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Unwrapping Success: SHR 7 Essential Tips for Digital Marketing and CRM During the Holiday Season

For businesses in the hospitality industry the holiday season presents a golden opportunity to connect with customers and boost revenue. Here at SHR, as the leading global specialist technology and service provider to the hotel industry, our gift to you is to offer invaluable insights to navigate the digital marketing landscape and harness the power of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) during this festive period.

Let’s unwrap the key tips to make your holiday marketing campaigns merry and bright.

  1. Create a Festive Content Calendar

One of the foundational steps in a successful holiday marketing strategy is to develop a comprehensive content calendar. This should encompass holiday-themed blog posts, social media content, and email campaigns.

For example, crafting posts like “Top Holiday Activities in Our Area” or “Delicious Seasonal Recipes from Our Chef” adds a personal touch to your brand. By maintaining a consistent and engaging presence throughout the season, your hotel stays top of mind for potential guests.

  1. Countdown to Christmas Email Campaign

Building anticipation is a powerful marketing tool and a creative way to do this is by creating a 12-day countdown to Christmas email campaign. Each email can feature an exclusive holiday offer or experience, showcasing your hotel’s cozy ambiance, festive decorations, and special in-room amenities.

Engaging subject lines, vivid imagery, and compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) will entice recipients to book and increasing bookings.

  1. Mobile Optimization for PPC/Social

Given the prevalence of mobile browsing during the holiday season, it’s crucial to ensure that your ads and landing pages are optimized for mobile devices. Remember users often browse and book on their phones, making mobile optimization essential for maximizing reach and conversions.

  1. Adapt to the Platform

Tailoring campaigns to each platform’s strengths is imperative in digital marketing. We would advise adjusting campaigns based on user behaviors on platforms like Instagram, Google Ads, Facebook, and Demand Gen. Utilizing festive creatives with enticing calls to action ensures that your ads resonate with the unique characteristics of each platform, enhancing their effectiveness.

  1. Holiday-Themed Paid Social Strategies

To capture the attention of potential guests immersed in the holiday spirit, incorporate holiday-themed videos and images into your paid social media strategy. While the lead time for conversion may be longer, this content contributes to audience building, creating a more compelling experience for potential guests.

  1. Maximizing Budget Efficiency with First-Party Data:

In the competitive landscape of holiday advertising, it is important to maximize budget efficiency. Utilizing first-party data to target consumers through lookalike audiences allows hotels to create highly targeted ads that speak directly to specific audiences, reducing waste and ensuring a higher return on investment.

  1. CRM Email Campaigns Aligned with Revenue Management:

This is a time of year to focus on the crucial intersection of CRM and revenue management, as marketing efforts should guide guests to offers that are not only enticing but also available for booking. This strategic alignment ensures a seamless customer journey, from awareness to conversion.

By incorporating our tips into your digital marketing and CRM strategy you should be able to significantly enhance your hotel’s visibility, engagement, and revenue during the holiday season. By embracing festive creativity, platform-specific tactics, and strategic CRM integration, your hotel can create a memorable and profitable holiday experience for both new and returning guests, keeping you always ahead. Unwrap the potential for success this holiday season with our expert guidance.

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The Evolving Landscape of Digital Marketing Trends

In the ever-evolving realm of digital marketing, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. As we delve into current digital marketing trends, the first and foremost trend that demands attention is the strategic utilization of first-party data. This trend has gained immense significance, especially for hotels looking to maximize the potential of Google Ads in their marketing efforts.

First-Party Data Unveiled

First-party data is the treasure trove of information collected directly from hotel guests. This includes valuable details like email addresses, phone numbers, loyalty program memberships, and booking history. Hotels can employ this data in various ways when leveraging Google Ads for hotels, such as:

  1. Creating Custom Audiences: First-party data empowers hotels to craft custom audiences within Google Ads. This allows for precise targeting, reaching specific groups like past guests, email subscribers, or loyal patrons.
  2. Enhancing Ad Relevance: Leveraging first-party data, hotels can significantly improve the relevance of their advertisements. For instance, guest booking history can be used to display ads for specific room types or amenities that align with the guests’ preferences.
  3. Measuring Conversion Performance: First-party data aids in evaluating the conversion performance of Google Ads for hotels campaigns. This data can be instrumental in tracking how many guests, after clicking on the ads, proceed to book a room at the hotel.

Real-World Application of First-Party Data

Here are some practical examples of how hotels are employing first-party data with Google Ads:

  • A hotel chain uses its email list to create a custom audience in Google Ads for hotels, targeting individuals who have previously expressed interest in their brand.
  • A hotel tailors its Google Search ads based on guest booking history. For instance, if a guest has previously booked a suite with a balcony, the hotel showcases ads for similar suites when they search for hotels in the same area.
  • Another hotel uses first-party data to assess the conversion performance of its Google Ads for hotels campaigns, tracking the number of guests who, after clicking on the ads, book a room directly on the hotel’s website.

The Value of First-Party Data

In summary, first-party data is a valuable asset for hotels venturing into Google Ads. It enables the creation of more relevant, targeted ads, improvement of conversion performance, and a deeper understanding of guests’ needs. It has the potential to be a game-changer in the digital marketing landscape.

Incorporating CRM Data

For instance, an SHR Group client has seamlessly integrated their CRM with Google Ads, enabling weekly data segmentation. This means they can send different ads depending on the audience, offering a personalized approach that resonates with potential guests. This level of personalization plays a pivotal role in influencing customer behavior and perception.

A Paradigm Shift in Audience Targeting

Google Ads have shifted their approach towards targeting user intent rather than their actions. This AI-driven approach leads to hyper-personalized campaigns, catering to the individual behaviors and preferences of the audience.

Strategies for Leveraging First-Party Data with Google Ads for Hotels

Here are some key tips for hotels aiming to harness first-party data effectively in their Google Ads strategies:

  1. Obtain Data with Consent: Always ensure that your guests are aware of and have consented to the collection and use of their data for marketing purposes.
  2. Segment Your Data: After collecting first-party data, segment it into distinct groups based on demographics, interests, and booking behavior. This facilitates the creation of highly targeted ad campaigns.
  3. Custom and Lookalike Audiences: Maximize the impact of first-party data by creating custom audiences and lookalike audiences in Google Ads. This is a potent strategy to enhance targeting precision.
  4. Ad Relevance: Utilize first-party data to optimize ad relevance. Tailor ad copy and creatives to resonate with specific audience segments.
  5. Measure and Adapt: Leverage first-party data to measure the performance of your Google Ads for Hotels campaigns. Use this insight to refine and improve your strategies.

The Urgency of First-Party Data in Light of Google Chrome’s Changes

Notably, in January 2023, Google Chrome commenced the phasing out of third-party cookies. This significant development underscores the importance of adopting a robust first-party data strategy. If you are yet to embark on this journey, it’s essential to recognize that your audience’s data will slowly deteriorate in the first six months of 2024, rendering it virtually useless unless complemented by first-party data.

In summary, first-party data is not just a trend; it’s an imperative component of successful digital marketing for hotels. By harnessing this data effectively, hotels can enhance their targeting, ad relevance, and ultimately, the guest experience, ensuring they remain at the forefront of the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Unlocking Sustainable Growth – The Power of Demand Generation in Digital Marketing

Demand generation, a pivotal digital marketing trend, holds the key to driving sustainable growth in the competitive online landscape. In an era where customers are inundated with information, businesses must proactively create and nurture demand for their products or services. Demand generation strategies encompass a spectrum of activities, from content marketing and social media advertising to SEO and email campaigns, all designed to engage and educate potential customers.

By focusing on building relationships, providing valuable content, and aligning marketing efforts with customer needs, demand generation not only increases brand awareness but also cultivates long-term customer loyalty. In today’s digital age, where relevance and personalization are paramount, demand generation stands as a vital driver of success for businesses looking to thrive and adapt to the evolving marketing landscape.

Google has undeniably recognized the growing significance of demand generation, particularly in light of the impending challenges posed by the erosion of third-party cookies in the coming year. To address this, Google has taken an unexpected approach by drawing inspiration from Facebook, a departure from their traditional role as trendsetters. Google’s recent move, aptly named Demand Gen, mirrors Facebook’s success in targeting consumers with ads through lookalike audiences.

This innovation was introduced in early October, and our digital team at SHR Group has witnessed promising outcomes, particularly in the realm of brand awareness campaigns. We’ve successfully transitioned clients’ discovery campaigns into Demand Gen campaigns. Notably, our analysis revealed that older brand awareness Google Display ad campaigns were yielding subpar traffic quality for client websites. This shift underscores the importance of leveraging social platforms for brand awareness and reserving Google Ads for conversion-focused endeavors. It’s a strategic shift towards smarter spending and prioritizing value over mere numbers.

The Transition in Measurement Paradigms with Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) marks the latest evolution of Google’s widely-used web analytics tool, and it introduces substantial transformations that reshape the way we gauge website performance. Foremost among these changes, that took place at the beginning of July, is the transition from a session-based measurement model to an event-based one. Instead of merely tracking pageviews and sessions, GA4 now meticulously records individual user interactions, encompassing actions like clicks, video views, and form submissions. This profound shift in measurement methodology provides a more intricate and comprehensive comprehension of user behavior, equipping hotel marketers with the tools they need to finely tune their digital offerings for their target audiences.

Furthermore, GA4 introduces a suite of advanced machine learning capabilities, affording the capacity for predictive insights and in-depth analysis. This enhancement solidifies GA4 as a formidable instrument for data-driven decision-making. In summation, the impact of the measurement paradigm shift with Google Analytics 4 is a profound one, granting hotels a more precise and detailed insight into their online audience and enabling them to craft highly effective and personalized digital experiences.

At SHR Group, the seamless transition we’ve experienced serves as the ultimate gauge of success, characterized by the fact that our clients noticed no disruptions or changes. Already, we’re exploring new and intriguing data applications for the benefit of over 400 of our clients.

The Erosion of Demographic Data in Digital Marketing

Demographics have traditionally played a pivotal role in shaping marketing strategies, enabling businesses to direct their efforts toward specific demographic groups defined by age, gender, income, education, and other defining characteristics. However, the landscape of digital marketing has undergone significant shifts, driven by the prevalence of ad blockers, stringent privacy regulations, and the growing dominance of mobile devices. These changes have rendered the accurate capture of demographic data increasingly challenging, with early indications suggesting that Google Analytics 4 records only a fraction of your traffic with age, gender, and interests data.

Consequently, hotels may find themselves compelled to rely on imprecise or incomplete datasets if they persist in targeting their advertising based on traditional demographic parameters. This, in turn, can lead to resource wastage and ineffective marketing campaigns.

In response to this issue, hotels must place a premium on transparency and ethical data collection practices. This entails drawing from verified data sources and affording consumers control over their data privacy settings. Furthermore, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning offer promising avenues for hotels to more accurately pinpoint potential guests. In sum, the erosion of demographics in digital marketing underscores the imperative of responsible data utilization and the adoption of ethical marketing practices.

Rising Cost per Click – OTAs Rejoin the Bidding War

The quest for advertising space on search engines and social media platforms has intensified, driving up the demand and consequently the cost of paid clicks in the realm of paid search. Furthermore, shifts in search engine algorithms and advertising regulations have made it progressively arduous for advertisers to secure prominent ad placements without incurring higher costs per click (CPC).

The cost-per-click (CPC) for hotel pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns has seen a continuous ascent, largely attributed to the intensified competition between hotels and online travel agents (OTAs) such as Booking.com and Expedia. This heightened competition became particularly pronounced in 2022, as we observed across our client base. With the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, OTAs resumed their marketing campaigns, unveiling a hidden cost. For instance, the average CPC for brand campaigns alone witnessed a significant surge, often reaching an increase of about 50%. The bidding war for advertising space in the digital realm has undeniably contributed to this ongoing upward trajectory in CPC, making it increasingly challenging for independent hotels to achieve a cost-effective return on investment in the ever-competitive and cost-intensive advertising landscape.

Finally, the surging popularity of mobile devices has fueled the growth of mobile advertising, inherently commanding a higher CPC compared to desktop advertising. The convergence of these dynamics has compounded the challenges faced by independent hotels striving for a profitable return on investment (ROI) in an increasingly crowded and costly advertising landscape.

Posted in Industry Trends

Google Analytics 4 – what is it and what do I need to know?

Since its release way back in 2005, Google Analytics has had a significant impact on the way we are able to monitor, measure and make changes to our website performance. Sure it’s been through many significant updates to improve its functionality and usability over the years, but this time, one of the most widely used analytics platforms on the web, is hitting us with a hefty update.

We all knew the change was coming but the announcement still made it all very real…

The release of Google Analytics 4 offers a range of new features including many that were previously available only to customers who paid for Analytics 360 – so watch out for a lot more functionality. 

The most noticeable changes, compared to older versions, is that GA4 places a heavy focus on overcoming regulatory changes such as GDPR, can work with or without cookies and makes tracking users across multiple platforms much easier to achieve. 

Here are some of the top-level benefits and improvements we expect to see rolled out with Google Analytics 4:

  • More robust cross-device and cross-platform tracking
  • Accurate reporting on unique users across platforms
  • Advanced analysis reports available to all, not just 360 users
  • Free BigQuery connection
  • New metrics for more accurate tracking on your website
  • Robust cross-platform insights
  • Debugging within the interface
  • No limits to data
  • Automatic event tracking
  • Let’s have a closer look at what’s coming our way this time next year…
  • One of the main changes is the User Interface on the platform which is completely different from Universal Analytics predominantly on the navigation tab on the left hand side.
  • Google Analytics 4 Interface
  • Universal Analytics Interface
  •  Another change is that GA4 is based on ‘events’ as opposed to the ‘sessions’ used by Universal Analytics. This change will force us to readdress how we think about attribution in the ‘cookieless future’. For example, visiting a page, watching a video or scrolling down a page.
  • It’s focused on giving a “more complete understanding of the customer journey across devices.” And it seems that it’s more focused on measuring an end-to-end shopper journey, and not just individual metrics across devices/pages/segments.
  • There is a focus more on users and audiences & not on sessions and pageviews. The new acquisition section comes with two sections: User acquisition and Traffic acquisition which gives more insights to how t

he user is interacting.

GA4 report 4

These are just a snapshot of the changes made by Google. We will continue to delve into the new functionality this platform offers over the coming months so stay tuned for updates.

So, what happens next?

Don’t panic – you have a little time before all of this really affects you and marketers can run Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 in parallel for now. 

GA4 is still some way off from becoming the default Google Analytics platform, but it’ll get there eventually. Now’s the perfect time to start learning more about GA4—and collecting the information you’ll need to make comparisons in the future.

At SHR Group, we are rolling out GA4 for our customers as we want to start collecting GA4 data as soon as possible. The reason why is that when Google eventually switches to GA4 only, we are ready for the change with at least 12 months of data for year on year analysis. 

So for now, stay calm and keep tracking, we are all in this together.

Posted in Industry Trends

Digital Marketing Trends

By Eileen Lillis, Sarah Sweeney and Elle Walsh.

Here in SHR Group our Digital Marketing team are always on the lookout for and testing new and innovative tech and marketing platforms to see how they could; be adopted for our Hotel clients.

Below is a snapshot of what the team have been keeping an eye and deploying for clients recently and what is keeping is busy in the coming months ahead. These new trends demonstrate the ever-evolving nature of digital marketing and the need for hotel marketers to stay on top of the latest trends to succeed in a competitive landscape.

Performance Max and New Campaign types changing digital marketing

This year digital marketers will experiment with new campaign types to reach their target audience in more innovative and engaging ways. One campaign type of particular relevance for Hotel Marketers is Performance Max for Travel Goals or Travel Max. This goal-based, multi-channel campaign has been designed to drive more targeted intent traffic for Hotels. Powered by Google’s AI campaign type, Performance Max, Travel Max helps hotel’s easily expand reach and drive more conversions across the entire Google ecosystem.

This new campaign type creates ads in multiple formats that will automatically serve across Google channels and inventory, including Google Maps, Search, YouTube and Hotel Ads (coming later in 2023).

The difference being that Performance Max for Travel Goals is a goal-based, audience-oriented campaign, instead of the keyword or network-targeted approach of previous campaign types.

Advertisers who use Performance Max achieve on average over 18% more conversions at a similar cost per action. (Google Support Article, 2023)

The degradation of demographics in digital marketing

Demographics have always vital component of any marketing strategy as they allow businesses to target specific groups of people based on their age, gender, income, education, and other characteristics. However, with the rise of ad blockers, privacy regulations, and the increasing use of mobile devices, it has become increasingly difficult to accurately capture demographic data and early signs show that only a small portion of your traffic being recorded in Google Analytics 4 will have age, gender and interests‘ data.

In just 1 example we have looked at GA4 data going back as far as July 1st 2022 (the cut-off date for year over data capture) and “Unknown” accounts for over 90% of the users when looking at the age demographics.

As a result, hotels may resort to using inaccurate or incomplete data sets to target their advertising if they stay focused on these demographic sets. The impact of which will be wasted resources and ineffective campaigns.

To combat this issue, hotels must prioritize transparency and ethical data collection practices, using only verified data sources and allowing consumers to control their data privacy settings. Additionally, new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning can help Hotels more accurately reach potential guests. Overall, the degradation of demographics in digital marketing highlights the need for responsible data usage and ethical marketing practices.

The Impact of Measurement Changing with GA4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of the popular web analytics tool from Google, and it comes with significant changes that impact how we measure website performance. One of the most significant changes is the shift from session-based measurement to event-based measurement. This means that instead of tracking pageviews and sessions, GA4 tracks individual user interactions, such as clicks, video views, and form submissions. This change in measurement allows for a more comprehensive understanding of user behavior, allowing hotel marketers to tailor their digital experiences to their audiences better.

Additionally, GA4 also includes more advanced machine learning capabilities, allowing for predictive insights and analysis, making it a more robust tool for data-driven decision-making. Overall, the impact of measurement changing with Google Analytics 4 is that it provides hotel’s with a more accurate and detailed understanding of their online audiences and empowers them to create more effective digital experiences.

Impact of Social Media platforms in digital marketing and how that is impacting revenue attribution

As businesses increasingly invest in social media ads, it has become challenging to accurately attribute revenue to specific marketing efforts. Paid social media ads can influence customer behavior across multiple touchpoints in the customer journey, making it difficult to identify the most influential touchpoints.

Furthermore, many businesses use multi-channel marketing strategies that involve multiple digital channels, which further complicates revenue attribution. To address these challenges, businesses are adopting more advanced attribution models that take into account the impact of paid social media advertising on the entire customer journey. For example, someone might search the brand name and click through a Google search ad, find the room but leave the site to go talk to their partner about the trip before making the booking.

After speaking with their partner, they search the brand name again but this time they come through to the site from a metasearch listing. Before they searched on Google, they may have also seen an ad on Facebook for the brand which inspired them to search for the property in the first place. In a situation like this, Facebook Google Search and Metasearch would all claim to have generated some of that revenue, so this is where the increasing use of social advertising impacts the revenue distribution.

As more and social platforms win market share, they will inevitably become part of the marketing mix for Hotels and they will start claiming revenue wins as their own through their own attribution models. In some cases, we are already seeing Paid attribution across multiple channels is summing to above what was delivered in the period measured.

Increasing Cost per Clicks – OTAs back in the auction

Competition for ad space on search engines and social media platforms increases the demand and therefore the price of clicks on paid search. Additionally, changes to search engine algorithms and advertising policies have made it more difficult for advertisers to achieve prominent ad placements without increasing their CPC.

In recent years, the cost-per-click (CPC) for hotel pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns has been on the rise. There are several factors contributing to this trend. Firstly, the competition among hotels and online travel agents (OTAs) such as Booking.com and Expedia has risen, in 2022 this was seen across all our clients who are still using OTAs, with the end of the pandemic the OTAs began spending on marketing campaigns again and the hidden cost of the OTAs was realized with typically a 50% in increase in the avg. CPC for the brand campaigns alone.

Finally, the growing popularity of mobile devices has led to an increase in mobile advertising, which typically has a higher CPC than desktop advertising. All of these factors combined have made it more challenging for independent hotels going it alone to achieve a profitable ROI in this increasingly crowded and expensive advertising landscape.

In SHR group we have over 20s year experience working across the digital marketing landscape and typically see ROIs of over 20 to 1 across all channels, we work with.

Learn how Cheval Collection increased Revenue by 82% through using SHR Group’s digital expertise.

Posted in Industry Trends

Woodlands Hotel

How working with SHR increased direct bookings and reduced cancellations