Budget planning and strategy planning go hand in hand – and as they’re both large tasks it can be difficult to decide where to start. To make the path clearer for you, the Avvio digital team has come together to outline their top tips to include in your 2018 digital marketing strategy. We advise addressing the following pointers in your upcoming strategy so that you can factor them into your 2018 budget and prepare for a year of success.
1. Keep a content calendar
Key to an efficient and effective digital marketing strategy is a content calendar. A content calendar will help you add structure and format in 2018 (and the remainder of 2017 if you put one in place now). This will help you align all marketing content and assets with your marketing goals as well as your overall business goals and to put proper campaigns in place to target each of your guest types. You’ll be able to plan digital content campaigns around key events, dates and seasons throughout the year so that you can improve brand awareness and maximise audience interest all year round. You can organise a content calendar in whichever way works best for you and your business, but Avvio advises to include columns for the month, preparation date, go live date, the content topic, the team member responsible for the piece, the objective of the content and the channels for publication and circulation.
Depending on your resources and how large a focus your organisation has on content marketing, you may want to add more columns to the content calendar to go into more depth. For example, you could decide to create a larger spreadsheet in which each month of the year has a separate sheet and its own content calendar. You may also want to add in columns for the guest persona you’re targeting with each campaign and which marketing or business objective each piece of content aims to achieve (ie. is it top funnel content to improve SEO and brand awareness or a more targeted promotion to drive direct bookings or a particular holiday package?) .
Download a template content calendar here and if you need help or guidance filling it out, get in touch with your digital account manager.
2. Invest in video
Research by Cisco has revealed that by 2021, video traffic will make up 82% of all consumer Internet traffic. As YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world (beaten only by Google) it seems like the way to go. Hosting a video on your site gives you the chance to showcase not just your property but your staff and excellent guest service as well. Visiting your website, potential guests can get a taste of what it’s like to stay at your hotel and take a virtual tour of your rooms and services.
If a picture paints 1000 words, Forrester research has revealed that a one-minute video paints 1.8 million and according to global marketing agency Hubspot, video content has the highest engagement rate, with 55% of people consuming videos thoroughly, and videos are six times more likely to be retweeted than photos (Twitter). In a nutshell, adding an optimised and engaging one-minute video to your website will likely improve your organic and social traffic. This will raise brand awareness and maximise the likelihood of potential guests making a booking as they get a feel for your property.
3. Target long-tail keywords
A surge in voice search has resulted in the improved effectiveness of long-tail keywords. As interactions online become more and more ‘human’, people are posing questions to Google and other search engines as they would a real person; (for example, ‘What’s a good family hotel in Gothenburg?’). Get an edge on keyword competition in 2018 by targeting long-tail keywords. This will allow you to zone in on lower costing key phrases while driving organic traffic.
You can easily strategise your content around long-tail keywords by adding a keyword column into your content calendar. This will help you remember to optimise your campaigns accordingly and organise which pieces will target which words and phrases.
4. Optimise for Local Search (i.e. Hotels near me etc.)
Local searches are growing twice as fast as mobile searches (Search Engine Land). With many apps automatically picking up on location, it’s important to optimise your direct channel for local search. Consider creating top-funnel content to improve you ranking for location-based keywords and phrases. (e.g. Top 10 things to do in Dublin) and ensure your property’s address is up to date. Include a map on your website as well as content around events, activities and landmarks in your surrounding area. Leading marketing site, Search Engine News, has revealed that online coupons work really well for local searches with 70% satisfaction, so consider incorporating campaigns to target local searches, with exclusive discounts and packages for people searching within a certain radius from your property.
5. Reach out to influencers
Studies have shown that influencer marketing can be nine times more effective than other marketing strategies, with consumers being 83% more likely to convert if they have come to you from a referral source. These referral sources do not include solely friends and family but also people that your potential guests follow on social media, i.e. influencers. They trust these people, engage with their blogs and vlogs, their tweets, Facebook posts and images on Instagram. They feel a connection with them and deem their opinions and recommendations to be credible.
It’s therefore a good idea to work with influencers to drive your brand awareness and direct bookings. Incorporate into your digital marketing strategy campaigns that target influencers who are relevant to your target audience, such as travel and lifestyle bloggers and journalists. Your strategy could include writing as a guest author for an influencer’s blog or magazine, or getting them to write about you, using your brand name as the keyword. You could reach out to them on social and offer them a free stay so that they review your property on their site and social channels and let the world know how wonderful their experience was with you.
6. Get social
Social Media marketing will be of great relevance to the traffic growth for hotels in 2017. There are many ways hotels can use social media and the benefits of sharing engaging content throughout your social media channels can be very valuable. Social media allows you to develop personal relationships with your followers and is a great way of targeting and working with influencers. Consider setting up an Instagram account to post regular enticing images of your surrounding areas and landmarks. Share updates, valuable blog posts, images, videos and promotions on Twitter and Facebook and determine which network your guests prefer so that they’re more likely to find you. Encourage guests to follow you on your social channels and tag you in their posts during their stay. Find our top tips on social media marketing here.
7. Incorporate metasearch
A metasearch engine is essentially a search engine that gathers up and presents information on your hotel rates and availability to website browsers so that they can find your hotel more easily online. Metasearch engines like Tripadvisor, Trivago and Google Hotel Price Ads (HPA) differ from online travel agencies (OTAs) as they link back to the hotel’s direct website, rather than selling the rates themselves.
It’s unsurprising that Google HPA has powered ahead as the biggest generator of revenue for Avvio partners. In the second quarter of 2017, Google HPA contributed nearly half (48%) of overall metasearch revenue and continues to be a top earner for our partners. Looking at other metasearch channels, Trivago contributed 31% of overall revenue with TripAdvisor at 17%.
We generally recommend looking at a metasearch budget of €500 per month. At Avvio, our hotel partners have seen huge growth in the volume of direct bookings generated by metasearch. A couple of years ago, accommodation providers would have to pay an average cost per acquisition (CPA) of roughly 12%. Now hotels can achieve CPA’s of between 7-8% on average and drive a much higher return on their investment.
8. Track your success
As with everything in business, it’s critical to have an effective method of tracking your performance regularly. For every digital marketing campaign you set up, we recommend measuring the rates of traffic, engagement, acquisition and bounces it generates. Set up regular reports that track the metrics that are most important to your marketing department and to your business as a whole.
Avvio analyses performance through continuous measurement and monitoring of campaigns and user signals. Healthy user signals are increasingly important for good rankings. Top-ranked searches have a significantly higher click through rate (CTR), as well as a lower bounce rate, and a longer time-on-site. These are metrics that interact strongly with each other and seem to greatly influence search ranking.
Bounce rate and time-on-site are linked to content and positive user signals are a testimony to quality content. There are a number of factors that contribute to your bounce rate. For example, visitors might leave your site from the entrance page if there are site design or usability issues. Alternatively, visitors might also leave the site after viewing a single page if they’ve found the information they need. Avvio provides daily, weekly and monthly tailored reports for our hotel partners, along with action plans on how to improve performance.
Get in touch to find out more about how we can help you improve your digital marketing strategy and direct bookings, or see how we’ve helped The Temple Bar Hotel in Dublin optimise their direct channel for an international audience in this success story.