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 because 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 trigger your ads
- You create your ad to entice customers to click over to your website
- Figure out how much you are willing to pay when someone clicks on the ad. Most platforms are an auction, so you won't always pay that max price
- Customers search for these terms
- Ads will show up somewhere on the page
- Potential customer clicks on your ad
- 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 could make this a costly mistake for hotels to venture into. Why is this?
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 these advertising platforms 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, then this could be a very profitable venture for your business.
How Can I Start With Paid Search?
You need to develop a keyword strategy. Familiarize yourself with the different types of keywords that are out there to bid on. That's right. There is more than one!
If you have a limited budget, then you are better off starting with an exact match and phrase match keywords. Once you have a good feel for your audience, then you can venture to broad match or modified broad match. The modified broad match, if used, can amplify your reach to a much larger pool of customers for the same cost!
What Comes Next
Start with keywords and marketing strategy. Then set your daily budget. I recommend starting with something low around $15-20 a day so that your cost doesn't get out of hand.
Then you create your ad. This is the next part of the equation. You can have great keywords, but if your ads are garbage, you won't do well. You are going to pay more, and your conversions won't be that good. You have to understand all these pieces fit together.
Think of It As A Whole
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 of this as a whole process. Once that happens, your work gets a heck of a lot easier. What I mean by this is that you need to ensure that 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. You have to ensure that everything is good to go on your website. If you have 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. If you can double your conversion rates, that means that you can cut your CPA (cost per acquisition) in half. You can also double down on your bids and get more people for the same initial price!
Paid search can also be an excellent thing for people that are "looking to test out the waters." As you are starting, you can throttle your spending up or down from the comfort of your desk. You can advertise with as much or as little as you want.