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2011 search engine marketing plan, part 2

2011 search engine marketing plan, part 2

Chances are if you are an individual hotel or a brand, your largest online marketing expenditure is on search marketing. Search gets all the attention because of that very fact. It has long been accepted that advertising on Google and optimizing your hotel’s website are effective tools for generating exposure.  So how should you plan for 2011? 

Too many hotels budget for search as follows:

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

Google

$1,200

$1,200

$1,200

$1,200

$1,200

$1,200

Yahoo/Bing

$500

$500

$500

$500

$500

$500

Optimization

$1,500

$1,500

$1,500

$1,500

$1,500

$1,500

 

Or even less descriptive:

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

Internet

$2,500

$2,500

$2,500

$2,500

$2,500

$2,500

 

The above may be accompanied by some budget assumptions, but such a process lacks depth. There are so many choices to make within the search discipline that can provide your hotel with incremental revenue, and planning for and utilizing those tools has become an imperative. At the end of this post, I’m going to provide a slightly more elaborate search budget worksheet that you can use the coming year.  Before doing so, here are some things to consider. Each of these tips has many nuances that should be discussed with your search marketing provider, but these tips will give you a roadmap for that conversation. Remember, your search marketing firm should be reacting to your needs and your market dynamics.

1.       Budget and Manage your Paid Search Spend to Seasonality – Traffic generated from paid search should be considered new customer acquisition. Therefore, when do you have the greatest need to acquire new customers? For example, if you are a ski property and know a majority of days in December sell out, why put paid search funds at the same level as you would in the summer? Budgeting a flat amount every month for paid search does not reflect how you think as a hotelier, nor take into consideration the seasonality of your market. 

2.       Budget and Manage your Search Marketing by Market Segment – Most hotels go through a very similar process when preparing their marketing plan. They state in their budget that they will grow group room-nights by 2,000 in the coming year. They then provide assumptions, including budget allocations to justify that growth. Do you have the same discipline when it comes to search? Optimizing a site to drive group business can be done, if the optimization team knows that is a goal. A good search team can run campaigns to attract weekend leisure business if they know that is a property goal. Just like in traditional advertising, you CAN target specific segments through search marketing.  

3.       Manage your Paid Search Exposure to your Target Customer – Customers shop for hotels differently based on the hotel type and customer demographic. For example, I have hotels that get a full 20% of their website traffic from mobile phones, while others receive less than 5%. Some hotels have customers that are value conscious and will show a propensity to search for things like “budget hotel” while other hotels will serve customers more likely to search for “hip downtown hotel.” Understanding your customers will lead to many search decisions, from keyword selection to whether you advertise on the mobile search platform. 

4.       Budget for Demand Driving Events – Many hotels develop event calendars when preparing their annual marketing plans.  Event calendars outline specific events (city-wides, concerts, sporting events, festivals etc) that have the potential to drive compression for a property. Aggressive marketers will build packages around those events, launch press releases and even throw events on their property.  Search is an EXCELLENT method to support those efforts.  Allocate money to build a landing page for each event and allocate paid search and optimization money to make sure that landing page receives exposure. 

5.       Budget for International – Do you hope to be more aggressive in targeting an international visitor in 2011? If so, there are very specific but effective techniques you can deploy both in optimization and paid search that will target only international visitors to your property. 

Click HERE to download a more comprehensive budget worksheet. Remember, you allocate budget dollars based on assumptions. Not all of them will be correct, but you will have specific thoughts on paper that can be measured. As you go through 2011 you can challenge you assumptions based on real measurement and move money to the search categories that are providing the biggest return. Your budget will demonstrate critical thought in this category and your search team will be far better managed than if you have them a set budget with little other direction.

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