Digital marketing is changing the way consumers discover and make reservations at hotels. Having a sleek and easy to use website is essential, but it is only part of what it takes to tap into guests desires. Customers now have the ability to compare and contrast their options within minutes on online travel agency websites and read user-generated content on social media platforms that allow them to hear what other guests have to say. How do you keep your guests’ attention when they have so many different avenues to the booking process? The answer lies in understanding the consumer acquisition process and how different digital marketing services apply to the stages a consumer experiences along the way.
The AIDA Model
You may have heard countless acronyms and models that help describe how to effectively engage with consumers. One of the most-used models in marketing is undoubtedly the AIDA model, which provides a high level outline of the consumer acquisition process by breaking it down into four stages. While you have probably seen this model before, below is a quick refresher on the four stages of a consumer’s journey from discovery to purchase:
The AIDA model is a simplistic overview of the acquisition process. Human behavior is never that simple or predictable, but models like this are excellent starting points for developing your digital marketing strategy. Remember that consumers can enter the acquisition process at any of these stages. To ensure your marketing plan includes the strategies that help guests move forward in each of the stages outlined in the AIDA model, you need to determine which strategies create the greatest impact on the each of different stages of the decision making process.
What Does The AIDA Model Look Like In The Travel Industry?
Marketing models are the starting point, but applying them to your specific industry is when things get interesting. In the case of travel and hospitality, there is no doubt that digital channels have become the primary mode of research and discovery. The internet has given consumers the ability to research from scratch and compare and contrast options side-by-side before making a decision. A potential guest may start a journey with a simple Google search but end up visiting several hotel websites, online travel agencies, and social media platforms before making a reservation. As hoteliers, you need a digital marketing mix with a variety of tactics that reach consumers in each stage of the AIDA model because each consumer’s path will be unique.
How do Blue Magnet Services fit into this model?
Different channels of digital marketing accomplish different goals, and it is our job to know when and how to utilize these channels to ensure that your are connecting with customers in each of the stages of the AIDA model. Search engine optimization places your hotel website in front of consumers looking to for lodging options in certain geographical areas or with particular amenities. Social media allows users establish a personal connection through direct messaging. Paid media, both in Google AdWords and paid advertising on social media, allows you to target consumers in search even further and get creative with remarketing to consumers who showed interest but never completed the conversion process. Most importantly, developing a visually appealing website and crafting compelling content secure consumers’ trust and showcase your business to potential guests who are getting ready to make their final decisions.
Of course, the elements are not limited to just these, and each of Blue Magnet services mentioned can have an impact on consumers during any stage. Our specialists at Blue Magnet can help you determine how our variety of services can come together and maximize your connection to your particular market.
Our first goal as marketers is to make your potential guests aware that you exist. The awareness phase can be difficult to approach since consumers in this stage have showed us less about what they truly want. This is the opening stage of the decision making process because it describes the consumer’s exploration of options. But the awareness phase is incredibly important because it gives your hotel the opportunity to connect with primarily new consumers. Search engine optimization and paid media play huge roles in establishing this connection and generating awareness for your hotel.
Imagine you operate a hotel in Dallas, Texas. When a potential guest begins the research process to find a place to stay in Dallas, you want to make that consumer is aware that your hotel exists. For example, when a prospective traveler performs a Google search for “hotels in dallas”, SEO generates awareness by helping your website rank above your competitors and appear first when the consumers views the results. Without SEO services, your site may be buried beneath countless competitors or online travel agency sites, and the consumer will never even find out that you exist.
In highly competitive markets, SEO is not always enough to stand out on top. A solid paid media budget can help place your site at the top of a search results page and on other travel related sites that are a part of Google’s Display Advertising network through Google AdWords. In addition to these strategies, careful management of your hotel’s content on online travel agency sites like Expedia and Kayak will only create more opportunities for guests to find you. Combine these strategies to make your hotel known to guests who have just begun the decision-making process.
The interest stage of the acquisition process describes when a guest discovers an option, or options, that satisfies their needs. This does not mean you have acquired them, however. Now that consumers know about your property, they will continue their research processes and compare your hotel to other options they may have discovered. SEO still plays a role here, as you want consumers to be able to find your site with ease, even when they search your hotel’s name. Ensuring elements such as your Google+ profile that populates the knowledge graph only make it easier for consumers to find you again. While your paid media campaign helps you generate awareness, it can also be harnessed to target users that visited your site without converting through display ads to keep their interest or to create an incentivized experience for users returning to your site for a second or third time. Blue Magnet targets these visitors through remarketing, which allows our clients to continually connect with users that have demonstrated their likelihood to convert.
In addition, it is key to establish a more personal connection with guests. Having a well-managed social media presence helps you maintain a strong reputation online, and it allows you to be accessible and personable, and helpful communicators that provide excellent customer service. Showing consumers that you are trustworthy and are willing to connect on a personal level through social media is an effective way of getting consumers to take a step toward converting.
The awareness and interest stages represent the discovery of your hotel’s website. Now that they have landed on your website, your goal becomes to sell them on your value and experience. A hotel website with beautiful photography that is well showcased will help create the desire of consumers to make their decision to book. Well-written content and useful, well-organized information is essential. Outside of your website, social media also contributes to the creation of desire to book a stay. If consumers look to social platforms for the more personalized connection to your hotel, you need to echo the content found on the site on all of your social profiles. Sell your experience to your guests through thoughtful content and beautiful photography to back it up!
The action stage is mostly the result of your marketing efforts getting consumers from awareness to desire; however there are experiential elements that help push the consumer to make the final decision. The action stage represents the guest’s act of booking a room, submitting an RFP for more information, or using your site’s click-to-call feature. You want these actions to be as easy as possible. The marketing strategies that contribute to consumer desire are fairly similar to those that contribute to getting consumers to take action. Creating a user experience that incorporates user-friendly booking opportunities, such as strategic placement of the booking widget and the inclusion of call-to-action, clickable elements that lead the user to a conversion.
How Do These Marketing Tools Fit in Your Strategy?
Unless you are starting out for the first time in the digital world, you probably already have a few of these marketing strategies in place. Take a look at what efforts your hotel is making to connect with consumers, and determine how they each fit into the AIDA model. Then, identify the gaps where you may not be reaching consumers when you can be. Remember, a holistic approach that includes a diverse variety of strategies ensures that you will connect with your guests. Blue Magnet can help you fill in the gaps and allow you to always be in touch with consumers, no matter which stage of the acquisition process they may be in. Call us to find out how we can help you create your holistic digital marketing strategy, and sign up for our eNewsletter for all of your hotel internet marketing conversation starters!