Blue Magnet Hotel Online Marketing Guide

Blue Magnet’s Top 6 Takeaways from ClickZ Live Chicago 2015

Blue Magnet’s Paid Search Specialist, Michelle Merklin attended the 2015 ClickZ Live conference in Chicago and learned, unbeknownst to her, she was TIME Magazine’s Person of the year in 2006. Seriously.

Aside from this astounding news (that she immediately added to her resume), Michelle walked away with new insights and fresh perspectives on all things digital marketing. Below are Michelle’s top six takeaways plus tips on how hoteliers can leverage these opportunities and new knowledge.

1. Without your brand’s logo, your content should speak for itself

The keynote speaker that kicked off the conference was Victor Lee, Senior VP of Global Digital Marketing at Hasbro. Lee told us that when he works with his creative team to build marketing campaigns and digital content, he implements the “thumb test.” In this test, Lee places his thumb over the company’s logo on the creative content in review. If he can easily envision his competitor’s logo on that same piece of content, and can imagine that the marketing message would work just as well for his competitor as it would for his company, he scraps the idea and starts fresh.

He is trying to assess whether or not consumers would inherently associate the content with his brand, and his brand only. If not, Lee determines that the idea is simply not unique and therefore not going to drive the value that he expects from his company’s marketing initiatives.

Hotel insights: Hotels should follow suit and create digital content that is uniquely characteristic of their property, such that that the competitor two doors down wouldn’t dare try ripping off their ideas. Use unique photography from your property or of your staff (rather than bland stock images) to create social media posts and website content that shows off your company’s best assets.

2. Invest marketing dollars in the long term, not just the short term

Kathryn Kilner, a Content Marketer from GE Digital, talked about how General Electric is leveraging various social media channels to connect with their next-generation customers. Kilner gave the example of GE’s recent move to join Snapchat. Though it’s unlikely that their current customers (think: jet engine buyers) are “snapping” their friends on a daily basis, Kilner realized that the high school and college-aged engineers of the future are probably on Snapchat today. By creatively involving GE in a space that their future customers are actively participating, and by publishing digital content that shows off GE’s innovation, this brand is proactively connecting with, and therefore investing in, their next generation clientele.

Hotel insights: Rather than joining any and all digital channels where future hotel guests may be active, hospitality marketers should research who their current audience is and determine where that audience came from. By understanding lifestyles and online behaviors, hoteliers can identify creative ways to meet these consumers where they are and provide value that can ultimately increase brand loyalty in the long run.

3. Leverage email newsletter lists for remarketing ads

Joseph Kerschbaum, a Midwest Account Director at 3Q Digital, gave conference attendees the “magic potion” for using some of Google’s little-known remarketing tactics. Kerschbaum detailed various methods that Google has developed for marketers to reach already-qualified customers, even if those customers haven’t been cookied by their website’s standard remarketing tag (note: this was the part of the conference where my eyes bugged out of my head).

Since standard remarketing requires online users to visit the advertiser’s website before the advertisers can display their remarketing ads, and this new methods bypasses that requirement, you can understand why tracking this (formerly thought to be) untrackable audience was shocking and exciting!

The most interesting new means of doing this is by using Google’s Customer Match, which allows marketers to upload lists of email addresses from folks who have opted in to your marketing. Google parses that list and determines which of those email addresses are connected to Google accounts. Then, the marketer can serve highly targeted and specific remarketing ads to those users (note: consumers must be logged in to their Google account in order to see these ads). Customer Match remarketing ads are more likely to convert than many other ad types since the folks seeing them have already shown interest in the company (by providing their email address). These remarketing ads are eligible to appear in Google’s Search, Gmail, and YouTube products.

One important thing to note is this type of remarketing tends to work best with very large email lists. The more email addresses on your list, the wider your potential advertising reach.

Hotel insights: Hotels can add email newsletter signup forms to their independent websites. Then, once that opt-in list is large enough, the hotel can start remarketing to the owners of those email addresses in hopes of driving more online bookings.

4. Make your business’s phone number prominent in all marketing

Julia Stead, Director of Demand Generation at Invoca, spoke about how today’s consumers are still largely reliant on voice phone calls. Even though we may have a tendency to think email, text messages, and tweets are becoming the more favored method of communication in our uber-connected world, Stead discussed how this is not actually the case – at least not yet. According to Stead, 65% of Millennials indicated when it comes to dealing with brands, they would rather speak to a real, live person on the phone versus engage with that brand on social media. This somewhat surprising statistic goes to show brands need to continue meeting their consumers where their consumers are most comfortable and ready to convert.

Hotel insights: For hotels, this translates to making sure your business’s phone number is clearly displayed on your website and across all of your marketing initiatives. This is also where local SEO becomes hugely important. Making sure your hotel’s phone number is accurate and consistent across the web is critical not only for SEO, but also since we know many potential reservations still come through phone calls.

5. Measure your website’s “EOI”

The Global Director of Digital Communications and Social Media at Coca Cola, Doug Busk, introduced us to a new marketing metric Coca Cola developed: EOI, which stands for “Expressions of Interest.” This new performance metric measures engagement on a whole new level. It looks at more than just the Coca Cola website’s standard performance metrics, like bounce rate, page views, and average session duration. EOI goes further by also accounting for social media metrics such as how many people shared an article from the site, and how many conversations and comments that article generated. By demonstrating how social media conversations and website visitors’ behaviors are connected, EOI informs the marketers about which content and stories are best resonating with their online audience. Busk summed it up by saying, “We want to know if we’re producing content that you care enough about to share.”

Hotel insights: Similarly, hotels should be creating website content that is unique and useful enough for consumers to want to share. One way to start measuring a hotel website’s EOI is to add social sharing buttons to website pages. For example, if your hotel is offering a Cyber Monday special rate, add social sharing buttons directly on the special offers page. These buttons would allow website users to share your special offer to their social networks and help spread your message to the masses.

6. Be present in your consumers’ micro-moments

Lindsay Sowa, a Mobile User Experience Engagement Manager at Google, reminded us that in today’s world, we don’t “go” online… we “live” online. She referenced research from Google that shows just how attached we are to our mobile devices.

According to a study from 2015, US adults use their mobile devices about 150 times per day, averaging 60-70 seconds per usage. During each of these mobile sessions, consumers are experiencing what Google calls “micro-moments.” In these moments, users access their phones with one of five intents: to watch, to know, to do, to go, or to buy. These self-driven bursts of intent lead consumers to make fast, unscripted decisions.

Sowa also reminded us that mobile users are more loyal to their need in that moment than they are to brands. For example, if someone is using their phone to search for “coffee near me,” they are more likely to click on directions to the closest coffee shop that shows up at the top of the search results, rather than to scroll through pages and pages of results in search of their favorite branded store. Caffeine has that sort of strange power over us.

Hotel insights: With this understanding, digital marketers should build relevant content that educates and informs consumers to make choices on their own terms. For hotels, this can done by building unique landing pages about relevant local area attractions. Landing pages that offer useful local area information, while only soft-selling the hotel, can show up prominently in organic search results or PPC advertising during these micro-moments, and can encourage users to interact with your hotel’s content.

These were just six of the major takeaways from ClickZ Live Chicago. Want to know more? Keep an eye on Blue Magnet’s future blog posts to see how our team is implementing the new strategies we learned from this conference.