Improve Conversion Rates On Your Hotel's Book Now Button

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A partner hotel with GCommerce Solutions had a Book Now button that had many other links close to it, which could have been decreasing the click-through-rates (CTR) to the hotel booking engine. With the help of the expert graphic designers at GCommerce Solutions, we designed a new Book Now button that we hoped would have a higher CTR and conversion rate.

A/B Test

Utilizing Google Optimize, we were able to create two versions of the clients homepage, one with the original Book Now button and one with our variant. We were able to split the traffic so that 50% of visitors see each version of the page. 

Results 

After about 12k total sessions, the new Variant has a Conversion Rate of 1.74%, which is a 12% increase compared to the Original.

Screenshot of transaction data in google analytics

How Significant is a 12% Increase in Conversion Rate?

This hotel has an Average Order Value (AOV) of about $810. If they drove the same number of visitors in 2019 as they did in 2020 and had the same AOV, a 12% increase in Conversion Value would have resulted in over 2,300 more Conversions and another $1.95 million in Revenue. 

Start A/B Testing With Your Website

A/B tests are the best way to gather valuable data that allows you to improve conversion rates on your website and get better returns for your marketing dollars. 

Contact GCommerce Solutions today to start A/B testing on your hotel website to improve conversion rates.

Google Analytics 4: A Look at The Evolution of Google Analytics and Key Learnings About GA4

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With the Cookieless world quickly approaching, Google released its Google Analytics 4 beta in Q4 2020 putting the emphasis on user engagement rather than volume. Will Ferris, GCommerce’s Chief Technology Officer, provides an overview of Google Analytics 4 and some key updates you can find in this new tool.

Register to watch this on-demand webinar and learn why GA4 is important to your business.

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Google Analytics 4 vs. The Cookieless World

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Cookies or Cookieless. There’s been a lot of buzz among marketers about the timing of the Google Analytics 4 roll out. A few weeks back, Google made the announcement they were prolonging the timeline for their privacy sandbox push as publishers, browsers, advertisers and other 3rd parties were clamoring to roll out the approved version of tracking in the cookieless world.  

This announcement doesn’t apply to Google Analytics and their rollout of GA4. Google knows that while 3rd parties begin to develop cookieless technologies, its analytics platform must be the foundation for measurement.  

Their push for Google Analytics 4 adoption is obvious. With nearly half of all the websites across the web running analytics, Google is pushing GA4 right inside their account creation. Here is a screenshot of the set-up process which highlights Google’s emphasis on GA4. (You’ll see “Google Analytics 4” highlighted.)

Screenshot of Google Analytics 4 implementation screen

If you’re a current Google Analytics user, it’s important to upgrade to the latest version. GCommerce has been running both GA3/GUA alongside GA4 to understand the difference in data and measurement. For the month of June, we saw significant decreases in revenue within our GA3 profiles. 

Table showing revenue data coming from Google Analytics

Our tests have shown that Google UA underreports Organic by 33%, Paid Search by 26%, and Referral by as much as 51% when compared to the attribution of GA4. This could be for a couple reasons:

  • Legacy cookie tracking (GA3/GUA) is starting to deprecate as the cookieless world grows closer, creating data gaps for major revenue channels
  • Advanced attribution models based on the new “engaged users” provides more transparency through the booking funnel

You want to have the latest analytics technology available for measurement, and that means upgrading to Google Analytics 4. GA4 will work with legacy cookie technologies along with new best practices as we move towards the cookieless world. There’s no reason to wait. Contact the experts at GCommerce today.

What Hotels Should Know About Cookieless Tracking & Google Analytics 4

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We’ve recently written about Google’s latest iteration of Analytics and important things hotel’s should know about Google Analytics 4 (GA4). In this post, we will go into a bit more detail on how the change to cookieless tracking might impact your hotel’s digital marketing efforts.

What are Cookies and Why Do They Matter?

Cookies are small pieces of data stored on your computer by the web browser. What they aren’t isn’t so important as to what they are used for, which is to track individual users. By dropping a unique cookie or pixel onto your browser, a website can then track behavior outside of your website.

Are Cookies An Invasion of Privacy?

This is the big debate currently being waged and many people would say yes. Legislations like Europe’s GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act, recent updates to Apple’s IOS to block more 3rd party tracking are all efforts to protect user’s individual privacy by making it harder to identify those individuals. At the heart of this debate is cookieless tracking. While cookies are not banned nor illegal, a lot of browsers, plug-ins and software help to block cookies and there is evidence the cookies are becoming a less viable way to track users.

What does this mean for Google’s Universal Analytics?

Google’s current and most popular iteration of Analytics, Universal Analytics, uses first-party cookies to determine a number of variables within their tracking. Already, digital marketers are reporting gaps in data based on people that are actively blocking cookies and tracking. Within our own data, we have noticed certain instances where traffic from California has decreased, while traffic from locations not tracked has increased. This change is very likely indicative that California’s privacy laws are having an impact on our ability to track.

Why is Google Analytics 4 A Solution To A Cookiless World?

Despite what the name suggests, GA4 isn’t actually more robust tracking, it is actually less tracking on individual users. This is because GA4 is not tracking every pageview. Rather than rely on cookies and javascript variables to track every pageview, GA4 is tracking based on specific events that are built and established. Google then applies advanced models to fill out data for traffic and behavior. What Google Analytics 4 lacks in individual tracking it makes up for with the robust tools of their machine learning algorithms. The need for something like GA4 comes from the new privacy laws and public awareness around data collection.

What Should Your Hotel Do About Google Analytics 4?

As we discussed above, changes to the way users view their privacy will make Universal Analytics less and less reliable as time goes on. The earlier that your hotel starts to utilize GA4, get familiar with it and start to utilize data from it, the further ahead of the curve your hotel will be when Universal Analytics comes to a point it is no longer recommended to utilize. Also, your historical data will not automatically carry over from Universal Analytics. Your historical data will only go as far back as the 1st day that you start using GA4.

How To Get Started With Google Analytics 4?

After my father got a debilitating injury trying to build a retention wall in our backyard at the ripe-young age of 56, he decided it might be better to trust the experts. In this situation, we would also recommend utilizing an expert to help install GA4 for your hotel’s website. The truth is, GA4 is a completely novel way of tracking that does not rely exclusively on individual user data. Instead, it relies on event signals that are built and established based on the functionality and goals of your website.

Google Analytics 4 Tracking From GCommerce

If you’re interested in having the experts at GCommerce help establish GA4 tracking and reporting for your hotel website, contact us today!

How To Avoid Costly Website Performance Issues Within Google Tag Manager

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What Is Google Tag Manager?

Tag managers have become increasingly commonplace on modern websites for many reasons. They provide ease of access for placing scripts and light applications onto websites, without having to lean heavily on a developer and allow these additions to be placed without interrupting the website’s base functionality.  As time has passed however, some concerns have arisen about using tag managers, such as Google Tag Manager, one of which is overcrowding.

Website Performance Contributors

Your website is set up with a number of assets (Pictures, Videos, Graphics, Apps etc) that all contribute to the load time and overall site performance.  Other factors might include your site host service, outdated code/low functioning coding, or the number of people accessing your site at the same time without adequate scaling.  Most of these issues are within your control to manage and can be handled by your development team.

Tag Managers Effect on Website Performance

Typically, a tag manager such as Google Tag Manager will not affect site performance that much.  With well regulated use, a typical tag manager will serve a limited number of marketing and analytics tags and some of these tags can be loaded after the website pages have already loaded completely. A well regulated Google tag management container should have a minimal to unnoticeable effect on website performance.  When a tag manager is mismanaged it can present a number of problems that will have a varying degree of impact on the websites performance and the operation of the tag management container itself.

When Tag Managers Are the Problem

Too Many Tags

How many tags is too many tags to have within your Google tag manager?  If a tag manager has ten to twenty basic marketing tags, that amount of additional script will indeed add an additional load to the website’s performance.  If all ten to twenty tags are loading inline with the rest of the website, it might see a difference of a few hundred nanoseconds, so unless the website sees a few hundred thousand users per hour or each of these tags has a thousand lines of code, the website’s speed is in no danger of being reduced to a crawl. However if a tag manager container has been accumulating tags over the years, maybe from trying out different publishers or asset integrations and now has 300 or more tags inside, it’s very possible that your tag management container is impeding your website performance to a more noticeable level.

There are very few reasons why any tag management container would need to have tags numbering in the multiple hundreds on any individual site or even multiple websites sharing the same tag manager container.  In addition to flirting with website performance issues, letting a container fill up to the point where there are that many tags, will make it somewhat difficult to manage.  Think of it like acculating items in your office over the span of multiple years of service.  Eventually figuring out what does what and goes where becomes a sizable task in itself and that’s before you consider what you want to remove. A better way to handle your tag management container, and avoid costly website performance issues, is to progressively update and evaluate your tag manager container’s status in regular intervals.

Multiple Tag Manager Containers Running On One Website

Implementing a tag management container, such as Google tag manager, is a relatively easy process in most cases. That ease of implementation can spawn another issue with multiple tag manager containers being placed on a website adversely.  Running multiple tag management containers is not always a bad thing. Leveraging two or more containers where both are monitored and their use is openly discussed can work with great efficiency.  On the other hand, it’s very possible to lose sight of multiple tag manager container operations as well.  A prime example of this is one tag manager container is used for years but the administrator in charge of said tag manager container is the sole owner and has now separated from the organization.  Now nobody knows what is inside of the tag management container or how to get inside of it. Without support from the tag manager container product developer, that container is now essentially a ghost ship ‘dead’ on the site. 

All too often, the website owner will simply install a new tag manager and continue to  operate with two containers installed, not giving it a second thought. A potential nightmare scenario has now been created. The website now potentially has multiple scripts running on that can no longer be verified, and there is an unsecure access point to the site where someone might be able to make major modifications to it or potentially add some form of malware. It may be a little bit of a process, but whatever can be done to recreate the useful instruments from the ‘dead’ tag manager container in the newly created container, and then the ‘dead’ container should be removed as soon as possible.

Conclusion 

Tag Management container ownership at first glance is a relatively simple concept, but it has lasting implications and consequences to website operations.  Maintaining a well organized and well run tag manager container overtime should be a process similar to housekeeping. Too many tags accumulating and running unchecked in a container without proper oversight, can be a hindrance to website performance and leveraging the container with proficiency.  Similarly, operating more than one tag management container on a site, where full utilization transparency does not exist, can present as many if not more problems as a single unkempt container.  It is in the best interest of website owners/administrators who have opted to use tagging containers to adopt or create rules and policy around their placement and long term use. 

Have questions about how to use Google tag manager properly to avoid website performance issues? Reach out to the tag management experts at GCommerce today.

Increase Website Conversions & Traffic

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In 2014, I was looking for a new job and did a Google search for “digital marketing careers park city.” GCommerce was one of the top results and I submitted an application. During my first interview with GCom, our current Chief Evangelist, Chris Jackson, said he was really surprised to hear that I found their site on Google: “we’ve hardly optimized anything on there, we’re like the painter that still hasn’t painted his own house." When I started as a Search Specialist, I quickly learned exactly what Chris meant; the company was moving and growing so quickly, marketing our own website was a lower priority than building out new services and strategies that would serve our clients. 

Much like the rest of the world, we finally caught up on some to-do items during 2020. On August 26th, the new and improved GCommerce website was introduced to the world. As always, our website design and development teams did an amazing job of building an incredible website. The pages are built on our latest Stile CMS that is incredibly agile and flexible, allowing us to make quick updates and changes to the website while creating a more customized experience with our content. With a fresh look and an incredibly well-optimized site, the painter had finally painted his own house. 

Now that we are in January, 5 months post-launch, the real question is, did it pay off? Was it worth it to invest in a new website? We’re happy to say it absolutely was. In the first 238 days of the year (Jan 1 – Aug 26), GCommerce posted 34 blogs, or a blog every 7 days. In the last 116 days (Aug 27-Dec 21), GCommerce has published 13 blogs (not including this one), or a blog every 9 days. Our posting frequency has decreased since the launch of our new website, however, our traffic has absolutely exploded.

We are reporting over 1,000 more Sessions to the site, a 360% increase. GCommerce averages a $.78 CPC for all our clients on Google Ads; if we were to drive this much traffic to the website through that platform, it would have cost over $800 at our average CPC. Instead, posting 13 blogs has driven that same amount of traffic. The Bounce Rate and the Average Session Duration have certainly gone up and down respectively, which are not necessarily good things, however, this is higher-funnel traffic and we would want to know the Conversion Rate of this traffic compared to our site average to see whether or not we are driving a more qualified audience with our blog content. In calculating those conversion rates, we see a 39% increase during this time, so we are definitely driving a qualified audience with our blog. For GCommerce, that means people submitting RFPs, sharing content on Social Networks, interacting and engaging with the website among other things. 

For many small businesses, 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year with many challenges. Yet, we are optimistic with an increased demand for travel and a vaccine that is beginning to be delivered to frontline workers. We are hopeful that 2021 is a different year for travel and hotels. While this might not be the best time for every business to invest in a new website, for those that can, the return on investment once travel demand has returned could really pay off in the long run. In the example of our company, we were posting more blogs prior to our new website launching, possibly putting more time, labor, energy, and research into those blogs. Simply by building a new website and even posting less frequently, we have seen a huge return with better conversion rates from more “free traffic” - we pay in the form of blog posts, but not in the form of budgets, ad copy, creative, CPCs and all of the other hard costs that go into driving traffic to your website with advertising. 

If you are interested in building a new site or upgrading your current one, check out our impressive portfolio of websites custom built by the experts at GCommerce.  

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