Get More Direct Bookings, Pay Less On Conversion Costs

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Ad Spend

Written by Jade Shojaee, Webinar by Jason Albert and Cristin Barta

Getting more direct bookings is the goal of every vacation rental manager and it’s not hard to understand why. Having a guest book direct is the best way to establish rapport, accumulate property reviews  and get repeat bookings, not to mention you save money by avoiding commission fees to third party sites. Or do you? 

Behind every direct booking is the ad campaign that drove would-be-travelers to visit, browse and book through your site directly, instead of  booking through an OTA like Booking.com or Expedia. Unfortunately, it costs money to run an ad campaign and, if you aren’t strategic about your ad spend and meticulous about measuring your return on ad spend, your direct bookings just might be costing you more than those commissions you tried to avoid paying in the first place. 

Find out how to run ad campaigns that will drive your direct bookings without overpaying for them with these expert tips from digital marketing mavens in RedAwning’s Marketing division, Cristin Barta and Jason Albert.

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What type of traffic is worth paying for?

What are the different types of ad spend? 

  • Awareness Ads are ads designed to target shoppers who have only just begun to think about booking something in your destination. They may have seen photos of a friend’s vacation and feel inspired to start researching a trip of their own or they are in the “dream phase” of their future trip, getting inspiration from  Pinterest photos and. At this stage in the funnel because you are essentially competing with huge travel channels like Booking.com and Expedia who pay to show up in Google searches made by people who haven’t yet narrowed down what they’d like to search for/book. Watch the webinar for a more thorough breakdown. 

  • Interest Ads are designed to target travelers who are starting to hone in on a destination but might still be unsure on specifics. Cost per acquisition for these types of ads tends to err on the expensive side. Fun fact: Booking Holdings spent 1.9B dollars on performance marketing (primarily on Google ads) in Q2 alone. We can’t compete with that but we can run effective ad campaigns that will get users to you website.
  • Desire Ads: This is the most crucial time to get people to your website! They are ready to book and they know exactly where they want to go. Now all they need is a push in the right direction, AKA YOUR direction. Shoppers in this stage are likely searching for vacation rentals in your destination and an ad or two can go a long way in helping them come to a final decision. Watch the webinar for more information on effective Action Ads.
  • Action Ads: What happens when a traveler gets all the way to your website, almost books your property but, for one reason or another, does not complete the conversion? This is where action ads come in handy. What are actions ads? These are your attempts to retarget people  who have already been on your site and may still be interested in booking. Ensuring that your property shows up in an ad or two wherever else your would-be-booker might be shopping will keep your property top of mind when they are ready to book.

Track Your Results:

Start tracking the success of your paid ads with the help of these free Google tools designed to help you make informed decisions when it comes to tracking your marketing approach: 

  • Google Analytics 
  • Google Ads 
  • Google Data Studio
  • Google Search Console
  • Google Tag Manager 

Need help setting up your tracking devices? Watch the webinar or contact your RedAwning account manager.

    How To Analyze Your Results:

    Capturing data is just one component of the analytics process. The real challenge is figuring out what you want to measure, how to measure it and how to interpret your results based on the goals of your campaign. Here are a few types of analysis designed to help you measure various results: 

    Acquisition Analysis

    Selecting source / medium as your primary dimension will help you identify where your visitors are coming from. Site traffic will be driven from all kinds of places including email campaigns, organic Google searches or paid Google ads, Bing, and  social media to name a few. Knowing where your visitors are coming from will help you understand where you should be putting your time, energy and money. 

    Device Differentiation  

    This type of analysis helps you determine whether your bookings are being made on mobile or desktop or tablet. This will help you better understand the behavior of your customers and the effectiveness of your website on the various devices modern travelers use to book their accommodations.  Learn more, watch the webinar. 

    Behavior Analysis 

    This is where you can track what visitors are doing once they get to your site. How long are users staying on each page? How high is your bounce rate and which parts of your site seem to be the most commonly bounced off of? Having this information will alert you to any issues your site may be having such as slow load times, vague calls to action, or hard to navigate user experiences.

    Keep in mind:  Always make sure that your paid campaigns are driving people to the appropriate webpage. If they click on your ad and land somewhere that doesn’t feel relevant they will leave and Google charges more for visits to an irrelevant page.

    Expert tip: Make sure to set the select traffic source or device source as your secondary dimension to the correlation between bounce rate and device used to browse your site. If most of your bounces are coming from people who went to your site on their mobile device, you might want to look at the mobile responsiveness of your page. 

    How about a play by play? Watch the webinar. 

    What can I do about high bounce rates? 

    • Improve readability
    • Check page speed load times
    • Avoid unnecessary pop-ups 
    • Include a prominent call to action
    • Consider using better keywords and more targeted landing pages 

    Watch the webinar for a more detailed explanation.