Understanding the customer path to purchase is the most critical step to developing your hotel’s marketing strategy. Having knowledge of where your potential guests are going along the booking path and which resources they use to come to their final decision to book can be key to driving direct bookings. When you can identify which channels are generating assisted interactions and which are attributed to last interactions, you, as a hotel marketer can allocate higher marketing budgets towards channels that will increase top-line revenue. A multi-channel marketing approach is necessary for your hotel marketing strategy but make sure that you are investing more in the channels that reap the most benefits and will result in the best ROI. To figure out which channels maximize your return on investment, make sure to measure and analyze all data including traffic, time spent on site and most importantly conversions.
According to Think With Google, Google’s Consumer Insights sector, there are differences in the customer journey between large businesses and small businesses in travel. Since large businesses, like OTAs, can dominate the Google real estate with their large marketing budgets, they can use Display Click Advertising for hotels to target high volume and competitive keywords to influence the booking process. On the other hand, independent hotels have tighter marketing budgets, which means they need to make smarter investments on lead generation channels that reach consumers further along the path to booking. With that said, the challenge for independent hotels is figuring out how to convert high funnel traffic into qualified potential guests and recapturing visitors when they are close to making a booking decision. Here are three powerful ways you can capture an interaction, drive engagement and create an opportunity to follow-up with a consumer during the booking process:
Social Media Marketing
Active participation in social media helps to foster interactions among the community and is highly influential in persuading travelers to book with your hotel. Social media can also be effective in bringing in higher funnel audiences and helping to nurture them for recapture further down the funnel when they do decide to book. Aside from posting, running Facebook ads, specifically Custom Audiences, allows you to reach customers you already know with ads on Facebook. These ads would appear on the customer’s own News Feed. You can also build audiences from the people that visited your website and engaged with your content. Some other social media advertising options that may yield higher conversions include running campaigns through YouTube audiences and Twitter retargeting ads. Running campaigns on these platforms will help leverage an even greater ROI.
Content marketing is key to driving engagement during the customer journey. For an effective content marketing strategy, you must first identify the information that is most likely to engage the consumer during the path of purchase. You must decide what type of content to produce, how to promote it and how frequently to post to deliver the best ROI. Optimizing your content to facilitate other interactions during the purchasing path will increase the likelihood of a visitor converting. Content like social media does not necessarily drive direct conversions; rather it assists the entire booking. Blogging can be a major source of organic traffic in the long run. In blogs, you can target long-tailed keywords that are moderate in search volume, low in competition but yield higher conversions. Targeting these long-tailed keywords is especially important during the initial research phase when most travel consumers are using Google to search under a specific query. If you create content around what visitors are interested in and what they find useful, your hotel story can potentially influence the booking.
To create an opportunity for follow-up marketing, retargeting ads can be used to convert online visitors into guests effectively. Retargeting allows you to show ads tailored to people who have already visited your site and have engaged with your content. Similar to email marketing, retargeting enables you to recapture previous visitors and former guests to return to your site and book directly with you by using promotions, appealing content and beautiful photography. Retargeting is an easy way of keeping your hotel in front of people that are interested in what your hotel already has to offer. There are different types of retargeting ads including display, search and social retargeting ads. For example, the Google Display Network lets you display banners ads across the web and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads allow you to target Google search ads to people who previously visited your site. Retargeting gives visitors a final push into booking with your hotel which may ultimately become the last interaction before the visitor decides to book.
Although social media and content marketing do not necessarily generate direct conversions, they are mighty and influential in assisting with the booking. Independent hotels need to develop a marketing strategy that will establish a streamlined marketing funnel. Re-examine your hotel’s marketing strategy and ask yourself the following question: Does my marketing focus on how I can best capture and influence the consumer along the entire booking path?