Digital Marketing for Hotels During COVID-19: Off-Page Content and Paid Marketing
As we’ve shared in recent blogs, marketing efforts have a proven track record of helping hotels recover in a post-recession and post-crisis landscape. In a previous post, we shared marketing strategies designed that promote direct bookings and indirect bookings when the travel industry inevitably recovers.
The content on your direct booking channel, whether that’s hotel vanity websites or a brand site, should be compassionate and relevant. Support that content with an SEO strategy targeting the future wave of travelers who are currently in the dreaming and planning phase of travel planning. For more advice, read our blog.
After on-site content (that is, everything you publish on your website), off-page content should be your next direct marketing focus. Off page content is everything you publish (or is published about you) that is not on your website, but links back to it.
In a direct marketing strategy during normal circumstances, off page content is an essential driver of traffic to your website and your direct booking path. In these uncertain times, hotels are going to have to be more tactical about their marketing efforts. That means shifting to an off page strategy that drives the most ROI, not testing out new markets, and not letting your local or digital competition get too far ahead.
Pay-Per-Click Advertisement (PPC)
Scale back your paid advertising campaigns, but do not cut them entirely. By definition, pay-per-click campaigns cost you money per click. Focus on ROI with low cost, high value PPC campaigns – especially campaigns around your specific hotel brand keywords. The trick is to identify those high ROI campaigns, and cut prospecting campaigns targeting new markets.
If you’re working with PPC and SEO experts (like us!), the team of PPC analysts who maintain your campaign will do that optimization for you. If you’re running PPC in-house and need advice, take Seer Interactive’s advice to cut with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. For hotels this means analyzing cost, conversion, and position. Keep campaigns with a high conversion rate for keywords you do not rank organically in the top 3 positions for.
You should be planning your direct-only offers or packages now, so that you can act quickly when travel picks back up. Use PPC to promote a risk-free stay at your hotel, to increase the likelihood of booking in a risk-averse market. Allocate some of your PPC budget to promoting those packages in searches that match your offer.
A strong social media presence is helpful for nurturing a loyal base of guests. It’s also important validation for travel shoppers and can increase conversion, especially in younger markets. In a time of crisis, it’s an important channel to share shorter updates.
Your website should have high-level travel information. We’ve written up a guide on what to write in a travel update on your website to keep guests informed. Social media, on the other hand, is where you can post more frequent updates about what is going on in your local area and how your hotel is contributing.
You don’t have to post exclusively about the current crisis, but you also shouldn’t pretend the situation is normal. Some social media guidelines:
- Share uplifting and relevant news
- Emphasize all precautions your staff is taking
- Feature any relevant news or changes around the hotel
- Continue sharing amenities and features that tie into people’s desire to travel sometime soon
- Any initiative you have taken in part of to fight COVID-19
As always, your social media posts should link back to content on your site whenever relevant.
Make the most of your off-page strategy for strong COVID-19 recovery
Your off page strategy should consistently drive people to your website. A central component of off page strategies that boost SEO and direct revenue are “backlinks,” basically any link to your website. If your hotel is offering any local deals or working with any local organizations, make sure they have an accurate link back to your website whenever possible.
Use the downtime to work on SEO projects, like auditing your listings for NAP (name, address, phone number) and website consistency. Refresh your on-site content to make sure all of the information you have is relevant. tips, check out our content strategy for direct marketing.
Your marketing efforts should complement one another, with a focus on the paths that drive higher ROI, nurture guest loyalty, and keep your properties top of mind. Follow our guidelines above to ensure that your off-page SEO strategy should reflects those three principles.
There are glimmers of hope on the horizon, as travel searches begin to pick up for the later half of 2020. Capture some of that hope by using more of our COVID-19 hotel marketing tips and tricks.