There’s a plethora of tactics and strategies you can use to increase your hotel’s direct bookings. But if you’re looking for a quick guide to some of the most important drivers of conversions, we’ve got it narrowed down for you.

Listed below are 13 of the most important elements of any marketing strategy. These marketing elements are perfect for a hotel marketer to test and optimize, including aspects of your hotel website, marketing campaigns and email marketing. Each of these things has been proven time and again to be important to conversions – they have the power to either boost conversions or to become leaks in your booking funnel.

Have a look through these 13 factors, and consider testing the ones you’re not sure of.

Is your website navigation confusing? Do you send out hotel newsletters too often? Find out what the experts say, and test to discover what the best practices are for your own hotel.

Website Navigation

website navigation hotel marketing

25% of people don’t buy because a website is too complicated

Your hotel website plays an important role in the conversion funnel. It’s the place where visitors get to learn more about you, consume useful content, and hopefully your Book Now button and go on to reserve a room or two.

However, if your website feels like a more like a maze than a website to visitors, you’ll be stuck with high-converting back buttons and no bookings.

That’s why we’ll start with website navigation testing ideas.

Factors to test:

  • Number of fields on contact forms
  • Drop down menus
  • Familiar buttons
  • Navigation bar
  1. Sometimes, Less Is More

When Imaginary Landscape, a web design company, reduced the number of fields on their contact form from 11 to 4, they boosted form submissions by 160%, and received a 120% increase in conversion rates.

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In another study by VWO, reducing on-page options boosted engagement by 17.8%. Will limiting navigational buttons have a similar impact on your site?

You’ll have to test to find out for sure, but it’s safe to assume that you shouldn’t have more navigation buttons than you really need.

  1. Drop Down Menus

drop down menu  hotel marketing

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Some studies say that drop down menus can be annoying for visitors and bad for your site. Others have reported they work better than other methods.

If your hotel has an extensive set of offers or a spa with lots of features, this might be a test worth running.

  1. Familiar Button Names

Ever heard of cognitive fluency?

The idea behind it is fairly intuitive: the brain prefers to think about things that are easy to think about. The easier a choice is, the more likely it is that we’ll make it.

Cognitive fluency is linked to The Mere Exposure Effect, which says the more you’re exposed to something, the more you prefer it.

To make navigation smoother on your site, why not try making your buttons similar to the leading sites in your industry? This could make navigating your site more intuitive and natural, or it may not have any impact at all.

Either way, it’s worth testing.

  1. No Navigation Bar

Kitchen tool retailer Yuppie Chief wanted to boost signups for their wedding registry landing page. So they ran a split test that completely removed the navigation bar, the results?

navigation bar experimental hotel marketing

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Removing the navigation bar netted them 100% more signups.

For some sites, no navigation bar can lead to strong results.

Testing Your Emails

According to one DMA report, email generates a huge 2500% ROI. Research from ExactTarget also revealed that over 70% of consumers like to receive permission-based marketing communications through email.

Email is the number one marketing channel, and below are tests that will you get more out of it.

Factors to test:

  • Personalized greetings
  • Subject lines
  • Opt-in messages
  • The postscript
  1. Personalized Greetings

In a test run by MarketingSherpa, using a named greeting boost their email open rates by 137%. Have you got access to the names of your subscribers? If so, give personalized greetings a try.

Most email marketing tools, including Mailchimp, allow you to put in a field that will place someone’s name in the email.

  1. Subject Lines

33% of people open emails based on the subject line alone. Having a clever, engaging, funny or interesting subject line will be a big factor in how many people your emails reach.

Some potential subject line tests you could run are:

  • Shorter vs. longer subject lines
  • Subject lines with numbers vs. subject lines without
  • Personal driven subject lines vs. how to subject lines
  1. Different Double Opt-in Messages

double opt in email marketing

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Double opt-ins lead to higher quality subscribers. They happen when someone must both enter their email on your site to sign up, and click a confirmation link in an email sent to them afterwards. However, double opt-ins do come at a price. You pay for that extra quality by sacrificing quantity.

To address this, test different confirmation pages and confirmation emails. You absolutely want a high-quality email list, so do everything you can to ensure they complete both parts of the opt-in process.

  1. The P.S. Message

The P.S. can be used to draw attention to an important message or CTA. Test it out to see if it works for you!

Try adding on an extra, key benefit to an offer: “P.S. If you book today, we give you an extra 30% off!”

You can also highlight an exciting feature you have: “P.S. We’ve just gotten a new riding horse for the local trails – come meet her!”

  1. Frequency

There’s a difference between sending regular messages that lift bookings and overloading subscribers with emails. But how much email is too much?

email frequency conversion

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A survey from the BlueHornet shows that 35.4% of consumers will unsubscribe because of high email frequency. The survey even found that over 40% of people prefer receiving fewer emails instead of unsubscribing.

To find your optimal email sending frequency, you’ve got to test. Start with sending an email once or twice a month – a pretty typical interval for the hotel industry. However, if you have a fantastic, short-term offer, don’t hesitate to send it out! People are subscribed to your newsletter because they want to see those offers.

Testing PPC Ads

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If you’re struggling with traffic and you’re running PPC ads, your ads are a priority. Testing different elements of your ads will tell you what’s working and what isn’t, and will boost your number of leads and improve your overall PPC results.

So, we’ve put together 7 things you can test to help you create high converting PPC ads.

Remember: before you start testing, really think about why you’re trying that particular headline. Will it appeal to your target audience? Do you know exactly who you’re trying to talk to? Recognizing your ideal guest is key to figuring out what’s going to work in your ads.

  1. Your Headline

Your headline has to command attention from potential guests. If it doesn’t, your ad won’t drive any traffic to your site.

Have a list of keywords you want to target, and, if you have them, words that have been in your successful ads in the past. If you need some headline testing ideas to get you started, check out this post by PPC hero.

  1. Negative Keywords

You’re not going to be targeting everyone in your market. Testing your negative keywords in different campaign variations will help you weed out lower quality guests and reduce your cost-per-click.

  1. Value vs. Price Appeal

Take a look at these two ads for contact lenses:

My preference is for female, young mid 20’s, soft US.

The ad above will resonate better with someone whose primary concern is price.

This ad, on the other hand, will appeal more to someone who is concerned with value:

contact lens ad value

Are your customers mainly concerned about price or value? Do your offers for discounts perform better than the offers that emphasize your hotel’s luxury?

Testing is the key to finding out.

When testing ads based on value or price, make sure your landing pages are relevant to each ad for more accurate results.

  1. Social Proof

Social proof is usually accepted as a tool that builds trust and increases bookings, no questions asked. However, in some cases it has damaged conversions. To make sure your social proof is helping, and to find out which kind is helping the most, do some testing to figure it out!

Conclusion

Great hotel marketers are open to testing, because they know that’s how you discover what works best. Trying to decide what to test isn’t always easy, however.

These elements are vital to building your hotel’s direct bookings. By testing to optimise them, you make sure your strategy for raising your conversion rate is rock-solid.