With September now in full swing so is budget season; the annual opportunity to take a deep dive into your business to understand what worked across the year, determine what is new in the market and build a plan to grow your hotel’s profit.
The online marketing plan is a very interesting part of the budget process. Every year this area evolves with new channels and tactics some of which can deliver high margin revenue and of course some that the won’t.
When preparing your marketing plan, on or offline be sure you cover off each item in your plan aligns with one of the following areas:
A. Building Loyalty/Repeat Business
B. New Customer Acquisition
C. Brand Exposure
When looking at how to drive your business through online marketing here are the must do’s for 2012…
Website Updates: hopefully your site is built on a strong Content Management System (CMS) so content updates won’t cost; build in some funds to make adjustments to your site to account for changes to the market and your business. (A, B, C)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): search is in constant flux build in funding to refresh your organic search. (B, C)
Strategic Linking: building quality external back links to your site will contribute to your organic results on Google. (B, C)
Pay per Click (PPC): with the competition for high conversion organic keywords be sure to have funding available to purchase keywords to acquire page placement. (B, C)
Re-targeting: if you aren’t familiar with this tactic we’ll tell you more in coming posts; it is a powerful method of converting visitors to your site to buyers. (B)
Mobile: if you don’t have a mobile site optimized for booking budget for one as well as paid marketing campaign to drive traffic. (A, B, C)
Digital Marketing Partners: sites like TripAdvisor can drive highly qualified referral traffic; look for ways both paid and unpaid to gain further presence. (B, C)
Syndicated Press Releases: yes budget for press releases and the distribution of them through a syndication service. (B, C)
Email Marketing: don’t just budget for email campaign; include the creative, database filtering and distribution. (A)
Analytics: good news is this can be free with Google Analytics; prepare to spend on learning or assistance if you are not familiar with Analytics it can deliver huge gains to your business. (A, B, C)
Social Media: for those hotels that use social media well to engage customers they reap the rewards from their raving fans. (A, B, C)
Online Travel Agency: seems contradictory to the focus on direct business right; OTA continue to be a great way of building your hotel’s awareness in the market. Start thinking about the margin being paid as a marketing expense (more to come on that). (B, C)
Digital Content: having a library of digital content is key to the execution of your online marketing strategy; from photography to video these assets will pay off. (A, B, C)
Each of these elements have shown to deliver results as part of an overall online marketing strategy; that said expect change. When setting your budget be prepared to be flexible and adjust funding based on either:
- Results: continuously measure your results from your tactics and shift funding based on what works best for the property.
- Emerging Tactics: there will be new ways to reach customers and convert business be prepared to take advantage.
The budget process is the only the beginning; developing strategies for your business is worthless if they are not executed well.
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