Using the Three Cs to Create Value for Your Customers

Marketing often seems like an overwhelmingly confusing proposition, but really it’s quite simple. At its core, the marketplace can be distilled to its three core elements – your company, your competitors and the customers. You may recall Omhae’s Three Cs from your Marketing 101 class, but don’t dismiss this as just another clever acronym. Everything you do in marketing should incorporate these three Cs. After all, marketing basically is finding a way to position your company so that customers choose it over the competition. The bigger question, though, is how to do this.Read More

Simple A/B Testing for Results

If you’re using a website to sell products or services, or to draw supporters to your cause, you want it to be the best it can be. Split, or A/B, testing provides the data you need to make better decisions about how to achieve this.

A/B testing is a simple experiment: You create two different versions of your website, randomly split your site traffic to each, then sit back and watch what happens. What happens depends on your goals. For most businesses, these goals are related to maximizing sales, customer engagement, ad spending, or optimizing product features.Read More

How Effective is your Marketing Dashboard?

We recently had the chance to sit down with two professionals from the hospitality industry who frequently initiate new media marketing campaigns and evaluate their impact. Lauren Levin, Vice President of Interactive Marketing for Sbe Entertainment, and Greg Bodenlos, Marketing Manager for Revinate discuss how they determined the success of their efforts for the brands they were serving. Last week we featured their answers on how they measure their marketing performance. Read More

Conjoint Analysis and Big Data

Recently, the team at eCornell had the chance to sit down with Marco Vriens, Managing Director of Strategic Analytics and SVP Methodology at The Modellers and ask for his insights on marketing research using conjoint analysis. Marco has also appeared in eCornell’s Ask the Expert segments for our newest certificate Advanced Marketing Research

How do big data relate to conjoint analysis?

So nowadays there’s a lot of talk about big data, and obviously big data has an incredible potential Read More

Measure Your Marketing Performance

Clearly, new media marketing can serve a range of functions for your organization. This is one of the reasons why deriving concrete returns on these efforts—such as marketing campaigns intended to simply raise awareness of a brand—can be challenging.

We had the chance to sit down with two professionals from the hospitality industry who frequently initiate new media marketing campaigns and evaluate their impact. Lauren Levin, Vice President of Interactive Marketing for Sbe Entertainment, and Greg Bodenlos, Marketing Manager for Revinate discuss how they determined the success of their efforts for the brands they were serving.Read More

How Staff Efforts at the Property Level Can Increase Your Website Performance

All hoteliers would like to see an increase in the amount of revenue contributed from their website.  After all, direct bookings are the most profitable. Here are some quick, easy and fun ways to get your hotel staff to positively influence your website performance.

Re-market On Property 

Remarketing is a favored strategy in Search Engine Optimization (SEM). If a customer visits your website without making a booking, effective remarketing will continue to serve up ads about your hotel as the customer continues to browse the internet.

While guest are at your hotel, you should continue these re-marketing efforts at the hotel level. There are guest touch points all over the property.  Remember not all guests at your hotel booked their stays through your website. They may have found your hotel in the yellow pages or was recommended by a friend. They may have booked their rooms by calling the property or used a travel agent. So, it’s important to share your website’s URL and inform your guests that they can find the best deal there. This effort does two things; (1) increases awareness to your website, and (2) incentivizes guests to think of your hotel again when they return to your city. Here are several ideas how you can implement this at your hotel:

  • Create posters, flyers, door hangers, tent cards , etc. and display these in guest rooms, elevators, breakfast rooms, and lobby.
  • If you’re taking advantage of digital marketing boards, feature a screen capture of your website
  • Have your website URL printed on guest receipts

You want to continually remarket your website to your guests in an effort to influence their future purchasing behavior by constantly reminding them to visit your website for future stays. For guests who did book on your website, the on-property marketing will reinforcing that behavior.

Local Relationships

Local businesses and attractions are a great place to get referral traffic to your website.  Building partnerships or relationships will help increase referral traffic to your site.  Ask local attractions and businesses to list your hotel on their website with a  link back to your hotel’s website. You can offer these businesses an incentive to list your hotel on their site by giving and exclusive discounted rate. For area attractions such as theme parks or golf resorts, an incentive could be helping them sell tickets through your hotel concierge or front desk.  Referral traffic can convert into a direct website booking just as easily as search traffic.

Socialize Your Staff

Social signals are playing an increasing role in SEO.  Effective search engine strategies require the use of Social Media.  Are you leveraging your hotel staff in social efforts?  Here are several ways you can encourage your hotel staff to promote your hotel on social media channels and increase your fan base:

  • Feature your staff members on your Facebook page
  • Ask your staff for provide “locals’ tips” they can share with current and potential guests to help them learn about the best places to eat, park, things to do in and around your city.
  • Share these tips on social channels and highlight the staff that provided the tip.

These tips may seem basic and possibly even old-school, but getting back to basics can improve performance. Educate your staff on how their efforts on property play into your online success.

By: Heidi Bitar, Director of Client Services, Milestone Internet Marketing. Anil Aggarwal, CEO, has appeared in eCornell’s Ask the Expert segments for our New Media Course for Hospitality Professionals.

*This is reposted from the Milestone Internet Blog.

Mobile Site vs Responsive Design Site – Which One is Right for You?

Lyena Solomon is the Director of Search for MileStone Internet Marketing, Inc. Anil Aggarwal, CEO, has appeared in eCornell’s Ask the Expert segments for our New Media Course for Hospitality Professionals.

Do you know any adults who do not have a cell phone? Probably not. In a recent study by comScore MobiLens, there is a steady growth in adoption of smart phones in the US. It is predicted that in November 2012, 53% of the US mobile subscribers owned a smartphone.

One of the most popular mobile activities is search. According to BIA/Kelsey, mobile searches will bypass desktop counterparts by 2015.

Source: http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/direct/local-to-account-for-two-thirds-of-mobile-ad-spend-in-2016-21747/

Most of the mobile searches happen on Google. RKG’s estimates 27% of Google searches will be via mobile in Q4-2013. Mobile share of organic and direct traffic is expected to rise as well.

Source: http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/interactive/mobile-share-of-web-traffic-jumped-in-q4-2012-26057/

What do people search for? According to a February 2012 study done by Localeze and 15miles,  92% of US smartphone users look up information about local businesses on their mobile devices.  The same study shows that 86% of the local searches on tablets and almost 75% of mobile phone searches resulted in a purchase.

According to eMarketer, 20% of travelers in the US will make reservations on smart phones in 2013. Of course, in order to take a piece of the “mobile shoppers” market share, your website needs to be mobile accessible.  At Milestone, we see mobile traffic share anywhere from 25% to 42% on our clients’ sites. And the numbers are growing.

Moreover, cell phone users carry their precious devices with them all the time; and  according to Cisco Study, many check their devices every 10 minutes. A research done by Prosper Mobile Insights reveals that people are also planning to spend even more time on their mobile devices. The predicted number of people who plan to shop on their mobile devices has almost doubled in 2013.

If you are still not sure if you need a mobile website, the answer is a resounding “yes!”  The remaining question, however, is – in what kind of mobile website should you invest in?

Mobile website vs. Responsive design website

There are two options for you: mobile website and responsive design website.

Mobile website is a separate site, designed for mobile phones and mobile browsers.  It has a different overall design, sporting big buttons, click-to-call phone numbers, and lighter content that is focused for mobile user.  Mobile sites usually feature maps, directions, and simple forms.

The main benefit of having a mobile site is that you can target your mobile audience very well. You can put all the information they are looking for right at their finger tips. Your mobile site will work on smart phones as well as dumb phones.

The drawbacks are several.  Since your desktop site and mobile site are two separate entities, when you update your website, you will need to update your mobile site as well.  You will have to allocate internal resources for mobile site development and content re-writing and adjustment, like scaling down the images.  If you have a huge site, it might take a long time to scale the site down and determine what content to include in the mobile website. There are also some code adjustments you need to do for search engines. In addition, there are limitations on tracking your visitors and their actions on your mobile site.

If those drawbacks are deal breakers, then the second option might be best for your hotel.

Responsive Design – There are many benefits to responsive design. The main benefit is that once implemented, the website will scale based on what device was used by the visitor – desktop or laptop, mobile phone, or tablet.  Images, columns, navigation will all adjust to the device size and resolution, taking up the entire screen real estate. In addition, because you only have one single site, It requires little maintenance once implemented and is a good long term solution.  A responsive website benefits from exposure to all visitors – mobile or desktop – and steadily gains popularity on the website because of links and sharing.

Sounds perfect? Well, there are still some drawbacks.

The main consideration is that it will take a lot of resources to design and implement the new website layout. The first step is to define a fluid design and concept for the website. Next, the code and queries for responsive design must them be implemented on each and every page of the site. Yes, I mean it – each and every page. And because there are more codes, this can lead to higher download time. In this case, the site would need to be re-evaluated and adjusted to make it load faster.

But wait, that’s not it.  The website content then needs to be reviewed and edited to accommodate both desktop and mobile viewers. If the website has a lot of content, it will need to be reduced. It is important to be very selective about what content to keep and what can be deleted because every page can and will be accessible on every device. With a small screen and less time to browse, it’s important to present the most important content to mobile users. It is critical to have concise content, friendly navigation, and quick-loading images in order to delight mobile users.

There is an attempt by Google to help pick a mobile site solution for your business.  In their blog post, Google attempts to help businesses select the right solution by comparing available options.

What mobile solution is best for you?

Whether it’s responsive design or mobile website, it has to fit your business and your visitors.

We recommend responsive design if you have a small website that has similar goals for mobile and desktop visitors. It is also a good solution if your website has uniform content and not very complex.  If you are redesigning your website or just creating one, it might be a good idea to also invest in responsive design. One thing’s for sure – be ready for an extensive initial development.

If you have an established website, you might want to stick with your mobile site for now. When you are ready to redesign your website, plan for the extensive work on making your redesign responsive. Another reason to have a customizable mobile site is if your mobile visitors differ significantly from their desktop counterparts. If you, the business owner, have a different goal for those who use mobile devices to look at your website, you might be better off with a separate mobile website.

There isn’t a single “general” recommendation for a business mobile site.  Look at your business and select the appropriate option for you.

Milestone Internet Marketing offers both mobile sites and responsive design sites to our customers.   For more information about our mobile services or to get a pricing quote, call us at 408-492-9055 or email sales@milestoneinternet.com. We’d be more than happy discuss the options and pick the right solution that best fits your business’ needs.

This is reposted from the Milestone Internet Blog.

 

 

What Defines Your Brand?

If you find developing the new media marketing strategy for your company frustrating and difficult, you aren’t alone! Many times, the information at your disposal is imperfect and not fully complete. This is where defining your brand, and whether or not your brand promise is actually appropriate for your company become very important.

First, of course, you need to think about what a brand really is. You need to think about not only the company focused perspective of the brand (the things that are trademarked and can be legally protected), but also the more important side, the customer focused perspective.

In today’s market, your brand is in essence a collection of meanings based on how the consumer perceives your brand. It is a collection of the consumer’s associations of everything from overall quality level of the stay experience and service to the kinds of amenities offered in the hotel bathroom to their takeaway experience after a stay, to the other kind of customers typically associated with that brand. These associations form a more complete picture of what that brand experience would be.

It’s the brand strategists’ job to try to then communicate those meanings through various marketing channels so that the potential customers understand exactly what brand experience they can expect. The basis of that is the brand promise: the articulation of what that experiential take away for the brand will be.

 

What you need to know about new media right now

This article, written by eCornell CEO Christopher Proulx, was originally published in HotelsMag.com.

As the marketing landscape explodes with new media channels, hospitality marketers have an increased number of methods by which to raise the visibility of their brands. Gone are the days of relying solely on static print ads or run-of-the-mill television commercials. Instead, in the world of new media, hotels can reach customers in a more dynamic and engaging way. Finding the ways in which to maximize this opportunity starts with an in-depth understanding of the new media landscape.

Here are the top three things every hotel marketer needs to know right now:

Evolving media brings more opportunity for creativity

As dollars continue to shift away from traditional media to new media channels, there is a world of opportunity for marketers to shine from a creative perspective. By leveraging new media tools, hotels can offer guests a chance to more fully engage with a brand before making a decision to book travel. For example, some hotels provide virtual tours of rooms and unique property features (such as world class pools, water slides, spas). This allows customers to try before they buy in a way that’s much more meaningful than a static marketing piece. Video has also become an integral part of new media marketing as we see premium brands create professional pieces in an effort to convey what a guest might experience during a hotel stay. (The Ritz Carlton does this very well). Because there are now so many new ways to connect with customers, creative elements can go a long way in a new media campaign. Now more than ever, generating creative social media content needs to be built into a hotel’s marketing strategy.

Consistent messaging is key

With the increase in marketing channels comes the increased need for hotels to monitor their marketing message. One major change as it relates to communication is the consumer’s ability to influence the brand. Consumers routinely recommend hotels online, and reviews, both positive and negative are widely accessible online. That means that variation in the way that a hotel is discussed online should both be anticipated and addressed. In addition, the way a hotel is described through social media channels can differ from the rest of the messaging if the social media strategist is not working closely with the brand team. The result? A diluted message about what a customer can expect from a particular hotel experience. Now more than ever, hospitality marketers must be mindful of all marketing communication, including monitoring online reviews and discussion, responding where appropriate, and develop a tight messaging to be used throughout all channels.

The importance of search will continue to grow

Over the last several years, search engine optimization (SEO) has become critical to the hospitality industry. According to a recent Google study, 78 percent of all hotel transactions involved search at some stage of travel selection by the consumer, and 61 percent of people making online hotel transactions were directly referred to a hotel website by a search engine. With the migration fromhorizontal search (i.e looking at options a thousand miles wide but one inch deep) to vertical search (i.e. looking more narrowly at one particular point in the search process), the specific focus on the travel industry and the introduction of social filtering through search, today’s hospitality marketers must understand how to leverage search marketing in order to stay competitive.

The bottom line is this. In the fast-paced world of new media, hospitality marketers must stay informed and nimble. Each day is a new opportunity to reach potential customers in a meaningful way, which is why a deep understanding of new media tools is a must for hospitality marketers.