For this edition of our blog series, Ask the Experts, we are discussing what digital marketing is and what digital strategy means for hotels with Blue Magnet’s Director of Digital Strategy, Karie Miller, and Senior Digital Marketing Manager Nicole Poggensee. The two ladies sat down to discuss the topic, and here is what was revealed…
What is digital marketing and what does digital marketing strategy mean for hotels?
Digital marketing is the process of promoting your business, in this case your hotel, through various online channels. Digital marketing strategy is then your plan to promote your business by determining which channels will best allow you to reach your goals and initiatives. For hoteliers, digital marketing strategy means identifying the online opportunities that will put your hotel in front of travelers in order to highlight the potential experience and top selling points of your hotel.
How do you create a digital marketing strategy?
Easy! Work with your dedicated Digital Marketing Manager at Blue Magnet Interactive to determine your needs and goals – our team will take it from there.
**If you are not a current Blue Magnet partner, feel free to contact us today to discuss your digital marketing needs and a recommended strategy to meet those goals .
Step One: Determine Your Digital Marketing Goal
In order to have a successful digital marketing campaign, you must first identify your hotel’s needs and then align those needs with realistic goals. Your goals could range from increasing direct booked revenue or event space bookings by x% year-over-year (YOY) to boosting your visibility across search engine result pages (SERPs). No matter what your goal is, you must have a strategic plan in place to achieve results.
Pro Tip: Come prepared to discuss your goals with your Digital Marketing Manager during your initial kickoff or status calls.
Step Two: Develop Your Digital Marketing Strategy
After determining your hotel’s digital marketing goals, our team will work together to create a strategic, holistic plan. This means we will incorporate all of the different services your hotel has with Blue Magnet.
For example, if your goal is to increase direct booked revenue by x% YOY, we will have the proper foundations laid down first in order to achieve success. Keep in mind that Blue Magnet Interactive built websites are optimized from the start, but for non-Blue Magnet Interactive-built websites, our team will need to first optimize and enhance the website.
We will accomplish this through competitive research, copy updates, conversion rate optimization, image optimization, site speed tests, and additional backend work to the best of our ability, given the CMS and website template. Think of this as you would the groundwork of your physical hotel. Then, the fun can begin (just like designing and furnishing your hotel).
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts will help boost your hotel’s visibility in the search engine result pages (SERPs). Sticking with the theme of increasing your booked revenue and boosting your visibility across SERPs, we can target more top-funnel travelers that are dreaming and planning their vacations through our website’s content.
This means that we will “go after” long tail keywords by creating epic content on what guests can experience at your hotel and in the surrounding area. We will also target bottom-funnel travelers that are ready to book through branded keywords, sitelinks, and overall funnel optimization.
Typically, an integral component of our SEO plan is to ensure your local listings are healthy. By optimizing and updating your local listings, guests will have a better chance of finding your hotel, especially in Google’s maps and 3-pack.
Once our SEO strategy is in motion, we want to then incorporate additional marketing efforts to increase our message’s visibility and reach more potential guests.
Social media is the perfect landscape to showcase the feel of your hotel and local area. Blue Magnet Interactive recommends having a social media presence on at least Facebook. From there, our team will work you to recommend additional channels, if applicable, based on your needs.
With these channels, we will weave in our overarching digital marketing goals. This includes creating content to target those dreaming about their next vacation. We can do this by sharing your hotel’s professional photography, user generated content, unique packages and offers, and other local area highlights. Organic social media content helps support our initiatives by fostering a community and placing your hotel in the mindsets of online users; however, to successfully support goals like increasing booked revenue, the return will be seen more through paid advertising.
As we all know, the digital landscape is becoming more of a “pay-to-play” field. Search result pages are becoming more cluttered, with search ads dominating organic positionings. Social media channels like Facebook are changing their algorithms to show more content from families and friends in Newsfeeds. In order to stay relevant and visible in the feed and in the SERPs, paid advertising is highly recommended.
With paid search advertising, your hotel will appear at the top of the SERPs varying on your keyword, budget, quality score, etc.. Do you remember when we mentioned the epic content we are adding or have added into your website? That is not only a factor for ranking in search organically, but also for paid. Depending on your budget, goals, and brand standards, we will create ad campaigns to target branded, general hotel, special offers and packages, event space, attractions, and other niche and seasonal keywords.
Another paid media option we can incorporate into your strategy is advertising on social media. To help support the goal of increasing booked revenue, our team might recommend running a Facebook website click campaign to drive traffic to your website. This can be used to promote your hotel in general or to push a specific package. Once again, depending on your digital and social media marketing goals, we can also run promotions and content boosting ads.
One of the final aspects of putting together an effective digital marketing strategy is email marketing. Email marketing is typically used to target guests that have already stayed at your hotel or those that expressed interest in staying at your hotel by signing up for your email marketing distribution. Whether you are looking to promote stays through limited time offers or to book private events through a group deal, email marketing will help get the message out there.
The keys to email marketing success are:
- Having a good, valuable email address list (ie. those that have stayed at your hotel and those that are interested in staying at your hotel)
- Creating content that sells and is easy to digest
- Offering incentives (ie. discounts, unique special packages, coupons, contest drawings)
- Strategic timing on delivery
Website Design and Development
Earlier in this blog, we mentioned the importance of having a well-designed, functioning website. Once your website is built and running, it should continue to evolve. Here at Blue Magnet Interactive, our team will provide recommendations on how we can enhance and continually modernize your website’s design. To support your digital marketing goals, our team can develop new landing pages with epic content and promote it throughout the website by incorporating mastheads (also referred to as banners or hero images), sidebars, buttons, or even video (if provided).
Pro Tip: The more you communicate with our team, the more your hotel will see positive results. This includes keeping your Digital Marketing Manager updated on any package, amenities, or policy changes so the website’s information is always accurate, working with our team to sign up for the best packages for your hotel, and having an additional advertising budget to increase visibility.
Step Three: Execute Your Campaign
Now it is time to put your digital marketing strategy into motion. Once your hotel team has discussed your overall goals with Blue Magnet Interactive, our team will create and implement our cohesive plan across the appropriate platforms/channels.
Pro Tip: Teamwork makes the dreamwork. Work together with your Blue Magnet Interactive support team to best execute our strategy. Provide our team with ample lead time on projects so we can create a stellar plan to achieve your goals. Also make sure to send us additional resources like hotel photography and information.
Step Four: Track Your Results
The last step in creating a digital marketing strategy is tracking your results. It is critical to make sure what has been put into place is actually working. Our team will benchmark where we started, track our progress, and then review the performance with you during our status calls. From there, we will evaluate the performance and provide recommendations for the next steps.
Pro Tip: Take advantage of Google Analytics event tracking to see how guests are interacting with the new aspects on your website and check out Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder to track your email marketing and social media performance.
What is next?
With a partnership with Blue Magnet Interactive, you can expect ongoing communication and strategy. Work with your dedicated Digital Marketing Manager to discuss and review your goals and needs so that we can best help you. Be sure to also check out our blog post on how to maximize your partnership with Blue Magnet Interactive. In the meantime, sign up for quarterly email newsletter below to hear more about the latest digital marketing news.