We’ve talked a lot about digital marketing this year and after our crazy summer, it’s going to be a major part of our strategy for 2020. We are going to be proactive and not reactive this time around. Jason Beaton, Chief Marketing Officer of Vacation Rental Formula joins VRS today to help you plan your best year ever.
Having access to experts and being able to ask unlimited questions is one of the huge benefits of VRF membership and I wanted to share an answer that Jason posted to one of our member questions recently.
How can I set up a digital marketing system?
“For most owners and PM's looking to increase their direct bookings, here's an overview (it's difficult to get into specific actions without diving into your full setup). All of this is independent of your website design, which is a whole other topic.
- Lead Capture – You need some way to capture leads once they get to your website. “Sign Up For Our Newsletter” is a start, but very sub-optimal. Use it if that is your only option. Without solid Lead Capture systems, the vast majority of your marketing dollars are likely to be wasted.
- Lead Nurture – How are you following up with these leads? Capturing a name & email is great, but it's wasted if all you have is a one & done email auto-responder. Most potential guests want to know that you are a real person, your property is real, and what is there to do in your area. You can address each of these in a 3-5 email follow-up series.
- Landing Pages – A landing page is designed specifically for A single purpose – Move the prospect to the next step. Typically landing pages will highlight a specific offer or sale you are highlighting at the moment. Landing pages should be where you “Send” traffic to rather straight to the homepage on your website. Direct homepage traffic can easily get lost in booking minutia.
- Promotion – Up to this point, your cost would typically be very minimal depending on your specific website capabilities. You shouldn't expect to set up a Lead Capture & Nurture system and then bookings just roll in. You pay OTA's (in part) to “Market” your property for you. Part of their fees includes showing your listing to potential guests. Your own system needs funding as well. This is where Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and Google PPC/Display Ads come in to place. When you’re ready for this step, the easiest way to get started is by setting up “Retargeting Ads” first. This will allow you to promote directly to those people who visit your website but don't book. This is a very deep topic, so I'll leave it at the strategy level.
- Content – You likely have heard Mike and I talk about blog posts and creating content-rich websites. These include posts on topics such as “Best things to do”, “Best XXXX food in…”, “How to get out of the airport” etc, etc. Developing this content over time will allow you to rise in various “google search” rankings via SEO. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a longer-term play that helps stabilize your traffic flow. You can think of SEO/Content like planting your own Garden. After lots of cultivating you get awesome veggies. Paid Promotion (#4 above) allows you to go to the grocery store and buy those veggies off the shelf. You get the harvest now with no cultivating (ie waiting) required.
You might be thinking all of this is a bit overwhelming. It certainly can be. There is much more that goes into “Direct Bookings” than just putting up your own website. “If you build it, they will come” is a true rarity in online business. Obscurity is the greatest obstacle for all businesses.
Don't be discouraged. These skills can be learned. I know this is much more of an overview and higher-level strategy, but I hope it points you in the right direction. I'd love to hear your thoughts and anyone else's input on the topic”
Jason delves deeper into some of these insights in this episode. He shares
- Why it’s so important to have a follow-up sequence
- The four steps to a solid DM strategy
- How we distinguish between cold, warm and ready-to-buy traffic
- The meaning of retargeting and the Facebook pixel
- When you need to use paid promotion techniques