Getting started with paid advertising: a property owner’s guide

Improving your online presence can take time. But it doesn’t have to. In this post, we look at how paid advertising strategies like PPC, display advertising and paid social media can instantly boost your visibility and help you maximise revenue.

While search engine optimisation (SEO) is certainly a cost-effective way to slowly increase traffic to your hotel website, search engine marketing (SEM) can bring more immediate results.

No matter your budget, there’s a paid advertising option to suit your digital marketing strategy, enhance your search performance and boost your ranking:

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

Pay-per-click advertising is a form of internet marketing whereby a business places an ad with an online search engine and pays a fee every time that ad is clicked.

So, in effect, PPC lets you pay to increase the amount of visitors to your own website. This creates an opportunity for you to sell your product, be it hotel rooms, accommodation packages or other extras.

Google Ads is the biggest and best known PPC advertising tool around. It lets you create ads that appear as sponsored links in their search engine results. These ads can be basic blocks of text, images of products, or even location points on a map.

The benefits of PPC

PPC ads offer a flexible payment model. You can choose to either pay for every click your hotel ad receives, or for ad 'impressions' – the number of times your ad has been displayed to a user.

You’ll always stay in control of your spending because you get to 'bid' on clicks and impressions. You tell Google how much you’re willing to pay, and they weigh that against other bids – with the higher bids winning better positions in the ad rankings.

You can even decide on a daily, weekly or monthly budget to limit your costs. And while pay-per-click advertising naturally costs you money upfront, the results can be immediate.

For example, let’s say you spend EUR 3 per click and you get 100 clicks. That’s EUR 300 spent. But given the click-through rate (CTR) for simple text ads on Google Ads is 0.23%, you’ll be getting 23 unique visitors to your hotel website – or 23 chances to sell your rooms. Depending on your rates, you may only need to sell a couple of rooms to make your money back.

The secret to PPC success is knowing your audience, choosing the right keywords and getting your timing right. Once you identify your main audience through guest segmentation, you can tailor your ad text to suit the most likely potential guests.

You can also tweak your PPC ads’ content, as well as their timing, to appeal to certain potential guests. You could promote special offers tied to specific local events, or highlight last-minute deals with urgent messaging to appeal to mobile bookers on the move.

Digital display advertising

Display ads are visual banners or boxes found on any online platform that supports adverts. That’s most sites nowadays, so you’ve probably come across them in a mobile app or while reading the news online.

You might assume this omnipresence of display ads means that they easily get lost in the digital clutter, but they’re ideal for building awareness of your property’s brand. People are never far from a screen these days, so you always have an audience on hand to promote your hotel to.

The likes of Google Display, Facebook Audience and Bing can help you reach millions of online users.

The benefits of display ads

One advantage of digital display advertising is that it’s a passive form of brand promotion. Online users may see your ad (and subconsciously register your message) but not necessarily click on it. That also means it’s a lot cheaper than pay per click advertising.

Some businesses are slow to try display advertising because they’re worried about what sites their brand may be advertised on. However, display ads actually give you a lot of control over your online presence.

You can choose between site placement advertising (you decide on the specific websites your ads appear on), contextual advertising (ads are shown on similarly themed sites as your own business) or remarketing advertising (ads are targeted to consumers who’ve already visited your site).

As long as you’re staying true to your property offering and staying relevant to your audience, there’s nothing to lose from giving digital display advertising a chance.

Social media advertising

In travel, social media has been a great business leveller. The likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have given small hotel owners free, easy-to-use platforms that help market their property to a huge, global audience.

However, to stay in the game these days, you need to pay. Even if you have 10,000 followers who’ve 'liked' your Facebook page, only a small number will see a photo or post of yours – unless you pay to promote it.

The benefits of paid social media ads

Facebook’s algorithms collect a lot of user data. This means you can target your ad to travellers who have specifically shown an interest in your hotel or destination.

These ads are relatively cheap compared to adverts on traditional media. What’s more, you can track your ad’s performance – and your return on investment – with tools like Ads Manager and Pixel.

You can also customise your audience and retarget ads towards travellers who’ve visited your website previously – keeping your hotel in their thoughts while they consider their options.

On Twitter, follower targeting lets you connect with followers of a relevant Twitter handle (the account name), or target the context of individual tweets by selecting keywords like 'beach party' or 'afterski'.

Depending on which guest segment you’re looking to attract, you should use different social media channels to relay your hotel brand message or promote deals. Millennials favour visual platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, while business travellers prefer the text format of Twitter.

If you have a small budget, you can create and manage ads that are more targeted by looking out for trends. Then you can adjust your medium, target audience or ad spend to optimise your return on investment.

Use the available ad analytics to find what works best for your property, and watch out for updates or new features on your chosen social media channel.

All of this is not to suggest that you stop doing what you’ve always done. Keep creating and sharing appealing content to build your following on social media in order to make a connection between your property and potential new guests.

As you can see, there are paid advertising strategies that even the smallest hotels can embrace in order to enhance their online presence and increase their revenue. Which will you choose?

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