Paid search is a tricky route to go down if you don’t know what you’re doing. Content marketing and social media marketing have recently gained stream, but one channel in particular that’s had staying power is ‘paid search’.
There are a few platforms out there, but I’d like to start with Google AdWords. Google’s been in paid search since October of 2000 and they aren’t going anywhere. They’ve held ground for so long due to the fact that you can target the exact customers you want and you can quantify it. Sounds simple enough right?
Sounds Simple Enough
If you are not familiar with how this system works, I will provide a brief rundown on the concept. Most ad platforms run off of the same basic premise:
- You select the keyword or keywords that you would like to have your ad show
- customers will be searching for these terms
- You then create your ad to entice customers to click over to your website
- ads will potentially show up at the top of the page or along the right side
- Set the max. amount that you are willing to pay when someone clicks on the ad
- platform is an auction, so you won’t always pay that premium price
- You pay Google after this process is complete
That sounds simple enough, right? Well, it is, and it isn’t. There are many more factors that go into this equation that can make this a costly mistake for many hotels to venture into. Why is this?
Without getting into the nitty-gritty, the first thing that will get you in trouble is not having a solid plan in place. I can tell you from my early days that Google (or any other search advertising provider) will not hesitate to take your money. You have to know who you are going after. If you know who this is, and you target them correctly, then this could be a very profitable venture for your business.
How Can I Start With Paid Search?
Once you have the tracking code set up, you need to develop a keyword strategy. When doing this you need to familiarize yourself with the different types of keywords that are out there to bid on. That’s right, there are more than 1!
If you have a limited budget then you are better off starting with exact match and phrase match keywords. If you have a good feel for your audience then you can venture to broad match and (my personal favorite) modified broad match. The modified broad match, if used correctly, can amplify your reach to a much larger pool of customers for the same cost! Beware, if it is used incorrectly, it can quickly eat up your budget. So make sure you are comfortable with them before you start.
What Comes Next
After keywords and marketing strategy are done, you need to set your daily budget. I recommend starting with something low around $15-20 a day so that your cost doesn’t escalate quickly.
Then you create your ad. This is the next most important part of the equation, in my opinion. You can have all the great keywords, but if your ads are garbage then you are going to pay more and almost certainly your conversions won’t be anything to write home about. You have to understand that all of these pieces fit together.
If you have a sound plan then you can see every step from the beginning to the end. You become more agile in the paid search marketplace when you have a solid plan.
I know, that there is hope out there for hoteliers. If-and-only-if you begin to think holistically. Once that happens, your work gets a heck of alot easier. What I mean by this, is that you need to ensure that every portion of your AdWords Campaign is in sync.
Your keywords need to match your ad groups, your ad groups should take the customers to relevant landing pages, and most importantly you have to ensure that everything is good to go on your website. If you have all of this in place then your conversions should come in.
A conversion is when a user performs the action that you want them to take. For most of you, this is clicking on your booking button. (Google tracks that click when you install a snippet of code on your website).
I Get It, Now What?
Once you get the hang of that, you can focus on increasing your conversion rates. Think about it this way — if you can double your conversion rates that means that you can cut your CPA (cost per acquisition) in half. You can also potentially double down on your bids and get more people for the same initial cost!
Paid search can also be a great thing for people that are “just looking to test out the waters.” As you are starting out you can throttle your spend up, or down from the comfort of your desk. You can advertise with as much or as little as you want.
I know that this was a quick rundown, but if you have any other questions feel free to subscribe to this blog in the upper right hand search box, or leave a comment below.