There is no denying the increasing importance of internet marketing for restaurants and hotels. The digital marketing mix is becoming more sophisticated and the tools available to engage, attract and convert customers are constantly changing and improving.
It is a dynamic landscape that demands regular attention. This dynamism does, of course, present significant opportunities for savvy operators, especially those who are naturally early adopters of technology.
Building an effective website is the first step in implementing online marketing communications. Once you have your website you then need to ensure it is as visible as possible and drive visitors to it. There are a number of tools available to you to ensure you reap the rewards, and the potential high return on investment, of your online presence.
Each of the techniques below can be accurately measured and regularly fine-tuned to improve results. Remember, all of these marketing tools work best together so don't ignore any of them. In today's tough economic environment, an effectively implemented internet marketing strategy could make all the difference between success or failure.
Paul West, managing director, Ignite Hospitality Consultantswww.internetmarketingforhotels.co.uk
five ways to attract custom through the internet
1 Website Conversion Rate Optimisation You can think of your website as your sales hub, a tool to convert interest into sales or lookers into bookers. The ratio at which this occurs is the "conversion rate", and every business website should be designed to maximise this. Buttons, banners, text links and suggestive copy all help to guide your visitors to where you want them to go. You use your "persuasion assets" to convince visitors to convert to a sale.
2 Search Engine Optimisation Websites can be designed and built in such a way as to make them particularly important to Google. If Google can scan your website easily, and your site proves that it is relevant to specific search terms or keywords, they will rank you higher up the list of results for those keywords. A few quick tips to improve your search results include:
â- Don't use flash for your main website and in navigation, search engines can't read it.
â- Ensure you have relevant page titles (seen at the top of your browser screen) plus descriptive and keyword "meta-tags" in your site (ask your web designer to check).
â- Use relevant keywords in your page headings, internal links and written copy.
â- Get as many relevant links as possible to your site.
â- Update your site content as much as possible to keep it fresh and current.
â- Engage online - use blogging and social media to ensure you are involved in the online conversation.
3 Pay-Per-Click Advertising The other way to ensure you appear on the Google search results is to use Google Adwords, a form of Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC).
Google Adwords are the little adverts that appear on the right hand side of Google search results. PPC simply means you pay each time somebody clicks on your advert. How much you pay depends on how much your competitors pay, and how relevant you are for that keyword search result.
Also, the more you pay influences where you appear in the list of adverts. When you set up a Google Adwords campaign you select keywords that generate the appearance of your advert. You created groups of keywords called Adgroups that generate the display of an advert.
The system provides detailed data that enables you to test different adverts and adjust your campaigns to maximise the benefit you receive for your budget.
4 Eâ'mail Marketing Communicating directly with your customers with eâ'mail is a very effective method of encouraging visitors to your website.
Eâ'mail works best when it integrates with your website by providing incentivised links to the website booking pages that then converts the visitor to a sale. Building your own eâ'mail list of people who are interested in what you do (they "opt-in" to receive your eâ'mails) generates the best results.
5 Social Media Facebook and Twitter are now highly valuable tools for building interest in your business and encouraging brand interaction. It is important that they are utilised correctly and in conjunction with your other communication channels.
Ensuring a consistent tone of voice and providing value to your friends and followers is also crucial in delivering success. There are many ways that you can encourage and build a fan-base including interactive competitions, user-generated content and voting interactivity, the key is to be creative.