Increase ROAS & Decrease CPA

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How much are you paying for conversions?

In a world of increasing competition, rising CPC’s, and an ongoing battle over shrinking organic impressions; every click in the Paid Search world counts. As CPCs continue to increase YOY across all industries; the battle over rising CPAs is becoming tougher for hotels to win. Are you maximizing your budget to obtain the most clicks and conversions?

HOW ADWORDS AUDIENCES CAN HELP YOU WIN THE BATTLE OVER RISING CPA

We have all heard of remarketing lists for search and audience targeting, but are you effectively utilizing these tools to maximize your campaigns’ CPA and ROAS performance? If your answer is “no” or “I don’t know”, then you’re missing out one of the most effective ways to segment and target your campaigns to get more conversions for your budget.

Reviewing audience data from multiple clients, here are the results:

  • 16% decrease in cost per click
  • 62% increase in average click-through rate (CTR)
  • 103% higher return on remarketing audiences then non-remarking lists search user traffic
  • 161% increase in conversion rate


Still wondering about your bottom line? COST PER ACQUISITION (COST PER RESERVATION SPECIFICALLY) WAS 64% lower for remarketing lists for search audiences versus all search traffic.

Search Engine Marketing for Hotels

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AUDIENCE TARGETING AND ITS INTRODUCTION TO SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING: As advertisers, we have the option to add specific audience targeting to paid search marketing campaigns. Google’s audience targeting was originally only available on display networks and YouTube campaigns, but in May 2017, Google expanded audience targeting to its paid search ad network. For advertisers in the hospitality industry, the in-market audience targeting options include demographics, such as age and gender.

AUDIENCE TARGETING FOR HOSPITALITY PPC: Age plays a vital part in marketing for the hotel and hospitality industry. The legal age to book a hotel room in the U.S. is 18 years old, but many hotels have the option to limit the booking age to guests who are 21 years and older. When evaluating previous traffic and booking behavior, we noticed a higher ratio of spending to revenue in people under the age of 25. Based on this information, we decided to focus our audience targeting for men and women above the age of 24. Currently, there are two different options for including audience targeting for hotels:

  • Focusing on specific demographics
  • Remarketing to the hotel’s returning guests

We focus on a few different types of remarketing. One type of remarketing is website targeting, which delivers ads to people who previously visited your website. Another form of remarketing through Google AdWords is audience retargeting to the hotel’s email distribution list. This is called Google AdWords Customer Match and includes any customer who stayed at the hotel or signed up for a newsletter. Targeting an audience that focuses on specific demographics requires an extensive knowledge of the property and the demographic groups that have the highest conversion rates. Google Analytics will track the conversions and separate each demographic group, based on age, gender, income, or location. Based on the information that we gathered for this hotel, we determined it would be most effective to target age demographics for our audiences.

THE LENOX HOTEL RESULTS: Our team at GCommerce Solutions ran a test for using audience demographic targeting within PPC campaigns for The Lenox Hotel in the Back Bay area of Boston. We completed the following bid adjustments:

  • Added negative bid adjustments of 90% to their audiences that had the lowest conversion rates (18-24 year-olds not searching for Name Terms)
  • Added positive bid adjustments of 25% to their audiences that had the highest conversion rates (45-54 and 55-65).

Our study includes data from June 11, 2017- July 20, 2017, compared to July 21, 2017-August 29, 2017. With changes in demographic targeting, we were able to better control our budget with a 5% decrease in cost per click and 7% decrease in total cost, while capturing a 4% increase in revenue for the property. The results of this test conclude that utilizing age/ demographic bid adjustments is a more accurate way to target the most qualified audience for this hotel, and allows us to increase our overall Return On Ad Spend. GCommerce recommends tracking data at the audience level to understand performance before implementing any bid adjustments. Specific adjustments and test parameters should be unique for your hotel, based on historical data. Please contact us if you have any questions about audience targeting and how you can better utilize this feature to improve performance.

Ready to increase your direct revenue and returns-on-ad-spend? Great! Click the button below and get started today.

Hotel & Digital Marketing Analytics | Water Business Analytics

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Psychology experts have estimated that having something like a communal water cooler will increase workplace productivity by as much as 10-15%. Experts at GCommerce will tell you it’s a huge pain when the communal water cooler stops working. Which is exactly what happened last week at our offices in Park City. It took just over 2 days for it to be fixed and in that time we used 2.5-gallon jugs as replacements. Our Reporting and Analytics specialists are always looking for new ways to measure data and we saw this as a great opportunity for some water cooler insights. While this information probably does not benefit our business in any way, we thought it would be interesting to measure out our drinking water usage in an exercise very similar to building insights for hotel websites. Here, we’d like to share our results with you:

We bought 2 different types of water, Spring Water and Drinking Water, both from Mount Olympus. We contacted the wonderful people at Mount Olympus Water for comment, they explained: “the difference between the 2 is that Spring Water is from a locally sourced spring with a natural mixture of minerals that give the water a pH balance between 6.5 and 8. Drinking Water is purified from a locally sourced tap with natural minerals added that give the water a pH of exactly 6.” The representative that commented for us said that he personally preferred the Drinking Water to the Mineral Water. I was unable to determine any difference in a blind taste test.

Table 1

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As Table 1 illustrates, GCommerce employees also prefer the Drinking Water to the Spring Water, nearly 2:1. A full Drinking Water jug unopened has about 7.5 inches of water in it. The Drinking Water jug that was not fully consumed had about .4 of an inch of water left in it. Therefore, we could estimate about .2 of a gallon of water were left, or 2.3 gallons consumed. With 1 Spring Water and 1 Drinking Water empty, that gave a total consumption of 4.8 gallons of Drinking Water and 2.5 of Spring Water.

Considering this is only about half the water the office consumed, as only 1 water cooler went out, we could double these numbers and make predictions about our office drinking habits. Assuming there are 5 days in a normal workweek, we will drink about 29 gallons of water, with 22 workdays in an average month, we will drink close to 129 gallons and with 262 workdays in an average year, we will drink over 1,530 gallons of water.

Table 2

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If that sounds like a lot of water, it sort of is. Each gallon of water is enough to take up 7.5 cubic feet of water in a swimming pool. Which means we could completely fill a pool of over 204 cubic feet with the amount of water we drink each year. Although, as an Olympic sized swimming pool is over 88,000 cubic feet, it would take us over 441 years to drink enough water to fill a pool of that size.

At this point, you might be asking yourself, why does this matter? The short answer is, it probably doesn’t, but we thought it would be interesting. What does matter are the insights that we can learn and the strategy that can be developed by tracking data. Knowing that your office of 40 people drinks enough water each year to fill a kids-size inflatable swimming pool might not help your business at all. But accurately tracking user interactions across multiple advertising platforms to build a deeper understanding of your website visitors, bring more revenue to your business while maximizing your Return On Advertising Spend is important.

Whether it’s your website’s business analytics in the office during the week or water cooler data on the weekend, your Analytics and Reporting specialists at GCommerce are passionate about accurate data and reporting insights for hotels. Contact us today to see how we can help support your website analytics.

Google Hotel CPC & Metasearch for Hotels

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In the world of online travel first came the search engines, then the OTAs (online travel agencies, i.e. Expedia) and most recently the metasearch engine websites such as Trivago and Kayak. Hoteliers are forced to evolve and utilize new online channels to be visible and compete effectively online.  But what is the most effective way for hotels to use these channels? Since the launch of Google’s Hotel CPC program, hotels must now use a combination of search engine and metasearch campaigns just to be visible throughout Google’s search engine features. What are you doing to ensure your hotel is visible and driving qualified traffic across these online channels? Let’s break down what metasearch for hotels means, where it fits into your online marketing strategy and how hotels can be successful using this marketing channel.

WHAT IS HOTEL METASEARCH?

Unlike OTAs such as Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity, metasearch engines don’t hold their own inventory of hotel rooms. Instead, metasearch engines pull data from other search engines to provide information to users about rates and availability. The metasearch engine will then direct the user from their website to the original source (i.e. OTA or hotel website) to book their stay. The metasearch engine will then receive a referral commission or CPC charge for sending the traffic to the hotel or airline website.

Examples of Hotel Metasearch include:

  • Kayak
  • Trivago
  • Google’s Hotel Ads
  • TripAdvisor
  • Hipmunk
  • Skyscanner

WHY SHOULD HOTELS PARTICIPATE IN METASEARCH

  • IT IS IMPORTANT FOR HOTELS TO BE VISIBLE WHERE CONSUMERS ARE RESEARCHING, FROM THE TOP OF THE FUNNEL TO THE BOTTOM. This requires a strategy that incorporates multiple channels including search engines, metasearch engines, OTAs, social media and more.  Metasearch should be viewed as another tool to gain exposure to new customers and drive conversions. Just like all tools in your hotel’s marketing strategy it should be tested and analyzed to assess if it is successful in achieving your business goals and objectives.
  • TO COMPETE WITH OTAS AND THEIR COMPETITION FOR DIRECT BOOKINGS. Similar to paid search campaigns, metasearch campaigns allow hotel’s to compete with OTAs for ad space that is critical in driving direct bookings through the hotel website. If you’re not present with ads in metasearch you are losing out on bookings to competition and OTAs. If the consumer books through an OTA you’re losing out on critical information needed to market to those guests in the future and increase the lifetime value of the guest.
  • VOICE ASSISTANT TRAVEL SEARCH IS CURRENTLY POWERED BY METASEARCH. Voice assistants, such as Alexa and Google Home, are the newest channel for search powered exposure to consumers. Currently, these devices are partnering with metasearch engines such as Kayak to provide hotel, flight and travel search results. The metasearch and OTAs are going to be the first to provide a way to enter this channel. My prediction is that if you want your hotel to be present in these voice assistant searches you’ll need to be visible through metasearch channels.
  • LOCAL SEARCH IS MOVING TOWARDS A PAY-TO-PLAY MODEL. Google is continuing to monetize search results, the most recent changes being seen in local search within the Google My Business listings and map pack. Just a couple weeks ago Google changed their map results to show rate cards directly on the map, as shown below:



Here’s another view, taken directly from inside Google Maps:

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In the above screenshot, you can see two different ways Google’s monetized the local search results for hotels. The first is the ads on the far right for Cambria Hotel and AC Hotel. These ads are managed directly through Google Adwords paid search campaigns. The second is shown in the details view for Omni Chicago Hotel, which are the OTA channels displaying with rates – these ads are populated through Google’s Hotel CPC program. Google’s Hotel CPC program is a form of metasearch and managed separately from Google Adwords paid search campaigns.

HOW CAN HOTELS PARTICIPATE IN METASEARCH?

Hotels can participate in Metasearch directly through their Google Hotel partner booking engine providers. The Google Hotel program requires a direct API with rates and inventory feed directly from booking engine to Google. Google Hotel CPC partners include Synxis, TravelClick and more. You can find a full list here. Pricing through your booking engine is typically set up on a commission based model that charges you a percentage based on revenue from reservations driven by the campaigns. Some also charge CPCs on top of this commission. Review contracts with your booking engine partner to ensure it will be a profitable model for your hotel.

HOW CAN HOTELS BE SUCCESSFUL WITH METASEARCH?

Just like all other marketing channels and campaigns, it is important to closely monitor key performance indicators from your metasearch campaigns.

  • Work closely with your booking engine partner to ensure you are receiving reports that detail clicks, CPCs, costs, reservations and revenue attributed to these campaigns.
  • Monitor KPIs through each metasearch channel – which channels are performing best? Which ones are costing you money? Not all metasearch channels will perform the same. Make sure your booking engine partner that is managing your campaigns are shifting budget to the ones that work best for your hotel.

Have a question? We can help.

5 Perks of Using Search Keywords in Display Advertising Targeting

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TARGET KEYWORDS IN DISPLAY ADVERTISING TO FURTHER QUALIFY TRAFFIC

While advertising efforts at many companies are siloed within the different departments, the search and marketing specialists at GCommerce have been working at a more cohesive, full-funneled marketing approach. In an effort to have our search and display campaigns work more symbiotically, we’ve been utilizing search terms in our display prospecting campaigns. While bidding on paid search terms can be quite costly, our display platform allows for the ability to target up to 10,000 keywords to include or exclude for a lower average CPM than paid search efforts. While there are many advantages of using keywords for display advertising, here are a few:

1. TARGET VIEWERS WHO HAVE SEARCHED EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE/EXPENSIVE KEYWORDS TO ASSIST PPC EFFORTS

Market terms tend to be more competitive and expensive – especially in highly – competitive markets such as Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. A hotel could blow through their entire budget trying to compete for terms such as “hotel in NYC” or “resorts in Miami.”When building a keyword list for a display network, it’s important to include these terms in your display advertising targeting, providing hoteliers the opportunity to serve a display ad to users who have searched for these terms within a recent window. If the user clicks on the display ad or visits the site later after remembering the ad, they will now fall into the “remarketing” category. After this occurs, hoteliers can serve these users remarketing ads in the form of social media, paid search, or another, more compelling and targeted, display ad.

2. TARGET MORE QUALIFIED VIEWERS

Some display efforts only encompass more surface level targeting: geo-targeting, device targeting, and content verticals (i.e. the “types” of websites you would like your ads displayed on, such as technology, sports and entertainment, and music) By using search terms in your display targeting, you can ensure you’re reaching viewers who are in the research phase of their travel journey. For example, viewers searching for “flights to LA,” “Hollywood Bowl tickets,” or “hotel in Hollywood” would be more likely to book than someone who has not searched for those terms.

3. TARGET PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEARCHED FOR YOUR COMPETITORS

Who doesn’t want the opportunity to get in front of one of their competitors’ prospective clients? Keyword targeting in display ads provides our clients the opportunity to show one of their own display ads to someone who has searched for a competitor’s name. If your ads are compelling enough, this provides hoteliers the chance to make a great first impression on someone who would have booked elsewhere.

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4. UTILIZE EYE-CATCHING CREATIVE BASED ON SEARCH TERMS

This is extremely helpful for very targeted and specific campaigns. For example- targeting for weddings can be difficult with traditional display efforts. Out of the million ad impressions you pay to serve, it is likely that only a fraction of those impressions were served to potential brides, grooms, or wedding planners. However, with keyword targeting, you can reach very qualified viewers searching “wedding venue in New York” with a beautifully crafted display ad showcasing the breathtaking venue.

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5. EXCLUDE UNQUALIFIED VIEWERS

If you’re a luxury brand, you don’t want to waste impressions on a viewer who is searching for a the cheapest rate– and if you’re a value-focused property, you don’t want to waste impressions on viewers seeking a luxury experience. The ability to exclude search terms is just as valuable as the ability to target them, especially as hoteliers’ average cost per acquisition continues to rise.

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW GCOMMERCE CAN HELP YOU REACH THE RIGHT GUESTS?

Improving Organic Search Performance with Structured Data

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THE DIGITAL MARKETING PROBLEM FOR HOTELS – DECREASING ORGANIC TRAFFIC & INCREASING CPCS

Many hoteliers have experienced a similar trend with their organic traffic from Google: it is decreasing. Over the last several years, Google has drastically changed the way they present websites on their result pages. Here, we will walk through some of the recent changes from Google’s Result Pages, how they might be impacting organic search experience and a possible solution to help mitigate some of the negative impacts that websites might be experiencing.

Around 2012 – Back in the glory days of search engines, the organic search results were displayed right up at the top, very easy for the searcher to find. Google had ads above those, and some on the sidebar, but they were more easily distinguished from the Organic Search Results and the top organic result could rely on as much as 33% of the overall clicks on the page.

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2015 – By this year, Google had made some serious changes to their result pages. You can see the local map pack becomes more prominent, ads now take up multiple lines with several links available to click on and you cannot even see the 1st organic results unless you scroll further down, they are “below the fold”. The difference between this result page and the one from 2012 illustrate how much Google’s page has changed in those years. There seems to be no priority to display organic results at the top and the page seems very ad heavy.

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2017 – The biggest difference between here and 2015 is that there are no longer ads being displayed on the sidebar. However, we have increased the number of ads above the local pack to a total of 4. As we scroll down, we see 2 organic search results, news results, and then more organic. As of today, most of what is being displayed on the first page are not organic results, but either ads or information that Google has deemed relevant to the searcher are shown instead. While the first organic search result still receives a vast majority of the clicks on the page, the rest of the organic results listed get a markedly lower number of clicks in comparison to the past.

Changes in Google’s Search Result Page have resulted in some drastic changes to the way people interact with Search Engines. As we mentioned above, interaction and CTRs with organic results outside of the first position have declined. With the reduction in the number of ads on the front-page, the demand for that ad space has increased significantly, which results in an increase of as much as 60% in Brand CPCs.

It’s also no surprise that Google continues to make more money off of ads year-over-year, with the largest increase in revenue coming from mobile searches. With the increase in mobile, the fact that the organic search results are being pushed further down the page is an even larger problem; with smaller screens, people have to view more of the page in order to see the full list of organic results. Evaluations from these changes show that the biggest losers for impressions and traffic with the new layout are in Google’s organic search results.

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A PROPOSED SOLUTION

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t seem to be making any changes or indications that they are going to go back to an older model with more prominent visibility for organic results. The majority of the websites that we work with are seeing an increase to their CPCs through paid traffic and a decline in their organic traffic from Google. While we don’t believe that we can combat this trend and effectively give our partner websites the same visibility they once enjoyed through Google’s organic results, we wanted to explore any possible way that we might be able to provide an additional benefit above what our client’s competitors were doing. If we are not able to completely reverse the trend of declining search traffic, can we at least slow it down? One area we saw a great opportunity in was with structured data.

WHAT IS STRUCTURED DATA (SCHEMA)?

Structured Data is not anything new to the Internet; it is simply a way for very specific data to be conveyed with a high level of organization. This allows information to be easily read by spiders and bots on the Internet in order to aggregate that information in an automated fashion for relational databases. Whether or not you have heard the term structured data, you are probably familiar with the results if you have ever searched for a recipe online:

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Everything within this search result is populated through structured data to be shown as a “featured snippet” from Google, which is able to show this information automatically. The screenshot below from Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool shows the amount and type of information that can be shown through Schema. Other sites on the Internet can then utilize that information automatically, as within the example above with Google’s display of the artichoke dip ingredients.

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Recently, Google announced that they would be showing featured snippets for hotels through rich cards. Rich cards from Google allow hotels to display more accurate information and highlight specific amenities or aspects of their website to the searcher. Google has explicitly stated that they do not take structured data into account as a ranking factor. However, there is a lot of evidence to show that organic CTR for websites is a ranking factor. If structured data provides more information to the user, which should help improve CTR, which should improve rankings, which would improve CTR and so on. We also have a lot of evidence to show that structured data is a marker for showing information within local search results as well. So structured data could be a strategy to help improve organic rankings and traffic from Google, especially considering most independent hotels do not currently utilize structured data on their websites. We decided it would be a great idea to test this with one of our clients.

RESULTS – A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN ORGANIC PERFORMANCE

GCommerce works with a hotel in a major metropolitan area. They get a significant percentage of their traffic and revenue from Google’s organic search results. As a result of changes within Google’s display of their search result page, along with changes in rankings, this hotel’s website has seen a significant decrease in traffic and revenue from Google. Year-over-year, this hotel saw an average decrease in sessions, users, revenue, transactions, and conversion rate of about 14%, comparing January-May, 2015 with the same time period in 2016. In late January of 2017, we implemented structured data markup to this website. When we look at the same comparison of data, but with 2017 and 2016 data, we see an average decline of less than 6.5%. The number of users is nearly equal to 2016 data and the number of transactions actually eclipsed 2016 numbers in March:

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CONCLUSION – MITIGATE DECLINING ORGANIC TRAFFIC & REVENUE

Here at GCommerce, we are wise enough to know that we cannot completely reverse trends within Google’s result pages. Industry-wide, organic traffic is declining and it will likely continue to decline as Google continues to monetize their result pages. With increased costs in advertising, hotels are going to have to utilize new technologies in the ways that they bring traffic to their website and how users interact with their site in order to get more bookings with similar marketing dollars. One of the ways that GCommerce has proven to help impact organic traffic and rankings is with structured data markup. For help in adding structured data to your website, contact us today.

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