Hotel marketers are often asked to predict the future. Is this offer going to sell? How much revenue will an advert generate? What publications work best to reach specific markets? Without a crystal ball, these are tough questions to answer.
If you want to take the guesswork out of hotel marketing, consider running pay-per-click campaigns for your property. Targeted, cost-effective and exceedingly measurable, PPC advertising is a must-have medium for modern marketers.
Why Give Google A Go
Launched almost 20 years ago, Google's online advertising program, Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) has emerged as a key hospitality marketing tool.
Google Ads offer several different platforms across the web. In this overview, we will focus on Search Ads - by far the most successful channel used by our digital marketing agency’s 200+ clients.
The genius of this approach is that customers are shown ads on Google’s search pages that are highly relevant to their needs. As a bonus, businesses only pay when someone clicks on their ad.
Driving quality website traffic with excellent return on investment, search engine advertising is one of the most popular forms of PPC marketing
. These campaigns allow hotels to compete with OTAs for better visibility
and generate direct bookings
through their own site. As an advertiser, you are in control of your budget
at all times and able to make changes at a moment's notice.
So we can probably agree on that PPC advertising is promising. But what makes your campaign performance exceptional? Get the top tips from this best-practice guide on how to drive more direct bookings for your hotel with PPC services.
Tip #1: Bid On Your Brand Name
Metasearch engines and OTAs routinely bid on your hotel’s name as part of their digital strategy. You must launch a counter-attack to guard direct bookings.
Protect your property by setting up brand PPC campaigns so ads will appear when keywords related to your name typed into a search bar.
Brand PPC advertising generates quality traffic with high conversion figures. Click through rates are much better than using generic terms and return on your investment is guaranteed. Getting proper visibility on mobile devices is even more challenging so climbing to the top of the search page is especially important.
Tip #2: Write Great Ad Copy
Which ad copy would entice you to book a room? A hotel that ‘provides high levels of operational management’? Or one that promises ‘personalised attention, 24hr butler service and great rates’? (Actual examples from 5-star luxury hotels.) While PPC campaigns
are highly technical, they also demand a good deal of creative flair for copywriting.
Think of your guests before signing off on your ad copies. Make sure that they focus on your unique features and highlight what sets your hotel apart from competitors. Always include powerful calls-to-action to inspire an immediate response.
Ad space is limited by strict character count so make the most of your online real estate. Mix in a few ad extensions to expand your message.
Tip #3: Choose Your Keywords Carefully
Keywords are at the heart of your pay per click advertising - determining when and where your ads will appear. Choose them well.
Bidding for popular generic keywords such as ‘hotels in New York’ will eat up your budget very quickly without significant results. In addition to bidding on your brand name, experiment with long-tail keywords like ‘5-star hotel in New York with rooftop’ containing three or more keywords. While their search volume is much lower, the cost is also greatly reduced.
These ads tend to produce higher conversion rates as they match the target audience requirements closely. As long-tail techniques are often overlooked by marketers, they might just be the secret weapon your hotel marketing strategy needs.
Tip #4: Stand Out With Special Offers
In addition to compelling copy, your PPC ads need to feature irresistible offers to attract clicks. The best way to highlight these seasonal deals is to create site link extensions that can take people to specific sections of your website. No need to click from page to page - browsers are delivered relevant content instantly.
With easy scheduling and simple editing, management of your site links is very straightforward. Keep your special offers fresh by setting expiry dates, create separate versions for mobile devices and get detailed data about your clicks.
If you want to highlight upcoming events such as Black Friday or January sales, add a countdown widget to your ad.
Tip #5: Spend Time On Your Quality Score
Google’s ultimate aim is to provide browsers with the exact information they are looking for. In order to achieve this goal, the tech giant rates their advertising partners on the basis of their ad quality (ranging from 1 to 10).
As higher Quality Score means better ad positions and lower prices, ask your digital marketing agency to pay special attention to this aspect of your Google Ads. Concentrate on the three key components: ad relevance, click-through rate and landing page experience. The more relevant your ads and landing pages are to users, the more likely to get top Quality Score.
Tip #6: Land A Punch With Your Landing Pages
Speaking of… A compelling landing page is the pillar of a rock-solid online advertising plan. You may produce amazing ad copies or get impressive visitor numbers, but if your landing pages are just an afterthought, your campaigns will never reach their full potential.
The best-performing pages are built on a simple layout with clean, minimalist design. Leaving clutter aside, they focus on key messages using a handful of powerful headlines. Content must be relevant to the search query and the ad copy that led the user to the page - in fact, you should use different landing pages for each individual audience.
Help customers along the purchasing path with calls-to-action to improve conversion rates and increase direct revenue. And finally, remember to tailor content specifically to mobile users.
Tip #7: Think Mobile, Live Mobile
On the topic of mobile experience… To get the best PPC marketing results, create separate campaigns for mobile audiences.
Why? Internet usage is increasingly moving to mobile devices - tablets and phones have long overtaken desktop browsing. Even more importantly for the travel industry, when customers look up a hotel on their iPhone, they are likely to be last-minute bookers in urgent need of a solution. Deploy action-oriented keywords, specific calls-to-action or unique offers to motivate these users.
Do not overlook negative keywords. For example, exclude people who would click on your advert just to find your location. These clicks would be a waste of your precious PPC budget.
Tip #8: Never Rest On Your Results
The secret of long-term PPC success is endless work. If you employ a PPC agency, ask for regular optimisation by a Google certified marketer. The more information is collected in your account, the more opportunity for improvements.
The options are unlimited, but we suggest focusing on these key components: keywords, ad copy and landing page experience
. Concentrate on high-achieving keywords, while pausing poorly producing ones. Experiment with ad copies and unique selling points to see what really speaks to your audience. Try different calls-to-action for CTR improvement
. Run A/B tests to tweak landing pages for better conversion rates. Never stop testing.
Tip #9: Stay Positive About PPC
Our final word of wisdom? Be patient.
Expect a couple of months to get your pay per click advertising up and running, but it will be worth the wait. As a hotel marketing agency, we see steady growth in this segment year after year. Across all our hospitality partners from the UK to the Caribbean, paid traffic continues to deliver reassuring revenue increase.