One Simple Strategy to Boost Your Direct Bookings with Google
Google in their 2014 travel study announced the majority of people use search engines first to plan a trip. When you also consider in 2013 Google had 2.1 trillion searches, you're letting your maximum occupancy fall through if you don't have a clear search marketing strategy.
You have a variety of options through Google to access people who want to book with you. I execute search marketing campaigns to get more direct bookings for Australian accommodation providers every day and see three effective sources:
- A business listing which most accommodation providers have and is now known as Google Plus
- A quality SEO program to drive visitors for no advertising cost through organic search results. An SEO program takes 6-12 months for significant ranking changes
- Google AdWords. Only takes 24 hours to drive more visitors to your site. When done wrong, it can be an infinite expense with no return
In this article I'll further explain why you need to be on Google AdWords to drive direct bookings and provide you strategies to do it right. If you're doing AdWords, you can check these principles against your account to stop losing money.
Do a Google search for “[a city you service] accommodation”. Between 20-40% of these people will click-through to the ads at the top and right-side. These ads are from AdWords making it a guaranteed way to attract people – not only when they to start plan their trip, but more so down the research process when people have narrowed their options and further likely to open their wallet.
You may argue you don't have the budget to do AdWords, or you've tried it and failed. AdWords should stand on its own bringing in a significant return when done right – and a good marketer can exactly tell you this. Most accommodation clients I work with achieve 700%-2000% return on ad spend. That gives you an idea of what to aim for.
My first point for doing AdWords right is to track key conversions. Popular software like The Booking Button make this easy. Other hotel software such as Hirum's HiSite require technical work with regular expressions and goals to track conversions in your website's analytics. A particular AdWords report called “Auction insights” even lets you discover how you fair against your local competitors and online giants like Wotif.
Micro and macro conversions matter because not everyone books direct online. Track phone calls, contact form enquiries, and the ultimate conversion of a booking so you know exactly the affect your digital marketing has on KPIs. The right AdWords setup will do all that.
My second point every accommodation provider needs to execute in their AdWords is split-testing ads. An ad with a 4% click-through rate compared to one with 2%, costs you half as much. The AdWords system rewards good advertising and works to weed out ones of low-quality. This has an enormous effect in letting you siphon your budget to drive extra clicks for further bookings.
While 100s of additional factors exist to optimize your AdWords (networks, targeting, keywords, match types, ad extensions…) that effect ad performance, I lastly emphasize the importance of a quality website. How many visitors does it take on your site until someone books? I've seen hotel conversion rates as low as 0.06%. Not good.
A good ad campaign drives the right people to your site, but if the site poorly sells your accommodation, visitors will not book. Boosting your website's conversion rate by 100% whether through better imagery, mobile compatibility, or usability, lets you thrive while your competitors struggle.
A Google certified company with a proven portfolio of designs and ad campaigns can get all this right for you. Give us a call for an exploratory chat if you're interested in us driving more direct bookings for you.