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Posted by on Jan 30, 2018 in Digital Industry News

Digital 101 – Are You Covering the Basics for the New Year to Come? (Part 2)

In the first part of my Digital 101 guide, we discussed the fundamental principles of content marketing, and next up we are looking at the world of Search, Social and Paid Marketing.

Search

First up is arguably the most important part of digital marketing… search. On average, Google is handing 2 trillion searches per year. Whenever a consumer uses a search engine they’re sending out signals of intent, and it’s imperative to make sure that we are being ‘found.’ Every time a user conducts a search, the search engine returns a mixture of paid and organic links, which are relevant to the search term. First up let’s look at Organic or Natural search:

Organic results appear as a result of complex algorithms indexing billions of websites and then presenting the user with the most relevant search results. Brands do not pay for their organic links to appear against a search query. An important aspect of SEO (or search engine optimisation) is making your website easy for both users and search engine robots to understand. SEO helps the engines figure out what each page is about, and how it may be useful for users. Be sure to read more about our past SEO-focused blog posts.

The main SEO areas for you to consider are:

  • Website – A well-structured, fast, mobile-friendly website is essential in order for the search engines to look at you favourably
  • Content – Content should help demonstrate why a customer should choose you
  • On-page – Basic optimization is still an important SEO ranking factor, so think page titles and meta descriptions
  • Local SEO – Local businesses need to consider local SEO best practices, and this is especially relevant for hotels
  • Authority buildingLinks are still incredibly important to ensure strong search engine results, so I recommend you reaching out to local business partners asking them to feature your website on theirs. Check this Marriott Digital Services’ blog on link building best practices
  • Credibility – User reviews and testimonials will inevitably help with converting your website visitors

Paid Search

Paid adverts appear when brands bid on keywords that are relevant to their products or services, and you will be able to identify these with the word Ad showing next to the different search results.

Paid Search Ad

Although there are many players in this area, the most popular paid search platform is Google AdWords, followed by Bing Ads. There are different ways in which you can leverage various paid media platforms, and for this I recommend contacting your DCSM who can help provide more information.

Social Engagement 

Great social presence and campaigns enable and provide a platform for consumers to amplify their advocacy for a brand, by communicating these values with other people who may have similar interests or beliefs, so this is another area you need to be investing in. But how do you create success on social? How do you measure it?

At Marriott International we are leveraging a platform called MLive, enabling us to analyse our audience and surprise and delight our guests. This platform is built on 3 basic actions that I recommend you take even with limited resources – Listen, React and Interact:

  • Learn about what guests say about your hotel and use this feedback in your advantage
  • Keep having personal interactions with your guests as this will reassure them and keep your hotel top of their minds
  • Be on top of trending topics and have a crisis plan in place. These are key actions that will not take many resources, and will guarantee you have a strong, basic presence

There are many different social media platforms so it is normal if you are not sure where to start with. Start building your presence with channels such as Facebook and Instagram and making sure you have a solid social media content calendar that is in line with your hotel’s business objectives – if your main goal is to drive the Leisure segment, why not creating compelling content about your Local Area? If your main goal is driving corporate, why not promoting your delegate packages alongside beautiful images of your conference rooms on those key dates? Opportunities are endless and it is important to have active channels so your guests engage with your channels.

Have a look at this blog and see some of the ways Marriott is driving social engagement and success for our guests.

 Attribution  

The variables that lead to a customer interacting with your product are many – by interacting with a series of online and offline experiences and advertisements (Paid Search, Video Advertising, etc.), customers will ultimately decide if they want to buy your product or not. It is important to understand which of those exposures and interactions had the biggest impact on the consumer’s purchasing decision, so you know how to manage your budget in the future. That is what attribution can do for your marketing campaigns and their budgets.

There are plenty of different attribution tools available and each attribution tool uses a complex algorithm to identify how each marketing channel has performed. If you have multiple digital and offline marketing channels as well as cross-device campaigns and purchase paths, it’s not about choosing one capability over the other; it’s about both working together.

Data and Privacy – Do the right thing

As marketers, collecting data allows us to offer new and innovative customer experiences, and ultimately gives us great power, as well as responsibility. So, just because we have analytics and have access to personal data – doesn’t necessarily mean we can market to a consumer without permission. If you are not sure about a specific action, promotional content, if you should or not address a specific audience with a specific offer, etc., always reach out to the legal department. In the end, it’s all about doing the right thing.

The digital space is ever-evolving, complicated and fiercely competitive, but by following some guiding principles we can ensure we are pursuing excellence. A few key takeaways are:

  1. Search – Between Organic and Paid, leverage all available tools
  2. Social – A strong and consistent social presence can take you a long way to drive business and engage with guests. Keep a close eye on all your channels
  3. Attribution – Try and understand which channel is impacting the most your guests decision to buy, to allocate funds strategically
  4. Data and Privacy – Do the right thing

The Digital Services team is here to support you with your digital strategy and to make sure you are leveraging all your tools to make the most out of all your online channels. I also recommend signing up to:

  • Exclusive MDS COE Webinars – The Digital Services team is comprised of several Centers of Excellence (COEs), including Paid Media, Client Services, SEO, Social Media, Global Strategy, Content and Merchandising. These dedicated teams are responsible for staying on the forefront of trends and developing services that help you to achieve your hotel’s goals. As a way of sharing their subject matter expertise with you, each month one COE will host a webinar that is exclusive to only MDS hotels.
  • The Digital eCommerce Field Webinar – This monthly webinar series is open to all Marriott-wide hotels, but is hosted by the Digital Services team. Each month features different speakers from Marriott Headquarters. Past presenters have included the mLive team, the Hotel Website Photography team, the Marriott Rewards team, the Corporate SEO team, etc. Presentations will include need-to-know information and updates that may directly impact your hotel.
  • The Digital Services Blog, Decodedsign-up for our blog’s distribution list and get our posts delivered right to your inbox each week.
  • The MDS Newsletter – Every month, our team works hard to create a newsletter that is full of need-to-know updates, industry articles and reminders. We also love to include team interviews, group pictures and give you a sneak peek into what takes place in our office.

Do not hesitate to get in touch with your DCSM to get access to all these great tools.

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Posted by on Jan 23, 2018 in Digital Industry News

Digital 101 – Are You Covering the Basics for the New Year to Come? (Part 1)

Digital Success for 2018

In the digital age, the way companies communicate with consumers changed radically. Here at Marriott International, we are continually seeing our guests move from talking to us and booking our hotels on the phone like in the old days, to moving to a truly digital experience via the website and app at an exponential rate. Our customers are interacting with our brands and hotels using an array of different online channels, showing different intents as well. In my two-part blog series, I will cover the fundamentals of digital for 2018 with tangible actions to ensure digital success.

Importance of Content

The first step towards a successful and optimized online presence is making sure you are creating relevant, consistent, and most importantly – valuable content. This is key to attract and generate leads, expand your customer base, generate and increase online sales, increase brand awareness and engage with your online community. When producing content, consider the Content Marketing Matrix which represents the four main purposes of content:

  1. Entertain – Hotel videos, images and stories
  2. Inspire – Reviews, images
  3. Educate –Infographics, press releases
  4. Convince – Events, hotel features and price lists

Have a look at a few suggestions as to how best maximise creative content outreach from the Digital Services team.

See – Think – Do – Care

Producing content is important, but where should you start? What should you be considering? The consumer journey has changed and is becoming less straightforward. The See-Think-Do-Care (STDC) strategy can be a great first step at defining your content strategy. The foundational elements of the framework are:

  • The consideration stages (i.e. what consideration state might someone be in?)
  • The audience at each stage (i.e. what unifying view defines the audience at that stage?)

Let’s take a further look at our customers and how this applies for our organisation:

See-Thing-Do-Care

Using the See-Think-Do-Care framework for content, there are then two forms of KPIs which you can use to measure performance and outcome. These are:

  • Output KPIs – The most important KPIs- they are the end result you are looking for. For example, ‘Your Hotel Searches.’
  • In-process KPIs – These are the means to an end that you will have set up.

See-Thing-Do-Care KPIsHero – Help – Hub

The Hero, Help and Hub model recommends a new approach to brand storytelling that goes beyond traditional campaign-based marketing.

  • Hero content – Designed to inspire, entertain and attract new or loyal customers
  • Help content – Aims to answer questions from all customers and can also be educational
  • Hub content – Takes the form of regular content that loyal customers or brand fans can expect

Similarly to See-Think-Do-Care framework, customers will not move through from Hero to Hub to Help, but they could just as well watch your ‘how to’ (Help content) before seeing your Hero video. By using the ‘three Hs’ model, you can plan your content strategy so that you are communicating to a wide audience.

Here are a few examples that I recommend you use in line with your brand guidelines –

  • Hero Content – A beautiful destination video that will attract customers to book your hotel
  • Hub Content – Regular scheduled content about your hotel F&B offerings, events and day-to-day activities, which will help your costumers engage with your hotel
  • Help Content – Informative content about your local area that will help guests with their plans

Mobile Apps vs. Sites

A solid mobile strategy is extremely important, especially given that Google actively penalizes websites that are not responsive and easy to browse on mobile devices.

A mobile/responsive website and a native app are not automatically mutually exclusive. Like Marriott International, many companies have both a mobile-friendly website for their general web presence, and a downloadable app to accommodate more specific requirements. The key fact for you to keep in mind is to make sure your online presence is showing all relevant information about your hotel, and this will bring a user friendly experience across different platforms:

  • Hotel contact information
  • Up-to-date imagery
  • Deals
  • Dining menus
  • Meetings brochures and menus
  • Hotel brochure/fact sheet

So it seems content continues to be ‘king,’ and by following a few simple frameworks and principles, we can create powerful digital content marketing strategies. A few takeaways from part one of my blog post are:

  1. Create relevant, consistent, valuable content
  2. Follow the See-Think-Do-Care framework when creating content, to address the different stages of the purchase journey
  3. Consider the Hero, Help and Hub model to make sure you are communicating to a wide audience
  4. Make sure your online presence is showing all relevant information about your hotel

In my next blog post, we’ll cover the fundamentals of Search and Social, as well as Paid Marketing so stay tuned.

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