By Justin Thorne, EMEA Marketing Director of Kenshoo
Whether it’s accommodation, flights or package holidays, how consumers research and buy travel online is incredibly complex.
This is especially true when it comes to the interactions between paid search (where there is a stated intent) and social advertising (where there is a stated interest).
Travel companies therefore need to build a holistic view of what consumers are doing on these channels, integrate the information and analyse the signals to see how they apply to each other, then take action accordingly.
So what are the most useful signals from each channel?
A search query provides four main signals. Firstly, the words actually typed into the search engine (the query) demonstrate intent.
If a consumer searches ‘hotel London,’ it’s obvious that they aren’t interested in a campsite in Wales.
Next, is the consumer using branded or non-branded terms? A search for ‘Hilton hotel London’ shows a brand preference, reflecting a more specific intent.
Thirdly, the device used also sends out a signal. Searching for ‘hotel London’ on a smartphone rather than laptop may mean the consumer is in the city and wants accommodation immediately.
Finally, behavioural data collected from returning visitors to your website via search engines can help marketers piece together a consumer’s path to purchase and provide insights into a searcher’s actions.
For a marketer, understanding that someone searched for ‘hotel London,’ clicked on a search result for a particular hotel chain, and then two days later searched on that same brand name, it’s vital to optimise the customer journey and value each touch point correctly.
Social media also produces four distinct signals:
First off, interests. What is the profile of the consumer, their engagement with the pages of travel brands or stated interests? These can all be used to target specific audiences.
Next, what are they sharing? Likes, retweets and comments can indicate high performing messages for travel brands to amplify.
In the same way, organic posts on specific topics with high engagement will produce similar results when this content is broadcast to the right audience.
Thirdly, hashtags help marketers track specific topics and conversations to inform and shape their activities and overall strategies.
Finally, it’s important to consider online connections, which are at the core of any brand’s social graph. Tapping into a fan, follower, or influencer network can exponentially grow a travel company’s reach and exposure.
Making the most of paid search and social advertising synergies
How can companies bring these signals together? Here are a few examples:
• Understand attribution. Particularly with larger travel purchases, buying decisions aren’t normally made in a single instant, but over the course of multiple interactions with a brand. You need to make an impact at each touch point in that process.
Understand the context and role of each ad or keyword and how they relate to one another, and be sure to give proper credit to each channel and each ad, updating budgets and bids accordingly.
Last click attribution is an out-dated methodology and does not take into account the influence all channels have had during the path to conversion.
• Increase your keywords. Take a look at what topics and adverts are performing well on social channels. Is there a pattern in likes or interests that sparks ideas to test some new paid search keywords?
The same applies to hashtags; if an audience engages heavily on a specific topic, consider how it can be leveraged in ad copy or through new keywords.
• Retarget potential customers. Use the data from your website to remarket to consumers across channels. Advanced technology platforms can drive dynamic ad creation based on demand and intent signals from search, to automatically create ads on Facebook for products that are performing best in Search.
• Look at location. Local search and device type can be compelling signals, so use this information in social channels.
For example, set up local paid searches to trigger social promotions that offer discount coupons for particular hotels. Tie together channel activity to create a closed-loop experience.
Delivering the benefits
What are the advantages of bringing together paid search and social advertising?
We analysed paid search results for three leading brands in a recent research series. Some segments of the target audiences were exposed to both paid search and Facebook advertising while others were exposed to paid search alone.
The results were conclusive – the paid search audience segments which were exposed to Facebook advertising generated 30% more return on ad spend (ROAS), 27% higher conversion volume, and 39% increased revenue for the three brands respectively.
In a sector as complex and competitive as travel, brands are continually looking at ways to increase engagement and revenues.
By opening up channels of communication between paid search and social advertising you can drive greater synergies by bringing together intent and interaction.
This way you can create the holistic view you need to increase ROI and sales from digital marketing.