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April 18, 2019

PPC for 2020: Plan to Turn Clicks Into Bookings


Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing has been the focus of much conversation amongst marketing teams recently.Business owners generally want to be confident that their investment in those “clicks” ultimately generate sales. That expectation most certainly applies to the travel industry and "bookings."In our digital age, PPC is an important – and arguably essential – component of a comprehensive marketing philosophy. It's a broader truth that applies to hospitality in particular, where the online space is increasingly cluttered and chaotic.Provided you have a well-thought-out strategy in place, there are numerous perks to PPC marketing.PPC marketing;

  • Affords quick entry into the digital marketing field
  • Is data-driven and easy to analyze, illustrating direct correlations between advertising and bookings, and allowing marketing teams to adjust strategy on demand
  • Is easily incorporated into across multiple marketing channels
  • Isn't beholden to Google search algorithms
  • Helps hotel teams generate brand recognition and guide travelers down the marketing funnel toward direct bookings

Here's how we're working with our hotel clients to drive their PPC success in the year ahead.

Crafting a Smarter PPC Strategy

The best way to approach a PPC marketing strategy is by breaking the process into four steps.

1. Test a New PPC Channel

The internet offers more communication channels than ever before. While each holds the potential to be a new stream of hotel revenue, the challenge becomes uncovering which channels drive bookings for your specific property, and which fail to align with your audience and overall marketing goals.Many marketing experts are suggesting that 2020 is the year for teams to experiment, and add fresh channels to their marketing plan. Yes, Google and Bing are king, but there are alternate channels that offer strong potential for hotel marketing teams, including;

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Outbrain
  • Pinterest
  • Quora
  • Reddit

Diversifying channels allow teams to reach their audience at different stages of the marketing funnel and stay top-of-mind throughout the buyer journey. Here’s one example of how that path might unfold.

Travelers are increasingly influenced by social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and similar content-based channels. One recent study found as much as 86% of people have become interested in traveling to a particular destination specifically based on friends’, family or peers’ social images.

That spark often drives travelers to do a top-of-funnel unbrand search on Google or Bing, and start the process of sizing up a destination.

When a user visits your site, found through search, the visit may occur too early in research process to book immediately. That’s when retargeting opportunities occur, inviting the consumer to revisit and book a room through alternative channels. When combined with search, this allows your brand to be seen and heard multiple times along the buyers’ online journey.

When that user is finally ready to book, ideally with your property top-of-mind, they may conduct a brand search for where they finally book. Although the brand search on Google or Bing is where they finally purchased, it’s the click advertising through those other channels that were ultimately responsible for driving the user to the final direct booking.

2. Map Conversion Strategies

One of the reasons business owners are sometimes skeptical of PPC marketing is because they failed to map conversion strategies before posting PPC advertisements.Before any live PPC activity, it's important to spend time thinking about what you want to gain from your PPC strategy and what type of conversion strategy makes the most sense in terms of your particular property’s goals.While mapping conversion strategies, focus on all of your call to actions. Not only should they inspire interested consumers to click on the advertisements and book a room, the call to action needs to compliment both your marketing campaign and the marketing funnel you're utilizing.Implement different conversion goals for different parts of the buyer journey, from high to low. When buyers are at the top of the funnel, they might just be looking for inspiration. Deliver them content with personalized calls to action related to the content.The conversion goals and strategies for this funnel stage or ad should not be bookings but content engagement. Once the buyer works down to the lower funnel, that is when calls to action should be more direct, like “Book Now” with a conversion strategy of hotel bookings.Mapping conversion strategies and calls to action with the buyer journey will help achieve a successful, full-funnel advertising approach and get buyers to the bottom of the funnel for less money.

3. Segment Retargeting by Consumer Journey

Businesses have recently begun to create a persona of their ideal customer. Crafting this customer persona helps many businesses develop a solid brand image that the members of their target market respond favorably to and provide them with the information needed to really streamline their marketing efforts.Within the travel industry, however, it’s also important to focus on where the buyer is in their consumer journey, since planning travel takes time.Make 2020 the year to include retargeting of your ideal audience. This is a savvy tactic to attract the attention of a member of your target market who may not have responded to your marketing a few weeks ago, but who is now ready to learn more about your property and potentially book a room.Segmenting your audience based on their position in the marketing funnel helps capture their attention and increase the chance they respond well to your ad. Leverage data from tools such as Google Analytics to understand your brand’s unique consumer journey and create a retargeting strategy based on this data.

4. Leverage Audiences in Campaigns

Google released In-Market audiences to PPC ads back in 2018, and it has become a powerful tool in audience targeting.The feature empowers marketers to target specific users, such as those seeking hotel accommodations in your locale. It then raises the value of your click, knowing this user is more likely to accomplish a goal on your site.Some examples of audiences that can be added to your PPC campaign;

  • In Market to Travel to [YOUR LOCATION]
  • In Market for Hotels/Resorts
  • Parents vs Non-Parents
  • Looking for Rental Cars

Audiences can be made up of people who not only are more likely to book a room, but who will also follow your business and hold the potential of becoming brand advocates.Finding the right combination of audiences, consumer journeys and cross-channel marketing strategies for your particular property takes time, but it can also makes a significant impact on a hotel's overall marketing efforts.As always, navigating the world of PPC isn't something that has to be done alone. The Screen Pilot team has more than a decade of experience leveraging PPC for our hotel client's benefit. Reach out with questions, and let our team help guide your property to PPC success in 2020.

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