10 Best Practices for Hotel PPC
by: Dana Riddle and Bianca Hatten, Interactive Solutions Managers
Hotel PPC is an area that will see many more marketing opportunities in 2014. The 2013 State of Paid Search Report states PPC appears to be popular as ever with marketers. 72% of businesses surveyed reported they plan to spend more on paid search in 2014, which is up from 70% who increased spending in 2013. With the New Year right around the corner, now is the time to create your paid search goal plan for 2014.
We recommend never setting up a campaign just for the sake of having one. Managing PPC campaigns for hotels without specific objectives is setting your hotel up for possible failure. It is important to establish benchmarks and create goals that can help refine your strategy. As you are reading this, you are probably asking yourself, what is my end goal? What do I want to accomplish by running this campaign? Is it for branding purposes only? Is it for last minute vacancies? What are the hotel PPC strategies for converting potential guests once they visit the website? Once you answer these questions you can begin to define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as CTR, impressions, click thru to booking engine and booked revenue so you are ready to monitor, measure and test your results.
Creating a goal plan is only the beginning for a paid search campaign. The following best practice tips are a good starting place for you to accomplish your objectives.
1. Remember Seasonality as it Relates to Your Hotel
Seasonality is one of the most important factors in planning a PPC Campaign, especially within the hotel industry as it is seasonal in nature. Plan your hotel PPC budget accordingly based on peak demand months and slower months. During your slow months or seasons you can promote business by creating special offers which are then promoted through your ads. Plan to run these campaigns well in advance to create a spike in business.
2. Allocate Your Budget Wisely / Budget Optimization
When beginning, it is a best practice to evenly distribute your budget across all campaigns. After the campaign has been active for a few weeks, the keywords will tell you where to allocate the bulk of your budget in response to the conversions you receive. If one adgoup receives a large percentage of conversions you should consider making it its own campaign in order to to allocate a larger amount of the budget toward that proven performer. It is always best practice to save a larger portion of your budget for the high-performance keywords.
Limited budget? That’s ok. Just spend the money you’re investing into PPC wisely by continuously refining the campaigns and customizing the account settings. (See Tips Below)
3. Deliver the Right PPC Ads
Tell the right story to the right person at the right time. Localizing your hotel PPC Ads accordingly is a successful strategy to ensure your ads are effective and convert website visitors into guests at your hotel. It is also best practice to have a strong call-to-action within your ad copy. The ad is a message meant to grab the potential guest’s attention and motivate them to click. Spending some time crafting well thought out high-quality ads will result in better click through rates, hence more people visiting your website. If you are running a special and/or offering a discount make sure it is mentioned in the ad copy. Give people a reason to book at your hotel with urgency!
To help you create an effective PPC ad, ask yourself these 3 Questions:
4. Google Ad Extensions – Give Potential Guests More Reasons to Click
Another best practice to maximize your search engine visibility and get more clicks is to use ad extensions. Ad extensions are extra pieces of relevant information such as your address, phone number, more website page links, or a third-party review within text ads. There are different types of ad extensions; however, we find it is best practice for hotels to use the following types of ad extensions:
- Descriptive site links
- Call extension with a Google forwarding number
- Location extension which links to your Google Places page
- Social extension which links to your Google+ Page
Most ad extensions are created at the campaign level. You can create new ones within an existing campaign or you can set up extensions while setting up a new campaign. For more in depth information about Ad Extensions Google offers Support for Google AdWords online and Ad Extensions Support can be found here.
5. Optimize Your Landing Page
The landing page – the destination of the ad within your PPC campaign – is the first impression a potential guest gets of your hotel. The page should complement your ad copy and should clearly state related information about your hotel using localized keywords. Again, it is very important the landing page has a strong and visible call-to-action such as “Book Now” and “Reserve Now”. The goal of the landing page is to make the potential guest book at your hotel so make the call-to-action enticing and the experience beneficial for them.
If your campaigns are limited by budget, only show your ads within a 15-mile radius or the entire city your hotel is located. One of the many myths of Adwords is that the ads will only show to those within the city, excluding any searches outside of the geo-targeted area. That is completely false!
Be sure to select the correct option in the settings:
By setting a Geo-Target you are serving ads for those who are looking for your services only in that specific area.
For Example: Let’s say you are running a campaign for a hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. If someone searches in Texas for “Hotels in Alexandria,” your ad could be shown if your geo-target is for the United States.
If you have a geo-target set for Virginia only. Your ad will only show for those looking for a hotel in VA, no matter where they are in the world.
7. Ad Scheduling
Another best practice for budget-limited campaigns is to focus on when your ads perform best. To learn when that is, log in to Google Adwords, visit the Dimensions tab. Pause campaigns during hours which accumulate a lot of clicks but few conversions.
Just be aware that it could take a few weeks to accumulate sufficient data to make these determinations.
8. Negative Keywords and Refining Your Campaigns
Negative keywords can be added to a campaign to prevent ads being triggered for certain words. This reduces paying for irrelevant clicks and it can lower your cost per click (CPC). Continuously monitor your keywords for new negative keywords to add at the campaign and adgroup level. For example, if your hotel caters to high-end clientele, removing words like “cheap” can reduce unqualified traffic clicking your ads and drive more traffic to your website that will likely convert.
Building a strategic set of negative keywords can save your campaign a lot of money.
For Example: Bedbugs, Reviews, School, Careers
Keywords such as these will not drive traffic to your site of consumers looking to book a hotel.
9. Device Targeting and Bid Adjustments
In 2013, Google AdWords made some significant updates, such as Enhanced Campaigns becoming mandatory. The most controversial change from Google with the Enhanced Campaigns is the reorganization with device targeting. Before July 2013 when these changes took place, best practice has always been to target mobiles and tablets in separate campaigns (away from desktop campaigns) because they perform differently. This also allowed you to have control over the divide in spend between tablet, mobile and desktop.
However, Google now believes tablets behave the same way as desktops therefore all devices are now targeted within one campaign. Bid adjustments are used to increase or decrease bids for mobiles, however, there is no way to increase or decrease bids for tablets. All ads running on all devices is a good thing because it enhances your ads and it is necessary with the rise in mobile usage.
10. Track Everything & Consistently Monitor the Results
Stay on top of your campaign and treat it as an investment. Like all marketing efforts, PPC needs attention, too! It is an ongoing effort and you should always be testing strategies and refining keywords as results compare to your hotel’s end goals. Google has available tools such as Google Analytics and AdWords Conversion Tracking. These tools will help you see how your campaigns are performing. Which campaigns are generating the most clicks? Which are resulting in the most conversions and which aren’t performing as well as expected? Understanding what potential guests are doing on your website will help guide your campaign making decisions.
Hopefully you’ve discovered a few new ideas from our list of best practices for doing PPC for hotels. Following these best practices can help improve your current (and future) paid search campaigns and assist you in accomplishing your goals. Monitoring and managing a hotel PPC campaign the right way can be a rewarding and fun journey. Don’t forget to first establish your marketing goals and strategies and never stop tracking and monitoring your results. New tools and tips will always become available, and Valet Interactive is here is to help!
We recommend working with an agency experienced with Google and with taking a holistic approach to search strategy which incorporates optimization, Social Media, PPC and content. Valet Interactive can be your partner in PPC advertising, Social Media marketing and optimization/SEO marketing to get your business set for success online. If your hotel needs help, request a proposal today.