The fact that every business is unique means that every business has a marketing channel that suits the best for it. Generally, email marketing is the most effective marketing channel mainly because of its ROI.
But is that the case with marketing for hotels? What are marketing channels and does email marketing for hotels matters?
There are many open questions and I’m going to answer them and show you exactly how to make the most of your digital marketing.
For hotels, marketing department should be the most important because without guests hotel business will fail.
Living in the 21th century means that literally everyone can write negative reviews about your hotel. Just imagine the damage if someone spread the word that your hotel rooms are not so clean?
That’s why you need to track your hotel reputation on the Internet. With so many tasks to do, you simply must create a marketing plan, and a major part of that plan should be content marketing.
Although content marketing is a buzzword these days (some will say it’s not a buzzword), a lot of people don’t have a clue about it.
Here is how Content Marketing Institute defines it:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Basically, your job is to create a great content and publish it on your blog, which is the window to the world.
Once you publish enough of quality content, your site traffic will increase and one small percentage will book a hotel room. Sweet, isn’t it?
But wait. It’s not that simple. Content marketing is much more than just blogging.
It includes things like recording a YouTube video, creating SlideShare presentations or building a strategy for Facebook pages.
Now let’s see the most important marketing channels. Visits other websites are called referral traffic while visits from search engines are known as organic traffic.
Social visits refer to visits from social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.), email channel counts visits from newsletters, and so on.
If you’re interested in learning more about marketing channels, I suggest you check the official Google Analytics Help page.
Recently I wrote a blog post where I gathered content marketing quotes from experts.
Here is one from Dorie Clark that explains how much efforts you need to put:
The point is that you should work really hard if you want to succeed.
You’ll probably need to hire a copywriter to maintain your blog.
If the screenshot from the company where I personally do consult services isn’t enough for you, and you still have doubts about content marketing, let me give you the list of top ten reasons why your hotel needs it:
Now when you know the importance of content marketing for booking increase, let’s see how to write a first blog post.
First of all, you need to create the list of blog posts that you’re going to write.
Here is my formula for generating content marketing ideas.
Quora is great to start with because people ask a lot of questions about everything, including your niche, and your job is to answer them.
Now, let’s open Quora and in the search box type travel. As you can see, a lot of topics are related to this term.
Open the first topic - Visiting and Travel - and check out the topic stats.
With +90,500 questions asked on this topic, this looks like a great opportunity.
Start answering these questions through your blog. Did you know that you can recruit people at Quora? I mean, not directly, but..
You can find out who are people who write the most viewed answers on the specific topic.
I mean, just look at these people’s metrics - if they have so many viewed answers, they must have a passion for writing on the travel topic. OK, it’s time to see the list of potential blog posts.
In the topic menu, click on Answer and browse until you find something interesting. I guarantee that you’ll find it because I did after a few seconds.
If you carefully read the description, you’ll see how one family is visiting Mexico City in December (I’m writing this blog post in September) and how they search for the safest airline.
They say that they are worried about safety, not comfort. I’m 100% sure that they aren’t the only one concerned about the safety issues.
What’s more, there are good chances that they are still informing about hotels, moving from airport to the hotel, and more. Why not consider writing the following blog posts:
If you are a hotel that gives free pieces of advice about tourists' safety in Mexico City, you’ll be the king in their eyes.
The hotel will be seen as an authority and you’ll collect a lot of new reservations.
Now, you see all questions related to hotels in California. Here is one topic.
Note that I generated these blog post ideas within a minute. But, it doesn’t mean they’re great because it depends on keyword competition and search volume, too.
Your goal should be to find easy ranking but profitable keywords, so you need to look for ones with high search volume and low keyword difficulty.
So many tasks require planning and organizing. Here at Jellymetrics, we use a great content marketing tool app called MeisterTask, which improves our productivity and manage organization issues.
We easily add potential blog posts to the column Ideas, and later we simply pick the topic we want to write about.
Notice that this isn’t only about hotels, but also about generating marketing ideas for apartment communities or renting flats. Basically, you can do this in every niche for any industry.
Finally, I’d like to say that you need to create easy-to-read content because nobody wants to struggle with hard readable text.
Use simple words. For example, it better to write Mexicans are nice people instead of: Mexicans are compassionate people.
Recently I made readability test tool which gives you grade levels like Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Gunning-Fog Score, Automated Readability Index and many others with the interpretation of results.
Lesson: Focus on content marketing and producing great content because it drives visitors to your website and leads to potential reservations. Hotel advertising is expensive, content marketing is cheap.
Firstly, let’s see what search engine marketing means for one hotel. Search engine marketing is nothing else than buying clicks in search engines like Google.
Roughly speaking, Google Ads works on the auction principle. The more you bid, the more clicks you get. But the actual CPC (Cost-per-Click) doesn’t depend only on bidding amounts.
Improving your Quality Score can save you costs on hotel advertising. It makes an influence on actual CPC. The higher QS you get, the less you pay.
For example, if your landing page is optimized and contain targeted keywords in the title and body, your QS should be higher. According to WordStream, keywords have an average Quality Score of 5.
If you do optimization and push QS from 5 to 6, it will result in 14.3% savings.
Now, let’s see how to advertise your hotel in Google Search. Open AdWords dashboard, in the menu, click on Tools and choose Keyword Planner.
If you’re not familiar what does Keyword Planner mean, don’t worry - it’s a very simple tool which lets you:
The tool will exactly tell you if bidding on specific keywords is worthwhile.
Simply check if desired keywords have a good search volume and if it's competitive. Choose the first option (search for new keywords), type Chicago hotel and click on Get Ideas.
The next step is to pick interesting keywords.
For example, where to stay in chicago and places to stay in chicago seems quite interesting to me.
The first phrase has a search volume between 1,000 and 10,000, and the second between 100 and 1,000. A fourth column, suggested bid, actually tells you what is the average CPC that other advertisers pay.
The goal of every successful AdWords expert is to find a keyword with high search volume and low suggested CPC.
An interesting fact is that you can use this tool in generating ideas for your blog. Here are two blog posts suggestions:
Your whole text will be about staying in Chicago and it means your CPC should be lower because of high Quality Score.
The blog adds value and Google’s intent is to provide the best ads (and organic results) for their users.
For example, type stay in chicago and hit suggest. Here are some results I got:
Long-tail keywords are a great opportunity. The more specific keyword you find, the higher probability of conversion you have.
For example, visiting chicago in december has a CPC of $0.11.
Now when you picked up keywords, you can create ads. In the menu, choose Campaigns, scroll down a bit and click on + CAMPAIGN button.
Now you have a couple of opportunities. I suggest starting with Search Network only because it’s the simplest part. Standard campaign type has four steps:
For this purposes, I set a campaign name as Winter 2016.
Hotel sales and marketing departments need to work as a team. Hotel sales know about the guests, and from them, you should get things like:
It’s because when you create ads, you can target specifically one town, state or country. Presuming that your best guests are from Los Angeles, you will target them.
The next step is targeting by language. Maybe Germans that live in LA are your best guests? If so, then you target only them. Choosing how much you’re willing to spend is another important moment.
In this imaginary example, I set that I want to pay per click and my maximum is set to $2 per click, and also that I don’t want to spend more than $100 per day.
Did you know that you can expand your ads with additional links?
Furthermore, you can expand it by adding Location or Call feature.
Getting educated about enhancing ads with extensions seems to be a chance for hotel advertising.
The next step is creating ad groups. They are nothing else but a group of one or more ads that target a shared set of keyword. In the example below, I chose to:
Every landing page needs to have its Ad group. Otherwise, your CPC will be higher which makes sense - we enter keywords for Ad group, not for ads.
Now, it’s time to click on Continue To Ads and create your first ad.
You can see there are only a few fields you need to fill. Final URL is the place where visitors are going to be redirected.
On the other hand, the path is just a piece of text that people see in Google SERP. For better tracking performance of campaigns, you might be interested in creating custom campaign parameters.
Finally, click on the Create ad button, and just after that, click on Save and finish. This is what you should see:
Adding new Ad groups is simple. Just click on the red button and that’s it!
Lesson: Find low competitive keywords with a good search volume, create a landing page for every Ad group. After that, measure everything so you can learn what works for you.
Previously, I mentioned that email marketing is the most efficient marketing channel (high ROI), but how exactly email marketing for hotels works? First of all, avoid being a spammer because:
In hotel advertising you can leverage all these benefits of email marketing from two approaches:
However, without collecting new emails, your job will be for nothing.
Therefore, you need to get as much as possible emails. I recently wrote a blog post about collecting new emails, but let’s see how email marketing for hotels actually works.
Whenever someone visits your hotel, make sure they fill a simple survey where you’ll ask for their email.
Tell your guests that you have a great travel blog where you share all your knowledge for free. They can learn about choosing a right travel insurance, the best restaurants in your town, etc.
I bet your lead rate is going to skyrocket. Your blog traffic, too.
This way, you’ll become an industry authority (expert) and whenever they return to the city where the hotel is placed, they’ll firstly check if you’re available.
Another way of collecting emails from guests is to set up a wireless connection so nobody cannot log in until they leave you an email. Nice tip, ha?
Collecting emails from guests is easy, but a lead generation from blog visitors is a hard part. According to QuickSprout, you should be able to collect up to 5% visitor to email subscriber conversion rate.
For example, if you hit 10,000 unique visitors every month, you can expect a total of 500 new subscribers. If you ask yourself how can I collect new emails, here are few ways:
This is a very efficient way of getting new subscribers. The first step is to find out the topic that you’re going to write. The principle is same as generating new ideas for blogs.
The only difference is that eBook articles are much longer. Check search volume at Keyword Planner since you need traffic to collect emails.
Only 5% of total unique visitors is going to give you an email. Although it would be great to rank high in Google, it’s not a must-have at all.
Well, the main reason is that you can send visitors to the landing page from other pages. For example, you can drive visitors via internal links or sidebars.
See how Matt from LandLopers, on his home page, offers insider secrets and downloading the book.
Below every blog post, Matt from LandLopers call you to subscribe to his newsletter list and to get a free copy of his eBook.
Note how his I WANT IN! button calls you to download the book. Call-to-Actions are killers for reducing bounce rate, which is highly important Google ranking factor.
Although I couldn’t find an example in the travel industry, content upgrades are still amazing! They are probably the best way of generating new leads. Here is one content upgrade I created recently.
Maria, a travel blogger from Bulgaria, has written the blog post about top tips for driving in Bulgaria.
The post contains a total of 13 tips, but I believe she could do much better. For example, she could offer a one-page PDF document where she’ll explain everything (in shorts) about fuel costs in Bulgaria.
People interested in driving in Bulgaria are also interested in fuel tips and tricks in Bulgaria. If not, she could offer another extra 5 tips and tricks.
It would be helpful if she replaces this subscribe input with a content upgrade box (the way Matt did, although in his case it’s not a content upgrade box).
Luckily for you, the travel industry is full of quiz possibilities. Here are a few ideas:
Rough Guides has created an interesting offer: The hardest travel quiz you’ll ever take. I just took the quiz and let me be honest with you, I answered all the question within 30 seconds.
I simply wanted to check what will happen with results (how smart they are). Well, they are smart, but they can do better. Look at the photo:
Rough Guides has a strong Call-to-Action (CTA) - this way they’re increasing their number of fans. Nevertheless, I would suggest them to require emails for the results.
Of course, you would never tell that at the beginning because it could scare them off, and they will leave you without a subscription.
But, after finishing the quiz, where they put effort and spend time, they’ll want to see the results and giving their emails won’t be a problem.
This way, you get long-term visitors. Voilà! It’s exactly what Mike from Nutrition Secrets did.
Just like quizzes, sliders are the real deal for capturing emails. A good example is Expert Vagabond.
They offer exclusive monthly updates and best budget travel tips, crazy stories, and fun inspiration from around the world.
Plus, they say that they’ll give you a free travel photography ebook. See how you need to attack using different ways, tools, web placements, etc.
On the other hand, TripHackr also offers exclusive travel deals, but they don’t offer an eBook. It would be very interesting to see their conversion rates.
Personally, I think Expert Vagabond has a better conversion rate.
Tell me what you think, in comments. I know this part is about email collecting, but I want to mention BeMyTravelMuse who offers you to like her page, which is also nice.
You can mix - some pages are good for capturing emails and some for increasing the number of followers. In the end of the day, you can always share an eBook on Facebook, for example.
Now, when you know how to collect emails, let’s see what you can expect.
Open rate is the starting point - it’s actually the percentage of people who opened your email. If you’re wondering how this technology works, it’s not complicated at all.
Firstly, all marketing apps support the feature of checking who opened your emails. It works in a way that the app adds a small - to human eyes - invisible image, which is unique for every email you send. When the image gets opened by the server, the app gets informed.
That’s it. OK, now let me show you how a number of email campaigns will influence on email open rate.
In B2C, which is your type of business, sending 6 - 15 email campaigns seems the best for open rates.
According to MailChimp, Travel and Transportation industry has an open rate of 20.39% and click rate of 2.23%.
But this is only statistics. In other words, your digital marketing specialist should constantly do the measuring because there are so many variables.
For example, email CTR needs to be measured all the time, because you want to know how many people will come to your website if you send, let’s say, 10,000 emails.
Here is the formula for calculating email CTR.
While clicks matter, a conversion rate is even more important. For example, sending 10,000 delivered emails, that result as 250 conversions, means your conversion rate is 2.5%.
What’s more, conversions tell you how much in revenues you can generate, but wait.. what about overall ROI? ROI is the most important. Period.
You always need to know how much you invested in the campaign and how much money you made. That is the ultimate goal of every marketer.
It’s only small percentage of increase but when you have thousands of emails, it’s not a small number. Hotel room advertising is not the only way of leveraging email marketing. It can be used in use B2B email marketing, too.
For example, creating How To Organize a Panel For a Conference might help. This way, other business managers will visit your blog and it sounds like a potential. All in all, when it comes to hotel online marketing only the sky’s the limit.
Lesson: If you were wondering does email marketing work or not, I hope you now understand why email marketing (for hotels, too) is must-have these days. It’s not the past - it’s the present and the future.
In the end, we can say that digital marketing for hotels is full of possibilities. Hotel sales and marketing departments need to work together. Sales team knows who are the best and worst guests.
Digital marketing team’s ultimate goal is to bring the best type of visitors. This is the reason why they need to cooperate with each other.
If you advertise in Google search, the best practice is to create a landing page related to keywords you’ve bid because it increases a Quality Score which leads to lower CPC.
When it comes to email marketing, it’s a chance to position yourself as an authority. There are plenty ways of capturing emails - from eBooks, content upgrades to webinars and things like that.
Finally, I want to say that I didn’t mention SEO, social media marketing and few other possibilities.