In Part I of this topic, we walked through the first six truths for why your digital marketing may not be working for your hotel vanity site, including technical issues, brand resistance, unrealistic expectations, overemphasizing design, using the wrong booking engine and sites that have paid/insufficient links. In Part II, we’ll look at the remaining five truths and why they may be impacting your hotel vanity site!
SEO is an important part of any digital marketing strategy. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a site that is technically sound, easy to crawl and fully indexed. Additional steps are needed to maximize a site’s search engine result page (SERP) exposure for searches with local intent and to start building the always important link profile. These are great upfront investments as they will continue to benefit a site in an exponential way over time. Unfortunately, many businesses get lured into the idea that organic traffic is “free” traffic and subsequently put too many (or all) of their eggs in the SEO basket. This is a mistake.
Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu and others control the way content is presented on their sites. Any one of these search engines, or even all of them, could decide tomorrow to no longer list sites for free. In subtle and not so subtle ways, this is already starting to happen. Organic results are being pushed further and further down the page in favor of ads and other universal search features. Semantic search personalization is also a factor that cannot be optimized through SEO efforts alone. While SEO is still a great investment, the level of strategy required now along with the sheer number of optimization tactics needed to win in search compared to 7-10 years ago has created an ever-growing challenge to win organic traffic.
Today, an integrated multi-channel digital marketing approach is needed, along with a better understanding of multi-channel attribution. Too often paid, social and other digital marketing channels are abandoned before they have a chance to show their true value, so hotels need to be sure that they are assessing how each channel plays into assisted conversions and what differences are seen in conversion rates using alternative attribution models first.
8. You’re Making Decisions Based on Bad Data/Tracking
Web analytics is tricky. On the surface it looks simple: What is our traffic from this source? How much time are people spending on this on page? What percentage of people bounce? The problem is that this data can at best be misleading and worst, just plain wrong. Make sure you are making marketing decisions based on metrics that matter and data that is clean. This requires:
- Filtering internal traffic to reduce noise,
- Blocking spam analytics traffic,
- Comparing the behavior of one audience segment to another,
- Setting up goals, tracking events and looking at conversion rates,
- Gathering ecommerce data with cross domain tracking (if that is an option for your hotel)
- Understanding the difference between hit and session-level metrics and dimensions.
While certainly not an exhaustive list, the point is still made. Analytics can get tricky and time consuming, and if not done properly, you may be making the wrong adjustments and marketing decisions.
9. You Are Changing the Plan Too Often
The natural instinct in digital marketing is to implement a strategy, execute tactics, review results, rethink the strategy and start the loop over. This iterative approach is great for tweaking paid ads, running multi-channel campaigns, testing different email marketing approaches, etc. The problem happens when substantive changes are made to website content, design and on-page SEO strategies in quick succession. The full effects of these types of changes take time to reveal themselves, particularly in organic traffic. While you never want to get stuck in the status quo or avoid making needed changes for fear of hurting performance, you also don’t want to limit your website’s long-term success by changing the plan too quickly and/or often either.
Reviews matter. Hotels have to monitor them and respond to them. They just do. No shortcuts. No exception. Remember that digital marketing goes beyond promoting your own vanity site, corporate site and TripAdvisor listing. Reviews for your hotel live in a number of places online like Yelp, your corporate site, each of the OTAs, Google+, etc. Google+ reviews can even impact your organic traffic for local search. Hotels should be monitoring and responding to any reviews showing on sites that rank on the first 2 pages of search results when searching for either their hotel’s name or their three most important target keywords. Besides giving potential guest confidence in your product, these review are also a great way to find out what your hotel is doing well and where it needs to improve. This is valuable insight.
11. You Hired the Wrong Agency or Don’t Communicate with the One You Have
Finding the right digital marketing agency is tricky. Should they specialize in the hotel vertical? Do they offer all the services we need? Is their scope of service comparable and pricing competitive? Do they hire experts? Despite the challenge, choosing the right digital marketing partner is critical to a hotel website’s success for obvious reasons.
The flip side to that coin is the client’s communication with the agency. This too is also critical to the success of the website, but sometimes for less obvious reasons. Communicating goals, need dates, what’s happening in the local market, upcoming events in the area, potential new competitors and demand generators, etc. to the digital marketing agency chosen is important for getting the most out of your site’s SEO, paid marketing, guest email communications, social media marketing, website content, and more.
Want to avoid these potential pitfalls? Work with an agency that specializes in hotels. Contact Valet Interactive today for a free quote. We are a full-service digital marketing agency that provides services from website design to SEO, including web analytics solutions like event tracking.