Supercharging your conversion rate by analysing large chunks of data can be a tough nut to crack. How do you convert all that data into the kind of numbers you really want—bookings?
Thankfully, there are lots of very powerful and cost-effective tools on the market which can give you far deeper insight into how and why our marketing activities are working. One of the most important ones you can have in your toolkit is a customer persona.
Customer personas are a model of your ‘ideal’ customer. They represent the person most likely to come to your site and book a stay at your hotel, and it isn’t based on guesswork. It’s based on raw, real data that you’ve turned to your advantage.
Google Analytics and their rows on rows of demographic data provide a holistic solution to the problem. By giving you the ‘who’ of your website’s previously anonymous clicks, you get to peek behind the digital curtain.
In this post, you’ll learn how to use Google Analytics’ demographic data to create personas.
In turn, this will help you become incredibly targeted in your marketing campaigns and drive your hotel’s bookings up like never before.
Why You Need to Create Buyer Personas
Creating personas based on your website data is incredibly important. It’s the backbone behind everything: from your sales & marketing strategy to your website’s design, it’s a hugely effective way to build more direct bookings.
A persona can be summed up as follows:
“Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way.”
If you’re not using a buyer persona, it’s a bit like rock climbing while blindfolded. It doesn’t work, and it’s pretty risky because you can’t see what you’re doing.
In business, customer personas take that blindfold off by showing you who your audience is and what they want.
Once you have your personas, you can create a more gripping experience for guests and shoot up your number of direct online bookings. You do this by creating all your material—your website design, your offers, your newsletters and ads—with your buyer persona first and foremost in your mind.
Why bother taking the time and effort to create great content if there is no one to consume it?
How to Create Buyer Personas
- Gather and analyse data
- Use the data to formulate personas
- Use the persona to create a strong, targeted marketing and sales strategy
1. Gather & Analyse Data
Google Analytics gives you a “5-star” view on your website users’ interests, needs and desires, to help you better grasp who they are. You also get to see what sources lead them to you before they completed a ‘goal’ on your site, like booking a room or signing up for your newsletter.
This information, along with what you already know about your customers, gives you everything you need to create your ideal customer persona.
We’ll take you through a series of useful reports available in your Google Analytics accounts. (Assuming you have both e-commerce and demographics tracking enabled. If not, talk to your marketing team!)
Report 1: User Demographics
One of the most useful reports in your Analytics account is, of course, your user demographics report. This gives you the age, gender and geographic location of your user—all segmented by their visits, bounce rates, conversions and more.
These insights are the first step in building your buyer persona.
Here’s a sample report. In this example, if you combine your age and gender reports, you might find that females aged between the ages of 25-44 contribute to the most traffic whilst also being your most profitable buyer. Male visitors, on the other hand, are less profitable but tend to have a much higher conversion rate.
With these two facts, you might decide to start building two peronsas: one might be a female persona, designed to help drive more conversions. Since there’s more of them visiting and they’re also booking less often, while simultaneously spending more per reservation, you want to drive them to book rooms more frequently.
For your male persona, you might focus instead on upgrades or package deals to encourage them to spend more per purchase.
On the other hand, the higher conversion rates on smaller bookings may simply mean that you have more guests travelling alone and for short periods of time on business, and you ought to be marketing towards a business persona.
You need more data—let’s go on.
Report 2: Interest & In-Market Segment
Users in the Interest and In-Market segments are prone to buying products or services in the given category. From a hoteliers’ perspective, travel or hotels & accommodation tend to have the highest visits and revenue. This one’s a no-brainer if you’re a hotel, so we can move on.
Report 3: Source & Medium
Now let’s look at the different channels—sources—your guests tend to use before making a booking on your site. We have some images to go with our example contined from above. Don’t worry about reading each and every detail, we just want to give you an idea of what to look for in your reports!
Female’s experience on site:
Male’s experience on site:
Referral Traffic experience segmented by gender:
From the above stats, you’ll notice that:
- Organic and direct are the strongest channels. They delivers most of the traffic & revenue, which is a general industry trend in hotels.
- The paid search channel has the strongest conversion rate. This indicates that your advertising is targeted properly, especially for your male visitors—congrats!
- On the other hand, men are not converting directly through social networks. Your social media communication might not be attracting the male potential you want it to.
- The bulk of referral traffic tends to convert males better than females. Which means that your referral links are on websites that males are more likely to visit and click on
Well, that’s a whole lot of information to help you start building your personas! Let’s take a look at how to do that:
2. Create Your Personas With Your Data
By now, you will have collected some valuable Google Analytics data. However, it’s important to combine offline and online sources to create solid personas.
Here’s a rule of thumb: 90% data, 10% knowledge.
‘Knowledge’ can be in the form of the reservations manager or reception staff who can personify the customers they deal with, both in person and over the phone. Get them to give your data that extra kick—are they generally impatient? Brusque? Are they in the hotel on business or leisure?
We would also advise that you analyse your BKE and PMS systems to find out what packages and room types are most often booked. This information, together with your analytics and knowledge-based data, will help to form the basis of your customer personas.
Now you’ve got your information—the next step is to create your personas. The depth of detail you go to here is up to you, but of course the more you know, well… the more you’ll know.
Here’s an example persona built using Hubspot’s handy persona-builder. Give it a try yourself!
Tips when creating personas:
- Give the persona a name. It will help you to refer to them throughout your marketing plan, and make the process a little less impersonal.
- Hotels usually build between 4 and 6 personas, but this depends on your needs and wants—there’s no miminum or maximum.
- Share your personas with all key stakeholders in the hotel so everyone is on the same page in who you want to convert!
3. Create a Targeted Strategy With Your Persona
So, how can you use the information you’ve garnered for more direct bookings?
Tailor your website content
Identifying the demographics of valuable customers is useful when creating content for your website.
Is your content engaging with all your personas? Is it easy to find necessary information? Is your call to action prominent and engaging?
Tailor your packages
Do you offer things your personas would buy?
Do you have a range of offers and packages available for each persona?
Are your rates, packages and booking engines easy to access and understand, and are you selling them effectively?
Tailor your marketing activity
Ensure that you are targeting your personas through all relevant channels.
- On social media, make sure you’re engaging with the personas relevant to your key performing personas.
- Within your email marketing, create offers unique to your top performing personas. In an ideal scenario, you would segment your database based on each persona and market different offers to each.
- In your paid marketing efforts, tailor your campaigns, ad text and remarketing messages to capture the emotions of your top performing personas.
It’s vital that you monitor your personas and user experiences. They may change according to the season! And be sure to review whether changes you’ve made have a positive or negative impact on your site—testing is a powerful tool.
What are some challenges you’ve had building your personas? Let us know!
Author Credit: Brigitta Antónyi