Why Your Hotel Needs Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

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The continued climb in cost per acquisition means your hotel’s digital marketing budget needs to be working harder and more efficiently than ever before. Your digital marketing agency should be obsessed with finding the most cost effective methods to optimize their efforts (and your budget) across all media channels. One of the more exciting and fruitful targeting options to be released by Google this decade comes in the form of retargeting for search campaigns. Officially called remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA for short), creating a remarketing audience list for your hotel’s paid search campaigns is now essential for optimization because it allows you to reengage with previous visitors to your website, which has proven to improve conversion rates and overall return on ad spend for your budget.

First, let’s start with the basics:

How to Set up Custom Audiences for Your Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

We recommend building audience lists in Google Analytics instead of Google Adwords since it gives you a far greater selection of criteria to choose from when building your audience segments. Once you are logged in, just follow the steps below:

  • Go to the Admin tab and navigate to the property for whom you want to create the audience
  • Click Audience Definitions > Audiences > + New Audience
  • Define Your Audience
    • You can choose from a number of different audience definitions:
      • Smart List
      • All Users
      • New Users
      • Returning Users
      • Users Who have visited a specific section of my site/app
      • Users who completed a transaction
SEM remarketing list

You can create unique audience lists based on user behavior on your site and then use those lists for future remarketing campaigns. Before you get started, there are a few things you should know about remarketing audience lists:

    • Audience List Definition: a collection of people who have visited your site
    • Audience lists are used for remarketing
    • The membership of an audience list has a life span of up to 540 days
    • The List needs to have at least 1000 people to target in paid search campaigns

What Audience Segments Can You Create?

The type of audience list you should set up will depend on your client’s objectives.  The most common audience list is “all users” and if you’re new to retargeting or if you have low website visitors, this is where you should start. This is comprised of any visitor to your website.  The real magic and excitement in RLSA audiences comes when you can refine your audience down to more specific lists. Ideas include:

    • All website visitors that have converted in the past X number of days (exclude them from your campaigns – if they just booked a hotel room, you probably don’t want to spend money continuing to market to them)
    • Website visitors to a specific page on your site (such as a list of only visitors who have navigated to a page about weddings)
    • Visitors who have come to the site a specific number of sessions (pick the session number it usually takes to achieve a booking)
    • Website visitors that match a specific demographic – such as gender or age specific
    • Visitors that are on a specific device – mobile, desktop, tablet
    • Visitors that enter the site from a specific source – for example only visitors that came from Facebook or your latest email campaign

To really target your most qualified users, you can segment this list down even further into specific users over a period of time that has not converted.  Typically the more recently a user has visited your site, the more likely they are to convert.

    • All Users Past 7 Days
    • All Users Past 15 Days
    • Cart Visitors
    • Visitors of a certain page on your website

These lists will also allow you to set bid adjustments or remarket with a specific offer or ad set. For example, if a potential hotel guest made it all the way through the booking process but abandoned their shopping cart just before checking out, you could use your remarketing audience list to serve them a new add with an enticing offer in order to encourage them to book their reservation.

What’s the Best Way To Structure Your Campaigns & Assign Audiences?

How you choose to structure your campaign and assign your audience lists really comes down to your personal preference and how you want to manage your targeting settings.  Below are a couple examples of how to do this.

    • If you have a smaller budget to work with and can’t come up with extra funds for a dedicated campaign just for remarketing, you can attach audiences to campaigns as bid only. This will show your ads to members of your remarketing list in addition to the users who match whatever other targeting you currently have set up on the campaign
    • If budget isn’t a hindering factor and you get a good amount of traffic to your website, then you can create remarketing campaigns for all of your custom remarketing audiences you built in Google Analytics and set bid adjustments based on priority and performance

In the hotel marketing industry, we have seen great results when utilizing remarketing lists for search ads. After reviewing data from multiple clients, we have found that they helped decrease average CPC ‘s by 16% while increasing average CTR’s by 62% and ROAS and Conversion Rates by over 100%. To learn more about our internal findings of the benefits of audience lists read our blog post about it.

Need help getting started with remarketing lists for search ads? Reach out to GCommerce today.

How Much Should I Spend on Paid Search for my Hotel?

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We get this question all the time from prospective clients and new clients and it’s also something we revisit at least once (or more) every year for current clients. The truth is, there’s a lot more to it than picking a number based on the hotel’s location. It’s a complex answer that can only be determined by deep discovery and understanding of the hotel and its goals, the market the property is located within and historical data from the hotel. At GCommerce, every client’s budget recommendations are customized based on the hotel’s specific goals, historical performance and competitive landscape coupled with data from tools provided by Google, Bing and Doubleclick Ad Services.

7 Key Steps to Determining Paid Search Budget Recommendations for your Hotel

  1. Hotel Discovery & Determining Competitive Advantages - this guides our keyword research which helps us determine the estimated cost per click for qualified keywords. We seek answers to questions such as, What adjectives describe the hotel? What are the nearby attractions that drive visitors to the market? What are the top business drivers for the hotel? What are the hotel’s top competitors? What special amenities, services or events does the hotel support? Then we utilize keyword planner tools from Google and Bing to determine keyword CPC and traffic estimates.
  1. Establish business goals - we work closely with the client to determine their top priorities. Do they have a revenue goal they need to achieve? Does the client want to focus on driving more wedding or meeting business? Are they competing with OTAs to capture reservations? What are some of their biggest challenges and how might paid search help them overcome those hurdles?
  1. Complete Competitive Research - paid search pay per click costs are based on a bidding model. Competitive research factors in how many other advertisers are bidding on the same keywords, whether or not other advertisers are bidding on your brand name and also provides an understanding of highly valuable keywords we should be including in our campaigns.
  1. Analyze Historical Performance - the best way to estimate how specific budget recommendations will impact your bottom line or other business goals is to understand historical performance. GCommerce deep dives into website data, looking back multiple years, to gain insight into traffic, production, conversions, seasonality and other performance trends by month.
  2. Market Research - where is the hotel located? does the market experience any seasonality? We gather information from the client directly and utilize Google Trends to follow keyword popularity trends over time. It is important to allocate budgets as it correlates to business goals and seasonality in the market.
  1. Future Predictions - with a solid understanding of the hotel’s market and their previous performance, we can predict with a degree of confidence how much a specific budget might impact a hotel’s paid search marketing efforts. If they previously spent $Y and saw a return of $X, what kind of results would we expect if we increased or decreased their budget? Using this predictive modeling, we can find the optimal budget to ensure each has a healthy budget that reflects a positive Return On Ad Spend within their stated goals.
  2. Finalization of Target Keywords and Presentation to Client - last, we will prioritize these keywords based on relative competition, traffic, and the hotel’s goals. We will work closely with the client to ensure that all keywords are relevant to their business and end goals. Organizing these keywords into the most relevant Adgroups based on what is most likely to convert provides us with the best opportunity for success in starting with a new budget.


At GCommerce, we believe in a customized approach for every client. This is true for all aspects of the overall marketing strategy and is how we approach each client’s budget recommendations. We utilize the vast amount of historical data and experience we have from working with clients in markets all over the country and combine that with a custom analysis to provide the best hotel paid search budget recommendations possible.

If you’re interested in learning what you should spend on paid search for your hotel, please reach out to your Account Executive or Account Manager today. Not a GCommerce client? Not a problem. Contact us and we can help you get started with strategic paid search marketing solutions today!

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

Screen-Shot-2017-09-22-at-11.02.45-AM-1

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

Screen-Shot-2017-09-22-at-11.03.04-AM


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:

Screen-Shot-2017-08-15-at-3.52.07-PM

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.

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