Digital Marketing

Savour SEM: Boost Your Bookings through Search Engine Marketing

Let’s face it, nowadays there’s a vast array of different digital marketing options for hoteliers to concern themselves with. However, if you’re tempted to overlook long established search engine-based ad marketing (SEM), you’ll do so at your peril.
Research suggests more than six in every 10 leisure travellers (61%) still use search engines to plan their getaways and find accommodation – no surprise that a still sizeable chunk of online-derived revenue comes directly from SEM-based initiatives. In that case, if you’re hotelier then, making sure you allocate the right amount of budget resources to search engine ad marketing and how you do so is critically important. Here are a few pointers you might bear in mind…

Embrace new ad formats
Google’s notorious for suddenly altering things as it sees fit; when it comes to SEM, a recent significant change has been the introduction of a new ad copy format. To wit, a text ad display now allows for two headlines up to five characters longer than previously the case, enabling hoteliers to include details and descriptions, promote their brand and drive response via a decent call to action (CTA). According to Google, these expanded text ads have already outperformed the – still available – alternative’s click-through rate (CTR) by a staggering 47%.
Track behaviour across devices and channels
Travel bookings via either mobile or multiple devices are on a huge upwards trend. So making sure your business offers a booking experience that’s fully optimised for mobile – and all other – devices is critical to driving up revenue. That said, traditional phone bookings can’t be ignored either; statistics suggest that in recent times nearly one third (32%) of SEM campaign-based bookings were delivered via the voice channel (in layman’s terms, a telephone call). So, to work out how your SEM budget should be allocated across different channels, it pays to properly track your efforts.
Make sure the customer journey message is consistent
Don’t forget that prospective travellers are going to come across whatever brand and marketing messages you put out multiple times during their customer journey – in fact, Google reckons there’s now 19 ‘digital touchpoints’ for every booking. This means then that digital marketing for hotels always has to present a consistent message to consumers – your SEM ads must be aligned with every other marketing channel in their messaging.
And keep your message consistent with guests’ positive perceptions
Furthermore, the tone and content of your marketing messages need to be influenced by previous and current guests’ positive perceptions of your hotel; alterations, upgrades and improvements to them should also be seen through that prism and shaped thus. For example, it could be you’d like to communicate your property as, say, ‘chic’ or ‘boutique’; fair enough, but if satisfied customers instead describe it as ‘family-friendly’ and ‘cosy’, that’s something you can’t ignore – otherwise you may distance yourself from potential guests and revenue.
A fluid strategy pays off
Finally, you can’t forget the importance of keeping your SEM strategy dynamic and malleable. You need to keep on your toes; paid search has always been – and certainly remains – an evolving digital channel. Customers’ desires and whims constantly shift and, therefore, the tools to digitally advertise to them bend accordingly. In order to grow your direct website bookings via SEM then, it’s important to keep your strategy – and the budget you’re allocating to the campaign – flexible. Nothing ever stands still in hospitality marketing!