Your Marketing Cyborg: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid Of AI Marketing

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There seems to be a general disdain towards artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing, though marketers should learn to love the technology. Humans are the backbone of marketing, but there is so much to gain from the assistance of AI. As computerized marketing becomes more common, these tools are becoming absolutely necessary for success in the field. Instead of resisting AI, marketers need to embrace the technology and function as a Marketing Cyborg - a carefully balanced blend of human and mechanical parts. 

Pros And Cons Of AI In Marketing

The biggest problem that most marketers have with AI is the loss of control that comes with automation. Humans are always a little scared to let external forces run parts of our lives, and this fear is only exacerbated in situations like marketing, where control is already somewhat limited. Even with the perfect messaging, channel, and audience targeting, results aren’t guaranteed. There are so many uncontrollable factors in this field; why would you voluntarily hand over even more control to a computer?

Well, because it ultimately works in your favor. Marketers are always working to optimize their campaigns, and AI makes it much easier to bridge this gap. Computers may not be perfect, but even the most genius marketing professionals can’t compete with AI’s capacity for learning and prediction. There will always be some level of guesswork involved in marketing, but AI is able to very reliably point marketers in the right direction. In a landscape with so many unknown variables, this is invaluable, and the marketing industry should not turn up its nose at an easy way to increase efficiency. Control is great, but it’s important to recognize the limitations of the human workforce. 

But what about the limitations of machines? The human eye has a unique propensity for things like tone and personality, and these elements are often vital to the success of a marketing campaign. AI is surprisingly good at quantifying an audience and predicting their interests, but there’s a big difference between knowing what someone wants to see and actually creating it. AI isn’t ready to take over the more qualitative and artistic side of marketing, so human input is still needed in marketing to fill in the gaps.

The Marketing Cyborg

There are problems with both human and AI marketing, but that’s exactly why the Marketing Cyborg is so important. Not entirely man, nor entirely machine, cyborgs are an incredibly powerful entity. They are capable of almost anything, and this is exactly why marketers need to stop resisting the future of AI. Consider some of the most successful companies in the world right now. Amazon, Facebook, Google - AI is built into the very fabric of these businesses, and that’s no coincidence. It’s clear that consumers respond to AI, and the marketing industry could greatly benefit from embracing the technology.  

The fears surrounding AI marketing are completely reasonable. Giving up control is hard, and there is a certain human quality to marketing that AI simply can not replicate. However, enhancing our abilities with mechanical parts does not mean we have to give up everything. Cyborgs are the perfect mix of man and machine, and this is what marketers should strive to be. Marketers must embrace the future of AI, working alongside these tools for the greatest chance at success. When humans and AI are able to work in harmony, it creates an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. 

GCyborg Solutions

The marketing team at GCommerce understands the value of AI, and we’re constantly working to embrace the technology. Both our search and digital marketers use AI marketing tools to increase efficiency and optimize performance, and we’re better for it. 

The entire foundation of search marketing is built on AI, so rejecting the technology isn’t an option for our search marketers. Search engines use bots to determine what users want to see, and a search marketer’s job is based on understanding and manipulating these AI for optimal results. If GCommerce were afraid to work alongside AI, our search marketing team wouldn’t exist, and we would miss out on a massive opportunity to increase visibility and web traffic for our clients. 

Within search marketing, AI marketing tools are particularly useful for advertising. Dynamically generated ads, smart bidding, and campaign recommendations make it easier for our team to learn about audiences, improve ad performance, and test new strategies. While this is all possible without AI, the technology makes everything much faster and more efficient, leaving our search marketers with extra time for research and experimentation to better utilize search bots to our advantage.

The benefits of AI marketing don’t stop at our search team, though. Just like search advertising, digital marketing would technically be possible without AI. However, ad personalization and specific audience targeting are what make digital marketing so lucrative, and AI makes it easier for our team to serve the right ads to the right people. AI marketing tools help take the guesswork out of digital marketing, leaving our team with more time to work on creative, original ads that drive results for our clients. 

As a company, GCommerce is always pushing boundaries to provide the best possible service for our clients. Our marketing team is constantly working to improve in this area, but human ability only goes so far. By embracing AI marketing tools and functioning as a Marketing Cyborg, the GCommerce marketing team is able to elevate our work to a level far beyond what’s possible with human marketing alone. 
So what are you afraid of? Contact one of our marketing experts for more information on AI marketing or becoming a Marketing Cyborg.

Flywheel News | September 2021 Digital Marketing Month in Review

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  1. Google announces expanded text ads will be sunsetted in 2022

    Technically this announcement snuck in at the very end of August. But it’s a big shake up in the SEM community so we had to share it here. Google has announced that “beginning in July 2022, advertisers will no longer be able to create new expanded text ads (ETA) or edit existing ETAs in Google Ads”. Instead, you will be forced to use responsive search ads or Dynamic search ad formats. Our search marketing experts break down what this means and more in this blog post about Google’s ETA announcement(link to Ashley’s post).

  2. Expedia group shares fall travel outlook

    We love some great travel insights. These fall travel outlook details from Expedia breakdown who is most eager to travel this fall (hint: Millennials are in the lead) and where they are most interested in travelling to. What excites us most is the mix of both city center and outdoor destinations. Dive into the details here to guide your fall marketing strategies including who you may want to start crafting your targeting and messaging towards.

  3. Google updates how pages titles are displayed in Search Results

    About a month ago Google confirmed that it had changed how it displays page titles in the SERP results. Google decided that in certain situations it would replace title tag text with the text from the page’s header tags. While the initial changes found by many in the SERP immediately after the change were dramatic, the amount of pages/changes that are showing the results have now leveled out. We’ve noticed only certain pages we’ve audited have been re-written in the SERP, mostly pages that had yet to have optimized page titles written. The thought amongst the team here is that Google is only focusing on rewriting or replace page title text that is underperforming. So, if you notice page titles that do not contain your assigned page title text, it may be a good indicator it’s time to try different copy.

  4. Google Ads Phrase Broad Match Keyword Preferability and BERT

    In what seemed to be an announcement that just confused most of the SEM community, Google announced updates to the way keyword matching works. The biggest change seems to come around the inclusion of different relevance signals, including use of BERT, to determine which keyword is most relevant. Exact will still trump phrase and broad in matching to the query as long it is the most relevant and has the higher Ad Rank. GCommerce is continuing to test different ways to use match type structures in our accounts to achieve the most cost efficient results. 

  5. Google Announces it will use Data Driven Attribution in Google ads by default

    Data Driven Attribution was always something small businesses aspired to have, but could never possibly attain due to extremely high minimum conversions needed to qualify. At the end of September, Google announced that it is officially moving away from last-click attribution and instead using data-driven attribution as it’s default for all conversion tags for all advertisers. This means, no matter the total conversions you achieve in a month, your account will be eligible. This will roll out over the coming months and is another step Google is taking to help advertisers “future-proof their measurement” in a privacy centric world. GCommere long did away with last-click attribution many years ago in favor of the next best option for our accounts which was default-position based attribution. We’re excited to monitor how this change impacts our reporting and campaign performance.

  6. Mailchimp Acquired by Intuit

    Our last piece of digital marketing news to round out September updates comes from the major announcement by Intuit that it had acquired Mailchimp. The move comes from a desire by Intuit to establish themselves as an end-to-end customer growth platform. Email marketing and engagement possible through Mailchimp’s platform gives Intuit the ability to do so. From our point of view it proves that owning your customer data and organizing your eCRM in a way that allows you to best communicate and grow your customer database is even more important.

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.

Access Webinar

Google Hotel Ads, The OTA Disrupter Your Hotel Needs Now

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Back in July, we shed light on how direct bookings can be more profitable than OTA bookings for hotels, even when you factor in media costs. The development and execution of a superior direct booking strategy for our hotel clients has always been GCommerce’s mission. Why? Because we were born out of a hotel management company which means we’ve always tried to focus on what’s best for the hotel. It’s in our DNA.

Now, what if I told you that there was a risk free direct booking channel that can drive an average of 8% of total web bookings at an average 5% conversion rate? One that only incurs a cost when it produces a stay that actually occurs, and is less than a commission payment to an OTA. Would you be interested? Is there anything that would hold you back from giving it a try?

Through the pandemic, Metasearch has evolved to not only be a top producing revenue channel to drive direct bookings, it has shape-shifted to provide hotels with a risk free billing option during a period of uncertainty in the travel industry that saw record cancellation rates. It is a powerful addition to the arsenal in the fight against hotel booking contributions coming from OTAs. Why is that important?

While some hotels have been slower to adopt this channel into their direct booking strategy, there really is no better time to try it. The OTA’s have been owning this ad space since its inception because they know its power and profitability. OTAs like Expedia have even been fighting Google with government lobbyists because they feared the impact this evolution of Google’s travel vertical would have on their business model. Google has changed their travel planner and hotel search over the years with the specific purpose of funneling users to the Google travel planner and hotel search tools.

Screen shot showing Google Map results for home prices

They have pushed the visibility of Google Hotel Ads into the knowledge panel, into the SERP and as the ultimate call to action in Google hotel search. 

Google results showing hotels near Park City, Utah

And they have handed hotels the keys to driving more direct bookings and relying less on the OTAs. How? Because Google has become the OTA. Consumers no longer have to navigate to Expedia or Booking.com to comparison shop. They can do it directly within Google.

Now ask yourself again. What is stopping me from distributing my hotel’s inventory and rates to Google Hotel Ads and other metasearch channels? Here’s why your hotel should be advertising with direct inventory and rates on Google Hotel Ads and metasearch:

  • You can advertise risk free with a pay-per-stay contract type, paying only when a stay is consumed
  • Google has invested time and resources to increase visibility to this channel across its entire ecosystem. More visibility = more awareness, traffic and bookings
  • The OTAs are already there, eating up your hotel’s bookings and sending you the robust commission bill
  • Google Hotel Ads is owning the hotel comparison shopping game and giving hotels the chance to drive the bookings directly through their own website
  • It can increase your hotel’s profitability by helping to drive more direct bookings - an average of 8% of total web bookings and an average conversion rate of 5%
  • More direct bookings helps you own the guest data and better prepare your business for a world without 3rd party cookie tracking

Can you still think of a good reason not to advertise your hotel’s direct rates and inventory feed to Google Hotel Ads and other metasearch channels? Probably not. Now that you’re ready to focus on this channel, how can you make sure it’s successful?

  1. Make sure you map the best available rate found on your booking engine landing page to Google Hotel Ads and other metasearch channels including TripAdvisor, Bing Hotel Ads, Trivago and Kayak. Not only is the price accuracy of your feed to what’s on your landing page important for ranking, it ensures you are sending the lowest rate possible to help with parity.
  2. Ensure your rates are the lowest shown on metasearch channels (rate parity) - OTAs are constantly trying to undercut to ensure they are the lowest displayed. Why? Because the lowest rate wins the booking. Make sure you use a rate parity monitoring tool to assist you with your revenue management. We recommend The Hotel Network’s metasearch disparity tool for the most accurate insights.
  3. Test the inclusion of different marketing call-outs within Google Hotel Ads such as any direct booking incentives, competitive advantages and flexible cancellation policies
  4. Monitor and adjust bids towards the best performing segments including device type, days to arrival, check-in date and more. Google has also just announced the addition of bid adjustments by check-in date to help with exposure towards specific time periods.
  5. Focus on Google Hotel Ads but also look at testing different metasearch channels. While Google Hotel Ads has the lion’s share of metasearch advertising’s click and booking volume, try testing other channels like TripAdvisor, Bing Hotel Ads, Kayak and Trivago for additional exposure and booking opportunities.

Now, how can you get started running metasearch ads, including Google Hotel Ads, for your hotel? First, you’ll need to connect your rates and inventory feed through a connectivity partner. GCommerce offers a full service hotel metasearch advertising solution that can facilitate this for you and handle all management of metasearch campaigns. Have more questions or are looking for additional information? Please reach out to one of the hotel marketing experts at GCommerce for more information.

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.

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