start selling around that. We offer a flight search, but also hotels and cars. Earn trust and get customers, then offer them things they might buy.
Q: What are the most important things for a website to convert well?
Johann Thorsson: To convert well a website needs only to have a clear message about its purpose, a few trust signals (like Facebook likes, quotes from reviews…) and a simple way for people to interact with it. Don’t confuse the visitor with too many things to see and buttons to press. Also, try to get the customer to a booking in as few clicks as possible.
Q: Can you share some interesting facts about Dohop that we don`t already know?
Johann Thorsson: Once we had an interesting error. We would automatically filter out all flights that cost less than 5 pounds, since these were, to us at the time, clearly errors. However, RyanAir was offering flights that you could book for just 1 pound and we had to change this rule so those flights would be included.
Q: What improvements or new staff shall we expect from Dohop partners in the near future?
Johann Thorsson: We are working on a new design for the site, completely new. That will probably roll out early next year, but perhaps sooner. We are also working with some vendors on a booking interface, so that customers can book flights without leaving Dohop.
Q: You already provide your partners with online discussion platform, such as the “Dohop affiliate chat” on Google+, but do you plan to provide more detailed support to the partners, perhaps some online workshops giving more help on SEO strategy, positioning, branding etc.?
Johann Thorsson: I fear that this would take too much time away from other things. We have so many white label partners now (about 8000) that as much as I would want to increase the support we provide, there are so many places already providing this (and doing it well) that it would not be time well spent.
Q: Most of the questions you receive on the “Dohop affiliate chat” are about offering more services to your partner’s white labels through Dohop, such as hotels and car hire. Is this something in your plans or Dohop will remain focused purely on flights?
Johann Thorsson: We will maintain focus on flights. The hotels we use are provided by Booking.com and the cars are provided by CarTrawler and we simply don’t have the ability to make any changes to these ourselves. What we can do is keep making the world’s best flight search, and making sure that it is presented in a way that people are comfortable with using, whether directly on Dohop itself or on a white label site.
Q: What are the options for your partners to cross-sell flights with other products, such as travel insurance, car parks etc.?
Johann Thorsson: Our white label partners are free to include any and all upsells they want on their site. We don’t have contracts in place that allow us to offer these to our partners as part of the white label program, however, so everyone has to do this for themselves.
Q: What marketing support does Dohop provide to partners, i.e. offers, newsletter content, promotions etc.?
Johann Thorsson: Since Dohop is a meta-search, we have no offers available (nothing is actually being sold on Dohop). I may have to write a newsletter best practices post since we have been sending newsletters out regularly for many years now. We do not create content for our partners, since they know their own markets and customers better than we do.
Q: SEO or Paid searches, what is your opinion?
Johann Thorsson: SEO is the cheaper and better way, no question. But it is a harder and more time-consuming way. With paid search you are spending money to be in a place that you can also be in using SEO. Depending on the industry, however, paid search may be a smart choice but with the low margins in flight bookings, especially for meta-search sites, it just doesn’t make sense to buy placement unless you have a system in place to keep the customer that comes along (getting them to like your Facebook page or signing up for a newsletter.
Q: What factors do you personally consider before booking your own travels?
Johann Thorsson: I have a family now, so I make sure that my kids would be comfortable on the flight. I would think hard about booking a long flight on RyanAir, for instance, with an infant and often the money spent on a better seat with a legacy carrier is worth it if the flight is more comfortable for you as well, as a parent. Hotels for me are just a place to keep my luggage and sleep, though I do like a good hotel breakfast, so I book 2 – 3 star rooms on hotels that are well-placed within the city I’m going to.
Q: How often do you use Customer Services? What is your opinion on that?
Johann Thorsson: I’ve been lucky in that I rarely have to use customer service, but my opinion is that they should be there to help in any way possible. Good customer service gets talked about, especially if they appear to go out of their way to help you.
Q: When did you become part of the Dohop team and how the company has changed since then?
Johann Thorsson: I started with Dohop in 2008, as a programmer. Believe it or not, but the company has actually grown smaller since then. We were 15 when I started and are 12 now, after being 8 for a while. We were just doing what many startups do, which is burn up money creating something clever while forgetting that at some point it has to turn a profit. Luckily we are there now, without any rounds of outside funding, and are growing steadily.
Q: We know you like reading and also writing short stories, where can we read some of your work?
Johann Thorsson: Ha-ha, yes that is true. I write about books and reading for a site called Bookriot, and you can see my articles for them here: https://bookriot.com/author/jthorsson/
My short stories have been in a number of places, perhaps you could take a look at the one in Fireside: https://www.firesidefiction.com/issue8/chapter/first-bite-just-a-finger/ or this one in eFiction Magazine: https://www.fictionmagazines.com/2012/09/the-crooked-tree/
Q: Who is usually winning in your Dohop foosball games?
Johann Thorsson: I wish the answer was “me” but it is not.