We are at a time when the need for small brand exposure is getting bigger. But the likelihood of getting that exposure is diminishing.
Every day, boutique hotels are finding it more difficult to compete in the market.
Customer spontaneity is one factor you have on your side. One day your customers are searching for their vacation on Google. Five minutes later they are looking up cat videos all afternoon on YouTube. It is that spontaneity that keeps all advertisers on an equal playing field.
Just like you, your competition has no idea where your customers’ next moves will be. Through planning, strategic data-collection, and anticipation we can adapt to meet them halfway.
1) Review your website design
Your website is the center of your online universe. It is the central point all the other online components try and drive traffic too.
The first thing you need to do is take an honest look at your hotel’s website.
What do you customers think about your website experience? When was the last time you asked one of your customers what they thought about your site’s usability? Seems like a simple question but most people never do.
If your customers are not interested in the thin pages you have on your site, what is the point of keeping them? Consider combining smaller pages into more useful robust pages.
Let’s talk decisions. Overchoice is a cognitive process that impacts people’s ability to make decisions. It states that the more choices someone has, the more challenging the decision they have to make.
Think of this in the context of your website. Every page one of your user’s visits is a choice. If your site has 70+ pages, those pages are competing for your user’s attention. What is that doing to your conversion rates?
People’s attention spans are shrinking. A study by Microsoft clocks it at about eight seconds. And yes, that is about four seconds shorter than a goldfish.
People are diving into your website, getting lost, and leaving without converting.
People like convenience. They want the information they are trying to get at in a concise, easy to digest manner. Like Neil Patel said, “If you aren’t sure how many options to give your visitors, always go with the lower number.” For the sake of your conversion rates, make every page your users see the count.
2) Hire a professional copywriter
Not everyone should be a copywriter. When it comes down to writing your main site content, writing compelling copy is tough.
With so many choices, your customers expect the best the second the interaction starts.
People want to see the human emotion of your brand. Stop worrying about covering up every imperfection.
This is where a professional comes it. A little tends to go a long way. Overdoing the delicate balance can have impacts in either direction.
TripAdvisor didn’t get to where they are because people love the green color. It got to where it is because people perceive it to be a platform they can trust.
The right mix of emotion and storytelling can have the same effect on your users.
3) Create engaging content
Like I said, the average attention span is somewhere right around eight seconds.
If your content is not stimulating, you have already lost the conversion.
All too often hotels use their blog as a press release section. This is not what this part of your website should be for!
Why do people like to read the reviews? That is where the action and drama is!
People want to know the top local bars that have the best happy hours. Or where are the best places to take a four-year-old kid around the city?
Create content that helps your customer or people traveling to your city. Position yourself as the central knowledge hub for travelers in your area.
Be there to answer their questions when they have them.
4) Start a blog
Now I know what you are about to say. “You just told us to reduce the number of pages; now you want us to add a blog?” In short, yes.
You need to start looking at your website like a funnel: exposure, awareness, conversion. Websites should have three similar parts: blogs, main content, and calls-to-action.
Your blog is a way to gain reach and exposure by answering your customer’s questions. When your customer has questions, they go to your site to answer that question. In return, you gain exposure.
Next is your main content. This is what we were talking about condensing earlier. This content informs your users who you are and what you do.
Calls-to-actions get users to take action on your website like make a purchase or sign up for your email list.
Back to your blog. First thing, your blog should be a subdirectory and not a sub domain. The reason being, search consider subdomains and root domains two separate sites. To maximize effectiveness and simplicity, keep all your content on one website.
A professional copywriter works well for writing your main website copy. But try and have someone on property in charge of your blog.
A great person for this role would be the concierge. All day long, people are asking him or her where the best places to eat are, and where to get show tickets. These questions are a goldmine for engaging content. Take time to write them down.
5) Stick to a content creation plan
If you are going to be writing quality content, you need to have a plan in place.
Without one, it becomes overwhelming, and the details begin to fall through the cracks.
Take the ten minutes and come up with a detailed content plan. Write down your process. How are you going to come up with ideas? What is your content going to look like? Who are you writing it for?
Defining these details beforehand creates an easy to follow the checklist. Now anyone on your team could pick up and write compelling content for your audience.
Detail how often you will post new content and to what channels. Who will be responsible for publishing the content on your social media channels? Who is going to reply to your reader’s comments?
Outlining all these steps in a process creates an easy to follow content creation plan. Once you have a plan in place, stick with it.
6) Optimize your site for mobile
We are living in a multi-device world. With the IoT in full effect, it is only going to get more complicated.
Pay attention to how your users are using your mobile channels. How easy is it for them to convert? Are they overwhelmed with annoying popups?
Your mobile experience could be destroying your relationship with your potential customers.
Once someone leaves your site because they had a terrible experience; it ‘s hard to get them back.
Remember, if someone enjoys their experience they might tell a friend. If they didn’t, they would tell the world.
As Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
7) Review your local search listings
It amazes me how many people do not Google themselves every once in a while.
When was the last time you Google’d be your property?
Chances are you are losing conversions because of inaccurate, outdated contact information.
Links connecting your website to local sources of information are called local citations. As time progresses, your site naturally starts to accumulate these citations.
The problem is, if your information changes, these citations are often left unchanged. Now you have 50+ websites out there all showing different phone numbers. This misinformation creates a lot of frustration.
These citations directly impact your ability to rank in local search.
The way search engines see this is if you don’t even know where your property is, how credible are you?
Just because you forgot about all those old citations doesn’t mean Google has. If it has to decide which of the six phone numbers listed is the best phone number, chances are it is going to get it wrong.
Search engines get frustrated easy. Don’t let that frustration give one of your competitors your spot instead.
Next, imagine someone’s flight just landed. That person could be looking for a last minute place to stay. They look up your hotel and call a number that is no longer in service. Then, they move on to the next hotel.
Easy wins just by taking a couple of hours and making sure all our listings are up to date. How much revenue could those could hours be worth to the bottom line?
8) Create a linking and citation strategy
Once you review old citations, it is time to expand that network with new citations.
The number of websites on the internet grows every day. Some of these new websites are going to be important for your industry. Pay attention.
These citations are links back to your site helping your SEO. They also act as a way to amplify your reach and exposure into new markets.
Every new citation that comes up is a new opportunity to cast your net a little wider.
9) Review and optimize your social networks
If you still think that social media is a waste of time, you are missing the boat entirely. We are marketing in the 21 century.
Think of social networks as massive central databases of people. You have access to these massive datasets!
Be smart and start reaching out to people. Build your presence in the right way and you could open your brand up to thousands of new customers.
Be there when they want to interact with you. I guarantee your ideal customers are on social media.
Now what I know some of you are doing is going on and talking about how great your brand is. Stop that immediately.
People don’t care what you say about yourself. Post thought to provocate, engaging content.
Create trust with your audience by starting ligament conversations.
I post all the time about the places I am traveling. Never once has a hotel reached out and said, “hey while you’re here go check out…”.
10) Review your data collection plan
Out of everything on this list, data collection is the most important. If you can’t measure it, you cant fix it. And if you can’t fix it, it means it is a waste.
Today, over 60% of online marketing budgets are wasted. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, 60% is a huge number. It is, and for some of you, that means hundreds of thousands of dollars are missing your mark.
You need to spend the time investing in understanding what is and is not working. Keep what is working and kill off what isn’t.
We spend way too much time A/B testing things that have no business being tested. Only to end up with no conclusive results. What is the purpose of testing something if we do not get some actionable piece of knowledge of out it?
You can uncover some excellent pieces of information by layering data in different ways.
Data is useless unless we get something out of it. The more information we can gather in one place, the more we can see hidden trends.
I know that is a lot of information and thank you for taking the time to stick with me this far.
Amplifying your search results is a process with hundreds of little parts.
Peter Caputa put it best. “SEO is not something you do anymore; it’s what happens when you do everything else right.” And that is exactly what we need to be doing.