The marketing funnel and your hotel – a guide

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You might think you know it well, but there’s no harm in going back to basics sometimes! Familiarising yourself with the marketing funnel and its 4 stages is an important practice to do for your hotel’s overall marketing strategy.

Even better is knowing what you need to do at each stage of the funnel so your hotel ultimately gains more direct bookings by reaching and engaging your customers the right way, all the way through.

So. What is the marketing funnel?

The marketing funnel is a visualization for understanding the process of turning leads into customers, as understood from a marketing (and sales) perspective. The idea is that, like a funnel, marketers cast a broad net to capture as many leads as possible, and then slowly nurture prospective customers through the purchasing decision, narrowing down these people in each stage of the funnel.

Did you know…

  • 53% of users state that their most recent purchase was triggered online, even if the purchase was made offline
  • 90% of users switch between devices and platforms to complete tasks or make a purchase
  • 55% of users start their research on Google Search and continue the research on YouTube prior to making a purchase

First up – Stage 1: Awareness

Awareness is the uppermost stage of the marketing funnel. Your potential customers are drawn into this stage through your marketing campaigns and their own browsing and research. Trust is established through events, advertising, trade shows, content (blog posts, infographics, etc), webinars, direct mail, viral campaigns, social media, search and media mentions but to name a few. It’s here that lead generation takes place as information is collected and leads are pulled into a lead management system for nurturing further down the funnel.

What’s your customer’s mindset?

  • I need a break
  • I want to go away for the weekend

What decisions are being made?

  • Location
  • Time frame

Recommended campaign types?

  • Google display prospecting
  • Youtube bumper ads
  • Youtube in-stream ads
  • Facebook prospecting

Key performance indicators?

  • Ad impressions
  • Video views
  • Leads generated

Who are your audience?

Developing a clear understanding of your target audience is probably the most important thing you do as a hotelier! Who are you as a brand? What does your hotel represent? This will determine who your audience is, who the people are that will mostly love and resonate with what you have to offer.

It’s important to get a good grip on who your audience is, because then you’ll be spending your marketing budget effectively targeting the right people on the right platforms.

How do you target your audience?

Create personas to identify unique segments

Start by brainstorming about your target demographics. Who’s your ideal customer?

Use audience insight tools on your preferred platforms

Once you have an idea of who will be staying in your hotel, you can start looking for them online. Use Google Analytics for starters!

Run an annual audience survey

Once the survey results are compiled, it will give you a deeper understanding of who your audience really are.

Ask for feedback with an automated email

The point of this email is for you to get responses that will generate meaningful conversation if people have something constructive to share.

Talk to your social followers!

Find relevant Facebook and LinkedIn groups and get in on them, become part of the conversation. Getting involved in social discussions within your industry can provide really interesting insight into what’s important to your audience.

Listen back to our podcast episode on stage 1 of the marketing funnel here.

Stage 2: Interest

Once your leads are generated, they move into the interest stage. This is where they begin learning more about your brand, your products, what you offer, and anything else of interest that they can find. At this stage, you have a great opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with people in your lead database.

Nurture your leads through emails for example – more on email marketing here.

What’s your customer’s mindset?

  • Which hotels are available in my desired location?

What decisions are being made?

  • Location
  • Short listing hotels

Recommended campaign types?

  • Google display prospecting
  • Youtube bumper ads
  • Youtube in-stream ads
  • Facebook prospecting
  • Google hotel ads
  • Location search
  • Remarketing

Key performance indicators?

  • Video views
  • Leads generated
  • Website visits
  • Ad impressions

How can you create experiences that will make people want to convert?

As a business, you want to create multiple pieces of content to engage with your customers. Think about how someone will interact with your content as they make their way through the funnel. As customers make their way through the funnel, they start to identify whether the product or service  they’re looking at is the right fit for them based on the content they’re seeing.

An important question for you to consider is: why? Why do your customers buy one thing and not the other? This is the level of knowledge you need to possess in order to truly know your customers. Truly knowing them is how you will convert them!

Emotions

Emotion is what truly drives buying behaviour.

Source

95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious. This means people will eventually buy from you based on how you make them feel. They won’t buy what you do – they’ll buy why you do it. What do you think are the emotional triggers your audience has? Create your content based on what will appeal to your audience emotionally.

How?

Firstly, identify the ‘pain’ your customer is having in order to come up with a solution for them. Your solution should be peppered with emotional triggers that will make your audience want to convert. To help you do this, make a list of potential issues your audience has, and how you want them to feel once you’ve provided a solution.

Listen back to our podcast episode on stage 2 of the marketing funnel here.

Stage 3: Desire

At this stage, your leads are now seen as prospective customers. Now’s the time to start sending them more detailed information on your offers and services through automated email campaigns while continuing to nurture them with the right kind of targeted content and maybe even a few persuasive past guest testimonials!

You do need your potential guests to show their interest in your hotel though. One way of checking this is through a survey, which is another opportunity for you to make a case as to why your hotel is the right hotel for your potential guests.

What’s your customer’s mindset?

  • Which hotel is the right hotel for me?

What decisions are being made?

  • Brand

Recommended campaign types?

  • Google and Facebook remarketing
  • Youtube bumper ads
  • Google hotel ads
  • Location search
  • Category search
  • Brand search

Key performance indicators?

  • Website visits
  • Video views
  • Bookings

Website exit survey: Get feedback before your website visitors leave 

What’s an exit intent survey? It’s a poll that’s shown when a user tries to leave your page or moves their mouse towards the browser window to close the window. We have found exit intent analysis to be very effective in terms of finding potential pain points for customers that we may not have otherwise know of. 

Listen back to our podcast episode on stage 3 of the marketing funnel here.

Stage 4: Action

The final and favourite stage! You’ve primed them, you’ve given them everything they possibly need to make a decision. It’s crunch time. Will they or won’t they buy?

At this stage, your marketing and sales team should work closely together to nurture this fragile  decision-making process and convince your potential customer that YOUR brand’s offer and service is the best choice for them.

Remember too that if your customer has a positive experience at this stage, they’ll not only stay with you again but they’ll refer you as well. And so, the process begins again!

What’s your customer’s mindset?

  • I found a hotel I like. Now, where do I book?

What decisions are being made?

  • Hotel Site vs OTAs vs offline channels

Recommended campaign types?

  • Google and Facebook remarketing
  • Google hotel ads
  • Brand search

Key performance indicators?

  • Bookings
  • Cost per acquisition

Listen back to our podcast episode on stage 4 of the marketing funnel here.

Interested in knowing how you can maximise your direct bookings coming into the autumn season? See here and here!

As always, we’d love to hear from you with any questions or queries you may have. Drop us a line on hello@netaffinity.com!

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