Have you ever wondered just how important a website is to a business?
GCommerce launched a beautiful new website for Tropicana Inn & Suites in Anaheim, CA in October 2017. A deep focus on branding, user experience and design with a focus on conversion rate optimization had a dramatic impact on the hotel’s digital presence and bottom line.
Functionality plays a huge part in the overall user experience and performance for any website. The creative and design team at GCommerce Solutions understands this and makes sure to implement hospitality specific best practices to all of our website builds and designs.
In the case of Tropicana Inn & Suites, it was a Design Ready Architecture (DRA) build that was put together with their new branding and content initiatives. The Tropicana specific DRA that was used took into consideration keeping a user on the website and giving them all the information needed right at their fingertips.
The most important factors considered for Tropicana’s layout & design was:
Having a testimonial section right on the website.
This keeps a user on the page and provides transparency; keeping them from having to search for another website’s reviews helping to ultimately keep the user on the property’s website.
This shows success in the 6% increase in average session duration since the launch of the new website.
Highlighting the most visited pages right on the homepage to help keep the user engaged and easy navigation to find the information they require.
High quality and professional photography. Per Hospitality Net, after price, photography is the most important factor for travelers and prospects.
LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THE ACTUAL NUMBERS AND HOW THE NEW WEBSITE HAS IMPACTED DIFFERENT MARKETING CHANNELS
The following results were found after comparing data from the old website vs. the new website post launch.
OVERALL WEBSITE PERFORMANCE
Lets delve deeper and review how the new website helped the individual digital marketing efforts.
PAID SEARCH ADVERTISING
Well designed with user experience and conversion rate best practices in mind, a new website can make a dramatic difference in your hotel’s performance and bottom line. Your website is your online storefront, You want it to be welcoming and portray a true representation of the property’s experience. The user experience should be easy to navigate and help lead your user through the booking funnel. Such as the snap navigation and booking widget used for Tropicana Inn & Suites that affixes to the top of the browser and follows the user down the page. You want the user to be able to navigate your site from anywhere and allow them to book their room from any point of their journey.
GCommerce Solutions would be happy to help with your new website. You can submit a request for more information here or give us a call at 435-214-5301.
How to Optimize Hotel Website Images and Why You Should
Many search engine optimization industry experts have made the connection between optimizing images and improved Organic Search performance. Updating Title Tags, Alt Tags and Image Filenames are a few of the recommendations to best optimize images on a website for better search engine rankings and performance. But, with any SEO tactic, the question is – what kind of impact does it have on performance and what is the best way to measure performance? In this article, we will explore those two questions around optimizing images on a website.
FOR A RECENT TEST ON ONE OF OUR SITES, GCOMMERCE WANTED TO MEASURE THE IMPACT IN ORGANIC TRAFFIC BEFORE AND AFTER OPTIMIZING IMAGE ELEMENTS.
We selected one of our partner websites that has an incredible venue for hosting weddings at their hotel. Considering that 6 of the 10 most popular dates to get engaged last year were in December, we decided that optimizing pages associated with their wedding venue would be a great test for the end of the year.
THE SEO TACTICS USED
We updated the Image Filenames, Title Tags and Alt tags on all photos hosted on the Hotel Wedding pages on the client’s website.
Something to note: Depending on the format of your website and CMS, updating image filenames on your site could be difficult. It is always best to consult with your website developer or designer to ensure that modifying filenames are not going to create broken images or links on your website. Luckily, some of the incredibly savvy web developers at GCommerce created a custom Plugin for our WordPress websites to be able to accurately update Image Filenames in real time on the site. We utilized this plugin in order to seamlessly integrate our desired filenames.
REPORTING & ANALYSIS
Image elements on our partner website were updated on December 6th, 2017. Other authors have done an excellent job talking about the difficulties of measuring the impacts of tests on Organic Search. While focusing on Rankings can be difficult due to the differences by user in which search results are displayed, we can use Google Search Console, SEM Rush and Google Analytics to measure any changes in traffic and visibility on Wedding pages through Organic Search.
WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?
To measure impact, we analyzed overall Pageviews, Unique Pageviews and Entrances through the Organic Search Channel in Google Analytics. The results show increases in all KPIs in comparing to the previous period, prior to when image elements were updated. The changes resulted in more Impressions and Clicks while the Average Position in the SERPs remained flat as measured by Google Search Console.
GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE RESULTS
TIME 1 CLICKS
TIME 2 CLICKS
TIME 1 IMP.
TIME 2 IMP.
TIME 1 POSITION
TIME 2 POSITION
*Time 1 = 12/7/17-1/8/18
*Time 2 = 11/4/17-12/6/17
GOOGLE ANALYTICS RESULTS
The goal and measure for success is to drive more qualified traffic and wedding business for our client. By driving increased traffic to these pages, we are more likely to engage potential customers to contact our client hotel about hosting a wedding on the property.
Moving forward, we will continue to optimize this hotel’s website for search engines with the goal of driving increased qualified traffic to help our clients achieve success. Image optimization is a key element in helping to establish visibility for website content in the SERP in order to drive organic traffic and conversions.
Reach out to GCommerce today if you’d like any additional information about optimizing images or your website for increased performance online.
Paid search has become a cornerstone of digital marketing for hotels. It quickly rose to popularity and has remained one of, if not the largest line item on most hotels’ marketing plan budgets. Its popularity is repeatedly justified as it proves its success in driving qualified sessions and substantial revenue for hotels online. But what happens when you turn your paid search off completely? There’s always been the argument of bidding on brand terms (if you were wondering, you should be) but what about turning it all off? Top of funnel campaigns, bottom of funnel campaigns and campaigns to re-engage your audiences?
Has the thought entered your mind? Do you ever wonder if paid search advertising on Google is worth the cost? With rising cost-per-clicks and more competition entering the marketplace daily, the question is: is it worth it?
This wasn’t a test we planned on purpose. A client was recently forced with the decision to pause all of their paid search campaigns. We knew there would be a negative impact, but how much? We took this opportunity to study the direct impact that turning off paid search campaigns had on the client’s website performance. Let’s take a look at what happens when a business stops running their paid search campaigns.
Overall website sessions dropped 20%
New users dropped 20%
Revenue dropped 30%
One theory we wanted to analyze is: WILL MY ORGANIC REVENUE AND TRAFFIC INCREASE WITHOUT PAID SEARCH? The simple answer is yes.
Organic traffic experienced a 43% increase and organic revenue increased 20% compared to the previous period when paid ads were running. The increase, however, was not enough to make up the difference of the lost revenue from paid search alone. So while it definitely helped to bridge the gap, overall there was a sharp decline in our website KPIs across the board.
Since all other channels remained flat in sessions and revenue, it painted a clear picture that the decline in performance was a direct result of the lack of paid search traffic.
So if you were ever wondering if it was worth paying to play on the search engine results page (SERPS) and theorized that paid search ads were essentially just pulling away from your organic traffic and revenue, this case study should give you some conclusive evidence. While paid search campaigns do cannibalize some traffic and revenue that would have come through organically, overall it exponentially drives sessions and revenue that goes above and beyond what would have come through organically.
Although we can’t say with certainty, another theory related to the impact of turning these paid search campaigns off is that the their competitors traffic went up and their cost-per clicks went down as one less advertiser was competing for those keywords, which probably helped them to pocket more revenue then normal.
So, if you’ve ever contemplated just turning off your paid search campaigns and letting organic pick up the slack, you should probably rethink your decision. Paid search is a key component in your hotel’s digital marketing strategy and proves it’s worth time and again as one of the most powerful ways to drive qualified sessions and revenue. It is definitely worth the extra budget to compete.
How Much Should I Spend on Paid Search for my Hotel?
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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