Just as mom, dad, grandma and grandpa finally take a shine web-based email, apparently a majority of teens have already moved on to the next great communication trend: social networking platforms.  According to a recent 2010 comScore digital trends report, a whopping 59% of people between age 12 and 17 experienced a decrease in the amount of time spent using web-based email.

So if teens are spending less time using web-based email, then where is their time being spent?  It seems that young people are migrating to more integrated forms of communication such as social networking and text messaging.  In fact, according to the comScore report "Social Networking now ranks as the [second] most engaging activity at 14.4 percent of time spent online," which is 3.8 percentage points greater than in 2009.  On the other hand, web-based email usage declined overall by 1.5 percentage points.

ComScore graph of YOY change in email usage

If your name is Mark Zuckerburg then this news is music to your ears, particularly considering the launch of Facebook's new messaging system, aimed at keeping a majority of online communication within the confines of the Facebook ecosystem.

What does this mean for the hotel industry?

If you're a hotel wondering where to put your marketing dollars in 2011, there are some things to consider from this report:

  1. Don't write off email marketing just yet: Note that there was an increase in web-based email usage among the 55+ age demographic, as more older adults adapted to life online. Depending on the users you are looking to target, email marketing may still be a viable marketing channel.  Also, these potential guests may be more likely than the teens to be loyal users of your product and more receptive to specials and offers from brands they love.

  2. Younger users are migrating towards social media: Although the 12-17 year old age group may not be your primary target market yet, keep in mind that these are your future guests.  Consider investing more time in managing important social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, YouTube and other viable networks for your hotel that foster communities for your future patrons.  This is where your customers are congregating and forming opinions about your hotel, your city and travel in general.  It's important that you become a part of this community to connect with consumers who will not only stay at your hotel, but will ultimately influence others within their network based on their experiences with your product.

  3. Online marketing trends shift frequently: The online marketing world is constantly changing.  While general practices like creating enticing, interesting textual content, posting rich media and targeting relevant keywords have long been staples of good online marketing, hotels must always be prepared to adapt to new ways of reaching customers.  It took a while for the hospitality to fully embrace the world of search engine optimization.  While search engine optimization is still an integral part of an effective online marketing campaign, when you consider that Facebook recently surpassed Google in terms of overall web traffic, is easy to see that another shift is taking place.  That's not to say that older forms of online marketing become obsolete. Email marketing, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising have been around for quite a while now; however, the way in which consumers are using these channels is constantly evolving.  And now, with the rise of social network, we are once again seeing a dramatic change in the way online users search for information.  As a hotel, it's important to work with an online marketing company that understands that all these channels--new and old--must be integrated into a single, comprehensive marketing strategy.  Failing to address one of these segments because can mean your hotel is missing out on opportunities to target relevant customers.

Overall, just in looking at the graph above, it's clear that different age groups use the internet in very different ways.  A one-size-fits-all strategy simply won't be as effective.  Make sure your online marketing plan addresses all relevant demographics by integrating channels that your customers frequent.  Just remember that your email marketing campaign may show up in Grandpa's inbox, but if you want to reach Junior you may want to consider reaching out to him on his own turf.

 

Home Blog Just As Grandpa Is Learning Gmail, comScore says Web-Based Email Usage Declines 59% Among Teens