November 1, 2014

Top Hotel Marketing Strategies

 

Survey reveals Top Hotel Marketing Strategies

Hotel marketing articlesThe 5th Annual Benchmark Survey on  Digital Hotel Marketing, Budget Planning and Best Practices has been completed by Hospitality eBusiness Strategies and Tisch Center for Hospitality Studies at New York University.  Key findings include:

Revenues: Hoteliers say that 25.6% of their business comes from their hotel website and 16% comes from property pages on the hotel brand’s website.

Digital Marketing Budgets: Nearly 3 out of 4 hoteliers (73.4%) reported that economic and budget constraints hamper Internet marketing budgets,  but ~74% of respondents reported Internet marketing budgets that are higher than in 2010.

Online vs. Offline
: Of the respondents who increased their budgets in 2011, 49% shifted money from offline marketing initiatives to online.  40% of hoteliers believe that Internet marketing achieves better results than offline. (9.5%)

Social Media Gains in Popularity
: 43% of hoteliers cite Social Media as one of the Internet marketing formats that returns the best results.  5 years ago, just 16.8% of hoteliers had the same opinion.

Mobile Web Surges for Hotels
: The survey says 37% of hoteliers are planning mobile sites this year, up from almost 26% in 2010.

Hotels are spending most of their Internet marketing budgets on website design/re-design and Paid Search (both 20.2% of respondents).

14.2% report efforts to build strategic links to their websites, which is often included in website optimization, which was cited by 13.7% of those surveyed.  Interestingly, Search Engine Optimization, which includes strategic linking and optimization was also favored by 13.4% of respondents.

Social Media has become a cornerstone of hotel marketing.  The report stated, “Of all hotel digital marketing initiatives in the survey, hoteliers believe that website optimization produces the highest ROI. Social media however, introduced as its own category this year – was not far behind at 43%. This shows a dramatic change in the perception over the past few years of how much revenue Facebook, Twitter, etc. really generate. While social media is not a distribution channel, it is increasingly becoming an important customer engagement channel. Whereas in the past hoteliers were skeptical as to whether social media should even play a role in their Internet marketing strategy, today it is one of the fundamentals.”

Full service hotels especially benefit from Social Media.  The opportunities to find qualified prospects in almost any segment is compelling.  The benefits of listening to the market to see what people are saying about you and to confront it, if needed, is phenomenal.  The ability to participate in conversations with quality contacts without leaving the state, much less your office, is awesome!

Asked, “What type of Web 2.0 & Social Media Marketing initiatives are you planning?” 56% said creating profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc.  Next was “Advertise on Social Media sites, like Trip Advisor or Facebook (50%) and blog participation (39%).  Other tactics include creating a YouTube channel, a blog on the hotel’s website, using a survey or comment card on the hotel website, doing an online contest and setting up photo-sharing functionality.

It’s interesting that MORE hoteliers said they are not planning any Social Media initiatives this year; 12.5% vs. 6.9%

Frankly, this survey shows hoteliers being a little more aggressive with Internet marketing than many of the GMs and DOSMs that I talk with.  But I do see more of them coming around to the use of Social Media Marketing. And they’re booking more rooms!

Photo credit: GravityX9

Is your website or blog really 2 sites?

This is important Need to Know information! Please read. There’s a very important setting for your website that may have a big impact on your search engine rankings or even for people to find you. It’s fairly easy to do and it’s overlooked by too many people.

What is it? It’s called a re-direct or canonical re-direct and it is really important to your website success.

Did I tell you it’s important? It’s important!

I got a call from a friend this morning who was panicked that his website was down. He had typed in his domain name without the prefix “WWW.” and got a GoDaddy (his web host) placeholder page. I got the same results.

But when I typed in his URL preceded by “WWW.” His website came up fine.

He was relieved.

But he has a major problem and here are 3 reasons why:example of canonization in Google Analytics

  1. Anyone typing in his website address would not get his page and he might lose a prospect or a customer.
  2. His website stats would have his Home page listed twice and give a disjointed view of his site visitors.
  3. Google might not give him full credit for visitors to his site and might even penalize his rankings.

I’m sure you understand the implications of #1.

As for #2, Google Analytics and other visitor tracking applications keep track of the index page of both your WWW and non-WWW web addresses.  It’s tidier and more correct to have, what is essentially the same page, reported together.  (See example to the right)

But the biggest implication is that, without the canonical re-direct, Google views your site as 2 sites and splits everything between them.  The WWW part of your URL is considered a sub-domain.  Google may also conclude that your site is duplicate content.  I could write about that all day, but suffice it to say, it’s not in your favor.  (Google “duplicate content penalty” to learn more.)

So, how do you fix this?

You can create a re-direct or a canonical re-direct so that the non-WWW version of your site forwards (aliases) to the WWW version.  Or vice-versa – it doesn’t matter.  You or your webmaster put a small snippet of code on your site does this easily.  I found a post, How to set up a 301 redirect, that explains how to do this and it’s done differently depending on how your webserver is set up.

If this all makes your head spin, “Dammit Jim, I’m a businessman, not a web developer!,” then show this to a web developer who can do it very quickly.

But DO IT! Your website success depends on it!

 

Do You Update Your Website Content Regularly? If not, it can kill you.

Content A new survey points to a very real problem that affects website ROI significantly.  The results are not surprising, but here's why not updating your website content can kill sales, bore customers and clobber your search engine rankings.

Streamline.net is a website hosting company in the U.K.  Their Small Business Bytes Survey found that 2 out of 3 website owners had had a business website for 2 years or more, but only 10% of them made updates on a daily basis and only 1 in 4 made an update every month!

Search engines, particularly Google, make great efforts to supply their customers (those searching for information) with the very latest information and as a result, how often a website is updated affects the overall ranking.  That's one reason why blogs and news sites tend to outperform other sites for certain keywords.

Google crawls some news sites continuously.  It's not uncommon for a new story or blog post to get indexed within seconds.  And how often their spiders visit your site depends on how often they find new content.  If they return in a week and see that nothing has changed, they might not return for 10 days the next time.  If they find nothing new then, it could be weeks before they return.

That's one good reason to update your content regularly.

Sites that aren't updated frequently are also a sign the owner/manager is not paying attention to feedback he or she is getting from visitors and customers.  Successful websites constantly evolve based on factors such as split-testing of pages or individual page components, shopping cart abandonment, keyword research, customer feedback and about 6 dozen other things.

Sites that aren't updated often are boring!

Googleanalytics-keywords The Small Business Bytes Survey also showed that 34% do not know how many visitors their site attracts or any of the other metrics that come with a decent analytics package.  That's like a shop-keeper not keeping track of foot traffic.

Most website hosts include website analytics for free and there are free services like Google Analytics that can easily be added to a site.  The information can be invaluable for decision making and you can read more about website metrics and analytics here.

Yes, it takes time and resources to update your website on any regular basis.  Yes, it may take paying a consultant or coach to devise strategy and monitor the execution, design and develop your site, program functionality and/or execute marketing plans. And all that is part of calculating your website ROI.

But the ROI of a static website is usually zero, to say nothing of the potential not achieved.

Get an advantage over your competitors! Begin updating your site on a regular basis!

Click here for my post on website content ideas.

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Do you manage or own a website?  How often do you update it?  What obstacles do you face while maintaining your site? 

How do you market your website?  Do you know how many people visit your website, where they came from and what keywords might have been used to find you?  Do you know which pages are most popular on your site?  Do you know which pages, other than your Home page that people land on first?  Do you know which page they visit last before they move on to another site?  Have you ever considered that there might be a reason why they exit your site from certain pages?

I'd love to hear from you! Kurt @ WebAsylum.com or (630) 482-9323

Facebook.com/WebsiteROIGuy

Twitter.com/KurtScholle

Time Spent on Social Media Soars

The Neilsen Company has released a report that shows a soaring increase in the time spent online using social media.  Global audiences (as of Dec 2009) are spending as much as an hour and half more per month with social media than they were a year ago, a total of 5 hours and 35 minutes.  US participants average more than 6 hours a month using social media.

Social-media-time1

Australia spent the most amount of time in social media at 6:52.  The United States and Great Britain were 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Japan has the second highest number of social media users of the 10 nations cited, but they spent the least amount of time on social media. (4:50)

The big takeaway is that more people are embracing social media and we are spening more time with it.

The top sites: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Classmates and LinkedIn.

 

EMail Trends: Open and Click Rates Increase

A new report from direct marketing company Epsilon indicates that email open and click through rates (CTR) increased slightly in the 3rd quarter over the same period in 2008.  The survey, released last month, is based on nearly 6 billion emails Epsilon sent on behalf of clients from July through September.

Twelve of the sixteen industries they worked in showed higher open rates with a 2.2% increase from 19.8% to 22%

Click through rates increased from 5.9% to 6.2%

Retail appears to have been one of the largest beneficiaries of the increased open and click rates. 11 of the 12 metrics they tracked increased in the quarter.

As for deliverability, a study by Return Path states that 84% of permission-based emails sent in North America in the first half of the year reached recipient inboxes.

Your mileage may vary.

Click through rates vary depending on your list(s), the content of the email, the headline, the frequency of your mailings, even the the time and day of submission.

I wrote about a couple of email case studies previously.

What has been your experience with email deliverability, opens and click through rates? What are your challenges? What success have you had?

What did Google searches reveal last year?

The was an interesting post of the Official Google Blog today concerning some insights they shared with how we used Google Search in 2009.  What's interesting: We're searching Google multiple times per day, we're searching for things that have never been asked before on Google and we very often get a map as part of our search results.

Proportion of Google users in the United States making more than one query per day: 7 out of 10

Proportion of Google users in the United States making more than 10 queries per day: 1 out of 7

Fraction of Google queries, duplicates excluded, never seen before: More than 1/3

Fraction of Google queries, duplicates included, never seen before: More than 1/5

Proportion of Google result pages that show a map in search results: 1 in 13

What it means is that people are making more and more searches on a daily basis, which means its all the more important for you to be found in search engines.  That people are discovering more stuff that's never been queried before. (My guess is long-tail keywords which suggest an intent to buy in many cases) And that if you want people to come to your location, you should present maps whenever you can and that you make sure your map info in Google Maps and elsewhere is correct.

Best of the Website Success Blogs (April 24, 2009)

Bestofwsb There is so much good content online.  There is a lot of drek too.  I try and distill the best parts for you from time-to-time in Best of the Website Success Blogs.

(cue the intro music)

Successful websites depend on so many things; design & layout, message, usability, marketing, strategy, metrics, etc.  Today, we have many links to information anyone interested in website ROI should consider.

Right off the bat, check out Today is Kick Ass Friday — 10 Q's for U  Kick Ass Friday is a regular feature and I think you like other recent posts, especially if you're an owner or manager.

The rest of the links include search engine tips, design tips for webmasters and social media tips for baby boomers from the always fabulous Barbara Rozgonyi.

For the more technical, we'll take a look at robots.txt files, link to some CAPTCHA scripts and introduce you to a cool tool for putting videos in your website.

And, don't forget the 'hits and giggles" section.  Some funny images captured by the Google Streetview team and a funny video on Facebook manners.

Biz Tips Blog:
Animoto is a Super Easy Video Tool
I've seen a demo of this and would have to agree that it should be in every webmaster's toolkit.

Clickz:
Is Your B2B Site a Good Salesperson?

Daily SEO Blog:
30 Web Design SEO Tips for Webmasters

Online Business:
Top 10 Search Engine Optomization (SEO) Tips

Search Engine Journal:
Google Selectively Ignoring Meta Description Tags?

Search Engine Land:
A Deeper Look at Robots.txt

Dream CSS:
10 Free CAPTCHA Scripts and Services for Websites

the Blog Herald:
20 Law-Related Questions Every Blogger Should Know
You may want to bookmark this!

SearchEngineWatch:
No Need to Freak Out Over Google Analytics Suddenly Disappearing

Copyblogger:
The Art of Writing Great Twitter Headlines
You can adapt some of Brian Clark's recommendations to website content too!

Corporate Dollar:
How to Build a Social Media Cockpit With Firefox

Mashable:
The Web in Numbers: The Rise of Social Media
Facebook had doubled to 200 million users in 8 months

Social Networking Websites Review:
2009 Social Networking Websites Product Comparisons
Interesting side-by-side comparisons.

wiredprworks:
10 Social Media Savvy Tips for Baby Boomers

And finally, for hits & giggles:

Facebook Manners and You

Caught on Camera: The Best of Google Street View

What We Learn From Radio Programmers About Website Strategy

Doctorjohnnyfever Early in my career as a radio programmer, I learned about quintile analysis and its effect on strategy.  I worked for the NBC owned and operated FM radio station in Chicago: Q-101.

Quintile analysis looks at a situation broken down into five parts, 20% pieces of the whole.  In radio, QA studies how the 20% of the audience who does most of the listening compares with the 20% of the audience that does the second-most amount of listening, on down to the 1/5 of the audience who really is not brand loyal and doesn't listen very often.  The 5th quintile usually prefers another station OR they may like your station alot, they just don't listen to the radio much.



It's much easier to get the top 20% or 40% of your audience to do something than it is to get the 1/5 of your audience who listens the least to do something.

It was the first time I considered the differences between segments of audience; their respective needs, loyalties and motivations.  Getting your first quintile to listen 10% more was far more effective than getting the 5th quintile to listen more often. And you're motivating 20% of your audience who listen much longer than any of the other 4 segments, so a 10% improvement of those most brand loyal is worth much more than a 10% improvement in those audiences who are not as dedicated.

It's helpful to analyze you website's audience in a similar way.  Visitors who have bought something from you are more likely to buy from you again than those who have not received products or services.  Consider them your first quintile audience and look for ways to maintain relationships that lead to a followup sale.  That could be links to non-public pages with special offers or premium content.  That also includes websites where "Thankyou for your order" pages also promote an  up sell or cross sell.  If you know what motivated them to do business with you in the first place, it'll be easier to figure out how to 'rinse and repeat.'

Your second quintile audience are those who you've had some interaction with, but not necessarily a sale.  They filled out a form or survey, requested information, attended a teleseminar, signed up for a newsletter, etc.  You know something about their interests and what they've been exposed to.  More importantly, you know SOMETHING about who they are by the contact information they've given.  Use that information to follow up.  Give them an update.  Make them feel like you care.

Web Asylum has a customer that markets industrial products all over the world.  They offer dozens of whitepapers about the market and the products they offer.  We built an application where the sales manager can view what whitepapers have been downloaded by date and where their prospect is in the world and assigns the lead to the appropriate company rep or dealer.

Quintile analysis can be even more effective when you incorporate website analytics!

I'm not saying that 20% of your visitors are all buyers or that 20% would all fit a common description.  But to evaluate your prospects by previous behavior or brand attributes will give you a unique perspective that can be leveraged successfully.

And that will increase your website ROI.

– Kurt

Best of the Website Success Blogs (Feb 21, 2009)

Kurt_Scholle_Harold_ Scholle
I was thinking about "Saturday Soup" this morning.  My dad would make it several times a month out of leftovers in the fridge when we were kids.  Often, we'd have good sandwiches too, like liverwurst or summer sausage on rye with a little onion and cheese. Splitting an apple was a great way to end the meal and get on with the afternoon.

Saturday Soup was always something nice to look forward to every weekWriting the best-of blog post is something that I look forward to too.  I find the information interesting, profitable, thought-provoking and fun.  I've made some friends when they've commented on a post or called.  I look forward to even more of that!

But with all the great suggestions people send in and the ever-growing number of bookmarked sites, it's becoming a full day job!  So I think I'm going to break it into 2 posts a week. I also work on other blogs and work "catch up" on Saturdays and the best-of post is interfering with that.  (I need at least SOME time on the couch on Saturdays!)

I really think my best-of posts will guide you to things that will make your website or blog more successful, therefore achieving a higher ROI.  I look at it as filtering stuff down so that you can be more efficient (and spend more time on the couch).  And if there is something that you would like to contribute, by all means shoot me an email at Kurt @ WebAsylum . com

This week, more tools, tips, strategies and trends to achieve website ROI. Then we'll wrap it up with a fun cartoon!

Google Conversion Room:
Website Optimiser – Test and enhance your website
A must-have tool!

Matt Cutts Google, Gadgets and SEO blog:
"State of the Index" talk
This is the "director's cut" of a recent presentation at PubCon. Also a link to his PPT slides.

The Official Google Blog:
Stop bouncing: Tips for Website success
First in a series on website measurement.

ION Interactive:
5 Ways to Improve Your Landing Pages Right Now

Dream Systems Media Blog:
SMX Session Notes: Up Close With Google AdWords Quality Score
Good stuff from the recent conference.

Search Engine Guide:
Dominating Your SEO Competition Through Competitive Knowledge
Research is very important when developing an SEO or PPC campaign.

Search Engine Journal:
SEO: a Process Not a Project
SEO meets the green industry!

SEO Book:
Why it Makes Sense to Target Longtail Keywords First
Excellent strategy!

Small Business Search Marketing:
Searchers Using Longer Queries in 2009
The long tail and what it means to you.

Big Slick Design:
46 Questions to Ask for a Web Design Project
This is geared more for web development companies (and I know I have some such readers) but they are important thinking points for any website project.

SEO 2.0:
12 Social Media Trends You Must Be Aware Of

LinkedIn Expert:
So why in the world would you become LinkedIn?

Google Conversion Room:
Add a search box to your site and act on the data
Improve the user experience and gain powerful insights!

Search Engine People:
5 Steps to Creating Sticky Social Content

Wired PR Works:
Business Communication Shortcut to Success: The Creative Workplan
Whether you have writer's block or just want to get better, Barbara Rozgonyi has a great system.

Seth Godin's Blog:
Five tips for better online survey

And finally, just for "hits & grins."

Have a great weekend!

– Kurt Schollle, @KurtScholle

Public Speaker Website Case Study We Can All Learn From

My company, Web Asylum, has built a bunch of sites for public speakers, so it's a market I think we understand.  But this case study might be useful as a model for doing an assessment of any website.

We were approached by "Chris" about fixing some work a graphic designer had done on the site.  Chris' webmaster had said that the dynamic pages on the site were interfering with the general layout of the site and what could we do to eliminate the dynamic pages?

In this case, the dynamic pages had nothing to do with the flaws that arose while the site was being maintained.  The dynamic pages on the site were only used to manage a form.  None of the HTML pages were affected by a database.  The graphics files were abused by the graphic artist trying to stuff more into the pages than the page was designed for. 

Why the graphic designer didn't know that is troubling.

I was also able to review traffic statistics for the site and found these facts:

  1. The site is averaging 5 visitors a day.
  2. The 'bounce rate' is 54%, meaning just over half of Chris' visitors leave the site without viewing a 2nd page.
  3. Only 27% of the site's traffic was coming from search engines.  That's very low.
  4. About half of the keywords and phrases used in search engines revolved around Chris' name or the website address.
  5. NONE of the search engine traffic came from keywords that were directly related to Chris' product's and services.

What's it all mean?

The 2 keys to getting a ROI from a website; traffic and conversion were missing.  5 visitors a day is a small fraction of the number of visitors we see on other public speaker web sites.

Search engine traffic was low and none of it came from coveted keywords.  That suggests that the site needs to be optimized (by section) for appropriate keywords.  Chris may also want to consider the recommendations I made earlier this month to Pat.

One way or another, Chris needs more traffic.

The other problem is conversion.  The site doesn't do enough to engage visitors and begin a relationship.  That's evidenced by the high bounce rate.  It also has a low "Time Spent on the Site" rating of under 2 minutesChiropractorThe site could be better written to give visitors a sense that they had found what they were looking for.  The site could also do a better job of escorting the visitor thru the site (2 or 3 clicks) to find relevant information.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the chiropractor for an adjustment.  But he's an entirely different case study!

– Kurt Scholle