Some marketing leaders might not agree with this article, because they grew up in a “what else can we do” mentality. This article is not about how to become lazy, but about how to streamline your strategy and activities to focus on what drives the most growth.
Being selective with your efforts is important to avoid wasting time on things that do not contribute to your business success. As a hotel marketing consultant I will list some hotel industry references but these suggestions can be applied in other situations too.
Start your planning in line with your macro vision
Before you draft your digital marketing strategy, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who we want to be on the market?
- Who are the people who want our products?
- Why are our products the best choice for these people?
- How are we going to connect with these people?
Your answers will define a very clear marketing approach. For example: “We are a modern lifestyle hotel brand for young high-earning executives. We offer a high level of privacy, reception-less check-in, and our suites offer modern technology. Interiors suitable for work and fun. We can target them efficiently on LinkedIn, YouTube and offer them extra benefits for repeat business.
Such a summary gives you instantly what to communicate, where and to whom:
- Photos and videos of and people enjoying the unique features
- Focus on executives traveling in your location
- Key advertising channels: LinkedIn, YouTube and perhaps Facebook
Where to advertise?
Focus on channels where you can reach your target audience. Don’t give a shit about stuff like Pinterest or Google banner ads if your clients don’t give a shit about those either.
What to say in your ads and content?
Similarly to choosing appropriate channels, do not try to get overly creative with your ad messages. Keep your marketing communications consistent around topics and information that your customers need to know about you. If you market a hotel business, do not bore your audience with trying to save the world or developing entirely new concepts – show them your product and demonstrate service excellence, highlight your differentiators and let them choose.
Build an e-commerce conversion system that works for you
The internet is full of funnel strategists selling “blueprints” and similar bogus infoproducts. Having a working funnel is helpful but not essential. In fact, you should not even design a funnel without prior knowledge of how your customers make their purchase decisions.
In hospitality marketing, the following elements are critical and essential:
- Having a clear differentiation
- Having an outstanding product presentation
- Offering easy ways to make a booking
- Offering easy ways to get in touch with the sales team
This is not the 1990s, people know how to use the internet and if they like your product and okay with your prices then they will be happy to go through your booking process. Then, you will be able to observe how people typically make their bookings with you and based on this data you will be able to efficiently simplify the process.
On the other hand, a simple booking system won’t increase sales for a subpar product and won’t save a poor product presentation either.
You will be surprised at how easy it is to generate online and direct bookings with good targeting, positioning and product presentation. You do not need programmatic advertising or complicated systems to reach your audience.
To have a decent ad setup, be prepared to spend a few thousand dollars monthly on ads. I am really sad to see hotels trying to cut it with $500 ad budgets, that is just wasting time and money. Here is how to plan your ad setup.
- Rank first for your brand keywords
- Rank in the top 3 for any location-specific hotel search term
- Have a VERY GOOD video targeting people looking for hotels in your location
- Have another video for remarketing purposes
- Have an ongoing video campaign for people who plan to travel to your location
- Have a separate remarketing campaign that is more factual, such as a carousel ad with room types or facility information
This is a basic advertising setup that your hotel should have. Important to highlight that you should not go too specific with targeting, instead have marketing materials that will make everyone go wow. This is how you generate brand awareness and drive conversions at the same time.
Having a good ad setup will dramatically increase your website traffic and direct sales. No need to over-optimize either, weekly checks and monthly updates are typically sufficient if your system is working properly.
Ignore the latest “revolutionary” tools
I know, it’s a jungle out there: new tools are appearing every week, startups are promising 38% revenue growth by subscribing to their pop-up, others are trying to sell “revolutionary” commodity software like channel managers. These software will always try to sign you up by flaunting huge revenue increases but in reality they will hardly bring any value. They will attribute success to their stuff of course, but in most cases those bookings would have happened with or without them.
As a consultant, I alway suggest to my clients to reduce their expenses on these kinds of services. For example if your website platform offers plugins then you do not need to subscribe to another service that does the same thing.
If there is a channel manager that offers the same connectivity at a lower price then switch to that when your contract expires. If there is a website booking engine that would cost less then switch to that one too.
Testing is an important part of digital marketing management and business development, and I do suggest my clients allocate a budget for testing. However, only test things when you need to.
Let’s say your data suggests that you could have more bookings from certain countries or demographic segments then you should try to diversify your advertising. Or else if you notice that people book only a certain room type then you can test advertising or featuring the others too.
Do not bother trying new things without a real business purpose, that is unnecessary risk and time wasting.
Let’s sum it up: 5 essential things for successful digital marketing management
We talked a lot about what to do and what not, so here is a brief summary of what are the essential activities you need to set up right and keep optimal to manage a successful digital marketing system:
- Keep your brand and product presentation flawless
- Keep your multi-channel ad setup going, optimize if necessary
- Do not subscribe for software unless you need it
- Keep looking for cost cutting opportunities
- Test if you see an opportunity
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